Showing 1 - 10 of 442 posts found matching keyword: movies
Tuesday 22 September 2020
The Miami Dolphins offered 13,000 tickets to their game on Sunday. Only ~11,000 were sold. Is that because people were scared of the pandemic, the weather, or being forced to watch the Miami Dolphins play "football"?
We all should have watched movies instead. Perhaps movies like these:
145. (1799.) The First Wives Club (1996)
Great cast, mediocre result. I'm always game for a buddy revenge comedy, but the movie lost me at the high-rise window washer scaffold misadventure, which would have been too silly for most sitcoms.
146. (1800.) The Red Shoes (1948)
Put this film in the category of movies disappointed by a bad ending. I admit that the dancing is pretty darn good, but having a real ballerina acting the part of the put-upon artist/romantic lead left an insurmountable hole at the center of the film, a flaw that was left badly exposed by the abrupt conclusion.
147. (1801.) Robin and the 7 Hoods (1964)
Frank Sinatra really loved gangsters, didn't he? His film roles are filled with bad guys with a heart of gold, such as here, where smuggling, counterfeiting, and gunfights are presented as victimless crimes. On the up side, this does A) prove that Peter Falk was a great comedic actor and B) introduce the world to "My Kind of Town." So not all bad, then.
148. (1802.) Smorgasbord (1983)
Nothing about this anthology series of loosely connected vaudeville skits *should* work, and very little of it actually does. There are a few genuine chuckles, but most of the skits are either terrible, one-note ideas or have had the comedic timing destroyed by director Jerry Lewis indulging performer Jerry Lewis's ego. (The editor is Gene Fowler, Jr, who also edited the abysmally paced It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. So he probably deserves some blame, too.)
149. (1803.) Brewster McCloud (1970)
There's no way to describe this movie without making it sound absolutely nuts, so here goes: A bird-obsessed boy living underneath the Houston Astrodome avoids sex and builds a flying machine while under investigation for a string of murders. See? Nuts. There's also no disputing the fact that I loved it! The Player is still my favorite Robert Altman-directed film, but there's a new entry at second place.
150. (1804.) Never So Few (1959)
Is being a commando soldier really any different than being a gangster? Watching Frank Sinatra in the role, the answer would appear to be no. This dawn of World War II movie's plot examining the absurdity of the Rules of War is made nearly insufferable by the shoehorned inclusion of a romance with Gina Lollobrigida.
Take it from Steve McQueen: drinking Coke makes you cool!
More to come.
Monday 14 September 2020
I've only finished 3 movies so far in September, but maybe that's because I watched 25 in August. I should probably get a start on reviewing that backlog, so here goes.
139. (1793.) Winchester '73 (1950)
An anthology Western movie loosely organized around a rifle that keeps getting passed around. Jimmy Stewart is the star, but the cast also includes Rock Hudson, Shelley Winters, and Tony Curtis among others. Very good.
140. (1794.) You Were Never Lovelier (1942)
The Taming of the Shrew is the basis for the plot in this Fred Astaire/Rita Hayworth musical comedy. Astaire plays his usual manipulative skirt-chasing character, but Hayworth is the highlight.
141. (1795.) Hit the Deck (1955)
This film is a mess. It feels like the studio (MGM) had a bunch of stars they wanted to stick in the same movie, so they had someone write something where the sole criteria was "get all these people on screen." Debbie Reynolds is a good example; her character serves no role in the plot other than giving an excuse to get "Debbie Reynolds" on the marquee. The fruit salad of movies.
144. (1798.) Game Night (2018)
This sort of misadventure comedy — sibling jealously and a series of coincidences lead to a life-or-death situation milked for laughs — is the bread and butter of Jason Bateman's career, but Rachel McAdams is the star player. (She never disappoints.) I enjoyed it, especially the scene with the $17 bribe.
142. (1796.) Thirty Day Princess (1934)
Someone else who never disappoints is Preston Sturges, who wrote but did not direct this permutation of the premise of The Prince and the Pauper. I enjoyed it, too.
143. (1797.) Sabotage (1936)
As much as I like Preston Sturges movies, I love Alfred Hitchcock's work. I think I've often quoted his "if you show the crowd the bomb, you can't let that bomb go off" philosophy, which was very clearly a revelation he came to *after* making this movie. Very watchable and far less predictable than I would have expected.
Coca-Cola in 1938 London! What, what?
Many more to come.
Monday 31 August 2020
It's almost September, so let's go ahead and get these last July movies out of the way.
133. (1787.) The Daydreamer (1966)
Rankin-Bass would films are so, so slow, which I'm sure is why their television work is so much better known. A 30-minute Christmas special is far more entertaining than a drawn-out ninety-minute slog through children's fables.
