Vintage Deseret News Columns Vintage Deseret News Columns

FAREWELL, BATMAN

     

For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, June 23, 2017

EDITOR’S NOTE: When I was co-hosting with Doug Wright a TV version of our KSL Radio “Movie Show,” I had the opportunity of doing a brief taped interview with Adam West, TV’s Batman in the mid-1960s, who died two weeks ago at age 88. Here’s a transcript of what we aired on that show in October 1994, which is quite brief because satellite TV interviews were done one after another, with stations all around the country lining up, and each was allotted just six minutes … to include introductions! For the celebrities it was akin to an on-camera treadmill. (We padded such interviews with movie or TV clips, of course.)

Chris Hicks: You know, for a lot of the baby-boom generation, myself included, we grew up watching “Batman,” and you were Batman, and you were on twice a week with those great cliffhangers. I remember at the time that everything was Batman, it was just insane, it was just, well, they called it Batmania, and it really was. Those awful joke books with Batman jokes, and all that stuff. What do you think it was about the show that made it so incredibly popular at the time, and that has kept it popular all these years?

 

     

          Adam West at San Diego Comic Con (2014).

 

Adam West: Chris, I've lived with all those things, all these years, and I've just gotten to the point where, people have been wonderful about it.

 

CH: How did you, at the time, attract all of those big name stars that came on to play villains.

 

AW: Well, I think that these actors wanted to play roles that were unlike other things they were doing. I mean, how many times do you get to make that kind of trip, you know, pull all the stops and be some bigger than life, a strange villain.

     

The Penguin (Burgess Meredith), The Joker (Cesar Romero), The Riddler (Frank Gorshin) in the "Batman" movie (1966).

 

CH: After “Batman” went off the air, did it typecast you in way that hindered your career after that?

 

AW: Oh yeah, absolutely, because, I, in an attempt to rise from the ashes or pick up what I thought were the ruins of a career, I got into some really bad movies. 

 


New Movies This Week New Movies This Week

ART FOR ART’S SAKE

  

For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, June 23, 2017

Another blockbuster is being added to the heap this week — the heap so far includiing “Cars 3” and “Wonder Woman,” which currently dominate the early-summer box office, and “The Mummy,” “Guardian of the Galaxy, Vol. 2” and “Pirates of the Caribbean V,” which are hanging in there. And here comes "Transformers V."

Plus four so-called “art films,” lower-budget movies about … wait for it … actual human beings.

"Transformers: The Last Knight" (PG-13). Michael Bay's latest episode in the franchise about shape-shifting robots brings back Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Josh Duhamel and John Turturro, and adds Anthony Hopkins to the mix. Can another Oscar be in the offiing? Not for Hopkins, of course, but for Optimus Prime.

“Beatriz at Dinner” (R). When her car breaks down after an appointment with a wealthy client, a masseuse/holistic medicine practitioner (Salma Hayek) is invited to join a dinner party where her down-to-earth beliefs clash with the other guests’ materialism. John Lithgow, Chloe Sevigny, Connie Britton and Jay Duplass co-star. 

   

“Band Aid” (Not Rated). Low-budget independent comedy about a bickering married couple that decides to turn their arguments into songs and forms a band to sing them. (Exclusively at the Broadway Centre Cinemas.)

“Citizen Jane: Battle for the City” (Not Rated). Documentary about urban activist and writer Jane Jacobs, who fought to save historic New York City during the 1960s redevelopment era of urban planner Robert Moses. (Exclusively at the Broadway Centre Cinemas.)

“The Bad Batch” (R). Dark sci-fi romance about an unlikely romance that occurs in the midst of a community of cannibals in a post-apocalyptic Texas wasteland. With Jim Carrey, Keanu Reeves and Giovanni Ribisi in supporting roles. (Exclusively at the Tower Theater.)


New DVDS/Blu-rays New DVDS/Blu-rays

BAMBI

     

For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, June 23, 2017

EDITOR’S NOTE: Disney has reissued one of its great classic animated films in a new Blu-ray edition for its 75th anniversary. Here’s my review, published in the Deseret News on July 15, 1988, for one of its theatrical revivals back in the day.

Hunters beware! Perhaps the most successful propagandistic anti-hunting movie ever is back in theaters Friday, and your kids will be wanting to know if you’re one of those guys that goes out and kills Bambi’s mother.

Walt Disney’s classic animated-feature “Bambi” has returned, and it’s as good as — maybe even better than — you remember it.

