Rock-a-Bye-Baby (1958) ⭐️⭐️

Director: Frank Tashlin. Cast: Jerry LewisMarilyn MaxwellReginald Gardiner,Salvatore Baccaloni

This film perfectly encapsulates the mood, the colour and the charm of the late 1950s: a time of innocence and naivety (but also, as ever, of slight misogyny and a bit of misjudged racism).The plot (if we can call it that) revolves around a Hollywood star who gets pregnant with triplets, but to avoid the scandal (and losing a part in a movie) she decides to hand over the babies to an old flame of hers (Jerry Lewis of course).

Jerry Lewis, here on his solo outing without Dean Martin, does what he usually does, but also show a sweeter side of him in the film, especially when dealing with the triplets and tries the perfect dad: there are some perfectly enjoyable scenes here and there, though the best in the film is right at the beginning and has nothing to do with babies but with a hose pipe going mad. What I found very odd about this is how the film spends an awful long time to set up all the characters and the “stakes” and then in the last 5 minutes it subverts them all and in a blink of an eyes it slaps on a happy ending which comes out of nowhere and it’s completely unearned. But hey, it’s a Jerry Lewis after all: they rarely make sense.

Overall it’s a mid-to-average one, perfectly charming, sweet and watchable, with a few sweet gags here and there but only recommendable if you are a Jerry Lewis fan… which my 8 years old son is, because every week we now have to endure one of these for his movie-night choice. We’ve seen a lot worse.

As movie buff (read: geek) I couldn’t help noticing that the exterior of the town was filmed at the Universal backlot where 30 years later they would film “Hill Valley town square” in Back to the Future: they look exactly alike!

The X-Files (S1.Ep13) – “Beyond the Sea”

The X-Files – Season 1 – Episode 13 “Beyond the Sea” ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Director: David Nutter Writers: Chris Carter, Glen Morgan, James Wong Cast: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Brad Dourif, Don S. Davis, Sheila Larken.

I remembered this was a good one, but I didn’t remember it being so good!

If you really want to be convinced that this is good tv and you’ve never seen the X-Files, you should give this a try!

This episode packs so much in 45 minutes and does so many things right: for a start it unexpectedly switches the the role of our two heroes, the believer and the skeptic: it’s great to Scully willing to accept what she calls “extreme possibilities”, while Mulder is convinced it’s all a scam.It also makes her is the main protagonist allowing Gillian Anderson to showcase her talent and her range: from fragile and broken, to strong and pissed off (the moment where she shouts “I’ll be the one that will throw the switch and gas you out of this life for good, you son of a bitch!” Is so unexpected and yet so well earned!).Scully’s father’s death at the beginning of the episode is beautifully handled and brings a whole series of personal and emotional resonance to the table. The image of the father appearing to Scully, sitting on a chair moving his mouth in silence is also one of the spookiest scene in the series: real stuff of nightmares.

This is also the episode where Mulder calls her by name for the first time: another piece to add to their ever-building relationship. There are so many small and yet very tender moments in “Beyond the Sea” between the two agents: not just the “Dana” moment, but caresses, Mulder being shoot and that final moment at the end, sorest and understated. No wonder people speculated for years whether they would ever get together. It all seems to start from here.

And I haven’t yet mentioned Brad Dourif in the role of Boggs. The scenes between him and Scully, clearly remind us of those between Hannibal and Clarice in “The Silence of the Lambs” and are some of the most powerful in the series .

David Nutter’s direction is perfect too. He evokes images from Lynch (interestingly Scully’s father is played by Don S. Davis who also appeared in Twink peaks), does some beautiful cutting between the visions and “visioner” (Boggs) and creates an tense, creepy and eerie atmosphere of without having to resort of loud bang and jump scares.

I should probably mention Sheila Larken as Scully’s mother too: she only appears for a minute or so, but she makes the most of her role, so much so that she’ll be used again.

Definitely my favourite episode of the season 1 so far.


Cowboys (2020) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Writer and Director: Anna Kerrigan Cast: Steve ZahnJillian BellSasha Knight, Ann Dowd.

I don’t really understand why this film has such low score on imdb, I honestly loved it. It tells the story of a tender father-son relationship set against the beautiful landscape of Montana. But there’s a lot more than that. A the core of it is a broken family who now are separated. A mother who craves for her child to be the perfect daughter who plays with dolls, who wears beautiful dresses and has long blond hair completely unable to understand or rather accept the fact the the daughter she dreams to having, actually doesn’t want to be a girl at all and in fact she believes she was born in the wrong body and dreams of being a cowboy. She first confesses that to her dad, a troubled, goofy, impulsive but well-intentioned man, beautifully played by Steve Zahn. He’s a simple man, but he understands his child’s predicament accepts it peacefully. The son (that’s what he likes to be called) gets more and more attached to him until the decided to run away from home, across the country and head all the way to Canada. As the police get involved in the search for the two, you’re beginning to have a nasty feeling that things are not going to go well.

A very touching and emotional modern western which is actually a more uplifting film that one might fear.

The X-Files (S1-Ep12) – “Fire”

The X-Files Season 1 – Episode 12 – “Fire” ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Director: Larry Shaw Writers: Chris CarterChris Carter Cast: David DuchovnyGillian AndersonAmanda Pays, Mark Sheppard, Dan Lett.

The story of the “man who can start fires” is not among the most original, but it’s elevated by the rather spooky interpretation of Mark Sheppard (who would later star in both Supernatural and Battlestar Galactica).The script is by Chris Carter who finally seems not just understand the characters better but also to be having fun writing for both Mulder and Scully. What makes this a particularly entertaining episode is the “triangle” between Mulder, Scully and the British Agent, an old-flame (pardon the pun) from Mulder’s past. There’s also something interesting about Mulder being afraid of fire, though they don’t quite resolve that in the most convincing way and by the end they seem to almost forget about it. Overall, a decent episode, though I have to say, watching the back to back, these cliffhanger endings are beginning to feel a bit obvious


Rūrangi (2020) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Director: Max Currie. Cast: Elz CarradArlo GreenAwhina-Rose Ashby 

The story of a transgender man returning to his hometown in New Zealand after a decade was originally conceived as a 5 part mini-series on the web. It’s is now been put together in this surprisingly touching little film.

Rūrangi draw its power from a strong and yet understated performance by Elz Carrad who’s clearly must be digging into his own experiences as he’s not just very believable and real, but capable of emoting while at the same time doing very little. His presence in the film is magnetic, his pain and his fears are palpable.

It is a story about acceptance, about forgiveness, guilt, shame and about finding oneself. When you write it like this is sounds very pretentious, but Rūrangi is anything but pretentious. Is it a gentle and beautiful film, which unfortunately, because its subject matter,  will most likely end up being seen by a very niche audience: a real shame because the themes in it are actually very universal.

It is a quiet film in tone but its messages are loud and clear.

It also takes place among Maori communities, which adds an extra layer and dimension to the film, though that’s probably the part which I though worked the least. It may still about acceptance but I I felt I got in the way of the may story which was actually a lot more powerful and somehow relatable

Having said all that, by the time I got to the end I found myself wanting to see a lot more, something which rarely happens these days. 

If ever there was a sequel or a second mini web series, I’d be totally up for it.

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