Monday, August 23, 2010

Hannie Caulder starring Raquel Welch & Stephen Boyd - Trailer

Raquel Welch in Hannie Caulder

One of the frustrating things about being a movie fan at a young age was that there were certain movies one wanted to see but couldn't because of an R rating. And I remember seeing the ads and photos of the movie "Hannie Caulder" and wanting to see it. And well, I can see why. It's very simple, the photos Raquel Welch wearing a poncho and with presumably nothing underneath. For a horny eleven year old, that was heaven.

Well, I finally got to see this movie. And yes, Raquel Welch is sexy. Incredibly sexy. So very sexy. As for the movie, it's a pretty good revenge film with good acting all around. Robert Culp is excellent and so is Christopher Lee in one of his few non-horror roles. The idea of Welch being a sexy gunslinger is pretty weird. This couldn't possibly
have occurred in the Old West. But then again, 99% of Westerns are pure fiction, pure fantasy and have nothing to do with the real West.

So I enjoyed this movie. It ran only 85 minutes, which to me is the perfect running time for a movie. And well, there's Raquel Welch at her most alluring. Can't ask for much more.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Inception letdown

I went into the movie theater expecting a Twilight Zone-Memento like experience and I ended up watching an action movie for the ADD set. This movie was not all What I expected. The first hour was fine with its mind blowing visuals and mind fuck ideas. This had the makings of a truly cool movie. But suddenly this movie shifts gears and becomes the worst kind of CGI action movie. And it goes on and on until you want to scream at the screen.

Before watching the movie I was happy that Inception had made so much money. An intelligent, weird movie making all that cash? But I was wrong. The movie made money because in the end, it was just an action movie. A typical dumb summer movie. It was Angelina Jolie's "Salt" with metaphysical pretentions.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Goodbye to The Mandarin

Last week a friend of mine told me he was going to San Francisco with his wife. He asked me about restaurants and I was about to tell him that he had to go to the famous The Mandarin on Ghirardelli Square. It was a place I had gone to many times with my father back in the 1970's and 1980's. And a place I visited three years ago when I went back after so many years. But I decided to look for it in the Internet and learned that it had closed down in November.

The Mandarin was founded in 1968. It was the first restaurant to introduce real Mandarin cooking in the United States. Before that, Chinese places tended to cater to an Americanized version of Chinese cuisine. The Mandarin changed all that. The place was beautiful too with a truly breathtaking view of San Francisco bay.

When I used to go with my parents, we were lucky to get a table. The last time I was there, it was nearly empty. I talked to one of the waiters and told him about the many times that I had gone there with my parents and asked him if he could take a photo of me at the restaurant. He smiled and took the photo. It remains a fond memory of my trip.

If I ever go back to San Francisco, it will be strange not to visit The Mandarin. It was such a part of visiting the city. It was a part of my happiest memories of traveling with my mother and father. And like so many things when one reaches a certain age, it is gone.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Julie Christie Interview (1967)

Julie Christie and the 1960's

Movies are not surprising anymore. In the first few minutes, one more or less can predict everything that will happen. But there was a time in the late 1960's, perhaps due to the success of "Blow Up" that movies would deliberately set out to surprise and/or baffle us. TCM recently showed one of these films. It is called "In Search of Gregory", a forgotten, obscure movie that was shown as part of the Julie Christie film festival.

I recorded most movies from that festival simply because I love Julie Christie. I love her beauty, the intelligence she projects, her legs, he lips, her eyes, her accent, her smile. So I jumped at the chance to see one of her few forgotten movies.

And the premise of this movie is interesting. Two people who have only heard about each other through third persons fantasize about each other throughout the movie but never actually meet. I don't think I've seen a movie quite like this one. It doesn't mean that it is great, it isn't. But one must give its makers credit for having the guts to create something so offbeat. One of the most amazing things about this movie though is its opening. It opens with the Universal Pictures logo. A major studio distributing a movie like this. Seven years later, Universal would become the studio of "Airport 1975" and "Earthquake" in Sensurround. Interesting the way Hollywood changed in such a short time.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

My music when I want it

I wonder who listens to traditional radio anymore. There are so many alternatives now. Satellite radio (not available in Puerto Rico), the music channels on cable tv, the Internet radio stations. And now there are things like Slacker and Pandora that basically transmit music tailored to your particular tastes.

I still remember back in the 1970's when there were no rock stations in the island. There was only one far away FM signal that had a couple of hours of rock every night. I would try to catch that weak signal and enjoy a little bit of what was new in that genre.

Today I have so many options. I can listen to stations that feature classic rock, classical, jazz, Standards. Because of these stations my musical tastes have broadened in a truly remarkable way.

So today at work, I listened to Slacker. In the car on my way home I may hear Minnesota Public Radio through the IPhone and maybe tonight when I read before going to bed I may listen to the Standards station on cable.

I guess that to kids today, what I describe in the paragraph above won't mean anything special. But to me, a teenager of the late 1970's, it is almost a magical experience.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

mon ami Hercule Poirot

Last night I sought refuge in an old friend, Hercule Poirot. I needed to read something light and enjoyable and it seems to me that his stories are always a welcome read. There are times when I feel like reading mysteries that lack depth, that are easy to read and yet keep you guessing. I used to read George Simenon's Maigret stories to achieve that feeling of relaxation, but it seems to be Agatha Christie's stories are better at making one forget life's troubles. So here's to my old friend Hercule Poirot!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Hurricane season thoughts

Here we are again in hurricane season. Looks like this year won't be as quiet as 2009. Already the tv news are warning us about clouds leaving the coast of Africa. And telling us that we have to tune in the news just in case a storm changes course. I long for the days when I was a kid when a rainy day would just be a rainy day and not " a day in which a strong tropical wave covers the island." Or the time when we would be warned about a hurricane when it it was sure to pass over the island and not 10 days before. Everyone was happier. Nobody was storming the supermarkets because of a storm that may or not be happen.

Interesting how technology can simply add stress instead of easing it.

Monday, August 02, 2010


I recently saw (imagine this!) an American movie that deals with sex in an intelligent way and not as the subject of adolescent humor. The movie is "Chloe" a suspense thriller about a middle age woman (Julianne Moore) who hires a high class prostitute (Amanda Seyfried) to flirt with her husband (Liam Neesam) in order to see whether he is cheating on her with young women. A plan that,of course, goes all wrong. "Chloe" has couple of good surprises, some excellent acting, interesting sex scenes. It's not a great movie, but it is remarkable in the way it treats sexuality in an adult way. Sadly, the movie was a flop in theaters since Americans are unwilling to see sex scenes in movie theaters. Hopefully it will be successful in DVD and pay-cable.

In the meantime, the multplex is showing "Cats and Dogs 2" in 3-D to full auditoriums.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Houdini: The Hollywood version

I just watched "Houdini" a movie from 153 starring Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh. One of those movie biographies that from the first minutes tells you it can't possibly be based on reality. Every event in Houdini's life is presented in the corniest sense possible. He falls in love cute, he gets his chance at stardom in a way that only people in movies do. And even his death is not portrayed as it happened in real life. The fictional part of all this is confirmed in a wonderful book called "Past Imperfect": History According to the Movies".

But the strange thing is that the movie is truly entertaining. It makes for a wonderful, relaxed time. One senses the fiction but doesn't mind. So I must admit I can recommend this movie, but go to Wikipedia and learn about Houdini's real life.