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11 April 2013


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William R. Cumming




Gary Oldman is a wonderful actor who has been under a reverse Mccarthyite ban for many years. That may have had a good dealto do with this film's lack of impact at the time it was produced.

Alan Farrell is retiring from his teaching post at VMI this year. He will still grace our space here from his mountaintop at Glasgow, Virginia, where he will be something like the man described as sitting there with a rifle across his knees in Walker Percy's "Lancelot." pl

William R. Cumming

THE CONTENDER not available to stream on NETFLIX!

Never saw the complete WEST WING so streamed the rest this last winter over several months. The illusion of control illustrated but not dealt with for the President and his minions in that effort. Still worth watching efforts to put out fires as opposed to long term thinking. Guessing no long term in politics except for incumbents with mucho lobbying money for their campaigns and no term limits.

Charles I

ahh Shelly Runyon, had forgotten him but waiting for his downfall I recall is what I waited for in the movie, Oldman positively oozes in the role. He has played more powerful underrated roles over the years, Batmans aside than you can shake a stick at, although often cast as generic malevolence d' jour, a la the ever watchable The Fifth Element.

He often calls to my mind Tim Roth, with whom he played in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. Roth recently gave a nice understated turn as a put upon hitman in a little film call The Liability

Charles I

Hi Alan. I have watched the first half season of Veep per your earlier recco, upon which my anticipation built as I share your appreciation of the lovely and lively and talented Julia. Her phenotype is enough reality for any show.

It is a hoot. I hadn't heard that Season 2 was a go, a worthy prospect, and a must once you get a taste.


PL, what did Oldman do to get banned?

I like him a lot, too.



He is very conservative politically but this movie may have been the proximate cause. pl



I will see if I can scrounge up a worthy token of esteem for your enjoyment on the mountaintop. I certainly owe something, especially after that fiasco that was John Carter.

Maureen Lang

I had hoped you might some day review "The Contender." Perhaps you would consider also reviewing the other Joan Allen starrer you recommended to me, "The Upside of Anger." Or any Joan Allen, really- I'm a great admirer of her acting style.

Re: Gary Oldman- I tend to agree with the boycott idea you put forth. Oldman very publicly took on the mighty Steven & Company at Dreamworks over their skewing of "The Contender"- that makes him downright heroic considering their ability to make or break "above the line" film personnel.

William Fitzgerald

Alan Farrell,

The Veeps now reside at the old Naval Observatory. I just watched (Netflix) "Death at a Funeral" and found it to be a very, very funny British comedy of the slapstick sort with a superb ensemble cast. "The Contender" is on order. I agree with your comments about Joan Allen. She's no Meg Ryan in the adorable category, but what an actress!



Oldman wasn’t blacklisted but the fuss probably cost him an Oscar nomination:


Actors sometimes miss the big picture focusing on their own roles, so it’s possible that happened here. In any case Oldman’s fantastic, disappearing so completely into the character that I initially didn’t recognize him.

Joan Allen used to get stuck in those uptight roles that Laura Linney gets now. It happens to actresses who aren’t glamorous or sexy enough and are too obviously intelligent. A typically thankless one for Allen was the wife in The Crucible, apologizing to Daniel Day-Lewis for driving him to adultery with the hired girl because she wasn’t hot enough.

The Tourette’s-like obscenities in Veep are apparently close to life. I did have a problem with the miscarriage subplot towards the end of the season, too serious an event to treat so offhandedly, but otherwise it’s a great show.

Maureen Lang

Thanks for including that Ebert link, Stephanie. Very interesting reading, also the cause of some grinning & chuckling around the den fireplace this evening. I was reading it when my husband asked to have a look next. I wondered if he'd pick up on the same couple of sentences I had. Didn't have to wait long: Husband (who, during three of the films he worked on at Amblin/Universal, had sat in many a production meeting with Spielberg) snorted, laughed, then ran his finger under "...Did [Rod] Lurie lose his nerve? "I sat in the editing room with Steven Spielberg," Lurie told me, "and he told me, 'Make the movie you believe in.'..."


You're welcome. Regardless of politics, it's never a bright idea for an actor to criticize his new picture in the press (cf. Katherine Heigl and "Knocked Up").

I was also amused, but more by Urbanski's characterization of "Network" as "subtle." Paddy Chayefsky had many fine qualities as a writer but he didn't know from subtle (and neither did the director, Sidney Lumet).

Jim Ticehurst

Alan...Always good to see other one of your great works of Poetic Art Movie Reviews here...I still have bits and pieces of many of your reviews,,Poems and Nam writings flashing back into my mind...leaving funny images ..of serious mtters...as only you can do...You have my deepest respect Sir...and I Thank you for the many Years of correspondence we have had,, and for the Two books of yours you mailed to me...I am glad that you have stayed Safe...Accomplished so much with your Life....and I Wish you all The Best...for Your well Deserved Retirement....Well Done..Sir

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