Showing 1 - 10 of 279 posts found matching keyword: movies

I'm on a movie-watching tear so far this April! Here's the first batch of films seen.

46. (1105.) Dreamgirls (2006)
I didn't like it. I'd rather not spend three hours of my time with a bunch of people finding old and unexciting ways to ruin their own lives. (And if I want to hear a Supremes pastiche, I'll just listen to The Supremes.) Eddie Murphy is the highlight, and he kills himself. I didn't blame him.

47. (1106.) Journal of a Crime (1934)
A housewife is unable to come to terms with someone else paying the price for the crime she committed. The best part is her confession to the scapegoat that ends up making her feel worse. Good crime melodrama!

48. (1107.) Easy to Love (1934)
Screwball comedy about a wife who cheats on her cheating husband and the ensuing hijinks. Cute. Like Journal of a Crime, the brevity of this film (just over an hour) keeps it from dragging.

49. (1108.) Five Deadly Venoms (1978)
The last apprentice of a kung-fu Master has to track down his five previous students — each trained in a different deadly animal-inspired style — and stop them from destroying the Master's legacy. Where has this movie been all my life?! Really, really fun.

50. (1109.) Woman of the Year (1942)
The first Katharine Hepburn/Spencer Tracy pairing. Hepburn comes off great (no surprise if you read the title), leaving the audience wondering what she sees in Tracy's chauvinistic sports reporter. They do have good screen chemistry, though.

More to come.

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Movies watched in March, 3 of 3:

40. (1099.) The Jackie Robinson Story (1950)
Jackie Robinson plays himself, St. Jackie Robinson, in this sanitized true story. You won't be surprised if I tell you that Robinson was a better ball player than an actor.

41. (1100.) Anchors Aweigh (1945)
Like Brigadoon, something about this film left me cold, though I did greatly enjoy some of the more inventive cinematography, like the piano concert filmed through transparent keyboards. However, I definitely prefer Sinatra movies where Frank doesn't sing (and Gene Kelly isn't a sexist pig).

42. (1101.) Test Pilot (1938)
Myrna Loy makes this sad/sappy love story work thanks to her ability to deliver the snappiest of dialog with a sly wink and a nod. She's still the best! (Side note: No offense to Ms. Loy, but I just can't accept than any woman as smart and sure as her would instantly fall for the sort of cocky, selfish cads that Clark Gable generally plays. Aw, what am I talking about? These days, we'd elect him president.)

43. (1102.) Tammy (2014)
This was designed to be a girly equivalent of a raunchy buddy road comedy, but it's soaked with a chick flick's treacly sentimentality that generate sympathy for the characters and prevent the rougher humor from getting the laughs it should. The highlight is Kathy Bates, who arrives for the third act and steals every scene she's in from stars Melissa McCarthy and Susan Sarandon.

44. (1103.) Scanners (1981)
Nope, I'd never seen Scanners. Here's a textbook example of a movie with script problems. The final hero/villain confrontation is very clumsy with exposition that really should have been handled (or at least hinted at) earlier. However, the gory special effects are a lot of fun, and sometimes that's enough.

45. (1104.) Bureau of Missing Persons (1933)
Whoa, the first half of this movie was exactly the movie I wanted it to be as we followed around the detectives in a police department like a lighthearted Dragnet. Then it turned into a dumb crime/love story. Still, not bad. Not bad at all.

More to come.

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Movies watched in March, batch 2 of 3:

35. (1094.) The Late Show (1977)
The 1970s saw a rebirth in hard boiled detective noir films. Most of the ones I've seen are pretty good. This one, produced by Robert Altman (whose quest for realism on film is a perfect fit for this genre), is no exception. Art Carney and Lily Tomlin make a great odd couple.

36. (1095.) The Long Voyage Home (1940)
This film rubbed me the wrong way. Though the cinematography is great, few of the characters were tolerable, and their stories were all painfully predictable. I admit that I have a bias against sea voyage movies (because I have a bias against the sea), but it really seems a criminal misuse of John Wayne's "talent" to cast him as a nearly mute, happy-go-lucky Dane.

37. (1096.) Deliverance (1972)
No, I had never seen Deliverance before now. That's because I suspected I would hate it. I hate camping, white water rafting, and hillbilly rape. After watching, I was surprised at how well made a suspense thriller it is. That said, I was right. I didn't care for it and, frankly, never want to see it again. Once was one viewing too many.

