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Movies. I watch movies. I watch stacks and stacks of movies. October movies part 3 of 3:

139. (1198.) Crippled Avengers (1978)
The sequel to martial arts masterpiece Five Deadly Venoms is essentially the exact same movie with the exact same actors. It does have some imaginatively choreographed and executed fight scenes, but it's best not to watch the two movies too closely together. In my case, that probably means not in the same year.

140. (1199.) The Puppetoon Movie (1987)
Hey, this whole movie is animated shorts that would have been played before movies! George Pal's Puppetoons are indeed impressive examples of stop motion animation, but like martial arts movies, are probably better served with some space in between.

141. (1200.) Diary of a Mad Black Woman (2005)
This was the first Madea movie. I knew that Tyler Perry's movies were based on his plays, but I expected that this incarnation of Madea would be a prototype compared to her later appearances. Nope. Madea is always Madea. The real difference is that in later movies, she get more screen time. In this case, I could have probably checked out after Madea takes a chainsaw to the living room.

142. (1201.) Daddy's Home (2015)
This didn't suck. I don't know why I thought it would suck or why I watched a movie that I thought would suck, but I did. And I laughed. Mark Wahlberg's ridiculous work out and CPR attempts were particular highlights.

143. (1202.) Spite Marriage (1929)
Buster Keaton's last silent film! It's just an excuse for some classic Keaton shenanigans in generally unconnected gags. If you ask, "why is he climbing that ship's mast?", you're paying too much attention. It's worth it for the bed routine alone.

That finally finishes October. More to come.

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October movies, part 2 of 3:

135. (1194.) Florence Foster Jenkins (2016)
What a lightweight movie. It's too shallow to call it a character study, making it more like an extended SNL sketch. It works best when Streep is singing; you can't help but laugh.

136. (1195.) The Paradine Case (1947)
This Hitchcock film felt like a gender-flipped variation on his earlier masterpiece Rebecca. It's good, though I'm not nuts about Gregory Peck in the lead role.

137. (1196.) Kiss of the Tarantula (1976)
A dumb, low budget horror movie about a girl who kills people with — guess what? — tarantulas. It's too dull to have a lot of entertainment value as a cult film, but if you really like the fantasy of revenge flicks and spiders, this might be for you.

138. (1197.) Pitch Perfect 2 (2015)
Setup, punchline, repeat. This sequel trades the "heart" of the original for nonstop comedy and snark. I enjoyed it. (Hey! Pentatonix is even in it!)

More to come.

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Football season has me stressed out. The Bulldogs are having a great year, but I live in dread of the inevitable loss. The Dolphins are having a . . . I'm still not sure what they're having, but it hasn't been easy to watch.

To calm those nerves, let's watch some movies! October, part 1 of 3:

130. (1189.) Xanadu (1980)
YES! This DVD was loaned to me by my new BFF Micheal. The movie is everything I hoped it would be, by which I mean terrible with a great soundtrack. Let the good times roll! Thanks, Mike!

131. (1190.) Gone in 60 Seconds (1974)
This was the original, not the Nick Cage remake. Forget plot and character. This is really just an excuse for a 30-minute long car chase/destruction derby. If you live for the third act of The Blues Brothers, then this is your sort of movie.

132. (1191.) The Magnificent Seven (2016)
This isn't the original, this is the Denzel Washington remake. The remake has nice, glossy cinematography and a dumber than real life villain with a lot, I mean a lot of very gory violence. Frankly, I'll take Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen instead, thank you.

133. (1192.) They Live By Night (1948)
Two kids on the wrong side of the law fall in love and live . . . on the wrong side of the law. Until, you know, the law catches them. That's how these noir movies always end. Still, it's pretty good while it lasts, and I guess that's the point.

134. (1193.) Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (2016)
Never Go Back is a terrible name for a sequel. As expected, this is more of the same as the first movie. I'd watch a third if it came along.

More to come.

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September movies watched, part 2 of 2:

126. (1185.) Rattlers (1976)
Military-grade rattlesnakes go on a rampage! There are a lot of (unintentional?) chuckles to be had here.

127. (1186.) Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017)
Not as good as the first, but isn't the law of diminishing returns true for most sequels? Seriously, Colin Firth is much, much too good an actor to be in this kind of movie, but he looks like he's having a blast. So does Elton John. When the actors are having fun, it's fun to watch.

128. (1187.) The Book of Life (2014)
The charm of this animated movie is in the art design. The story, I'm sorry to say, isn't up to the same standard. I fast-forwarded through the third act just to get it over with.

129. (1188.) Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
Wow. If Kingsman 2 suffers from entropy, this sequel is a black hole. It's charming when the principle actors are on screen interacting directly, as in the party at Stark's office. However, the plentiful action scenes — the whole reason something like this is made in the first place — are a muddled, artificial mess with bad pacing, randomly shifting character motivations, and weak, repetitive CGI. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

More to come.

