Showing 1 - 10 of 582 posts found matching keyword: movies

47/2358. So Proudly We Hail! (1943)
The main narrative of this melodramatic romance is very dull (despite the male half being George Reeves), but the background situation of a group of American nurses trapped in Bataan as the Japanese war machine begins to roll through in the Philippines at the start of World War II is quite riveting. It's all utterly horrible, and from what I've read, reality was worse.

Side note: since this is Superman Month, it's probably worth noting that there is a recurring bit in this in which one of the American soldiers is repeatedly referred to as Superman. (Fun fact: it is NOT the character played by George Reeves.) The events are set in 1941, and Superman would have been only 3 at the time. (He was barely 5 when the film was released!) This was a Paramount picture, and Paramount was also responsible for the brilliant Max Fleisher Superman cartoon shorts that debuted in 1940. So the name-dropping here counts as brand synergy product placement! You! Ess! Ay!

48/2359. Crimes of Fashion: Killer Clutch (2024)
Sadly, Hallmark mysteries don't always hit the mark. All the characters in this whodunit act like idiots so that the romance between the protagonist, a fashion psychologist, and the French policeman can get more screentime. The conclusion is particularly ridiculous. What's the haute couture world's equivalent of "two thumbs down"?

49/2360. Mean Girls 2 (2011)
Speaking of two thumbs down: this made-for-TV cash-grab sequel is inferior in all ways to its predecessor, especially the script, cinematography, and editing. But also the casting, costumes, acting, direction, stunts, and setting. (It's Atlanta! Standing in for Ohio?) Even the title, which should have been "Meaner Girls." (In this case, they nonchalantly commit crimes.) About the only thing the movie got right was the product placement.

Drink Coke! (Mean Girls)
Mean Girls drink Diet Coke

Drink Coke! (Mean Girls 2)
Meaner Girls drink Coke Zero

50/2361. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023)
Darker and less satisfying than previous instalments in this franchise, I would probably be hating on this movie if not for the scene-stealing Cosmo, a talking dog obsessed with being "good." Seriously, cut out the rest and just fast forward to the Cosmo scenes... or go watch this YouTube video.

More to come.

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42/2353. Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975)
I'd call this Australian movie an exercise in expressionism, since the narrative is, shall we say weak, and the pace, shall we say languid? In other words, I found it both irritating and dull in equal measure. I'll not watch it again.

43/2354. One Bad Apple: A Hannah Swensen Mystery (2024)
Hannah the Baker is back, this time in a movie written by series star Alison Sweeny. I have to say, she's done a fine job giving us more of what we expect. This, the formerly titled Murder, She Baked series, remains my favorite recurring Hallmark Mystery series.

44/2355. Bullets or Ballots (1936)
Lawman Edward G. Robinson goes undercover to break up a criminal syndicate that employs Humphrey Bogart. It's not a particularly great work of art, but Robinson and Bogart make it watchable.

45/2356. The Sea Hawk (1940)
With Errol Flynn in the lead role, it's impossible not to say this is Adventures of Robin Hood on a boat. I didn't care for all the ship-to-ship B-roll action shots, and the climactic sword fight felt a little too staged, but the stuff in between is plenty engaging. Boy, howdy, did that Flynn have some screen charisma.

46/2357. A Biltmore Christmas (2023)
I joined Mom in watching this non-mystery Hallmark movie in part because it was filmed in (and sponsored by) Biltmore Estate, in part because it was made by people who clearly love Turner Classic Movies, and in part because Jonathan Frakes has a key role. I think in the right hands and with the right budget, this could have been better than a TV movie, but you know what you're getting you see the Hallmark Channel's name on the intro.

More to come.

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37/2348. Parasite (2019)
If I had realized that this was written/directed by the same guy (Bong Joon-ho) in charge of Snowpiercer, I wouldn't have bothered ever watching it. I disliked this so much, I had to bail after about an hour, deciding that I had already spent too much time with a bunch of characters whose life decisions constantly turned my stomach. I don't know understand how this won the 2020 Best Picture Oscar over the vastly superior Jojo Rabbit or Little Women or 1917 or Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. It's dull and petty and just fucking awful.

38/2349. Wonka (2023)
A necessary palate cleaner. It's true that the songs aren't greatly memorable after you turn off the TV, but they're fun and colorful in the moment, and you certainly can't fault Timothee Chalamet's enthusiastic effort.

39/2350. The Gay Divorcee (1934)
Fred Astaire is mistaken by Ginger Rogers for a professional marriage-wrecker, but that's not as important as the singing and dancing. Yeah, Astaire and Rogers were both in Flying Down to Rio, but this is the first movie to really couple them for the full runtime. It's easy to see why audiences clamored for more.

