Beauty and the Best


"The Hobbit" (1977) Review

blogEntryTopperI have a real treat for you today All Good Fans. I'm home from my local Value Village where I found a copy of The Hobbit on DVD just sitting in a bin! It must be some rough cut which accidentally made its way out of the studio. That's even better than when someone found a rough draft of the Star Wars script in my local library. Its cover doesn't even have the actors, just some of what I assume to be concept art. I'm so excited that I had to start writing this before even watching it. So keep reading and be amongst first to know everything you have wanted to about Peter Jackson's the Hobbit.


This is not Peter Jackson's The Hobbit. Upon watching for 90 seconds I can tell you this is definitely not Peter Jackon's The Hobbit. How embarrassing. I guess I'll just have to review it anyway. Instead keep reading to be amongst the who knows how many to know everything you never knew you wanted to know about Rankin Bass' The Hobbit.

The Hobbit, for those of you who don't know, is the 1937 story about Bilbo Baggins; a reserved fixture of his Hobbit community who one day receives a visit from a wizard and twelve Dwarves that wish to hire him as their expert treasure hunter (e.g. burglar) on a grand adventure across the land to take back what's theirs from a powerful dragon. Of course, Mr. Baggins has no need for dragon treasure, knows nothing of burgling nor has ever been on an adventure but he reluctantly joins them anyway and begins his unexpected journey through Middle-Earth. On his journey, Bilbo learns just how great the world is through its fantastic creatures & settings, changing himself from a quiet homebody to an adventurer of legend.

This version of The Hobbit was released as an animated television special in 1977 from the same production company that would later make The Last Unicorn and Thundercats as well as animated by oh, Topcraft! Topcraft was an animation team who's members later formed a new company you may have heard of called Studio Ghibli. I've got to admit, the animation in this is pretty sharp, especially for 1970s television and I generally really like the art direction/character designs they used even if they took some, shall we say, creative liberties in those designs. For example, Gollum looks like a frog with ears and Smaug has a cat for a face. Now it's been a long time since I've read the novel but to be fair, I don't recall it ever specifically saying he DOESN'T have a cat for a face.

But likewise, the plot and dialogue stay surprisingly faithful to the source material with the exception of few omitted sections (such as the part with Beorn) and some plot points streamlined due to time constraints. It really makes me wonder how Peter Jackson intends to stretch this story out into three movies when this one did it in, let me check my DVD, 77 minutes! Even the music uses the actual lyrics from the poems and songs in the novel, which is a nice touch and now that we've brought it up - the music. Oh the music.

The Hobbit [Õîááèò] (1977) SATRip ñêðèíøîò4
The music is, honestly, it's pretty cheesy. So much so that South Park even made references to how goofy it is with their infamous Lemmywinks episode. Try the links to compare and you'll quickly hear what I mean. Otherwise the sound is generally quite good. The cast includes Hans Conried as Thorin Oakenshield, um Otto Preminger as Thranduil and uh John Huston as Gandalf? What?! Alright, it's an excellent if not random collection making the cast and they do a great job portraying the characters, maybe even better than their live-action counterparts. So overall, I like this. I really like this.

I'd recommend it and if you would like to see this version to compare it with the Peter Jackson version, officially coming to theaters on December 14, 2012, then it is available on DVD along with various digital streaming services. Surprisingly, despite the upcoming live-action adaptation, however, I unfortunately could find no plans to release this on Bluray, which is a shame because if nothing else this is a fun little adventure that should not be forgotten even if future versions turn out to be even better.

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All The Boys Love Mandy Lane - AGT Mini Review

blogEntryTopperEver wonder what Jonathan Levine did before he directed the critically praised cancer dramedy “50/50” ? Well, it turns out the 2008 arthouse horror flick, “All The Boys Love Mandy Lane,” was his feature directorial debut, and it’s impressive. Levine got involved with directing Mandy Lane while he was still a student at AFI, where met the writer and producer. (There’s a very interesting story about how the film was discovered by the famed producer Harvey Weinstein at the Toronto Film Festival and subsequently wound up in distribution purgatory, here.)

Mandy Lane Flirting
Pic traces the story of the somewhat mysterious title character, Mandy Lane, who is unquestionably the most beautiful girl at her high school, and also probably the most taciturn. Mandy just smiles ambiguously when guys compliment her and runs away from them on the track. But when peer pressure finally drives her to make an appearance at a pool party, things turn ugly when the school jock jumps off a rooftop to impress her. Can you say “massive head injury”? To be fair, he may have been egged on a little by Mandy’s ne'er-do-well male compadre, Emmet.

Cut to nine months later and Mandy has somehow assimilated into the in-crowd and is about to spend the weekend with them on a remote farm. Of course, muy killings ensue, but how it all unravels will no doubt surprise you. The movie is beautifully shot with liberal quantities of lens flare and golden hour lighting. Amber Heard, who plays Mandy, could not have asked for a better debut vehicle to showcase her classic, Hollywood good looks.

Here are the things that struck me about Mandy Lane. One, it’s got a nice build up. I happen to be one of those people who prefer the silly preludes before the killing sprees in horror movie, and this story unfolds nicely in that regard. Plenty of middle-aged wish fulfillment played out here with all the eye candy. Secondly, Amber Heard. Have I mentioned that this gun-toting lesbian is hot? Lastly, the direction, production, and script - this movie is just a cut above as horror flicks go. It’s not scary though – it’s more of a thriller.

So pick this one up on a Friday night if you can find it (it is quite difficult to find because it never got its intended US release). It’s a Digging-Thru-Crates gem.

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