The Thomas Crown Affair

The Thomas Crown Affair
a kate west favorite

Top action Director John McTiernan remade the 1968 Norman Jewison film, (originally starring Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway), with Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo in 1999. Suavely directed, suave Thomas Crown (Brosnan) suavely steals famous pieces of art straight from museums (unlike the bank robbing original character) and suavely romances Insurance Investigator Catherine Banning (Russo). Dennis Leary is the not so suave Detective in charge of catching billionaire Crown who obviously doesn't need to steal; he just does it for the fun of it. Banning is completely captivated by Crown, matching his style and witticism, stride for stride.

Brosnan and Russo are great together and how the movie compares to its predecessor is almost irrelevant, as it stands fully on its own in style. Sure it has flaws (unfortunate weak ending as well as a few minor plot "surprises"), but it is so smoothly directed, that it's entertainment value is well worth it. Plus, sultry singer Nina Simone provides a great rendition of "Sinnerman" in a cleverly executed and deftly choreographed final museum scene in which the dapper Thomas Crown eludes capture. Oh, and an added bonus: featured paintings by Monet, Renoir and Magritte. Scrumptious.

Directed by
John McTiernan

Produced by
Michael Tadross
Pierce Brosnan
Beau St. Clair

Written by
Alan Trustman
Leslie Dixon
Kurt Wimmer

Pierce Brosnan (Thomas Crown)
Rene Russo (Catherine Banning)
Denis Leary (Michael McCann)
Faye Dunaway (Psychiatrist)
Fritz Weaver (John Reynolds)
Frankie Faison (Detective Paretti)
Ben Gazzara (Andrew Wallace)
Mark Margolis (Heinrich Knutzhorn)
Esther CaƱadas (Anna Knutzhorn)

Music by
Bill Conti

Cinematography by
Tom Priestly

The Thomas Crown Affair

The Thomas Crown Affair: Music From The MGM Motion Picture

Classic Steve McQueen:
The Steve McQueen Collection (The Great Escape / Junior Bonner / The Magnificent Seven / The Thomas Crown Affair) Read more!

Lonesome Dove

Lonesome Dove
by Larry McMurty
a kate west favorite

"Lonesome Dove" is a good old-fashioned heartfelt western. Larry McMurty is well known for this series of amazingly endearing books recounting tales of Cowboys and Texas Rangers like Augustus McCrae and W. F. Call. Impossibly ornery, yet fiercely loyal to each other, the two of them drive a cattle herd all the way from Texas up to Montana. Of course there's a lot of trouble on the way, and heartache too.

Stereotypes abound in this virile masculine world, including Lorena, the whore with a heart of gold, the renegade Native American Blue Duck, the illegitimate son Newt, the earnestly stalwart ranch woman Clara and lots of simple-minded cowboys. And it all works quite well. The characters are strongly believable and you care deeply about each of them, hoping they find the right path, though many of them do not. Regardless, they are all profoundly human and you will want to read every book you can regarding their heroically flawed exploits.

Oh and there is also a television mini series starring Robert Duvall (Gus), Tommy Lee Jones (Call), Danny Glover (Deets), Anjelica Huston (Clara), Diane Lane (Lorena), Rick Schroder (Newt), Frederic Forrest (Blue Duck), Robert Ulrich (Jake), Chris Cooper (July Johnson), D.B. Sweeney (Dish) and Glenne Headly (Elmira). It's not the Pulitzer Prize winning book, but it's fairly good television, so by all means, check it out. But please read the extraordinary novels first - you won't be able to put any of them down.

Are those retro Time Life Old West books still in print?

Read It:
Lonesome Dove

See It:
Lonesome Dove Read more!

Galaxy Quest

Galaxy Quest
(a love letter to Sci-Fi fans and Trekkies everywhere)
a kate west recommendation

"Galaxy Quest" is a fictional science-fiction television show supposedly running from 1978-1982, wildly popular with fans and in fact resulted in creating a whole conventional cult world which the current over-the-hill actors attend religiously. Sound familiar? Yes, they're parodying the classic Mothership science-fiction show of them all, "Star Trek". "Galaxy Quest" the movie is the story of these brave actors confronted with real life aliens in real life troubles and they all have to rise above their own egos and help to save the world. For real.

Tim Allen is the actor Jason Nesmith who plays Captain Taggart of the NSEA Protector (as in NOT the Starship Enterprise). He loves being the center of attention and loves being the ruler of every sci-fi convention. The rest of the cast barely tolerate his William- Shatner-like ego, although at heart he's really a good guy. Shaking him out of his up-and-down moodiness with his career are the Thermians, aliens from another galaxy who've apparently been picking up broadcasts of the television show and interpreting them as historical documents. They've actually adopted them as the founding basis of their own society, living by the moral standards of conduct learned in the show (hmmm, sounds like a "Star Trek" episode).

Eventually, the entire crew ends up in space trying to save their new friends from the fierce enemy Sarris (Robin Sachs) demanding they turn over a weapon called the Omega 13 (similar to the "Star Trek Wrath of Kahn" mysterious find). Among the many other Star Trek similarities are food synthesizers instead of replicators and digital conveyors instead of transporters. Communicators flip down instead of up, etc. Although it is marketed as a parody, it maintains the humanity and charm of the older shows. Hard core fans will love the obvious character shout-outs.

Discovering their true selves for the first time, the actors fight real battles and come to appreciate each other in the process. Gwen DeMarco who plays Tawny Madison (Sigourney Weaver) tosses her blond hair, repeats the computer and admits her love for Jason. Shakespearean actor Alexander Dane laments his stereotypical coldly intellectual alien Dr. Lazarus (Alan Rickman), but embraces him in the end (Nimoy's Spock, anyone?) The always brilliant Tony Shalhoub plays Fred Kwan as Tech Sargeant Chen and Sam Rockwell is the unnamed crewman number six, in danger of being one of the infamous red shirt crew members always getting killed on away missions. Daryl Mitchell is funny as Tommy Weber trying to live up to his child character Laredo. The aliens are ultra sympathetic and are the ones who teach true humanity to the crew, from the fearless leader Mathesar (Enrico Colantoni) to Patrick Breen's wide-eyed Quellek, inspired by Dr. Lazaras. Justin Long helps them save the day as the devoted fan Brandon who understands the show much better than any of the actual actors.

It's so much fun to see these "older" actors goofing it up and looking like they're having the time of their lives in a hilarious riff on a beloved franchise. And it is a most endearing homage to loyal fans, who know the show backwards and forwards, so much better than anyone actually ON the show. Now that's a success. Good writing, good comedy and good camaraderie makes for an endearing flick you'll want to watch many times, especially when you need a good laugh. Gene Roddenberry would be right proud.

Directed by:
Dean Parisot

Writing Credits:
David Howard (story)
David Howard (screenplay)
Robert Gordon (screenplay)

Tim Allen ... Jason Nesmith (Captain Peter Quincy Taggart)
Sigourney Weaver ... Gwen DeMarco (Lt. Tawny Madison)
Alan Rickman ... Alexander Dane (Dr. Lazarus)
Tony Shalhoub ... Fred Kwan (Tech Sargeant Chen)
Sam Rockwell ... Guy Fleegman (Crewman #6)
Daryl Mitchell ... Tommy Webber (Lieutenant Laredo)
Enrico Colantoni ... Mathesar
Robin Sachs ... Sarris
Patrick Breen ... Quellek
Missi Pyle ... Laliari
Jed Rees ... Teb
Rainn Wilson ... Lahnk
Justin Long ... Brandon
Jeremy Howard ... Kyle
Kaitlin Cullum ... Katelyn
Jonathan Feyer ... Hollister
Corbin Bleu ... Young Tommy
Heidi Swedberg ... Brandon's Mother

Watch It Now:
Galaxy Quest Read more!