134. (1788.) The Breaking Point (1950)
A sailor makes a series of bad decisions that destroy his life. It's a pretty great noir, actually. Recommended.
135. (1789.) Insignificance (1985)
Golly, I want to like this more than I actually do. There's such a great idea at it's core: what if Marilyn Monroe's attempts to spend the night with Albert Einstein were disrupted by Joe DiMaggio and Joe McCarthy? It's such a crazy allegory, it just might work. But then it doesn't, in part because the characters come across as exaggerated waxworks instead of real people.
136. (1790.) 4 for Texas (1963)
In this case, the four are Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Anita Ekberg, and Ursula Andress. It's a comedy that no one really seems interested in being in, Sinatra least of all. Having seen it, I can't blame him (although Ursula Andress appearing in a back lit doorway wearing a sheer negligee isn't nothing).
137. (1791.) Mrs. Brown, You've Got a Lovely Daughter (1968)
Think Help!, but replace the Beatles with Herman and his Hermits and replace a stolen ring with a dog and remove the criminals.... You know what, never mind. It's just a thin excuse for some silly songs and a romp through 1960s London.
138. (1792.) Love, Simon (2018)
I've said it before, but I'm a sucker for coming of age movies, apparently even when they are also coming out movies. It's a total fantasy, sure, but I watch movies to get away from the reality of what coming of age is actually like.
More to come.
Saturday 22 August 2020
What's Walter watching? Let's find out.
127. (1781.) The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse (1938)
Edward G. Robinson is a doctor who becomes a criminal to research crime only to learn that it doesn't pay. He could have saved himself some trouble and just watched some Edward G. Robinson movies.
128. (1782.) The Crazy World of Julius Vrooder (1974)
Part anti-establishment romantic comedy, part anti-war tragedy, this film earns high marks for bringing a reasonably light touch to several real issues. (The movie was produced by Playboy, and you can totally feel the magazine's mid-seventies vibe in the finished product.) If you can tolerate the inevitable tonal see-saw, you'll probably enjoy it.
Crazy Goes Better with Coke! ®
129. (1783.) Three Strangers (1946)
The Chinese goddess of destiny brings three flawed but related people together for a share of a fortune with predictably tragic results. It's like a long, forgettable episode of The Twilight Zone.
130. (1784.) The Killing Fields (1984)
Feeling depressed about the state of global political affairs in 2020? Then don't watch this (more or less) true story about reporters caught up in the chaos following America's withdrawal from Cambodia in advance of the murderous Khmer Rouge in the mid 70s. That there are monsters in the world who would do these sorts of things.... The devil is real, and he is human.
Killing Goes Better with Coke! ®
131. (1785.) The Boston Stranger (1968)
My string of uplifting movies continues with this pile of horseshit. Though it pretends to also be a biopic, it's really nothing more than an exploitation film trading on the horror of some real murders. I have to assume that all the great acting talent involved must have been unaware that the producers were going to turn their work into such dreck.
132. (1786.) White House Down (2013)
When a self-described terrorist group led by a right-wing decorated former secret service agent invades the White House, it's a race against time for "Charmin'" Channing Tatum to save President Not-Obama and unravel their evil plot. There are some fun action scenes, but the movie's big problem is that the enemy's plan is so dumb and obvious that every government bigwig comes across as a fucking moron for failing to decipher their true intent before the last 5 minutes. Wait, was I supposed to be cheering for the terrorists? Stupid liberal Hollywood.
More to come.
Friday 14 August 2020
My coffee maker broke, and the machine we bought to replace it, the only one Target had left, is defective.
Goddamn it, 2020, you need to fucking step off or we're going to have some real beef.
An Innocent Man is an underrated masterpiece.
Wednesday 12 August 2020
There's no such thing as good news anymore, so let's just watch movies.
120. (1774.) Pale Flower (1964)
A Yakuza hitman commits murder to impress a girl addicted to gambling, drugs, and fast living. So uplifting. The moral is clear enough by the great ending, but I can't say it's a lot of fun getting there.
121. (1775.) The Sign of the Ram (1948)
I had to check out imdb to refresh my memory on this one, which probably tells you everything you need to know. For reference, it's about a jealous handicapped bitch crushing the love lives of her stepchildren. Whee!
122. (1776.) The Vikings (1958)
Damn, Hollywood has a strange obsession with romanticizing violence and pretending it's okay so long as it's presented as Shakespearean. (To be fair, this probably has more to do with justifying attempts to satisfy the bloodlust of American audiences than any true moral perversion on Hollywood's part, but still.) I'm damn glad I wasn't a viking.