38. (1097.) The Nut Job (2014)
This is another of those movies that should be delightful but somehow fails to equal the quality of its parts. It has a great cast, high-quality character design and animation, and a clever twist on a screwball caper plot (with animals and humans attempting simultaneous overlapping robberies that collide in the climax). However, like Epic, the film fails because it plays it too safe and loses its sparkle amid the mundane. Oh, well. They can't all be classics.

39. (1098.) -30- (1959)
Jack Webb makes my kind of movie. Webb plays the editor of a newspaper, and we follow him and his motley crew of reporters and associates over the course of one day presented in Webb's signature "just the facts" style. If you like Dragnet, you'll like this. (And if you don't like Dragnet, what's wrong with you?)

More to come.

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Five movies watched in March:

30. (1089.) Creed (2015)
This is a fine movie for a Rocky film. I mean, it is a Rocky film, so there's not much in the way of suspense. (I laughed and sang "Montage" from Team America: World Police during the obligatory training montage scenes.) But if you like Rocky films — and who doesn't? — this definitely is one.

31. (1090.) The Lego Batman Movie (2017)
Ah ha! So they can make a fun, lighthearted Batman film. This movie is a tribute to all levels of Batman fandom. It's not perfect (pacing is an issue as the movie reaches its inevitable it's-all-about-the-Bat-family climax (which, let me say, is something that the DC Comics haven't understood for years), but it is plenty good enough. Recommended.

32. (1091.) Terminal Island (1973)
Not that I need an excuse to watch a 1970s exploitation film, but I watched this specifically because TCM advertised it featured Tom Selleck. While "feature" might be overselling it, Selleck is present and does play an important, if smallish, role. This wasn't a complete waste of time.

33. (1092.) Unbroken (2014)
While I certainly don't want to belittle the accomplishments of the protagonist, I found the execution to be a little too dry to be all that engaging. The dryness is common in films written by the Coen brothers, as this one was, though when they direct their own work they are generally able to inject a bit of wry irony that probably wouldn't have been appropriate here. I guess my takeaway here is that not every subject is right for every writer.

34. (1093.) Madea Goes to Jail (2009)
This is the first Medea film I'd seen, and I have to say, "I get it." (Not every movie has to be a grab for Oscar.) The character is the life of this picture, and every moment she's on the screen is enjoyable. Too bad that Medea plays a subplot in her own movie. The main story, a successful lawyer dealing with a mistake of his past, is a dull waste of cinema. However, I do now look forward to seeing some more Medea movies.

More to come.

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After several years of tracking the "new-to-me" movies I've been watching, I decided it was finally time to try and compile a list of every movie I've ever seen.

You can see that list — currently at 2,742 movies and counting — here.

I'm sure it's not a complete list of everything I've ever sat through. For example, I remembered I'd seen Side Out just yesterday when a friend and I discussed rewatching The Hitcher (the original, not the remake). There must be a bunch of movies I've seen over time that made little to no impression on me. I suspect I'll be updating that list for a while to come.

In the meantime, if you don't see your favorite film, let me know. There's a good chance I haven't seen it, and I'm always on the lookout for something new worth watching.

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Finishing up movies watched in February:

25. (1084.) Epic (2013)
I've seen a bunch of big studio animated releases this month, and they've all been great. Until now. Something about this one from 20th Century Fox feels under baked, and it's a little hard to place a finger on exactly why. Great but unengaged cast, quality but unimaginative art, solid if thin plot. Yet, the whole is far worse than any of its parts. The film is exceedingly boring, an almost paint-by-numbers movie. I'm probably just far too outside the target kiddie audience, though Pixar and Dreamworks don't seem to have a problem creating films that entertain all ages, so it certainly can be done. I say avoid this one.

26. (1085.) Doctor Zhivago (1965)
I wanted to give up on this love story at the end of the first hour, I really did. Like Reds, it tries to bury the mush under a layer of history. Unlike Reds, Julie Christie didn't repulse me. Frankly though, I stuck it out for Alex Guinness' frame story. Glad I did. I understand why some people love it, but I don't imagine I'll ever watch it again.

