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Superman might not have time for movies, but I do. (Have you seen what's on television? I can only watch so much of that.)

First off, let's knock out these five at once:

58. (1712.) Mystery 101: An Education in Murder (2020)
61. (1715.) Ruby Herring Mysteries: Prediction Murder (2020)
71. (1725.) Flower Shop Mystery: Dearly Depotted (2016)
75. (1729.) Matchmaker Mysteries: A Fatal Romance (2020)
91. (1745.) Flower Shop Mystery: Mum's the Word (2016)
94. (1748.) Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Heist and Seek (2020)

There's not a whole lot to say about these individually. Most of them are fair to middling mysteries, nothing to write home about. Ruby Herring is still getting better with each installment, while Aurora Teagarden has given up on even acknowledging its red herrings. The others are good enough for watching with your mother when there aren't any game shows on.

74. (1728.) Comrade X (1940)
Imagine if they set a Cary Grant romantic comedy against the backdrop of the Communist revolution. It goes out of its way to intentionally misunderstand the revolution its satirizing — girls can't be boys! — but it does have its moments.

76. (1730.) Taxi Driver (1976)
I've been avoiding this for years because I thought I wouldn't like it, but I finally gave in... and discovered I was right. I felt slimy for watching. (Fuck Natural Born Killers. This is how you inspire murderers, as Hinkley Jr proved.) However, it does look and sound great. If any one movie is responsible for the feel of Fight Club, it's got to be this one. Probably not the best choice in the current political climate.

Drink Coke! (Taxi Driver)
You drinkin' from me?

77. (1731.) Our Miss Brooks (1956)
Eve Arden and her radio/television show of the same name are great, but this film isn't. Ninety minutes is simply too long to sustain the man-hunter plot.

78. (1732.) Peter Rabbit (2018)
My Dad said he hated this because that rude rabbit Peter killed old man McGregor, which I really think says more about my father than this movie. I thought it was cute, especially thanks to the antics of the good bunnies, Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail.

More to come.

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I've been wondering how I will remember these dark days when we come out the other side. Travel restrictions, face masks, food shortages.... Frankly, we probably should have experienced it before now. America has been continuously at war with someone or other since 2001, and the public hasn't experienced any hardships like what happened in previous wars. Would we still be in Afghanistan if Americans had to share rolls of toilet paper in 2002?

Waaaaay back in the first week of March, when it became clear to everyone that this Covid-19 thing was going to be a real problem for neo-isolationist America, I rather naively believed that if everyone hunkered down, it would all blow over within two months. What a sucker I was for assuming everyone in the country was taking the plague very, very seriously. Like, prison solitary confinement seriously. However, I failed to take into account that no one can tell an American that they can't enjoy a Big Mac while test-firing their AR-15 inside the church of their choice. 'Merica!

It's now quite obvious that this thing isn't going to be over any time soon. I'm no president, but even I recognize that we can't start to relax restrictions until we know actually who has and who can spread the disease. Two months in, we've managed to test less than one percent of the country. At the current pace, it will take another sixteen years to test the rest. That speed will inevitably accelerate, but by any metric, we're still many months away from where we need to be for resuming what used to pass as "business as usual."

Personally, I'm still terrified that I'll catch the disease and give it to my family. Last month, I broke my piggy bank to renew my UGA football season tickets, but I cannot imagine that I'd attend any of those games if something doesn't drastically change in the next five months. Given the pace of progress, I'm beginning to suspect those games won't be played at all, at least not with fans in the stadium. I don't know what I'll do without football — specifically college football, that is. If the NFL doesn't play this fall, it may be a good excuse for me to give it up. It's not like the Dolphins have been all that entertaining over the past two decades.

I don't have much of a reputation for "staying positive," but I'm trying. Fewer cars on the road will help with global warming. Families will have time together they otherwise never would have experienced. People can explore new hobbies. For example, I'm now delivering what groceries I can find to my father, who is spending his time writing Trump fan fiction. Such is life in 2020.

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There's been not much else to do lately other than watch movies.

27. (1681.) Naughty Marietta (1935)
In this musical romantic comedy in the vein of Taming of the Shew, opera-singing Marietta (not her real name) is "naughty" in the same sense as a headstrong child, not a burlesque dancer. I only figured that out once I realized they were all singing that high-falutin' opera stuff. (Opera fans don't care for titties.)