123. (1777.) Rocketman (2019)
I liked this Elton John bio-pic, but I think you'd have to be deaf not to. I'm starting to really respect Taron Egerton as an actor. He goes for it.
124. (1778.) Little Nellie Kelly (1940)
Eighteen-year-old Judy Garland plays a mother and her own daughter in this musical comedy with tragic elements. When no one's singing, it's mostly cliched melodrama, but I still liked it. Cliches work!
125. (1779.) Alexander's Trail: The Coke Bottle Story (2019)
A bloodless documentary re-enacting the life of the man arguably most responsible for manufacturing the original Coca-Cola bottle. It's as long on imagination as it is light on details, but it becomes clear in act 3 why this was made when everyone's face lights up as they start talking about Coke. (Mmm, Coke.) Worth a watch only for Coke fans, since they never even really bother to explain how the bottles were actually made.
They were made by computers, apparently.
More to come.
Saturday 1 August 2020
I'm currently rewatching The Rocky Horror Picture Show as I type this, and it's really hard not to type the dialogue I'm hearing. Damn it, Janet.
114. (1768.) The Women (1939)
This will be remade in the 50s as a musical called The Opposite Sex (which I did not care for). Talk about a time warp! The sexual politics involved here are practically paleolithic, but by taking all the men off screen, the film makes a more subtle — and frankly unflattering — commentary about the patriarchy's domination of American society. Much, much better than the musical.
115. (1769.) The Hustle (2019)
A gender-swapped remake of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (which was itself also a remake). I generally think con/heist movies work best when they play bait-and-switch with "reality," building the antici-pation before the reveal. Sadly, here you see the ending coming almost from the beginning. The spy training montage is the highlight. That Rebel Wilson really goes for it.
116. (1770.) Peeper (1975)
From the beginning, this movie presents itself as a parody of noir detective films from decades past. That ain't no crime. What is a crime is that it then proceeds to take itself far too seriously, as though it forgot it was supposed to be in on the joke. (I have to admit that my bias against Natalie Wood, here in the role of the femme fatale, may have played some part in my dissatisfaction. I just don't believe her.)
117. (1771.) The Swimmer (1968)
Burt Lancaster often *acts* too hard here, often calling attention to the very unreality of events. But as this existential nightmare of a warped American Dream gets more surreal, that works to its favor. I liked it a lot.
Dynamic tension must be hard work. Cool off with Coke!
118. (1772.) Hardcore (1979)
Written by the writer of Taxi Driver, this somehow fails to have any of that movie's depth, which I'd say owes more to Martin Scorsese's true talent as a director than any comparative value between George C. Scott and Robert DeNiro. Other than a very funny scene with Hal Williams as angry pornstar Big Dick Blaque (and a brief cameo by Reb Brown!), I'd say the rest should be avoided when possible.
There's no crime in giving yourself over to pleasure. And yes, I'm talking about Coke.
119. (1773.) The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover (1977)
When Eddie said he didn't like his teddy, you knew he was a no-good kid. Equal parts salacious and sympathetic, I suspect your enjoyment of this movie will be based largely on your preconceived notion of Hoover and his manipulations to maintain his place in — and his conception of — history. What a guy. Makes you cry. And I did.
Planet, Schmanet, Janet.
Wednesday 22 July 2020
I should be working. Instead, I'm writing movie reivews.
107. (1761.) Strike Up the Band (1940)
Poor Mickey Rooney. He's so focused on becoming a famous bandleader, he doesn't realize that Judy Garland has the hots for him. Lot of good musical numbers in this, none better than the animated band of fruits and nuts created by George Pal (aka, the director of The Time Machine).
And although Mr. Morgan is initially presented as a bad guy, you know he really means well when he offers Mickey a Coke from his bar.
108. (1762.) Kagemusha (1980)
Akira Kurosawa's Shakespearean history of a particularly unusual era in Japan. The movie looks great, but I'm sorry to report that I found it very dull. I've never had much patience for tragedy in slow motion.
109. (1763.) The Underworld Story (1950)
This was more my speed. An ethically unmoored newspaperman champions the cause of a wrongly accused black woman to line his own coffers. The movie is black and white, but only the audience seems to know it.
110. (1764.) Hopscotch (1980)
This spy comedy of misadventures is notable only because it features Walter Matthau's typical curmudgeonry.
111. (1765.) Little Women (2019)
I've seen the 1933 (Katharine Hepburn) and 1949 (Elizabeth Taylor) versions, and I'd judge the 2019 (Soairse Ronan) to be the best Little Women yet. I haven't seen it, but I can't imagine the 1994 [Winona Ryder] version could possibly be better. Forget the fact that it's a chick flick, it's just a darn good movie.
