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Contrary to what you might have read, I do watch movies that aren't Hallmark movies.

168. (1607.) The Quiller Memorandum (1966)
Another Cold War spy movie that is long on drama/suspense yet light on action. That works to its advantage, especially considering the delightfully gray ending. (How did George Segal start his career with roles like these and end his career on sitcoms? That guy has range.)

169. (1608.) The Emoji Movie (2017)
Critics railed against this movie, calling it among the worst ever made. I don't think it's *that* bad, but it is too little material spread too thinly over some poorly-thought-out scenes with a moral that makes no sense given the initial premise. In summary: Meh.

172. (1611.) Brother John (1971)
I read online someone called this the "blackest film ever." It's a fitting description. Silent, judgy Sidney Poitier is a, what, an angel? An alien? I watched this twice, and I still don't know. I really enjoyed guessing, though. I'd watch it a third time.

The movie takes place in a small Alabama town filled with racists and rapists. Almost everyone is knee-deep in petty sin. It's a weird place to put so much Coca-Cola product placement.

Drink Coke! (Brother John)
You can't see it here, but there's even a Coca-Cola clock on the wall behind Bradford Dillman.

173. (1612.) The Three Musketeers (1921)
Damn, d'Artagnan was a total dick in this silent adaptation by Douglas Fairbanks (in the role of... d'Artagnan). There's a lot of fun in the swordplay, so it's not a total loss.

174. (1613.) Belladonna of Sadness (1973)
I can sum this animated film up with three letters: W.T.F. In a slightly longer summary, it's about a young wife in medieval Europe who is raped by nobility on her wedding day, discovers she likes sex (a lot), and eventually makes a deal with the devil to... have more sex, I guess? Her endgame isn't exactly clear. She's burned at the stake, and the French Revolution happens. The end. Seriously bonkers. Some of the animation is quite impressive, though.

175. (1614.) Riders to the Stars (1954)
To prove that space travel is feasible, three men are launched into space to find out why metal fatigues so quickly outside of the Earth's atmosphere only to discover that the human mind is the most fragile material of all. Reading that back, I realize that sentence is far better than the movie itself. Avoid.

More to come.

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Starting the month with movies.

154. (1593.) Corpse Bride (2005)
More of everything I loved about The Nightmare Before Christmas. Very enjoyable.

155. (1594.) I Know That Voice (2013)
A documentary about voice actors made by voice actors. I pay some attention to such things, and I still found it informative.

156. (1595.) Alfie (2004)
I'm sure I'm in the minority on this, but I much prefer this slick remake over Michael Caine's star-making original. It's not as deep, but that shallowness allows Law's character to be less repulsive. Yes, I'd say it's an improvement.

159. (1598.) A Simple Favor (2018)
Ah-ha! This is what a pulp thriller is supposed to be; dark yet comedic with more than one (admittedly predictable) twist. Great performances by all.

And Coke makes it better.

Drink Coke! (A Simple Favor)

More to come.

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I should be sleeping. Instead, I'm reviewing movies!

146. (1585.) Steel Magnolias (1989)
If Julia Roberts is really from Georgia, why does her accent sound the least convincing of all the actors? This movie is little more than mundane relationship melodrama performed by a stellar cast who (mostly) do no wrong. If that's your thing.... then this.

And remember: you can't have a movie about life in the South without Coke!

Drink Coke! (Steel Magnolias)

147. (1586.) Framed for Murder: A Fixer Upper Mystery (2017)
Singer/songwriter/poet/actress Jewel makes a less-than-convincing handywoman/detective, but I doubt anyone watching a Hallmark mystery movie is overly concerned with realism.

149. (1588.) Class (1983)
Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy, Cliff Roberson, John Cusack, Alan Ruck, and the delectable Jacqueline Bisset all star in a very lackluster coming-of-age sex comedy more ntable for the appearance of the stars themselves than anything they do to elevate the material they are working with.

And remember: you can't have a movie about sleeping with your roommate's mother without Coke!

Drink Coke! (Class)

150. (1589.) Empire of Dreams (2004)
This is a documentary on the making of the first four Star Wars movies. Friend Keith mentioned it in passing a few weeks back, and I'd never seen it. So I watched it over the course of two days. Lots of good behind-the-scenes Star Wars tidbits, but it suffers from an excessively obsequious tone. You don't have to sell us so hard, guys; everyone has already seen Star Wars.

