Ellison & Penley: Episode 2
Estefan: I'm Estefan Ellison.
Penley: And I'm Will Penley.
Ellison: And welcome to the second episode of Ellison & Penley. The first film in this week's topic of this discussion is Blazing Saddles, directed by Mel Brooks. Hedley Lamaar wants to build a railroad through the town of Rock Ridge, but the riteful owners are standing in his way. To run them out of town, he appoints a black sheriff named Bart. However, the townsfolk begin to like him and Hedley must use other ideas to scare them off. Blazing Saddles is quite possibly the funniest film of all-time. The script, the acting and the music are all brilliant. I especially liked the work from Cleavon Little, Gene Wilder, Harvey Korman and the man himself, Mel Brooks who plays the dim-witted governer. Blazing Saddles gets a rip-roaring thumbs up!
Penley: Well, I don't know if I agree with it being the funniest film of all time, but it's certainly an excellent film. I'm just getting into Mel Brooks' filmography, and this is the best one I've seen yet. Thumbs up for me, as well.
Ellison: I also agree that it's his best film and I've seen more of his than you have. Another film from a well-known director is Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho. The story involves some woman who arrives at a hotel and is murdered in the shower. The rest of the film involves people trying to figure out who killed her. My very un-enthusiastic summary shows that I didn't agree with the other critics on this one. I found Psycho to be boring and uninteresting. The only remotely excellent thing about this film is the chilling score. The shower scene is nothing to get excited about, either. Psycho gets the very first thumbs down on the show.
Penley: Whoa, whoa, whoa! I can't believe what I'm hearing here! I disagree completely. I was interested the entire way through, and some parts are actually very scary. The score is excellent, Bernard Hermann is one of my favorite composers. I give Psycho a huge thumbs up! In my opinion, it's Hitchcock's second best film (the best being Rope).
Ellison: Not me. I've never really gotten into Hitchcock as much as other people. Maybe Tarantino or Spielberg should have done Psycho.
Penley: I have to say, if Tarantino had done Psycho, it would have been even better.
Ellison: Yes, it would have. So, this is the first disagreement on the show.
Penley: The next film on the show is Wes Anderson's The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, a film I saw for the first time this past week. Famed oceanographer Steve Zissou (Bill Murray, in another amazing performance) is about to set out on a journey to find the shark that killed his friend Esteban. However, just before he is about to leave he is approached by a young man called Ned Plimpton (Owen Wilson), who claims to be Zissou's son. I really liked this film. It reminded me a lot of another film by Anderson, The Royal Tenenbaums. As I said before, Murray gives another fascinating performance here. In my opinion, he's better in dramas than comedies. The screenplay by Anderson and Noah Baumbach is superb and very well-written. I give this one thumbs up.
Ellison: Me too. I saw this when it first came out in cinemas and I did not think once about Ghostbusters and Caddyshack. In fact, I didn't think about Lost in Translation, either. Murray is very unique here and if there were five better performances that year, I would have nominated him. I was surprised he wasn't nominated for a Golden Globe, though.
Penley: So was I.
Ellison: I also thought that Henry Selick (who is most well-known for directing The Nightmare Before Christmas) did an excellent job with creating the underwater creatures. Plus, Willem Dafoe stole the show for me playing one of Zissou's crew.
Penley: I also thought Jeff Goldblum was fantastic as Zissou's nemesis, Alistair Hennessey.
Ellison: The Life Aquatic gets a thumbs up from me.
Penley: The final film on our show is Nora Ephron's comedy Bewitched. Isabel Bigelow (Nicole Kidman) is a kind, good-hearted witch who has just moved to California to reinvent herself. There, she meets hotshot producer/actor Jack Wyatt (Will Ferrell), whose latest film has just bombed and is about to begin work on a remake of the classic Bewitched TV series. However, Jack can't find anyone right to play the main character, Samantha, on the show. That is, until Isabel shows how well she can wiggle her nose. This film was alright, but I felt it could have been funnier. Will Ferrell was great as always, and scene-stealer Steve Carell gives a great, but brief performance as Uncle Arthur. Still, I give it a marginal thumbs down.
Ellison: And now comes the second disagreement on the show, because I give Bewitched a thumbs up. I don't think Nora Ephron was expecting a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar nomination for this, but she still did a good job.
Penley: Oh, I agree it had a fairly good screenplay. It just wasn't as funny as it could have been.
Ellison: I didn't much care for Kidman and Ferrell, but the work from Michael Caine, Shirley MacLaine and Steve Carell made up for it. I agree that the "I'm a Clippers fan" joke wasn't funny, though.
Penley: Ha, I actually liked that.
Ellison: Besides, I liked that they didn't go for a straight television show to film adaptation and decides to take it in a different direction.
Penley: That keeps me from completely hating it. It definitely wasn't as bad as The Honeymooners.
Ellison: I haven't see that and nor will I.
Penley: Good thinking.
Ellison: So, all these films are available to rent or own on DVD.
Ellison: I recommend all four, except for Psycho.
Penley: I recommend three of them. I didn't care for Bewitched, but I'm sure some people out there might.
Ellison: Like me. I'm Estefan Ellison.
Penley: Before we go, I would like to remind everyone to buy or rent Jarhead, which was released on DVD this past week. I'm Will Penley.
Ellison: Thank you for reading.