I Saw That!

One woman's opinions about popular entertainment.

My Photo
Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Amateur boxing coach, Christian (but not so heavenly-minded that I'm no earthly good) singer, writer, self-defense advocate, childfree. feminist www.smartwomenboxingtraining.org

Monday, July 28, 2008

"ESPN Classic Ringside"

Using archival footage and commentary from boxing experts, this three-hour show goes in-depth into the sport. Each episode focuses on great boxers (Muhammad Ali, Rocky Graziano, Sugar Ray Robinson, etc.) as well as historic bouts (Ali vs. Frazier, Robinson vs. LaMotta, Leonard vs. Hagler, etc.).

Ringside is hosted by ESPN sports commentator Brian Kenny, and various boxing world figures appear to discuss the athletes and fights. Burt Randolph Sugar, the most well-known boxing historian, and trainer/boxing analyst Teddy Atlas are regulars. Trainers like Angelo Dundee and Emmanuel Stewart, and boxers like Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini and George Foreman weigh in with their opinions and recollections. The show is shot in Gleason's Gym, a world-famous boxing gym located in Brooklyn, NY. This show is must-see-TV for any boxing fan.

Brian Kenny and Teddy Atlas are commentators on ESPN's "Wednesday Night Fights" and "Friday Night Fights".

Labels: , ,

Friday, July 25, 2008

"The Jeffersons" (1975-1985)

George Jefferson (Sherman Helmsley) was a self-made man. Born poor in New York City, he opened a dry cleaning store on April 4, 1968 -- the day Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated -- and grew it into a thriving company. The company did so well that he and his wife, Louise (Isabel Sanford), whom he called "Weezy", were able to move into an upscale high-rise along with their college-aged son Lionel (first played by Mike Evans, and later by Damon Evans).

George was smart in business, but he had some major personality flaws, namely his temper and racist attitudes. He had plenty of targets to take his ire out on. Britisher Harry Bentley (Paul Bentley), a translator at the UN, lived down the hall. Helen and Tom Willis (Roxie Roxer and Franklin Cover) were an interracial married couple who lived upstairs. Lionel dated, and later married, their daughter Jenny (Berlinda Tolbert). Ralph (Ned Wertimer), the building's doorman, always had his hand out for tips. The only people who never seemed to let George completely run them over were Louise, and the maid, an outspoken woman named Florence (Marla Gibbs).

Episodes mainly focused on domestic squabbles between George and his wife, George's quest to get more business, and his ongoing fights with the neighbors and whoever else he came across. Yet there was plenty of commentary on issues of the day and race relations.

I always wished there would have been more exploration of the dynamics of the relationship between Tom and Helen Willis. An early episode had George telling the two they didn't dare get into an arguement because of the fear that Tom might call Helen the N-word (Tom was white). The couple left the Jefferson's apartment in a huff. But then Tom admitted to Helen that during their arguements, the N-word crossed his mind. The audience gasped. There would be times when the Willis couple would talk about their challenges as being an interracial couple. But never again would they have a deep conversation like that.

Mother Jefferson (Zara Cully) was a great character. George's mother seemed to never find anything good to say about her daughter-in-law Louise. Louise spent many an episode holding herself back from either cursing the woman out or putting her hands around her throat. Her character appeared on the show for about three years. Unfortunately, the actress who played her passed away; it was explained in the show that George's mother had died.

In fact, most of the primary cast for this long-running sitcom has passed on, including Ms. Sanford, Ms. Roxer, and Mr. Covey. Sherman Helmsley went on to another popular sitcom entitled "Amen" (1986-1991). Ms. Gibbs was the star of "227" (1985-1990). Ms. Roxer's son is musician Lenny Kravitz.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Experiment In Terror (1962)

Kelly Sherwood (Lee Remick) returns home from a party, parks her car in the garage, and gets the shock of her life. A man grabs her and tells her she will steal $100,000 from the bank where she works. If she doesn't comply, he'll kill her or her younger sister, Toby (Stefanie Powers). The man, named Red Lynch (Ross Martin), warns her that he'll be watching her every move, so there'll be no alerting the police. Kelly calls the FBI anyway, and connects with an agent named Ripley (Glenn Ford). Once a check on Lynch's background reveals the man is even more psychotic than previously thought -- and a body turns up -- the race is on to stop him.