40/2351. Inherent Vice (2014)
I'd call this a psychedelic neo-noir, and in the vein of The Big Sleep, I'm not sure it makes any sense. To be fair, it's not as strictly concerned with the big mystery as it is with how Joachim Phoenix's hippy detective fits into a corrupt, over-commercialized 1960s American society. Director Paul Thomas Anderson bakes in a lot of satirical humor (see also: Licorice Pizza and Boogie Nights). I was surprised that liked it as much as I did. (Is it time I finally watched Anderson's Punch-Drunk Love and There Will Be Blood?)

41/2352. Mauvaise Graine (1934)
The English release of this French film retitles it Bad Seed, but Prodigal Son might be more fitting for this story of a spoiled child who runs away from home to steal cars. For the record, it's the first film directed by Billy Wilder, and while it's hard to draw a direct line from this to Some Like It Hot, his natural comedic touch still peeks through occasionally.

More to come.

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32/2343. The Last Emperor (1987)
This biographical fiction wants me to believe that poor Puyi was an ordinary victim of circumstance. The historical record is definitively not as forgiving. But I guess if you want China's cooperation so you can film in the actual Forbidden City, some sacrifices to reality have to be made.

33/2344. CrimeTime: Freefall (2024)
An actress from a popular crime drama moves back to her small town and immediately someone dies on her doorstep, driving her to try and solve the crime. The silly premise is not nearly so bad as the chemistry between the actors. The whole thing just feels artificial.

34/2345. La Samourai (1967)
Despite the title, this has nothing to do with samurai. It's really a movie about a day in the life of a French hitman who is betrayed and seeks revenge. And it's pretty darn good.

35/2346. Skin: A History of Nudity in the Movies (2020)
You know how some movies have gratuitous nudity that exists just to lure people into watching them? Well, this is a documentary of the whys and hows of that sort of thing throughout Hollywood's 100-year history... plus plenty of gratuitous nudity to lure people into watching it. How meta.

36/2347. Watch on the Rhine (1943)
This melodrama is clearly intended as a warning for isolationist (or worse) pre-war Americans about how fascism corrupts society. It's a little heavy-handed, but given what we've been going through in the past decade, I'm willing to concede that maybe it needs to be.

More to come.

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27/2338. Guns Akimbo (2019)
Daniel Radcliffe's choice of offbeat roles continues to delight. He adds necessary empathy to this pretty dumb action film about a man who trolled the wrong guy on the Internet and ended up with guns bolted to his hands in an underground Mortal Kombat-style tournament. I look forward to where I might bump into Radcliffe next.

28/2339. Dear White People (2014)
As if you couldn't tell from the title alone, this is a very pointed comedic satire of race relations in the stuffier upper-echelons of higher education. It recognizes that there are no easy answers to society's stickier problems, which means the ending may not be the most satisfying. But it's certainly worth a watch.

29/2340. Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (2023)
This, on the other hand, should be watched by no one. To say that this is not my Aquaman is an understatement; I honestly hope it is no one's Aquaman. True story: I turned off the tv at the 2/3 mark when the bad guys killed Aquaman's father and kidnapped his baby because I thought that was the ending this movie deserved. Blech.

30/2341. Bangkok Dangerous (2008)
Nick Cage plays a cold-blooded assassin who can't keep his personal and professional lives apart as a job goes sideways in guess where. It's not great, but compared to Aquaman.... Damn, I hated Aquaman.

31/2342. A Little Romance (1979)
An antidote to bad action movies! This is a gentle coming-of-age romantic comedic adventure of two adolescents in Paris (and Venice) that any fan of Wes Anderson films will love. I sure did.

More to come.

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22/2333. Now, Voyager (1942)
Apparently, this romance was the highest grossing film of Bette Davis' career... and I can't see why. Just the right movie at the right time for weary World War brides, I guess. There's an argument to be made that it's a good example of how the Hollywood Hays Code censorship made mundane scenes extra suggestive by omitting context, but it's really just dull.

24/2335. Dicks: The Musical (2023)
Ok, well, speaking of the Hays Code, this satirical musical (in the vein of Rocky Horror) is its nightmare scenario. It's clearly looking for extra opportunities to offend everyday sensibilities, and it wildly succeeds. I found most of the songs very enjoyable, but there were several moments in which I cringed. I'm glad it exists. I might watch it again.