27. (1086.) American Ultra (2015)
This movie might as well have been called "let's turn Jesse Eisenberg into Matt Damon," but it's really Topher Grace's movie. He steals every scene he's in. I'd rewatch the movie just for him. (Kristen Stewart is completely believable here, by the way. No surprise there. I never thought I'd be saying this when I watched Twilight, but she's become a damn good actress, far too good to be playing second fiddle in action schlock like this.)

28. (1087.) The Getaway (1972)
Steve McQueen plays Steve McQueen in "root for the best of the worst bad guys!" Something about McQueen's stoically ambivalent screen persona kept me too far at arm's length to really enjoy this. It would have been better with a sarcastic Robert Mitchum or a violent Lee Marvin or a threatening Clint Eastwood in the role. Depending on your appreciation of McQueen, your mileage may vary. (I need to get my hands on the Alec Baldwin remake for a comparison. Sadly, that one includes Kim Bassinger, who is a professional cold fish. Maybe she takes McQueen's role.)

29. (1088.) World Without End (1956)
B-movie drive-in filler variation in the vein of The Time Machine or Planet of the Apes. Really not worth anyone's time.

I'm already knee deep in March. More to come.

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Let's catch up on movies watched in February!

20. (1079.) The Wedding Ringer (2015)
This was the first movie I'd seen starring Kevin Hart. While his stand up comedy — which I think is funny — relies largely on his frantic verbal skills, the funniest moments in this film all relied on pratfalls and other physical comedy from other actors. It's mildly enjoyable, but I'm not sure it played to Hart's strengths. His role was more suited to a Will Ferrell or even a Rob Schneider or Chris Kattan.

21. (1080.) Reds (1981)
Ugh! I didn't make it to intermission of this interminably dragging romance. Diane Keaton plays a completely unlikable shrew that I just couldn't stand to spend two more hours with. I find it impossible to believe that Warren Beatty and Jack Nicholson would fight over such a spoiled, insecure brat.

22. (1081.) The Invisible Boy (1957)
This is Robby the Robot's second picture, and he really steals the screen in what is otherwise a standard sci-fi "beware! computers!" plot. There are some good, corny bits of dialogue, but it's not really worth the time to watch.

23. (1082.) The Secret Life of Pets (2016)
Here Kevin Hart is used to his potential as an insane, murderous bunny. The rest of the cast is good, too. Very entertaining.

24. (1083.) Finding Dory (2016)
An even better movie than Secret Life of Pets. Pixar does it again! The story is far better written and crafted than anything that has come out of Disney in years (Big Hero 6, Frozen, Zootopia). It's amazing how much better a movie you can make when you actually spend the time to develop both characters and plot before delivering the movie to the audience.

More to come.

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I don't usually watch the Oscars because I don't care to sit through the pomp and circumstance when I can just read a list of winners the next day. But I tuned in this year because, well, La La Land. So, yes, I saw the Academy Awards' worst screw-up in 89 years as it aired live. Fittingly, it felt like a moment from the least represented genre at the Oscars: a horror movie.

Seriously, I'm not particularly surprised that the award went to Moonlight. I haven't seen it, but it gets great reviews. I'm sure that after years of functionally, ahem, segregating movies made by and featuring minorities, the Academy voters understandably jumped at the chance to reward a great movie about a young, gay, black man. Good for them. I also champion giving Oscars to films that didn't have great box office success. (La La Land's $140,000,000 gross to date may not be in Rogue One's orbit, but it's light years from Moonlight's $22,000,000.)

I'm not even disappointed that La La Land didn't win. It is a great movie, and I do love it. (Have I mentioned that?) I've seen it twice and counting. I will probably see it again before it leaves theaters. That said, I'll be the first to admit that it's a bit lightweight with an underbelly of unseemly sycophantic emphasis on the mythical "magic" of Hollywood and a distinctly whitewashed cast. I can understand how it's not everyone's cup of tea.

But to get the Best Picture declaration wrong? To fail to correct the error before the La La Land cast and producers took the stage? To deny Moonlight its moment in the sun by casting doubt on its win? To give Warren Beatty the wrong envelope and embarrass him in front of an audience of millions? (In the post-awards press conference, Best Actress award-winner and national treasure Emma Stone said she was still holding her card when Warren Beatty read it again. That means there were two Best Actress cards and no Best Picture cards? WTF, Academy!) Frankly, I feel bad for everyone involved.

