Showing 1 - 10 of 514 posts found matching keyword: movies

57/2066. Piccadilly (1929)
Nine-tenths of this silent movie plays like a love-triangle drama with thriller elements. Then, at the last minute, it becomes a murder-mystery/courtroom drama. My biggest complaint about it is a complaint I have with many silent films: the scenes of people "talking" that pad space between the dialogue cards is just wasted time. Fast forward through those, and it's reasonably watchable.

58/2067. New York Ninja (2021)
This 1984 movie footage was re-discovered, edited, and released for the first time in 2021. The plot barely makes sense, but that's not really the point of these sorts of these indie 1980s martial arts flicks. If you like that sort of thing (and I do), you'll like this.

59/2068. Do the Right Thing (1989)
True confession: I'd never seen a Spike Lee joint before this. For whatever reason (probably related to my early dislike of Spike's 1980s Nike sneaker salesman character), I didn't think I would like them, that he wasn't going to create anything I wanted to see. I admit now that I was very, very wrong. This film is genius and really does have some very important things to say about American (and human) life. Sorry about that, Spike.

60/2069. Varisty Show (1937)
This is a pretty typical Warner Bros. musical of its era: a thin melodrama plus some very stage-bound performances. It's short enough not to be a waste of time, but it's also hardly must-watch territory.

61/2070. Daughter of Shanghai (1937)
In the first scene of this crime drama B-picture, human traffickers very graphically throw their cargo out of a plane to their deaths. That certainly sets the stakes! I wish they'd kept the identity of the evil mastermind secret for a bit longer, but there were still a couple of enjoyable late twists.

62/2071. The Shocking Miss Pilgrim (1947)
What's shocking about Miss Pilgrim is that she thinks women should be treated as equal to men. What's charming about this is that she doesn't change her mind when she falls in love with a chauvinist.

More to come.

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51/2060. Five Minutes to Live (1961)
The sensationalist title is a very good indicator of the style of this low-budget thriller, but it's a poor description of the plot itself. What you need to know is that Johnny Cash plays a psychopathic killer during a bank robbery gone sideways. You will believe that he shot a man in Reno just to watch him die! While Cash has the starring role, the kid in the movie is played by none other than li'l Ronnie Howard! What a weird pairing.

52/2061. Siren of the Tropics (1927)
This silent movie starring Josephine Baker careens madly through genres: adventure, slapstick comedy, topless sexploitation, murder thriller, romantic melodrama, you name it. Obviously, it has its moments, but its mad mood swings really irritated me.

53/2062. Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)
Another Marvel movie with insultingly stupid plotting. But you're supposed to watch these things for the character interactions, and I won't deny that it is a lot of fun when there are multiple Spider-Men on screen at the same time. But that's the only nice thing I'll say about it.

54/2063. On Golden Pond (1981)
I'm old enough that I can now relate to Fonda's existential dilemma, which could make this movie a real slog. Fortunately, I like Henry Fonda and Katherine Hepburn. It'll never be a favorite, but it was worth a watch.

Drink Coke! (On Golden Pond)
Drink fast, old man!

55/2064. Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story (2015)
The life story of a husband (storyboarder, art director) and wife (researcher) who worked behind the scenes on many a Hollywood movie. It's told largely through home movies and on-camera interviews, so it's essentially an autobiography with plenty of anecdotes and famous faces.

56/2065. 15 Things You Didn't Know About Bigfoot (#1 Will Blow Your Mind) (2019)
This movie was released at the wrong time and has had a hard time finding distribution, so you may encounter it with a different title. I watched it because it was set in Georgia, and my mind was indeed blown. It is without a doubt the best lampoon of VICE-style clickbait journalism, social media influencers, and Bigfoot hunters you'll ever see.

More to come.

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After years of pandemic-driven disruption, the 44th annual Metropolis, Illinois Superman Celebration returned to its traditional calendar slot this weekend. The highlight of this year's event was last night, when Smallville Superman (Tom Welling) and Lex Luthor (Michael Rosenbaum) reunited to re-enact scenes from their television show on stage.