23/2334. Gilded Newport Mysteries: Murder at the Breakers (2024)
There's not a lot to recommend this improbable mystery set in the Gilded Age vacation home of Cornelius Vanderbilt. I recognize and appreciate that Hallmark Mysteries is trying new things (and grabbing at that sweet, sweet Downton Abbey-hungry audience), but this one seems miscast and poorly crafted.

25/2336. The Black Marble (1980)
Speaking of poorly crafted mysteries, this. (Well, it's more crime caper than mystery, as the audience is on the crime from the beginning.) I watched specifically for Paula Prentis, but her thin character arc is more ridiculous than the vainglorious dog-killing villain played by Harry Dean Stanton. And the extended climactic "chase" in the kennels felt like it took an hour. Pass.

26/2337. The Country Girl (1954)
If you have any doubts about Grace Kelly as an actress, watch this drama in which she is either a nagging wife or a victim of an abusive alcoholic Bing Crosby. The script is intentionally misleading, which is part of the fun. I can see the last scene as either hopeful or depressing, depending on your personal POV. Well done.

More to come.

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16/2327. The Racing Scene (1969)
James Garner narrates a documentary about a year in the life of his racing company. It's a lot like Grand Prix with the most dramatic moments edited out.

17/2328. Cornbread, Earl and Me (1975)
It would be easy to handwave away this innocent-black-kid-gets-shot-by-police story as an overly melodramatic mid-70s exploitation film if the same shit wasn't still making headlines.

Drink Coke! (Cornbread, Earl, and Me)
Drinking pop is a key plot element that the Coke product placement team wisely stays away from.

18/2329. True Justice: Family Ties (2024)
It seems that Hallmark is leaning more into the procedural style mystery movie, which I suppose is fine for variety. Unfortunately, the plot construction follows the "last, least likely suspect" approach, so the murderer's motive is... weak. Oh well. As I've said before, I don't watch these things for realism.

19/2330. The Fake (1953)
An American insurance agent stumbles into a British art forgery scheme with just enough fisticuffs, romance, and plot twists thrown in so that all the boxes can be checked off. I enjoyed it in spite of its limitations, but all the cliche elements do tend to encourage eye-rolling.

20/2331. Adaptation (2002)
Brilliantly written meta-movie satire by Charlie Kaufman who uses himself as the fulcrum to demonstrate that Hollywood films are all a waste of time. It's no wonder the material attracted such an accomplished cast. (Kudos also to director Spike Jonze for getting himself out of the way so it seems all Charlie's film.) Even when it is completely predictable — seriously, the second half couldn't be telegraphed harder — it never goes quite where I expect. Loved it.

21/2332. The Girl Who Had Everything (1953)
What else do you give the girl who has everything but William Powell to play her father? Sadly, Powell is criminally underused because the studio is clearly more interested in the dumb, doomed romance built around Elizabeth Taylor. If I were in charge there would have been less Taylor, more Powell. (I suspect Powell thought so, too. This is the last movie he ever made at MGM.)

More to come.

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11/2322. Mystery Island (2023)
So far as Hallmark mystery movies go, this one tries harder than most to echo an Agatha Christie novel. There are several overt references to And Then There Were None which sort of gives the game away. The fun here was watching the characters, mostly crime novel fans supposedly familiar with Christie's oeuvre, fail in different ways to find the obvious answer.

12/2323. The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965)
I avoided this Michelangelo biopic for years because it's long and I don't like biopics. But I finally gave in after reading that it's apparently pretty accurate, including subtle hints that Michelangelo was a homosexual. I'm no Michelangelo, but I can certainly relate to some of his artistic attitudes.

13/2324. Haunted Harmony Mysteries: Murder in G Major (2023)
More Hallmark! It's a bit more... fantastic than what the channel usually tries -- one of the amateur sleuths in this is a ghost -- but it's still the usual small cast plus love-interest detective. Hey, at least they're willing to try something different.

14/2325. It's a Big Country (1951)
This anthology film, mostly of immigrant stories, is pretty blatant pro-America Cold War propaganda, which sometimes feels a little preachy. But it's got William Powell in it delivering a lecture on the parts of America he loves, so I give it two thumbs up.

15/2326. Somewhere I'll Find You (1942)
Two brothers, both newspaper foreign correspondents covering the unrest leading to World War II, fall for the same woman... and it's just terrible. Every scene of Clark Gable being a dick to Lana Turner is too long and dull, dull, dull. For frustrated housewives only.

More to come.

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6/2317. Time Bomb Y2K (2023)
This documentary has no commentary or interviews, just clips of footage taken from original sources as the world marched toward a potential disaster on January 1, 2000. The clip selection (perhaps out of necessity) tends towards typically overblown media sensationalism, and the end result is like leaving a cup of history out in the sun and reviewing it later after the sane parts had evaporated out. A history reduction! Its fever pitch doesn't quite match my memories of the era, but that would admittedly make for less entertaining television.