So congratulations to Moonlight. I will see you one day. Until that day, even though the Academy didn't choose to recognize it, La La Land remains Best Picture in my heart.

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Maybe because the United States government has devolved to a Marx Brothers comedy, it seems I've been watching more movies in 2017. Frankly, I think we can all use the distraction.

15. (1074.) Cannery Row (1982)
I'm no fan of Nick Nolte, but I still enjoyed his take on the stereotypical genius-hiding-from-the-terror-he-created. Even better was Debra Winger in the stereotypical part of the prostitute-with-a-heart-of-gold. And keep your eyes peeled for the well-intentioned-but-dangerous-giant-retard! This feels too lighthearted to be an adaptation of a Steinbeck novel, but I still enjoyed it.

16. (1075.) A Million Ways to Die in the West (2014)
Seth MacFarlane has built a cottage industry on a very particular style of non sequitur nostalgia comedy. He tones it down a bit in this live-action western that strives to be a 21st-century Blazing Saddles. What can I say? I laughed.

17. (1076.) Brute Force (1947)
Burt Lancaster leads a prison break in this incredibly violent (but well named) film. It's a slow build, but totally worth it.

18. (1077.) Snowden (2016)
Mom said, "Let's see Snowden." I said, "I don't like Oliver Stone films." She said, "Tough." So we watched Snowden. It does go a bit too far out of its own way to deify the guy, but otherwise does a pretty good job of explaining what he did and why he felt it was necessary to do it. Why are men like Snowden treated like traitors while men like Trump are elected president?

19. (1078.) Storks (2016)
Mom said, "Let's see Storks." I said, "Sure." Now I know where babies come from. Thanks for nothing, 6th grade sex education class!

More to come.

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The final tally of movies watched in January was 14. I've already given you the first batch of 6 (including La La Land — have I mentioned La La Land?). So here are the remaining 8.

7. (1066.) Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
I really don't understand why people like this movie. Yes, it's patterned after a World War II movie, but few of the "sci-fi" elements (by which I mean fantasy elements with electrical power) or enemy motivations make any sense. Worse, no time is spent on character development. (I swear, some of the characters exist just to sell toys.) Everyone seeing this already knows who wins, so when people start dying, as they must, THERE IS NO REASON TO CARE. If you don't just love all things Star Wars — because, I don't know, nostalgia? — avoid this exercise in fanwankery.

8. (1067.) My Favorite Brunette (1947)
Friend Otto called me an artless heathen because I mentioned that I don't like Bob Hope movies, so he insisted that I watch this. It's cute. I can definitely say that it's the best Bob Hope movie I've ever seen (but that's a pretty low bar).

9. (1068.) American Gigolo (1980)
This film, cut from the same cloth as Basic Instinct, looks and sounds like Miami Vice. No wonder Richard Gere only plays prostitutes or johns. He's good at it.

10. (1069.) Here Comes the Groom (1951)
Bing Crosby stars in a Frank Capra musical! If your idea of romance is hitting a woman over the head with a club and dragging her back to your cave as you whistle Johnny Mercer tunes, this movie is for you!

11. (1070.) Too Hot to Handle (1938)
Another "love" story that shows its age as Myrna Loy's career is destroyed and saved by A Number 1 sleazeball Clark Gable (and B Number 2 sleazeball Walter Pidgeon).

12. (1071.) When Ladies Meet (1933)
Myrna Loy has a heart-to-heart with her lover's wife. The dialog is pretty darn good. I liked it.

13. (1072.) The Barbarian (1933)
Rich fiancee takes a trip to Egypt where she is kidnapped by a prince posing as a peasant. She refuses his love and escapes back to her fiance. Then, at the wedding, she pledges her love to the prince. "Stockholm Syndrome" wouldn't be named for another forty years, but it could have been called "Barbarian Syndrome." Myrna Loy is beautiful, but this is not her best work.

14. (1073.) Midnight Lace (1960)
Doris Day plays a role that should have gone to Grace Kelly in this would-be Hitchcockian thriller. I found it predictable, but the suspense was still top rate.

More to come.

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To be continued...