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Movie watching has ground to a virtual halt since football season started. Only eight movies watched in September! Here are the first four.

122. (1181.) Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014)
This is the 21st-century equivalent of what the original 1960s James Bond films were: slick, fun, cool. There's a lot of violence and death happening here, but really no worse than watching an entire military base being gassed to death in Goldfinger. I admit I didn't care for it at first, but Colin Firth won me over with his take on a contemporary John Steed.

123. (1182.) Dead Man's Island (1996)
William Shatner calls his old flame Barbara Eden to his island retreat to solve his own murder! Which of the television-star studded cast is guilty? Was it Roddy McDowell? Or David Faustino? Or Potsy from Happy Days? Maybe I've read too many mystery novels, but I had this one solved quickly, giving me plenty of time to just enjoy how bad an actress Traci Lords was with her clothes on.

124. (1183.) Phantom Lady (1944)
Great noir. Really, really great. Ella Raines sparkles as the determined Girl Friday, and I will absolutely have to track down more of her movies.

125. (1184.) Of Unknown Origin (1983)
This is Peter Weller's first lead role in a film. It's terrible, but everyone has to start somewhere. Weller isn't the only rookie here. His wife is played by Shannon Tweed in her first film. And yes, she appears topless. That's how I knew it was Shannon Tweed.

More to come.

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I haven't finished off movies from August yet? Gee whiz, I need to correct that.

118. (1177.) Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)
I had only seen the centerpiece of this movie, the big fighting/dancing number at the barn raising, so I sat down to watch the rest. I should have stuck to the barn raising. It's the best part. Like all movies of its period, this musical is awfully chauvinistic, but at least it's colorful. But who can focus on sexual politics when there are bright colors on the screen, amiright?

119. (1178.) Nerve (2016)
I expected nothing from this YA thriller and therefore was delightfully surprised. It fits the genre nicely, with charismatic leads, some good thrills, and a ridiculously implausible ending. An enjoyable hour and a half.

120. (1179.) The Gallant Hours (1960)
I cannot attest to the accuracy of this biopic of WWII Admiral Bull Halsey, but James Cagney certainly makes it worth watching. He's another actor I don't think I appreciated enough as a younger man. The more cinema I watch, the better Cagney is.

121. (1180.) Duck, You Sucker (1971)
As you can probably tell from the name, Duck, You Sucker is Sergio Leone western. It's not nearly as good as The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly or Once Upon a Time in the West (mainly because it's just too long), but no one turns the myths of the legendary American West on their head like the Italian Leone.

More to come.

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Movies watched in August, part 2 of 3:

112. (1171.) Iron Sky (2012)
Generally speaking, I don't care for movies made with the intention of making fun of their own stupid concepts. I mean, if you know your concept is stupid, maybe don't make it into a movie? Or maybe I'm just too old for this shit.

113. (1172.) True Story (2015)
Jonah Hill and James Franco star in this true-crime courtroom thriller. I found it to be a very interesting concept, but the execution seemed unfocused and somewhat sloppy. It's kind of a mixed bag.

115. (1174.) The Man Who Had Power Over Women (1970)
Rod Taylor starred in this mid-life crisis dramedy that feels very much of its time. (I was frequently reminded of Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice and Carnal Knowledge.) I think it could easily be remade today with very minor changes. Perhaps George Clooney could star.

116. (1175.) Strange Lady in Town (1955)
Greer Garson busts balls as the new lady doctor in a racist western town of assholes! Most of this movie acts like it's promoting gender equality, but in the end, it tales a man to save the heroine from herself. Take that, ladies!

117. (1176.) Logan Lucky (2017)
It's a shame this movie isn't drawing more money at the box office. It's really Ocean's Eleven in overalls, and people love Ocean's Eleven and overalls. I suspect this is headed for cult status once it goes to DVD and people discover it.

More to come.

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Time to catch up on what Walter's been watching! This is part one for August.

107. (1166.) Detour (1945)
The plot of this movie is so slim, the whole thing can be described completely in under 4 sentences. Usually, the hitchhiker in this sort of story is the predator, but in this case he's the, uh, well, bad shit happens to him because he's stupid. It's got a bit of a surrealism vibe because you can't quite buy into the validity of the protagonist's motivations. Anywyay, the movie is still an enjoyable watch thanks to a streamlined script and skillful cinematography creating good atmosphere, and that in a nutshell is the definition of most noir cinema.

108. (1167.) Day for Night (1973)
Loved it! Loved it! Loved it! Hollywood loves to make movies about itself, and the concept works even better when a foreigner (in this case, Francois Truffaut) is making the film with a critical (and cynical) eye. Watching it, I was struck by the impression that the style of this movie was what Robert Altman was always chasing (to varying degrees of success). Given that I seem to spend so much time watching (and complaining about) Altman movies, maybe I should be watching Truffaut instead. Did I mention that I loved this film?