29. (1683.) Girls Trip (2017)
Stealing every scene and delivering all the laughs, Tiffany Haddish deserves her status as breakout star in this, an otherwise unremarkable raunchy sex comedy. Which is not to say that it's bad. Raunchy sex comedies by their very nature aren't trying to break new ground in cinema. The genre is dependable comfort food, much like Coca-Cola for the eyes.

Drink Coke! (Girls Trip)

What's that, you say? You think a disposable cup in a street scene isn't intentional product placement? Ok, fine. How about this?

Drink Coke! (Girls Trip)
Case Closed.

30. (1684.) Pygmalion (1938)
Once upon a time, my father, discovering I hadn't seen My Fair Lady, said, "Aw, just tell everyone it's a remake of Pygmalion." Now that I've finally seen Pygmalion, holy shit. It's exactly the same film, minus the songs. I always thought Rex Harrison was a dick in My Fair Lady, but that's not his fault; it's the part. Sorry, Rex.

31. (1685.) Manhattan (1979)
An utterly beautiful movie better watched with the sound off. Woody Allen goes out of his way to make his own life miserable in almost all of his movies, and he doubles down here, dating a child and sleeping with his best friend's mistress. Yeah, that's going to end well.

32. (1686.) The Hitman's Bodyguard (2017)
I suspect that the reason Ryan Reynolds' roguish charm works in this film is due in no small part to Samuel Jackson doing his best to one-up him. They seem like they're having fun, and that's often infectious for the audience.

34. (1688.) Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)
While I really appreciated the cynical comedy in this, it's the ending that really sticks with you. Is this a Shakespearean comedy, or a tragedy cut off just before the fine act? A good conversation piece.

More to come.

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Phone rings. I answer. The caller is my father.

DAD: I have a very important question.

ME: What is it?

DAD: It's about dragons. They've been around for centuries—

ME: Mythically, yeah.

DAD: And they breath fire.

ME: Yes, in some mythologies, some dragons breathe fire.

DAD: So my question is: why don't they fly through their own fire breath?

ME: What?

DAD: If you spit while you're running, you run into your own spit. So when dragons fly and breathe fire, why aren't they burned as they move through their own flames?

ME: Why aren't mythical dragons burned by imaginary fire? Because their storytellers didn't want that to happen.

DAD: No. I'm asking if dragons were real, wouldn't they burn themselves?

ME: Uh, I don't.... I guess for the same reason that if you attached a blowtorch to the front of your car. You'd never catch up to that flame, either.

DAD: Hmm. I never thought of that. I guess I'll have to give it a try. Thanks, son.

ME: Wait!

Phone disconnects.

Now I can't talk on my phone because I'm waiting for the inevitable call from the fire department.

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I was going to blog about my broken car today, but you don't want to read about that. Instead, here's something else you don't want to read about: movies I watched!

125. (1564.) Double Dynamite! (1951)
Reportedly named for Jane Russell's chest, this screwball movie instead spends most of its runtime chasing the antics of odd-couple Groucho Marx and Frank Sinatra. Enjoyable (even if the Sinatra-as-sad-sack routine wears thin).

126. (1565.) Footlight Parade (1933)
If there's any kind of movie that they don't make them like anymore, it's Depression-era, Ziegfeld-style musical spectacles like this. Worth a watch.

127. (1566.) First Men in the Moon (1961)
More fantasy than sci-fi (there's plenty of fiction here but drastically little science). I found it very dry, boring, and almost cruelly misogynistic.

128. (1567.) Five Came Back (1939)
Survival horror isn't really my thing, so I'd chosen not to watch this on several occasions. I finally gave in because with Dad around the house, about the only thing I can be sure we won't argue over are TCM films. Happily for me, this is a long way from the modern interpretation of the genre, and I was surprised by how watchable it was. (It feels cliche at points, sure. But so does Emerson if you're already familiar with the century of similar work that followed the ground he broke.)

129. (1568.) Bachelor Mother (1939)
They say that 1939 was the best year in Hollywood history, and if even its throwaway romantic comedies like this — starring Ginger Rogers and David Niven — are any indication, they're right.