From the opening moments, as the camera pans through the forest and animals are shown innocently going about their early-morning routines, it’s apparent that this is a movie loaded with charm and wit and superlative art.

     

Thumper doesn't get why 'Bambi' can't stand up on the ice.

The most popular elements, of course, have always been the opening scenes where Bambi, as a newborn, meets for the first time his friends Thumper the rabbit and Flower the skunk, along with many other creatures of the forest. Along the way Bambi is introduced to rain, lightning, snow and other forces of nature. And, ultimately, in the film’s most infamous moment, when Bambi has a very serious run-in with “man” and his mother is killed.

The scenes of discovery are wonderfully illustrated so that children immediately identify with what they are going through in their lives right now, and adults identify with nostalgia what they remember as their faded youth.

And though there may be some question about whether the lifestyle of these wild animals — with absentee fathers, completely domestic full-time mothers, and the violent world that surrounds them — is something we want our children to think of as reality, there’s no denying that this “Bambi” touches a lot of recognizable nerves. (And perhaps can open up some parent-child discussion that might prove most worthwhile.)

As a film it is much less broad, and in many ways more realistic than most other Disney animated features, accurately portraying human characteristics (particularly as “children”). But it’s also quite real in the way it depicts animal movement and interaction. A curious, fascinating combination that ultimately works perfectly.

     

Thumper, for example, reciting what his father has told him about behaving in public, is the child we’ve all been, and the way he sees his father is the parent we all become.

“Bambi” is funny, touching, exciting and wondrous — a textbook case of how to align action with music, how to develop characters we recognize and come to love, and how to utterly entrance an audience.

And, needless to say, the full, classical animation is wonderful.

What this film demonstrates perfectly is what is often called Disney “magic.” It has never been so magically in evidence as with “Bambi.”


Welcome Welcome

Hi. I'm Chris Hicks.

But if you're looking for Chris Hicks the Australian rugby player or the American recording-industry executive or the Major League Baseball player or the author of "Think" or the singer-songwriter or the former basketball player, you're in the wrong place.

I'm Chris Hicks the movie guy from Salt Lake City. If that's who you're looking for, welcome to my website as I enter the 21st century … a little late (May 2013).

This site is all about movies, well mostly, and it's also about me, I guess, but I'll try to keep my ego in check.

My goal, my hope, is that you will be able to browse the pages here and be alerted to or reminded of some great movie you've never heard of or forgotten about. In other words, something that might enhance your movie-watching experience, whether it's by Alfred Hitchcock or Joss Whedon, or stars Audrey Hepburn or Jennifer Lawrence or someone you never heard of. And I've also tried to make it fun.

The bulk of stories and reviews here are gleaned from my 30-plus years of writing about film for the Deseret News, a daily newspaper in Salt Lake City, with side trips here and there to other entertainment forms.

I'm still writing for the D-News and contributing the occasional article to the website Familius, publisher of my May 2013 book, "Has Hollywood Lost Its Mind?"

This site is a mix of archival stuff (with permission) from the Deseret News, along with an array of non-DesNews material, including new blogs, reviews and stories as often as I can manage to squeeze them out.

Hope you enjoy my little site. If you do, tell your friends. If you don't, just say you couldn't find it.

Cheers,
Chris H.

Shameless Hucksterism Shameless Hucksterism

  Click cover for Parents.com article.  Click cover for interview with Chris.

 

Click here for Deseret News interview.

Click here for Deseret News review.

Golden Oldies On the Big Screen Golden Oldies On the Big Screen

NINE TO FIVE

     

For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, June 16, 2017

EDITOR’S NOTE: This popular feminist comedy has a great cast, imaginative fantasy sequences, a plot that becomes more implausible as it goes along and a hit title song (by co-star Dolly Parton) — and it was the second biggest box-office hit of 1980 (after ‘The Empire Strikes Back’). It’s a great choice for a big-screen revival, and you can see it at select Cinemark Theaters on Sunday, July 9, at 2 p.m., and Wednesday, July 12, at 2 and 7 p.m. Here’s my Deseret News review, published on Dec. 19, 1980.

It’s been decades since we’ve had a really sharp women’s “buddy” picture, but we have one now, and I’m happy to report that “Nine to Five” is not only a hilarious, thought-provoking showstopper — it’s also bound to be one of the year’s most successful efforts.

Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton click together with a chemistry that is all too rare these days, and it just may open the floodgates to more films in which successful women take hold of their own lives. Well, we can always hope.