151. (1590.) Bathing Beauty (1944)
Something of a bait and switch, as Ester Williams isn't really the focus of this musical comedy, Red Skelton is. The disappointment was hard to get over.

152. (1591.) Plastic Galaxy (2014)
Amazon noticed that I watched one documentary about Star Wars and suggested that I watch another. Plastic Galaxy covers the history of the Kenner Star Wars action figures. Talking to the collectors themselves tended to bore me, but those were spaced between great historical anecdotes and creator interviews. (Disclaimer: I know exactly where my 1981 Millennium Falcon is.)

153. (1592.) Lovelace (2013)
Amanda Seyfried stars as the first household name in hardcore pornography, Linda Lovelace. Is this (often dull) movie an accurate depiction of her life? How horrible. Now try watching Deep Throat knowing that the star was being tortured off screen. Boner killer!

And remember: you can't have Deep Throat without Coke!

Drink Coke! (Deep Throat)
Image blurred to protect the innocent

More to come.

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As my father's late mother would have said, there's always time for picture shows!

104. (1543.) John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum (2019)
Seeing this in a theater was my treat to Dad treat before his heart surgery, and it was a worthwhile experience... if you like bloody murder-fest actioners, which Dad certainly does. Unlike many reviewers, I thought it was better than Chapter 2. Kill 'em all, John.

105. (1544.) Lady of Burlesque (1943)
A very enjoyable B-picture murder mystery based on a book written by, of all people, the burlesque queen Gypsy Rose Lee. You go, girl! The protagonist is played by Barbara Stanwyck, who I should mention is the greatest actress who should have played Lois Lane but didn't.

107. (1546.) The Bishop Misbehaves (1935)
This film is more a comedic crime caper than the sort of whodunit it's lampooning. Disappointed by the lack of mystery, I found it a bit tedious. Your mileage may vary.

108. (1547.) Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970)
If this film is to be believed, America is almost as responsible for Pearl Harbor as the Japanese. Another case of victim blaming? From what I've read, the history is pretty solid.

Drink Coke! (Tora, Tora, Tora)
The Pause That Refreshes... before thousands die in a surprise attack: Coke!

109. (1548.) Kong: Skull Island (2017)
Historical accuracy has no relationship with this film. They couldn't even keep Kong's height consistent. I suspect if plays well with the Pacific Rim crowd. I liked the style, but most 1960s comic books were better written.

110. (1549.) Get Out (2017)
I can see why this was such a big hit. More psychological thriller than horror, it is very well made and a lot of fun. It drags a bit late when the writing is on the wall and you're waiting for the reckoning that is obviously coming, but I found that reckoning to be plenty satisfying enough to make up for the wait.

More to come.

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It's June already, and I'm still listing movies watched in April! I need to speed this up.

67. (1506.) High School U.S.A. (1983)
Michael J. Fox leads a cast of recognizable young television stars in this made-for-TV teenage sex comedy without the sex. (The generic title is exactly on point.) It's an interesting snapshot of the state of early 80s television talent, but not a very good film.

71. (1510.) Niagra (1953)
This Hitchcockian suspense thriller has a strong film noir influence. Personally, I wouldn't call it noir because it lacks the typically flawed, doomed noir protagonist. (Monroe isn't the anti-hero protagonist here, Jean Peters is, and her role is more akin to Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window than Jimmy Stewart in Vertigo.) Don't let my quibbling dissuade you; this is a good film no matter what label you put on it.

72. (1511.) Blithe Spirit (1945)
I can't say why exactly — maybe it was the garish makeup, maybe it was the characters, maybe it's just my own stubborn inability to believe in the supernatural — but this hybridized romantic comedy/ghost story left me cold. I can't deny it has some snappy though.

73. (1512.) Pete's Dragon (2016)
As if trying to put as much distance as possible between itself and the original material, this remake is now set in the Pacific Northwest instead of the Atlantic Northeast. (Passamaquoddy doesn't even get a mention!) The film is too busy trying to tug at whatever emotional strings it can find to create real characters or much in the way of a plot. But I guess that's what Disney films do these days.

74. (1513.) Paddington (2014)
Whatever magic the original Paddington Bear had has been successfully recreated in this enchanting film. I don't know how any movie can manage to be so satirically snarky and absurdist while also being completely sincere. Delightful.