130. (1569.) Lilies of the Field (1963)
Sidney Poitier was a damn fine actor, and this movie is really, really great on many levels. Icing on the cake: Coca-Cola gets a shout-out.

131. (1570.) Pocketful of Miracles (1961)
Frank Capra's remake of his own Lady for a Day is terrible. I'm on record as no Capra fan, but it's still a shame his career ended like this. Let's pretend this doesn't exist.

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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What? I skipped a post again? Dammit.

In my defense, I've been busy these past few days. As you know, I've been supervising Dad's medications and dog-sitting Rambo and Scarlett (and trying to make July not jealous). Also, there have been issues with our commercial rental property, including an AC failure and an (unrelated) fallen tree that damaged the roof and destroyed the gutter over the back door that has a bad tendency to flood. Add to those that I have an end-of-July deadline on a coding project. And I helped one friend build some shelves and another fix her cable system. And my own ISP was down for most of Friday and Saturday. And I've been trying to find time to write more. And and and and.

But that's all just excuses.

On the up side, I did just recently discover that my phone takes great panoramic photos, a feature which I have been using exclusively to take photos of clouds.

Beautiful Clouds: Polution's one redeeming feature

So that's good. And that's enough.

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Dad update: he's now in his third hospital in as many weeks.

First he had heart surgery in Atlanta to replace a malfunctioning mitral valve. He came home for a couple of days before shortness of breath took him to the emergency room in Newnan. They diagnosed him with atrial fibrillation, a relatively common complication, and sent him to Fayetteville to have a pacemaker installed.

Doctors say he should be fine. I agree. He's already proven that for a guy with a bad heart, Dad can really get around.

Meanwhile, this side-effects poster was on the wall of his third room:

Someone in hospital administration is an Osmosis Jones fan

A closer look reveals a very familiar "face."

This is why nurses wear gloves

EVEN IN HOSPITALS.

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I don't usually run movie posts back-to-back like this, but Dad's still his own part-time job. (There are only so many hours in a day, you know.) Add to that the fact that I've lost sleep because I left my phone and wallet in a Ted's Montana Grill yesterday, and, yeah, another movie review post is all you're getting.

97. (1536.) Night and the City (1950)
I found this hard to watch because I didn't sympathize with the protagonist at all. However, it has some pretty good cinematography, especially the shot of the protagonist caught by headlights in an alley as the mob closes in on him. Good noir.

98. (1537.) Hidden Figures (2016)
I'd categorize this as Bubblegum Biopic: a history of American popular culture punched up for mass consumption. (That's not an insult. My favorite musical, 1776 would fall in the same category.) I really enjoyed this, too. In hindsight, I'm glad it was nominated for an Academy Award so that more people will be encouraged to see it.

99. (1538.) Friendly Persuasion (1956)
Quakers! Civil War! Church Organs! Girls! Geese! If this sequential series of unrelated events was supposed to have a point, it went over my head. (*Someone* must have gotten it. It was nominated for Best Picture in '57. Quakers must have been a big Academy voting block back in the McCarthy era.)

100. (1539.) Destination Wedding (2018)
Recommended by friend Otto, this romantic comedy has only two roles, played by Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder as two mismatched, unlikable people destined for one another. Or not. Otto's right, it's got some funny in it, especially if you like the actors.

101. (1540.) Till the End of Time (1946)
Have you seen The Best Years of Our Lives? Yeah, this is that, but much more boring.

102. (1541.) Dirty Mary Crazy Larry (1974)
Have you seen Vanishing Point and Sugarland Express? Yeah, this is those. It's pretty good, actually.

103. (1542.) Outlaw Blues (1977)
Peter Fonda was the embodiment of 60s-70s counterculture on celluloid, here playing a felon who goes on the run from the law while simultaneously becoming the Next Big Thing in country music. It has its moments, in no small part thanks to Susan Saint James.

More to come.

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Oops. I missed a post on Saturday. Sorry. Dad's been in the hospital recovering from open heart surgery. He insisted to his surgeon that he'd be out of the hospital three days after his operation, but he's no Man of Steel.

Anyway, he's doing fine and is well on the road to (a regularly scheduled) recovery. Thanks to all who have offered "thoughts and prayers" for his well-being. Regular posting will resume soon.

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To be continued...

 

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