As it happens, the 2022 Celebration is marking the 50th anniversary of Metropolis being the "Home of Superman," a title they gave themselves. While 1972 was inarguably a significant milestone for Metropolis in several aspects, not the least of which is the agreement with National Periodicals to license Superman's name and likeness, many websites, including Wikipedia, mark the start of Metropolis' official relationship to Superman with the June 9, 1972, passage of State of Illinois General Assembly House Resolution 572, which reads:

Whereas, Metropolis is, as everyone knows, the base of operations of SUPERMAN, the Man of Steel, battler for Truth, Justice, and the American Way; leaper of tall buildings in single bounds; overpowerer of powerful locomotives; outspeeder of speeding bullets; changer of the course of might rivers; and performer of other important functions of not inconsiderable civic utility; and

Whereas, the civic leaders of Metropolis, Illinois, have finally decided that their illustrious citizen is, in fact, neither a bird nor a plane but a resource of not inconsiderable civic utility; and

Whereas, the familiar red and blue caped Superman uniform has been seen of late draped on other prominent citizens of Metropolis on important civic occasions (giving one pause to reflect that Clark Kent must have been considerably embarrassed when he last dashed into a telephone booth to strip for action and found that his Superman uniform had mysteriously disappeared);

now therefore be it Resolved By The House of Representatives in the seventy-seventh Session of the General Assembly, that we do hereby commend and congratulate Mr. Robert Westerfield, Mayor J.P. Williams, and Mr. C. Harold Mescher of Metropolis, Illinois, for conceiving and organizing ‘Project Superman’ by which outstanding citizens are honored as recipients of the Superman Award for their contributions to the civic welfare of Metropolis; and we extend the thanks of the civic leaders to Mr. Carmine Infantino of National Periodical Publications, Inc., for his kind permission to use the Superman format and for supplying the original uniform of the television Superman to use in the promotion of Project Superman; and finally we congratulate the Reverend Charles Chandler on his selection as the first recipient of the Superman Award and find it wholly appropriate that a man of his calling be so chosen;

and be it further Resolved, that a suitable copy of this preamble and resolution be forwarded to Mr. Robert Westerfield for acceptance by him on behalf of the Project Superman Screening Committee.

Personally, I'm not particularly confident about that June 9 date or whether the Illinois Senate ever had anything to do with this particular resolution. The actual online records of the 77th Illinois Senate meeting that day do not remark on that specific piece of legislation. Admittedly, that does not necessarily mean the date is incorrect, as the online records themselves warn of their incompleteness. The text above is taken directly from the Illinois House record for April 25, 1972, the date the resolution was introduced and passed the House.

And while we're on that topic, I should mention that House Resolution 572 was just one of many non-binding resolutions passed that day. Resolution 569 congratulated a congressman for staying married to the same woman for 19 years. Resolution 571 gave Chicago Cubs pitcher Burt Hooton a pat on the back for throwing a no-hitter, and Resolution 573 pledged undying loyalty to the Chicago Black Hawks "no matter what."

But the real kicker is House Resolution 575, congratulating Illinois native Gene Hackman for receiving the Oscar for Best Actor (in The French Connection). Though Superman: The Movie would be six years in their future, the Illinois House of Representatives still managed to praise both Superman and Lex Luthor in the very same meeting!

That's congress for you.

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Look, maybe we would all be better off if we just stayed home and watched more movies.

45/2054. Once Upon a Time... In Hollywood (2019)
I thought Quentin Tarantino was a genius from the moment I saw Pulp Fiction at Tara Theater in Atlanta in fall 1994, but ever since Inglourious Basterds I've felt he's increasingly interested only in making alt-history torture porn. Once Upon a Time... certainly has more than a little bit of that. However, I think this film transcends that limitation, creating a commentary on modern culture by looking at a time that was no better or worse than today but was infinitely better at crafting its own mythology. In other words, it's a very good film.

46/2055. Schindler's List (1993)
Hey, Randy, I finally watched Schindler's List. You're right, even though Spielberg is up to all his old audience-baiting tricks, it is an amazing movie that should be seen by every living person at least once. (In the first act, I thought, "How could they make this selfish prick into a hero?" And then the movie made me believe. Both the viewer and Oscar Schindler will come to realize that monsters are real.)

47/2056. Encanto (2021)
At last Disney finally embraced the fact that they can no longer write a comprehensible narrative in a children's film and just stopped trying. If colorful characters and catchy songs are enough to entertain you for an hour-and-a-half.... you won't feel the need for me to finish this complete thought.

48/2057. Morgan (2016)
Yeah, I watched this just because it starred Anya Taylor-Joy, and from that goal, it was worth it. That said, it is an otherwise disappointing thriller about the dangers of artificial intelligence that is terrified of exploring *any* of the questions it raises. Keep your expectations very, very low.