112. (1766.) Vibes (1988)
Jeff Goldblum and Cyndi Lauper are psychics who travel to South America to help Peter Faulk find a lost city of gold. It's the sort of thing you used to see filling up Saturday afternoon television. (That sounds dismissive, but I have to admit that Goldblum always delivers.)
This is NOT Jeff Goldblum.
113. (1767.) Torrid Zone (1940)
The title promises more than the film actually delivers. Gangster-in-all-but-name Jimmy Cagney courts con woman Ann Sheridan on a banana plantation during an overdue political revolution. It's the worst of colonial capitalism played for laughs. Hollywood has never been quite as progressive as Tailgunner Joe would have us believe.
More to come.
Saturday 18 July 2020
True story: Emma is my favorite Jane Austen novel, and I was really looking forward to the latest movie adaptation when it finally opened in my local theater the second weekend in March. (I've seen other adaptations, of course. The 1996 version is good enough that it almost made me like Gwyneth Paltrow.) However, the second week in March coincided with the arrival of COVID-19 and the global shutdown. That's right, this whole pandemic exists just to keep me from Emma. Curses!
Well, I finally fooled you, COVID-19.
126. (1780.) Emma. (2020)
Fifteen minutes into my rental, Mom asked me, "What is it you like so much about bitches?" She was referring to protagonist Emma Woodhouse, who at the start the novel is very unlikable indeed, something the movie leans into *hard*. (Some might say that she's not much better at the end. Those people are heartless monsters.) Mom also knows I just watched 6 seasons of Downton Abbey and developed a bit of a crush on Lady Mary Crawley, another character who always gets it her way. In response to her question, I replied, "I like women who are like my mother." We did not talk much for the rest of the movie.
The enjoyment of Jane Austen's story is Emma's journey of self-discovery through a series of misadventures and comic misunderstandings which the movie does perfectly. In fact, the movie does just about everything perfectly. If you can't get behind Miss Woodhouse and the rest of the amazing cast, you at least should be able to marvel at the lush, Technicolor-like cinematography and stunning Regency period outfits. (Oscars for everyone!)
If I have any complaint, it's that the relationship between Emma and her beau develops too quickly. (Austen's Emma is constructed more as a detective novel than a romance. All the clues are there the whole time, but nothing comes together until the end.) It's a minor quibble, and the modernization of the plot does nothing to damage an otherwise wonderful adaptation. (The Harry Potter movies disabused me of the notion that movies should be exact visual duplications of their source material. If you're going to adapt another piece of art, you need to bring something new to the table.)
I've been in such a foul humor lately, what with the eternal cycle of bad news, that it's truly an unexpected delight to have a distraction like this. While I've always highly recommended Emma, the novel, I can now do the same with Emma., the movie.
Wednesday 8 July 2020
I started June on a terrific pace of movies, but then I got sidetracked by six seasons of Downton Abbey. (So good. Wouldn't it be nice if your biggest problem in life was making sure you were drinking from the correct glass at dinner?)
102. (1756.) Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary (2019)
When I told my father I watched this film about the making and legacy of another film, he said "Documentaries don't count as movies!" I think he's wrong. Like other feature films, the best documentaries tell complete stories using the language of cinema. The stories in documentaries just happen to be real. If you like GalaxyQuest or sci-fi fandom in general, I think you'll enjoy this.
103. (1757.) Pokemon Detective Pikachu (2019)
This is what Dad and I watched together instead. I'm not going to call it great cinema, but for a movie aimed at kids, it's delightfully self-aware of what what it is and how it came to be. The old man and I enjoyed ourselves.
104. (1758.) Flower Shop Mystery: Snipped in the Bud (2016)
Mom had read this book and revealed the whodunnit aspect as soon as the killer made his first appearance. When you know where these Hallmark mysteries are going, the inevitable romantic subplot has to carry so much more weight than they can stand. I'm sorry, Brooke Shields, but I'm just not buying you as a flighty former lawyer-turned-flowershop girl dating the former cop-turned-bartender next door.
105. (1759.) Chef (2014)
I'm sure every movie critic has already compared this film to food, so I'll just say... it's okay. Jon Favreau wrote and directed the thin story of a man rediscovering his roots through food, so it must have meant a lot to him even if that deeper meaning isn't reflected in the finished product. (The highlights are the cameos by other actors Favreau has worked with in other projects. In particular, Downey Jr. steals his only scene.)
The first half of the film observes the downfall of the protagonist chef and is utterly devoid of delicious soda pop. But when things start to turn around and everyone is having a good time...
Things Go Better With Coke!
106. (1760.) Rambo: Last Blood (2019)
Better John J. Rambo should have been killed by a hail of police gunfire in Hope, Washington, in First Blood than live to make this gory and pointless piece of murder-porn.
More to come.