This is a very taut thriller. Remick's character is continually under stress, and at times it looks as if she will crumble. Martin's character is very creepy, even using disguises to unnerve his victim. The camera angles make you wonder who is watching whom in various scenes.

Ms. Remick appeared in the original version of the horror movie The Omen (1976). Ms. Powers was in two TV series, "The Girl From U.N.C.L.E."(1966-1967) and "Hart To Hart"(1979-1984). Mr. Martin, a fine character actor, also did a lot of TV work including, "Mr. Lucky"(1959-1960) and "The Wild, Wild West" (1965-1970). Blake Edwards directed this movie. His TV and film work include the aforementioned "Mr. Lucky", "Peter Gunn" (1959-1961), 10 (1979), and The Pink Panther (1963).

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, July 18, 2008

Mamma Mia! (2008)

Donna (Meryl Streep), the owner of a small inn, doesn't know it, but she's in for a surprise. Her daughter, Sophie (Amanda Seyfried), is getting married and she's invited three of her mom's old boyfriends -- Bill (Stellan Starsgard), Harry (Colin Firth), and Sam (Pierce Brosnan) -- to the ceremony. The ceremony is to take place on the small Greek island where she and her mother reside. Sophie wants to finally know which one of the men is her dad. Donna has never divulged that information to her.

Donna used to be the lead in a popular pop group, and the two others in the group, Rosie (Julie Walters) and Tanya (Christine Baranski), have arrived to celebrate Sophie's wedding. They offer moral support when an upset Donna finds her old boyfriends on the island.

The music all consists of tunes by the 1970's pop group ABBA; their hits have been neatly put into this light and fluffy story. There is so much music that this film almost qualifies as a pop opera. The characters don't seem to get through a few sentences before they break into yet another song. Streep has a fine voice -- she sang in the movie Postcards From The Edge (1990) -- and Baranski and Walters harmonize nicely. Starsgard, Firth, and Brosnan aren't singers per se, but they do well with what is required of them in their roles. If you go into this movie not expecting much, you'll be fine. It's not a bad couple of hours.

Ms. Streep was nominated for an Oscar for her work in The Devil Wears Prada (2006). Mr. Brosnan was James Bond for awhile in a few movies including The World Is Not Enough (1999). He also was a regular on the NBC detective show, "Remington Steele" (1982-1987). Mr. Firth was in Bridget Jones' Diary (2001).

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Hancock (2008)

John Hancock (Will Smith) is a superhero, but not the noble kind, or one deserving of respect. He fights crime alright, but costs the city big money in terms of damages. Hancock appears to do his job just because he has the powers, not out of any concern for anyone. The superhero has a bad attitude and a drinking problem. The public can't stand Hancock.

One day, he saves Ray (Jason Bateman) from being run over by a train. The people in the crowd complain about Hancock's destruction of the train, as well as banging up Ray's car. But Ray is very appreciative. Since he's in the public relations business, he offers Hancock a chance to improve his image. Ray's wife, Mary (Charlize Theron), is uncomfortable around Hancock, but not for the reasons Ray thinks.

This movie runs just under an hour and a half, but it is not a tight story. There are mysteries about the main character that still aren't explained even when another character clearly has the answers. We've seen most of the superhero stunts presented here in other films, and they don't feel fresh or new. A plot device involving bad guys out for revenge seemed to have been thrown in late to give the film a bang ending. The premise of the story -- what if a superhero was not likeable? -- is a good idea. Unfortunately, the idea wasn't fleshed out as far as it could have.

Will Smith started his career as a popular rapper known as The Fresh Prince in the 1980s. He was nominated twice for a Best Actor Oscar -- Ali (2001) and The Pursuit of Happyness (2006). Jason Bateman was a child actor, having appeared on "Silver Spoons" (1982-1987). He was also part of the cast of the acclaimed comedy "Arrested Development" (2003-2006). Charlize Theron won an Best Actress Oscar for Monster (2003). Nancy Grace, the host of her self-titled CNN show, has a cameo in this movie.

Labels: , ,