Thursday, September 29, 2005

WCBE 90.5 FM: "The History of Violence," "The Greatest Game Ever Played," Roman Polanski's "Oliver Twist"

It's Movie Time
Co-hosts, writers & producers: John DeSando & Clay Lowe For WCBE 90.5 FM

Reviews: "The History of Violence," "The Greatest Game Ever Played," "Oliver Twist"
Taped: 1:30 pm, September 28, 2005
Air Time: 3:01 pm and 8:01 pm, September 30, 2005
Streaming live on the web at .

The Script:

"The History of Violence" is the story of a prodigal killer come home . . .

"The Greatest Game Ever Played" is Seabiscuit to a Tee . . .

Roman Polanski gives "Oliver" a hardy twist . . .


Richelle Antczak
"It's Movie Time" in Central-Ohio with John DeSando and Clay Lowe . . .


I'm John DeSando

And I'm Clay Lowe

Jon ("The History of Violence")
Clay: In director David Cronenberg’s History of Violence, Tom Stall, played with hunky toughness by Viggo Mortensen, owns a small town Indiana café. As if out of a Flannery O’Connor short story or the expressionistic Dogville, strangers come to town and change everything. Though Ed Harris as gangster Fogarty is not half as pretty as the Nicole Kidman moll in Dogville, the two represent the forces of evil that arrive at will and must be confronted.

This is the director whose Crash (1996) set the standard for auto accident eroticism. In History of Violence his glee in the gorier aspects of violence is apparent in the graphic depiction of each murder. But more astounding is the oral sex sequence, just a hair shy of pornographic, and the final after-violence sex act, in which Cronenberg firmly marries violence to sex.

Clay ("The History of Violence")
John, in Cronenberg’s History of Violence a small bucolic town does seem to lose its innocence when out-of-town strangers prompt a Mr. Nice Guy to cut loose his killer instincts. But, folks, don’t jump to conclusions, Cronenberg’s exploration about the nature of our basic instincts raises more questions than answers. Sex, violence, good, evil. Oh what a web of issues he raises.

Mortensen is just as believable as a shy and boyish husband, as he is as his wife’s sometimes brutal lover. Maria Bello is as convincing as an everyday mom, as she is when she plays out the roles of temptress and a passive victim. Ed Harris is superb playing a mean and nasty villain, and William Hurt takes great delight in the part of the movies wounded, jilted lover.

What Cronenberg’s The History of Violence reveals is what Shakespeare already discovered:

“All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts”

John ("The Greatest Game Ever Played ")
If not the greatest game ever played, certainly the 1913 US Open, where 20-year-old amateur Francis Ouimet defeated reigning champion Harry Vardon, would have to rank in the top five. Rare it is for any amateur to win a professional tournament; for an American to take it from the defending Brit champion and another top Brit was unthinkable at the turn of the last century.

Director Bill Paxton in The Greatest Game Ever Played has learned a thing or two from sentimentalist Gary Ross, whose Seabiscuit (2003) is for me the most recent touchstone for all underdog, American-overcoming-odds films.

Nor does Paxton slack oh the special effects

Often we follow the ball as if we were riding it, careering behind it, or seeing its point of view. Sometimes a graceful swing sends the ball into the audience (Is Paxton thinking 3-D?).

Wimbledon (2004) used similar effects plus voice-over of the athlete’s thoughts, but that was a far less effective film.

Clay ("Oliver Twist")
Folks, there are no obvious special effects in Roman Polanski’s new version of “Oliver Twist,” just an old-fashioned reliance on brilliant cinematography and sound visual design. The movie’s opening scenes of the English countryside are worthy of gallery framing and display and perfectly frame Oliver’s flight from country to city in search of a place to hide. Although these images are less suggestive of Dickens and more so of Thomas Hardy.

Unfortunately, the movie’s cast of actors do not live up to the settings they’ve been given to perform in. Young Oliver is a bit bland; the Artful Dodger, a bit too scrub-faced and fresh; the poor and abused Nancy could have been more memorable; and bad guy Bill Sykes facially resembles a kindly brother-in-law more than he does a villain mean and cruel.

Sure Ben Kingsley stands out as Fagan, London’s Prince of Thieves, but he plays him no better, nor worse, than the great actors who played Fagan before him.

John, it sure looks good, but as you well know, good looks are never enough.

But enough of gun blasts, golf balls, and good lookers, John, because it's grading time.

Holy Balls of Fire, Hooray!

"The History of Violence" earns an A because the ARTILLERY of ACTION is not just bullets . . .

"The History of Violence" gets an “A” because the connection between sex and violence is as old as ADAM & Eve and Cain & ABEL . . .

"The Greatest Game Ever Played" earns a “B” because BOYS are always capable of BEATING men at great games such as golf . . . and life . . .

"Oliver Twist" gets a “B” because the visuals are BEAUTIFUL but, with the exception Ben Kingsley, the rest of the cast is rather BORING . . .

Clay, I'm off to try the greatest game I've ever played with my Russian interpreter.

"These violent delights" and all that . . .

I'm outta here.

John, "These violent delights" is a preface to a warning from "Romeo and Juliet," as I recall.

Let me know if you need a wake up call.

I'm outta here. too

See you at the movies, folks.


The Award Winning "It's Movie Time" with John DeSando and Clay Lowe is written and produced by John DeSando and Clay Lowe in conjunction with 90.5 FM, WCBE in Columbus and 106.7 FM in Newark.


© 2005 John DeSando and Clay Lowe