76. (1515.) Bye Bye Braverman (1968)
Four unlikable men travel across New York City to attend a funeral of a fifth unlikable man in this existential comedy. The journey is the destination, and that journey isn't very enlightening or satisfying. But at least they drink Coke.

Drink Coke! (Braverman)

More to come.

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In 1985, Coca-Cola unleashed New Coke on an unsuspecting world. It didn't go well, the kind of not well that still gets taught as a cautionary tale to MBA students. To their credit, the Coca-Cola Company learned from that debacle and quickly buried New Coke under the basement, never to be tasted again. Until now.

New Coke is now for sale as part of the "New Coke and Stranger Things 1985 Limited Edition Collectors Pack" at cokestore.com for the conspicuous price of $19.85.

Coca-Cola's advertising budget is the stuff of legends. They support everything from little leagues to summer blockbusters. They're so powerful, they practically created Santa Claus just to sell more soda. That they would work with the popular Netflix Stranger Things streaming show is no aberration. But that they are willing to revisit the worst decision in their business history to do so... that takes a special level of masochism you won't find in your average multi-national corporation. It's admirable, in a twisted sort of way.

I just hope the decision doesn't come back to bite them. There are two generations of Americans who have never had the misfortune to taste New Coke who might now try to catch the nostalgic wave. That can't go well. Kids these days drink fewer soft drinks than my generation did, so it might not be a good idea to give them another reason to walk away from a Coke machine.

Take my word for it, kids. New Coke tastes bad. Enjoy it ironically, if you must, but for your own sake, do so from a distance. Not all oldies are golden.

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2019 moves, part 2 of... many.

7. (1446.) Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (2011)
8. (1447.) Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation (2015)
10. (1449.) Mission: Impossible - Fallout (2018)
I lump these three together because even though I watched them barely a month ago, I don't think I could tell you which was which. The very definition of popcorn movies, they rely on their fast pace to keep the audience from realizing how little sense they make. I'm pretty sure they all take place inside Ethan Hunt's head while he lies in a coma, but they keep Tom Cruise too busy to make another Magnolia, so I'm willing to cut them a little slack.

9. (1448.) Daddy's Home Two (2017)
Friend Keith challenged me to find fault with John Lithgow's performance in this broad comedy. I couldn't. He's sterling as always. Everyone was pretty funny, including Mel Gibson, playing the character we all believe him to be in real life.

11. (1450.) The Aztec Mummy Against the Humanoid Robot (1958)
Two-thirds of this Mexican B-movie is a recap of the previous two movies in this trilogy about greedy assholes stealing gold from a cursed Aztec tomb guardian. The last third involves building a robot from a corpse to kill a zombie. It has its moments.

12. (1451.) Wizards (1977)
Ralph Bakshi movies are always more meandering acid trips than functional narratives. This one spends most of its time invoking Nazi propaganda as the ultimate evil, then twists at the end to make the good guys look just as bad as everyone else. At least I think that's what happened.

13. (1452.) Old Acquaintance (1943)
Bette Davis and Miriam Hopkins are childhood friends who grow to become rivals in work and love. Davis plays the angel against Hopkins' bitch. The animosity between the two is palpable. Pretty good.

14. (1453.) Ghostbusters (2016)
Sure, it's not as good as the movie that inspired it, but rare indeed is the remake that outdoes its inspiration. The movie could have benefited from a director less indulgent of his star's ad libs. (It's most telling that Chris Hemsworth steals every scene he's in.) Still, not bad, assuming you can get past the rampant product placement.

Drink Coke! (Ghostbusters)

More to come

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Finally! These are the last of the movies I watched in 2018.

204. (1433.) Monkey Business (1952)
I'd seen clips from this movie so many times, I thought I had seen the whole thing. In fact, I'd somehow confused this with Bringing Up Baby, but that definitely doesn't have Marilyn Monroe in it.

205. (1434.) Hooper (1978)
There's not much narrative in this action film about stuntmen starring Burt Reynolds as World's Greatest Stuntman™. It's all good fun so long as no one blows out his back. (By the way, I'm certain that the finale of this movie is the basis for the first stage of the 2002 Stuntman video game level "A Whoopin' and a Hollerin'." I'm just sayin'.)

206. (1435.) The Boss (2016)
As a film fan and armchair critic, I should complain that the things Melissa McCarthy says and does in this film aren't funny, but they are. Enjoy.