49/2058. Cabaret (1972)
I'd never been a fan of Liza Minelli's public persona, so I hadn't seen this film because I expecting I wouldn't like her in it. I was right. I found her character very, very irritating. On the other hand, I also found I could strongly associate the movie's central theme of societal outsiders trying to dance while knowing the world around them was burning. So... mixed bag?

50/2059. Cry Macho (2021)
The naturalistic performances might be the best example of Clint Eastwood's directorial style, but this film is not his best work, mainly because the weak script does not prove enough of a framework to support a bunch of actors standing around being their own, empty selves.

More to come.

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So you say you want to be in show business, kid?

60/2069. Varisty Show (1937)

If you watch the whole sequence, you'll realize these dancers are actually turning counter-clockwise and the film is running backwards. I don't have the first clue how choreographer Busby Berkeley came up with such an idea — it took some incredible crane shots to make the long takes work seamlessly — but the final result is such a show-stopping spectacle that it makes you think these kids just might get away with stonewalling the National Guard. (Seriously, that's what's going on in the plot when this number rolls out. Realism is an unwanted intrusion in any good musical.)

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In hindsight, do I watch a lot of movies about death?

39/2048. Death on the Nile (2022)
There's a lot in this that sequel to The Orient Express that will feel not quite right to hardcore Christie fans, but I was more bothered by the CGI used to replicate 1930s Cairo than the anachronistic cultural mores or addition of Poirot's backstory. Don't get me wrong, I still liked it and would definitely keep watching Kenneth Branagh Poirot movies.

40/2049. The End (1978)
In this blackest of comedies, Burt Reynolds plays a man so afraid of pain that he is determined to kill himself before his terminal disease can. When this film works, it's usually because of Burt's natural charm, though it does squeeze some good comedy bits from very real human situations. (I found the third act slapstick to be too broad given the dark matter that preceded it. Your mileage — and tolerance of Dom DeLuise's over-the-top antics — may vary.)

Drink Coke! (The End)
Drink Coke and die!

41/2050. The Green Knight (2021)
The classic legend is about a knight on a quest to have his head chopped off, but this modern telling is more acid trip than road trip. Every line of dialog only makes the story more confusing. It might be more tolerable if it wasn't all filmed in a dark forest without lighting. Blech.

42/2051. The New Mutants (2020)
Whenever someone wonders what "studio interference" is, point them to this movie. The writer and director were very clearly using trying to make a horror film about adolescence and sexual awakening, but the studio wanted more traditional superhero fare. The actors seem completely confused (disinterested?) about what they're supposed to be doing, and the result *is* a nightmare, just not one that anyone would want to see.

43/2052. Tony Hawk: Until the Wheels Fall Off (2022)
The old footage and glowing interviews about Hawk's early days are cool. Unfortunately, Hawk is unable or unwilling to examine his adult life outside of the world of skating, so in the end, he seems almost a victim rather than a champion, especially as the story ends wallowing on his inevitable physical decline. Was the intention of this documentary to make him a martyr?

44/2053. Closed for Storm (2020)
Another documentary, this time about the doomed New Orleans Jazzland theme park, from its conception to its destruction by Katrina to its abandonment by Six Flags to New Orleans' continued inability to do anything with it's remains. Honestly, it's the last part that I found most interesting because that was when the film veered from mere morbid nostalgia to something bordering on political activism against corrupt governance. Rage against the dying of the light, indeed. Of course I liked it.

More to come.

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youtube.com

Looks like it's time to buy a Roku.

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When I'm not reading fan mail, I'm watching movies!

33/2042. Turning Red (2022)
The movie that did so well, they made its writer/director a vice president of the studio! I'm on record as a fan of coming-of-age movies, so of course I liked this one. Its a nice change of pace where the "villain" of a story is a well-intentioned (if overprotective) parent.

35/2044. The Go-Go's (2020)
The Go-Go's heyday was just slightly ahead of my time, and I didn't know much about the individual members. It's pretty clear that a lot of their very worst behavior to one another and former members and managers got whitewashed out of this documentary, but that's probably the price you pay to get them to speak on the record in a project like this (which is really a promotion for a reunion show).

36/2045. When We Were Kings (1996)
Another documentary, this time an Oscar winner about the Ali/Foreman Rumble in the Jungle. It is an interesting time capsule of news footage, but I never got the impression that we get in the heads of the actual boxers so it feels glossy and distant, like a Life Magazine cover story.

37/2046. Bridget Jones's Diary (2001)
I don't quite understand why this romcom was the sensation that it was. The pacing is uneven, the protagonist is painfully over-awkward, and the obviously contrived confusion about the two love interests drags on far too long. Maybe it's an English thing.