Colin Higgins, who co-scripted “Harold and Maude,” scripted “Silver Streak” and wrote and directed “Foul Play,” adds his own brand of black humor to this story of three working women in a corporate office who decide to get revenge on their inept, chauvinistic boss.

     

Lily Tomlin, animated friend in a 'Nine to Five' fantasy sequence.

This one’s a little more lighthearted than Higgins’ earlier films, with a blend of deliciously sadistic daydreams that suddenly look as if they’ve become a reality.

The cast is first-rate throughout. Jane Fonda shines as a meek longtime housewife whose divorce forces her into the workaday world (does Fonda ever pick bad properties anymore?), Lily Tomlin is absolutely hilarious as the acerbic-witted office veteran who is tired of covering for the boss, Dolly Parton essentially plays herself but the acting company carries her along and she’s a delight, and Dabney Coleman is perfect as the boss whose personal interests overrule all.

Elizabeth Wilson, as Coleman’s enabling cohort, and Sterling Hayden, as the chairman of the board, are also very good.

Sexual harassment and the general subservient treatment of women in many office environments is obviously no joke, but through farce, Higgins and Patricia Resnick’s script manages to maintain the subtle horror of some real problems.

     

  Lily Tomlin, left, Donny Parton, Jane Fonda, 'Nine to Five'

It’s more than pouring coffee and purchasing birthday gifts for the boss’ wife. It’s knowing that no matter how efficient you are your gender will prevent you from climbing to the top of the corporate ladder.

Resnick interviewed a number of women who work in offices and asked them to fantasize for a moment about how they might get back at thoughtless bosses. And each of the three leading ladies has the opportunity to do the same, and the results are three of the movie’s funniest sequences.

In a year of very little genuine humor, “9 to 5” is more than welcome. Witty, sharp, satirical, straightforward and — despite extremes that only good comedy will allow — very real, this is a movie that should not be missed.

“Nine to Five” is rated PG for some profanity and a sequence of marijuana usage.


Oldies New to DVD/Blu-ray Oldies New to DVD/Blu-ray

THREE BROTHERS

     

For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, June 9, 2017

EDITOR’S NOTE: The boutique label Arrow has reissued on Blu-ray this Italian comedy-drama that has perhaps been forgotten, but which deserves a second look. Here’s my June 1, 1982, Deseret News review.

“Three Brothers” is one of those little foreign films that occasionally slips into town unnoticed (and often at the Utah 3), plays one week only, then just as quietly slips out of town again.

But in this case it is a thoroughly engrossing film that should not be overlooked by those in the market for a film-painting that genuinely qualifies as art.

Francesco Rosi has captured the feelings of all of us, at one time or another, and filled his canvas with visual images that will enthrall and ideas that will provoke deep thought.

The distinguished French actor Philippe Noiret (“Dear Inspector”) stars as the older of the three brothers, a judge in the north of Italy who is trying to decide whether he should take on a serious case involving a terrorist. His wife hopes he will not, for fear of his life.

The second brother, played by Vittorio Mezzogiorno, is a teacher in a juvenile institution, an idealist who is plagued with nightmares that contrast with his outlook on life.

The third, Michele Placido, is a disillusioned blue-collar worker who has been involved in unionizing, and has felt the prejudice of those in management. He is also having some marital troubles.

     

      Philip Noiret, left, Michele Placido, 'Three Brothers'

They are all notified in their individual lives that their mother has died, so, for the first time in many years, they come together, to help their father bury their mother.

The three are so self-involved that they are hardly aware of each other’s presence, but gradually they come to learn something from one another.

The film is filled with flashbacks from each, and their father, who, in some particularly delightful moments, remembers vividly his early days with his beloved wife.

Rosi has painted an often dark picture of human existence, but beneath it all is the struggle for something better.

There are all kinds of problems brought up here, and some of them are explored more than others. But solutions are not what this film is after. It’s hope.

     

The fact of hope, the desire for hope — the knowledge that somehow, some way, the future holds something better, whatever it may be. That desire and need are not the same, but love and trust are necessary.

The visuals are also an integral part of the story. In Southern Italy, where the majority of the film takes place, there are some wonderful old buildings and streets that have so much history in them that they tell as much of the story as dialogue.

Rated PG for some violence and a brief, non-explicit sex scene, “Three Brothers” is an excellent example of European storytelling, with heart and depth. The film is in Italian with English subtitles.