7/2318. This Place Rules (2022)
Another documentary of a different sort as journalist Andrew Callaghan records himself traveling around the country attending Trump rallies in the weeks leading to January 6, 2021. Unlike Jordan Klepper's similar pieces for The Daily Show, Callaghan's point of view isn't as obvious, sometimes seeming more empathetic and sometimes entirely apathetic. At times, this feels a bit like an art piece, and as with all things in Trump World, it's hard to ascertain how much is truth and how much is performative. If nothing else, it's an interesting artifact of its era.

8/2319. Thriller 40 (2023)
There are plenty of interviews in this documentary celebrating the 40th anniversary of the release of Michael Jackson's Thriller album. There's a lot of talk about how Thriller and the artistic genius behind it changed the world of music and entertainment for the better but very little discussion about the controversial legacy of Jackson himself. Maybe that's the way it should be; it just felt a little hollow looking backwards at what I (and all the interviewees) know to be in Jackson's future.

9/2320. The Liquidator (1965)
This spy action/comedy, with a theme performed by my favorite James Bond theme-songstress, Shirley Bassey, features Rod Taylor as a British secret agent with a license to kill... who hires other people to kill for him, which is a smaller part of the plot than you'd expect. In fact, the story is a bit of a meandering hot mess as it struggles to exploit a niche that other James Bond rip-offs hadn't yet. Honestly, I don't know that I would have made it all the way through if it wasn't for the prominent role of given to Jill St. John, my favorite Bond Girl.

Drink Coke! (The Liquidator)

Which is not to say that the movie is entirely stupid. It's hard to read in the image above, but "Refreshes you best" was indeed Coke's international slogan in 1959. Here is also cleverly serves here as a visual double entendre for the sexual proclivities of our hero, who works in a diner called the Bird Cage where he stalks attractive (and willing) young women -- a fact that is entirely relevant to the third act twist. Oh, well. They can't all be Diamonds Are Forever.

10/2321. The Tale of Zatoichi (1962)
The Internet tells me that the blind ronin Zatoichi was an incredibly popular action hero in Japan. I don't see why (no pun intended), but the film, the first of many for the character, isn't exactly bad as it is a little slow and dull. But maybe it was better than whatever else Japanese audiences were being offered in 1962. Maybe it took some time for Dr. No to cross the Pacific. (The fifth Bond film, Japanese-set You Only Live Twice, wouldn't arrive in theaters until 1967. By then, there had already been 14 Zatoichi films!)

More to come.

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As you can tell from the following numbering, we've rolled into a new year of movies!

1/2312. Fear of a Black Hat (1993)
I thought I'd seen this mockumentary years ago, but surely I would have remembered something this funny. This hews closely to the template laid down by Spinal Tap, but the song parodies and attacks on hip hop stereotypes make it fresh and unique.

2/2313. Where Danger Lives (1950)
I'm not going to lie, this title brought back no memories, so I had to look it up on imdb to refresh my memory. I know now why I forgot it. (Doctor Robert Mitchum falls for an insane patient!) The irony of my failing memory is that just yesterday I was thinking about Claude Rains' ridiculously small part herein as an accused abusive husband. When you only remember what a movie got wrong... well, that's your capsule review.

3/2314. You Can't Take It with You (1938)
If I'm so irritated by Frank Capra's trademark too-happy-to-be-possible endings, why do I keep watching his films? In this case, it was to see a Jimmy Stewart film I hadn't yet seen. And now I have. Bonus: appearance of Spring Byington, who is for my mother what Agnes Moorehead is for me, e.g. an actress we're always delighted to bump into in an unexpected supporting role.

4/2315. The Youngest Profession (1943)
This family melodrama in the "Andy Hardy" vein is about a girl autograph hound who thinks her father is cheating on her mother because of the evil machinations of... Agnes Moorehead! Seriously, I didn't know Moorehead was in this when I set my DVR to record it. No, that was because the poster promised me William Powell, who has one line at the very, very end of the movie. Still worth the wait. William Powell is the best.

5/2316. Barbie (2023)
Mom bought the DVD for herself for Christmas, and we watched it together. She was lukewarm -- it wasn't really to her taste -- but I had a blast. Greta Gerwig wins again! I've watched it twice more since. Honestly, my favorite part is that Ken was nominated for the Academy Award but not Barbie, which is exactly the very sharp point of the entire film. I hope he wins.

More to come.

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To be continued...

 

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