207. (1436.) The Angry Birds Movie (2016)
Honestly, The Boss is a more entertaining movie. (Why? I'm not sure. Maybe because this is supposed to be a kid's movie? It's well enough made, and the comedic actors involved are top notch, but I found it lacking punch.)

208. (1437.) Blue Velvet (1986)
Finally. I avoided this for years because I've never seen a David Lynch film I liked. I still haven't, but it wasn't as uncomfortable as I feared. It's weird and unsettling, but it does have its moments.

209. (1438.) Sorceress (1982)
This movie — about a pair of frequently topless barbarian twins played by Playboy models — has nothing to do with its title. But I watched it anyway. Because tits.

210. (1439.) Screwballs (1983)
Apparently, Canadian tax breaks for filmmakers in the early 80s led to a spate of teen sex comedies. Think Porky's with a thinner plot. I enjoyed it. Because tits. Apparently, that's the kind of film fan and armchair critic I am. I also like Coke.

Drink Coke! (Screwballs)

More to come in 2019.

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Five more November movies:

183. (1412.) Snow Devils (1967)
Italian-made Spaghetti Westerns are a respected genre thanks mostly to the genius of Sergio Leone. Spaghetti Science Fiction has no such genius. This film features alien yetis who try to induce global warming with lame miniatures and worn out stock footage. Not good.

184. (1413.) A Raisin in the Sun (1961)
I admit it: I did not finish this movie. I bailed at intermission. I actively (and strongly) dislike Tennessee Williams plays, and while it's great that Lorraine Hansberry found equal-opportunity success duplicating Williams' soul-crushing slices of poor white American life for African Americans, I don't have to watch it.

185. (1414.) Excalibur (1981)
There's something hypnotic about this fairy tale grounded in blood and sex. It's not exactly a good film — it's really quite boring — but you have to admire how all the actors seem to throw themselves into it despite the obvious discomfort of filming it

186. (1415.) Funland (1987)
Squiggy (of Lavern & Shirley) plays an amusement park Ronald McDonald gone mad. The movie is a dark comedy with a razor sharp wit, but it is very badly served by a soundtrack stolen directly from a daytime soap opera, and loses its way at the end. It was also filmed in Six Flags Over Georgia, which means that there is Coca-Cola everywhere!

Drink Coke! (Funland)

187. (1416.) Assault on Precinct 13 (2005)
Most remakes of John Carpenter movies lose sight of Carpenter's gift for character in their rush to the glossy glamour provided by their bigger budget. Same here. It's a fine action movie, but I prefer the grit and heart of the original.

More to come.

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More movies!

178. (1407.) The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967)
Ugh. Roman Polanski's "horror" film is technically a comedy, although there is very little to laugh at and the ending isn't exactly happy. I would not watch it again.

179. (1408.) The Slumber Party Massacre (1981)
For years, I've been on the lookout for a movie with a particular line of dialogue. That line wasn't in this movie, but I think this was the movie that the line would have been in if it was in anything. To clarify, I'm now of the opinion that the line was fabricated, but there is a scene in this with a power drill, a girl of loose morals, and a camera angle that perfectly replicate what I would have expected to see while the line was delivered. (And no, I won't repeat the line here. Trust me, it wouldn't make any more sense without a whole lot more explaining, and none of us wants that.) As for the movie, it's a perfectly satisfying slasher flick, if you're into that sort of thing.

(If that sounds familiar, I accidentally ran that last month as my review of Sleepaway Camp. Rather than review Sleepaway Camp here, I'm correcting my mistake and have updated the original post with the right review.)

180. (1409.) Raging Bull (1980)
Ok, I've seen enough of Martin Scorsese. I can definitively say now that I don't like his movies. Yes, they are well made, but the subject matter just doesn't speak to me.

181. (1410.) X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)
What exactly were Apocalypse's powers? What role do his horsemen serve? Why do I keep watching X-Men movies? The one good thing: Storm drinks Coca-Cola!

Drink Coke! (X-Men Apocalypse)

182. (1411.) Theodora Goes Wild (1936)
A typical screwball comedy of its era. A mousy author has her secret identity exposed to the world by an asshole artist, so she does what she can to ruin him... because she has fallen in love with him. It's better than I just made it sound.

More to come.

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To be continued...

 

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