109. (1168.) The Unholy Three (1930)
Sometime in the recent past, I watched the original, silent version of this movie (also starring Lon Chaney and Oz munchkin Harry Earle) and speculated that it would be better if it was a talkie. I was wrong. The silent version has superior menace and a more satisfying ending. The fault here probably lies in the change in directors. Tod Browning, famous for Freaks (also starring Earle), directed the original but not this. (For his part, Chaney took well to sound. He would have made a very successful transition into talkies if cancer hadn't killed him. This was his last movie.) If you have to see just one of these, see the silent version instead.

110. (1169.) Two for the Road (1967)
I'd seen clips of this Audrey Hepburn mid-life crisis film in the past, but I finally sat down and watched the whole thing. This is very much of its era, especially in regards to gender politics and fashion, but Hepburn's screen charisma keeps it entertaining. (How is it that this was released only six years removed from Breakfast at Tiffany's? I wouldn't say Hepburn looks old here, but it's hard to believe that she played Holly Golightly in the same decade.)

111. (1170.) Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (2014)
I thought this would play out like one of the many formulaic Disney Channel television shows, but it was more akin to a Walt Disney family-oriented B-movie of yesteryear, like, say, The Shaggy Dog or The Absent Minded Professor. (What can I say? I'm a sucker for Fred MacMurray movies.) I'm pleased to see Disney is still making them. (Low key but entertaining family movies, that is. MacMurray died in 1991. His last film was Irwin Allen's ensemble horror killer bee movie, The Swarm. I tell you, the man could do no wrong.)

More to come.

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Some of the movies I watch deserve extra attention.

114. (1173.) Aloha (2015)

This is not one of them.

Aloha is the worst kind of films, the kind that is almost great but misses the mark. The cast is particularly stellar — Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams, Bill Murray, Jon Krasinski, Danny McBride, Alec Baldwin; a real murders' row. However, the scriptwriter and the director let them down. Unfortunately, they were the same person. Cameron Crowe has made some great films in his day (Jerry Maguire, Almost Famous, Say Anything...). As I said, this is not one of them.

The first act is abysmally bad, underserving all characters and telegraphing the end. It's bad enough that Stone is supposed to be playing a Hawaiian. Worse, romantic leads Stone and Cooper have no real screen chemistry. Cooper gets along much better with McAdams, and this supposed "romantic" comedy suffers for that misplaced relationship.

Those problems are just the tip of this iceberg. Bill Murray's part was written as a Bond villain. Krasinski is playing a walking plot device and isn't even given any lines. The "space" elements are entirely pointless, and when the second act ends, the audience is given no context to understand what they're seeing on screen. Like I said, it's bad.

There are hints here of a better movie peeking out. If the Hawaiian lore had been handled more subtly, if the criticism of the civilian corruption of the military-industrial complex had been given more attention, if the characters were developed more organically . . . . There's a good movie under here somewhere. Too bad no one got to see it.

As I said, this movie doesn't deserve this much attention. If you haven't guessed by now, the real reason for this post is to explain that I'm now missing only 3 movies on my Emma Stone career checklist (Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, 2009; Magic in the Moonlight, 2014; and Irrational Man, 2015).

Gotta watch 'em all! Even the bad ones.

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Movies, July, Group 2 of 2:

101. (1160.) Spellbound (1945)
This is the Hitchcock movie from which Mel Brook's High Anxiety draws its most ardent inspiration. It's pretty good, too, though the third act had me asking "why isn't this over yet?" It's almost like there's a twist for twist's sake, a very un-Hitchcock ending.

102. (1161.) Baby Driver (2017)
I really wanted to see this, and it proved just as satisfying as I hoped, like one long music video/Steve McQueen action film mash-up. Highly recommended to fans of 1970s action films like The Getaway, Bullitt, or even Vanishing Point.

103. (1162.) Killer Fish (1979)
Lee Majors chose to make this film straight off the success of The Six Million Dollar Man, and I have no idea why he would do such a thing. It's a terrible film, a Jaws derivative made by people who really don't understand or care about character or dialog. Avoid this.

104. (1163.) White Comanche (1968)
On the other hand, William Shatner made this straight off the success of Star Trek, and who wouldn't want to see The Shat play good and evil half white, half indian twins in a spaghetti western? Must see for Shatner fans.

105. (1164.) The Mighty Quinn (1989)
Denzel Washington in the film that made him a star! Ok, maybe not (that's probably Philadelphia), but it's still an enjoyable, quirky crime drama set in Jamaica that marches to the beat of its own steel drum.

106. (1165.) The Age of Innocence (1993)
I suggest that this is among the best Martin Scorsese movies. The sets are amazing, the acting superb, and the cinematography second to none. Surprisingly, this film — which I understand is very loyal to Edith Wharton's Pulitzer Prize winning book — reminded me most of American Psycho in its depiction of the hollowness of New York society (even in the 19th century). Totally worth a watch.

More to come.

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To be continued...