Drink Coke! (Bridget Jones's Diary)
There is no wrong day for a Coke!

More to come.

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At last count, I'd seen 39 new-to-me movies so far in 2022. At the current pace, I'll finish the year with 145 movies seen. That's... not the worst number. But it is about the dumbest thing I could be worrying about these days, so let's just move on.

29/2038. The French Dispatch (2021)
I've heard this called "the most Wes Anderson of all Wes Anderson films," and I think that's a fine description. It is an anthology, and the short run time allotted to each story combined with the usually unusual Anderson mannerisms means most characters are little more than refuse cans of half-baked quirks. In the end, it feels slick and thin, like the glossy pages of a magazine. But I also think that is kind of its whole point. That said, I really do enjoy me some Wes Anderson films, and I have already watched this one three times.

Drink Coke! (The French Dispatch)
Enjoy a highly abstract re-imagining of a whatever they call Coca-Cola in 1968 Ennui-sur-Blase, France.

30/2039. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
I'd never seen this before — don't judge me! — and I decided it was past time to correct that oversight. For the most part, it is (literally) boilerplate slasher-genre thriller with a unique and clever twist on the slasher himself. The ending doesn't really work for me, but I can certainly understand why it's an enduring classic.

31/2040. X-Rated: The Greatest Adult Movies of All Time (2015)
This purports to be a documentary of "great" x-rated movies but is sadly little more than a promotional brochure for the modern skin-flick industry. I won't say that it has *no* intellectual value, but anyone who tells you they watched this for the articles would be lying to you. (Except me of course; I'm a paragon of prudishness!)

32/2041. Nobody (2021)
Imagine a slightly-more-grounded-in-reality John Wick and you've got this. I really enjoyed it, especially because of how lean it is. The film knows exactly what it is and cuts everything else down to the bone, requiring heavy lifting from the actors and stuntmen to sell the fantasy. And they do. Heartily recommended to action fans.

34/2043. Cut, Color, Murder (2022)
Hallmark's latest detective franchise movie series is mostly just silly. The killer is exactly the person that the police would have identified in the first 15 minutes if they hadn't been too busy falling over themselves to get the local hair salon owner to do their work for them. This one really feels like Hallmark is running out of new ways to re-combine their romance-murder mystery Mad Libs.

More to come.

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About halfway through my hatewatching of last night's Oscars telecast, I was planning on writing today about how Dune won 6 Oscars last night despite the fact that I strongly disliked it. Sure, it's well made from a technical standpoint, but it's all in service to the pretentious direction of a very undeserving script with two-dimensional characters in a world with only two colors: brown and browner. To their detriment, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences didn't ask my opinion about any of that.

Instead, what I am writing about today is Will Smith's battery of Chris Rock live on-stage after the comedian made a joke about Will's wife's short-cropped hair. That was captivating television!

Smith's behavior was not telegraphed. Before walking onstage, he initially appeared to be laughing along with the joke. Thirty seconds later, he was telling Rock to keep his wife's name out of his f-ing mouth. At least I think that's what he said. In their infinite wisdom, ABC chose to keep the cameras rolling but cut the sound. (Despite what we tell children about sticks and stones, in America violence is acceptable but a few choice words are not. Our ears are delicate and need to be defended. Much like Will Smith's wife.)

I did not at the time know that Jada has lost her hair because of alopecia. If Rock knew, I'd agree he made an inexcusably tasteless joke on live television. I'd also agree that's good cause for holding a grudge, but physically slapping the comedian in front of the audience seems a bit over-the-top. Be a professional, Will! That's what backstage is for. (One can only imagine the carnage of Will Smith watching a Don Rickles performance.)

If the Academy Awards was a sporting event and not a movie industry circle-jerk, Smith would have been sent to the locker room for his outburst. Instead he was given the Best Actor award and allowed to demonstrate he deserved it by playing the teary-eyed victim in the solo spotlight. Give that man a second statuette!

Frankly, when first I saw it all, I thought it was staged. I was glad to discover it wasn't, if only because that meant that Rock and Smith hadn't collaborated on creating an artificial Jerry Springer moment just to break up an otherwise dull evening of entitled movie stars delivering political screeds. The Awards could use a little more unscripted drama — though I'd prefer it to be of the sort where Faye Dunaway (rightly) gives away Moonlight's Best Picture award to La La Land. A little genuine spontaneity isn't always such a bad thing.

Speaking of bad things...

38/2047. Dune (2021)

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To be continued...

 

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