The Rockford Files (1974-1980) were always one of my favorite TV shows, both when on the air and whenever I could find since — in syndication, or on DVD and Hulu. In the former era, I thrilled to the complicated plots and oddball characters, and enjoyed the easy-going ruthlessness of James Garner’s Jim Rockford. Today, in addition to all that, each episode provides an instant return to the Los Angeles where I grew up — a place and time I despised then, but have since become somewhat nostalgic for.
Obviously, I was not the only Rockford fan who missed the genial detective: in the 1990s eight made-for-TV movies were issued; the first four of these are on this DVD. Not surprisingly, it is an older if not always wiser Rockford that Garner portrays — less given to running and fisticuffs, but still sharp (and not incapable of the physical stunts if he really has to use them). More after the jump:
I long ago realized that my loving a series usually means that it’s doomed. The magic worked again with last season’s Life on Mars. It was, to my way of thinking, one of the best and most intelligent shows on TV at that time. Of course, it didn’t hurt that the series was set — sort of — in 1973. An American version of a BBC hit, the series chronicled the adventures of New York police detective Sam Tyler (Jason O’Mara), who having survived a car accident in 2008, somehow woke up over thirty years before. Each week, Tyler’s “enlightened” views on police and societal affairs were pitted against the “archaic” mores of his fellow cops, especially Lt. Gene Hunt (Harvey Keitel). Sam’s only ally is Policewoman Annie Norris (Gretchen Mol).
But that was only one motif. In with and under his struggles with the past, and attempts to solve crimes without the technology he was used to in the present, Tyler also was forced to try to figure out how he had arrived in the past, and whether he was really there at all. Each episode veered in the direction of one or another explanation: that he really was back in time; that he was actually in a coma; that he had died in the accident, and was in some sort of strange Purgatory; and on and on. Moreover, 2008 had an odd way of bleeding back to him, via radio broadcasts, newspapers, and the occasional odd character. More after the jump:
One of the joys of DVD-ing is reuniting with films you enjoyed in the long-ago, and the finding out if they were as good as you remember. Sometimes they are not, which tells you a great deal about how your tastes have changed. I am happy to say that The Last Starfighter has held up well since its 1984 release. Just as enjoyable as the first time I saw it in a theater, Robert Preston’s last film features the old character actor as Centauri, an intergalactic con-man, who recruits Alex Rogan (Lance Guest), a visionary teen trapped in a remote trailer park, to be…well…the last starfighter; of course, neither Centauri nor Alex are aware that his role will be so final at the time. More after the jump:
This is a movie which must be addressed from two different directions: first, as a straight horror film; and second, as an effort that purports to be “based on true events.” Lets look at its strictly cinematic role to begin with.
Peter (Martin Donovan) and Sara Campbell (Virginia Madsen) have a problem. Their teenage son, Matt (Kyle Gallner) has a probably terminal cancer. Apart from the disease’s fraying their nerves and their marriage, it complicates their raising of Matt’s young brother, Billy (Ty Wood), and sister, Mary (Sophi Knight). Fortunately, Sara’s niece, Wendy (Amanda Crew) is living with them — able to provide baby-sitting as needed and, being about Matt’s age, friendship for her afflicted cousin. More after the jump: