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Movies watched in July, part three:

133. (1362.) Executive Suite (1954)
Thanks largely to a fantastic cast, I found this to be a very entertaining board room drama. Also: Coke!

Drink Coke! (Executive Suite)
I can see what's going through your mind, Bill Holden, and it looks like Coca-Cola.

134. (1363.) The Colossus of Rhodes (1961)
The Colossus of Rhodes is my favorite ancient wonder. This movie, however, is more boring than counting sand.

135. (1364.) The Little Hours (2017)
It takes time for this "comedy" based on The Decameron to get to the funny, but I eventually chuckled in spite of myself. Or maybe I was just desperate for entertainment following The Colossus of Rhodes.

136. (1365.) Fast and Loose (1939)
This husband/wife mystery/comedy wants so badly to be The Thin Man. It's not. All it did was remind me that I could have been watching The Thin Man instead.

138. (1367.) Won't You Be My Neighbor? (2018)
Mom was eager to see this documentary of Fred Rogers, and I was glad I went with her. It's so, so good. I recommend it to anyone interested in Mr. Rogers or the history of television or, for that matter, historical American pop culture.

By the way, remember the letter I wrote to the editor of The Red and Black in 2003 that I posted last week? Here's the Mack Williams cartoon that ran above the editorials in that day's paper:

Last Trolly out of town

More to come.

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Movies watched in July, part two:

125. (1354.) Battle Beyond the Stars (1980)
Should I have seen this before now? Yes. But boy, howdy, am I glad I didn't. At least Robert Vaughn got a paycheck.

126. (1355.) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (2016)
I was told that this sequel was better than its predecessor. Maybe it is, but it's hard to tell when the bar is so low. Maybe I'm getting too old for this shit.

127. (1356.) C.C. & Company (1970)
A run of bad movies continues with this biker exploitation film notable only for its inclusion of "Broadway" Joe Namath. Namath plays the "best" of a band of idiot bikers fighting over Ann Margaret. (They make a good couple. Neither can act.) The movie starts with an extended sequence of Namath stealing promoting name brand products in a grocery store. I only mention that because this:

Drink Coke! (CC & Company)
Coke supports your right to ride! (But keep it clean.)

128. (1357.) Incredibles 2 (2018)
I didn't find this quite as satisfying as the original, but I still really, really enjoyed it. I will be watching it again.

129. (1358.) Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974)
There aren't a whole lot of Eastwood films I haven't seen, and now there's one less. It's hard to sum up this road / bromance / heist / revenge / adventure / suspense / dramedy film in one sentence. Instead, I'll just show you the good stuff:

Drink Coke! (Thunderbolt and Lightfoot)
The Daisy Wagon is proud to serve Coca-Cola to children.

130. (1359.) Countdown (1967)
Robert Altman directed this very un-Robert Altman-like fictional depiction of the first man on the moon. There's too much talent in front of and behind the camera to make a film this boring.

131. (1360.) Captain America: Civil War (2016)
I had avoided this for years because I didn't like the first two. It was as bad as I expected. I admit that the fight between the heroes at the airport was great fun. It's a shame the fun was sandwiched between a contrived premise and a moronic ending.

More to come.

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I had a friend over to the house for an afternoon of gaming yesterday, and I very graciously offered him a Coca-Cola. He poured an entire 12-ounce can into a glass with ice... and then he only drank half of it! He poured half a Coke down my sink! Oh, the humanity!

If that's the game he wants to play, so be it. You'll never sink my battleship now, asshole.

Southern Hospitality only extends so far.

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At last! The final batch of movies watched in March:

59. (1288.) The Magnetic Monster (1953)
Mid-century cautionary tale about the unknown dangers of splitting the atom. It starts like a documentary, though it mostly plays like stale drive-in cliche. Not entirely terrible, but hardly a classic.

60. (1289.) Death Wish (2018)
Also not a classic. I've seen all the Bronson Death Wish movies multiple times, and none of them are quite as dumb as the movie Bruce Willis finds himself in. I'm not entirely sure whether this interpretation of Kersey was a bumbling idiot because the writer/director/studio wanted to downplay the danger of a self-appointed vigilante a gun or whether they just think most people are that foolish. *shrug*

61. (1290.) Johnny Handsome (1989)
A mad scientist gives a disfigured criminal a new face, but he can't fix his broken heart! No, seriously. Lance Henriksen, Ellen Barken, and Morgan Freeman play comic book villains, but this hokum comes across surprisingly earnest thanks entirely to Mickey Rourke. Not bad for a crime movie of its era.
(Footnote: early in the film, Henriksen is driving through the streets of New Orleans and a Coca-Cola storefront sign is visible out his rear window. As the sign clearly wasn't placed for the shot, I don't think it qualifies as product placement, so no screenshot appears here. But it is clearly a Coca-Cola sign so I'm still talking about it.)

62. (1291.) The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band (1968)
Kurt Russell is the only actor I've seen in multiple movies so far this year. Here in 1968, he plays a pre-teen member of the title band (headed by Walter Brennan and Buddy Ebsen). Forty-seven years later, in 2015's Bone Tomahawk, he played an aging Old West sheriff. I'm glad he's still acting. In both roles he was great. This entire movie was pretty enjoyable, in fact, with good songs and a tight (if slight) story. There's a reason the Disney brand has been so strong for so long.

63. (1292.) Walkabout (1971)
Two children become lost in the Australian Outback and are saved by a young aborigine. Was anyone truly saved? Is the film being cynical, honest, or allegorical? It's like the Apocalypse, Now! of coming-of-age movies. The only thing I'm sure it's saying is that everyone goes through their own life alone. Honestly, I watch a lot of movies and rarely come across anything as weird and haunting as this. I'll remember Walkabout for a long time.

More to come.

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More March movies:

54. (1283.) Weekend at Bernie's (1989)
Man, it must be fun to play a corpse. Bernie seems to be having a ball in this surprisingly-lighthearted-considering-the-subject-matter farce. I enjoyed it in part because of the always delightful Catherine Mary Stewart and in part because everyone in this film seems to be enjoying a Coke!

Drink Coke! (Weekend at Bernies)
Bernie is the one person in the movie who doesn't drink Coke!

55. (1284.) Charlie Varrick (1973)
I read afterwards that Walter Matthau didn't like this crime thriller, calling it too confusing. I have to agree. I thought I was paying attention, but I still didn't understand what was going on at the climax until after reading about the movie on IMDB. (I don't think it was entirely my fault, either. It's hard to puzzle out deeper character motivations when every other man onscreen is thinking only about money and sex and every women onscreen is there just to be paid for sex. Charlie Varrick doesn't live in a very deep world.)

56. (1285.) The Chase (1966)
This is another of those "narrowly misses being a great movie" movies. As always, it's not entirely clear why this fails, though I think it's mostly because there is nothing to hold onto in the first two acts. The audience needs a protagonist that, if not a genuine surrogate, is at least worth rooting for. If that character is missing or unclear, there can be no investment and the action slides by indifferently, like water in a muddy creek. In other words, having a cast of great actors isn't a substitute for having a cast of great characters.

57. (1286.) Bone Tomahawk (2015)
Aaaah! What is this? A western? A horror film? A character study? The weird genre mix takes some getting used to. (I assure you, whatever you think you're watching, you are NOT ready for act three.) Pretty good if you've got a strong stomach.

58. (1287.) Doctor Faustus (1967)
This, on the other hand, is not good. I mean, it's faithful to the famous 400-year-old play. But Richard Burton's Faustus seems more obsessed with Elizabeth Taylor than power or whatever he sold his soul to his devil for. Let's call this a curiosity strictly for theater people or Burton/Taylor enthusiasts and leave it at that.

And lest you think we've finally finished with March movies, no, we haven't. I watched 25 in all, meaning we sill five to go. More to come.

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Since I obviously don't have much else to say right now, let's just keep going with movie reviews, shall we?

50. (1279.) Straight Outta Compton (2015)
Nostalgia is insidious! I distinctly recall that I was no fan of "gangsta" rap back in the day, but watching this movie I caught myself thinking how much better NWA was than the hip hop I've heard recently. That realization made me ask myself whether I like the older music just because it's more familiar? By the same regard, did I enjoy this movie, or did I just enjoy revisiting my past? Dammit! Fuck you, nostalgia.

51. (1280.) Power Rangers (2017)
Another nostalgia trip, if you liked Power Rangers on TV, I don't see why you wouldn't like it here. Unless you hate Krispy Kreme doughnuts. I admit this product placement feels a little too forced.

52. (1281.) Macon County Line (1974)
A different sort of nostalgia for the Korean War generation, this unnecessary bit of youth-in-revolt thriller cinema was written by The Beverly Hillbillies' Jethro, filmed with southern California standing in for Georgia, and probably shouldn't be watched by anyone. I share this piece of product placement as a public service announcement:

Drink Coke! (Macon County)
That Coke is the only good thing to happen to him in the whole movie.

53. (1282.) Return to Macon County (1975)
Macon County made its producers a lot of money, so the next year they came back with this, a sequel in name only. This one stars before-they-were-famous actors Nick Nolte and Don Johnson as drag race wannabes. (I was more excited to recognize the gun-happy waitress as Robin Mattson, the sister-in-law of the titular "Ricky" in one of the best episodes of The Incredible Hulk.) Don't let all that star power excite you, this is just as boring as its predecessor, though this was at least filmed in Georgia, which might explain why Coca-Cola doubled down on the product placement.

Drink Coke! (Return to Macon County)
Smile, boys. You're having a Coke!

That's still not the end of March movies!. More to come.

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Hey, look! March movies, part 2:

44. (1273.) Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957)
I really enjoy Robert Mitchum movies, which is a good thing here as he's one of only two principal actors in the cast. Pretty good.

45. (1274.) The Marriage-Go-Round (1961)
This is as risque as sex comedies got in the early 60s. I sure like the idea of Julie Newmar throwing herself sexually at an intelligent man, but the one-note concept wears thin long before the movie finally gives out.

46. (1275.) Hercules (2014)
Everyone knows that Hercules was more myth than man. What this movie presupposes is... maybe he wasn't? Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson doesn't look very Greek to me in this big, dumb action film. I admit that I watched it mostly on fast forward.

47. (1276.) Five Star Final (1931)
Edward G. Robinson plays a tabloid newspaper editor who hounds an accused murderess, driving her and her new husband to suicide and ruining the life of their daughter. Very cynical. I loved it.

48. (1277.) The Blue Lagoon (1980)
Yes, the story is crap, a transparent excuse to justify prurient admiration of the beautiful bodies of a young girl and boy, but at least the cinematography is generally well crafted. Pornography can be art. This movie isn't ("Hey, look! Those turtles are fucking, just like us!"), I'm just pointing out that it's possible.

49. (1278.) Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964)
Director Robert Aldrich saw that his Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? made a lot of money so he decided to make it again, this time adding a dash of Gaslight. Not a success.

However, the intended re-pairing of enemies Bette Davis and Joan Crawford (who was recast after the drama got to be too much) did result in one very intentional bit of Coca-Cola product placement, so the story goes. Because Crawford had married into an executive position at Pepsi, Davis had Coca-Cola machines on set. In addition, she had a Coke truck drive across a shot to obscure a scene intended for Crawford.

Drink Coke! (Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte)
Drink up, bitch!

More to come.

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The 2018 Winter Olympic Games may have come and gone, but they didn't stop the movie watching. Here's batch 2 for February.

26. (1255.) The Foot Fist Way (2006)
The movie that made Danny McBride a star! Actually, I think that may have been Pineapple Express, but this was earlier. It's exactly the sense of humor you've come to expect from McBride, so if you generally think his movies/TV shows are funny, here's some more. (Personally, I waffle. I think McBride's persona is entertaining in ensemble casts, but I can only take so much of his signature self-absorbed abrasiveness in one sitting.)

27. (1256.) Inside Out (2015)
Mom loved this movie, but I was only lukewarm. Too much touchy-feely for Walter, I suspect. The only time I was really captivated was when we got a look inside other people's heads at their control crews. To clarify: good movie well made, just not to my tastes.

28. (1257.) Congratulations, It's a Boy! (1971)
Bill Bixby plays the antithesis of his usual, responsible adult as a spoiled playboy discovering a grown son he didn't know he had. (Mom named the boy after Bixby's character, but told the son that dad was dead. That's some great parenting.) There is a subplot involving Bixby's overbearing parents' mistakenly thinking that their son and their grandson are in a homosexual relationship, but that's too little too late to save an otherwise dull affair.

29. (1258.) Rapture-Palooza (2013)
I don't usually like end-of-the-world movies, but this slapstick comedy wasn't so bad, perhaps because darling Anna Kendrick was there cushion the blow that everyone's living in Hell on Earth.

30. (1259.) The Ultimate Warrior (1975)
This is not about the WWF superstar wrestler but Yul Brynner's rather boring attempt to save Max von Sydow's post-apocalyptic commune. Yawn. (It could have used some Anna Kendrick.)

31. (1260.) Meet Wally Sparks (1997)
Golly, I remember this movie getting a lot of bad press on initial release. I can understand why, although if you're attending a Rodney Dangerfield comedy, you shouldn't be expecting Citizen Kane. It's not worse than any Chris Farley or Adam Sandler movie of the same era. Plus, in part because the movie spends most of its time lampooning the Southern manners of the citizens of the Great State of Georgia, it's got Coke!

Drink Coke! (Wally Sparks)
None of these kids is Wally Sparks.

More to come.

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At the request of friend Randy, who wanted an easier way to find reviews for particular movies, I have updated my movie list (found here or via the link at the bottom of every page) to include links to reviews when they exist. You're welcome, Randy!

Now, on to new-to-Walter movie reviews for February!

21. (1250.) The Shiek (1921)
This is the movie that made Rudolph Valentino a star. A century later, it's hard to see why. The story is that old cliche: arab (Valentino) kidnaps strong-willed woman, she tries to escape and is kidnapped by an even worse arab, and she realizes that she loves her original kidnapper because he was slightly less rapey. *shrug* Make America Great Again, I guess.

22. (1251.) Gleaming the Cube (1989)
Skating! Drugs! Vietnam guilt! Rampant product placement! Christian Slater! It's the eighties in a movie. (And I still don't know what "gleaming the cube" means.)

Did I mention the product placement? It's hard to tell how much of the products and advertisements seen in the film were paid, but Pizza Hit, the (original) L.A. Rams, and Coca-Cola are the big winners here.

Drink Coke! (Gleaming the Cube)
This is just the tip of the iceberg. They might as well have been skating inside a bottling plant.

23. (1252.) Goosebumps (2015)
Hey, this children's horror movie isn't bad. Even in this "I've got kids now" stage of his career, Jack Black is still funny.

24. (1253.) Shaun the Sheep Movie (2015)
Just fantastic! (Of course. Aardman Animations always brings the quality.) Highly recommended.

25. (1254.) An Inconvenient Truth (2006)
I've never been a big Al Gore fan, but it's a painful reminder to see what science had to say about climate change a decade ago and know that we're still not doing much about it. Ugh. We're all going to die.

More to come.

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More movies (with pictures!).

11. (1240.) Border Radio (1987)
This film — which very much reminds me of the style (if not the comedy) of Clerks — is not good in any traditional way. Its improvising actors are the rankest amateurs, and its message can probably best be summed up as "life is the drama we create for ourselves." However, it does manage an alluring mix of raw emotion and appealing cinematography that was very refreshing.

Speaking of refreshing, while I can't believe that Coca-Cola paid for this to be included, here it is anyway:

Drink Coke! (Border Radio)

12. (1241.) Trouble Along the Way (1953)
John Wayne plays a football coach determined to turn around the popularity of a small New England parochial school, so he decides to pay the football team to attract better recruits. Wayne's plan works until the dean finds out what he's done and fires him — for admitting players who didn't meet the academic requirements. How cutely naive the 1950s were.

13. (1242.) Hotel Transylvania 2 (2015)
The only good Adam Sandler films lately are the ones that keep him off camera.

14. (1243.) He's Just Not That Into You (2009)
BRADLEY COOPER, HOW DARE YOU BREAK JENNIFER CONNELLY'S HEART?!

15. (1244.) Jurassic World (2015)
This movie requires a whole lot of stupid to get where it's going, but that's true of any big budget disaster film. To its credit, the movie seems to know this, and in the end, the hero of the film is the Tyrannosaurus Rex, not the people too dumb to contain it.

Amusingly, most of the product placement in this film is intended to be over-the-top as you would find in any big theme park. However, while the script openly derides Verizon Wireless and "Pepsi-saurus," we are treated to our smart and hunky protagonist enjoying a completely unironic sip of liquid refreshment in his down time between practicing zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance.

Drink Coke! (Jurassic World)

More to come.

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To be continued...

 

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