Showing 1 - 10 of 528 posts found matching keyword: movies

114/2123. Ladies of the Jury (1932)
Think 12 Angry Men with a lot more comedy (and a Henry Fonda that looks a lot like a batty Wicked Witch of the West). The short runtime means it definitely doesn't overstay its welcome.

115/2124. The Little Minister (1934)
I'm still not sure why the adjective "little" is used for the minister, but the story is just as much about his love interest, the capricious neighbor played by Katherine Hepburn. Unlike Ladies of the Jury, this was too long to sustain my interest, and I actually fell asleep during what should have been the "exciting" climax. Yawn.

116/2125. Ride Lonesome (1959)
The first 90% of this Western is about setting up the very entertaining (but also improbable) ending. There's some real cognitive dissonance going on with James Coburn playing against type as a hapless moron cowpoke. But this is his first film role, so there was no type to play against yet.

117/2126. Meet Danny Wilson (1952)
"Danny Wilson" is Frank Sinatra playing some version of Frank Sinatra. The guy is a real asshole, and everyone in the film knows it. When mobsters (led by Raymond Burr) start shooting at him in the climax, all you can say is that he had it coming.

118/2127. High and Low (1963)
This morality play-slash-police procedural is another Akira Kurosawa masterpiece. The less I say, the better. Very highly recommended.

More to come.

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Variety reports that an upcoming Propstore auction of television and movie memorabilia will include a Batarang that is expected to sell for between 11 and 17 thousand dollars. Sure, Bruce Wayne is rich, but there's no way that he pays that much for those things; he leaves them everywhere.

What really gets me about that price is that it's not a 1960s-era Adam West Batarang (a giant blue banana grappling hook) or even a 1980s-era Michael Keaton Batarang (a snap-out palm-sized bolo), but the chest-logo machete Batarang used by Robert Pattinson in The Batman, which came out earlier this year!

Which makes now as good a time as any to do this:

120/2129. The Batman (2022)

Short review: I hated it. Yes, it's a (marginally) new take on the character in cinema, but it's a spectacularly dumb one. For more than three hours, Batman wanders through leftover Fight Club sets acting like a plainclothes detective (wearing fancy dress-up) from Se7en who breaks every law and needs his butler to feed him clues. Catwoman is in the film just so Batman can look heroic by comparison! I think Robert Pattinson got the role because Peter Sellers is dead.

That said, I really don't want to be too hard on scrawny little Pattinson here, especially in the COVID era. Like poor Christian Bale, who had to talk while his bat-cowl squeezed his lips like a toothpaste tube, Pattinson is clearly trying to do the best he can with the lackluster material he's given to work with by writer/director Matt Reeves. For example, at the climax of the film, as a determined Batman injects himself with... well, I don't know what — it's neither telegraphed nor explained, I expected to hear Boris Karloff's voice saying "Batman's heart grew three sizes that day." There's only so much craftsmanship and subtility that you can expect from the guy who co-wrote Under Siege 2: Dark Territory.

My condolences to whoever pays $15,000 for that Batarang.

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I know that it's still Football and Batman Month, but this movie rundown has no Batman or Football content in it. Sorry about that. I'll try harder next year.

109/2118. We Met in Virtual Reality (2022)
This documentary shines such a colorful spotlight on some of the most virtuous and positive aspects of the virtual reality metaverse that it often feels like a sales pitch. If I didn't already have decades of personal experience that the reality seldom matches the brochure, I might have been swept away. Still, it *is* nice to think that someday maybe we *can* build such a utopia. (If you ask me, no place can be a paradise without Coca-Cola.)

110/2119. Hollywood Shuffle (1987)
Robert Townsend created a very funny movie about the very serious problem the American movie industry has representing Black people on film. It's very good.

111/2120. Promising Young Woman (2020)
I like a good revenge movie, and this is a great revenge movie especially because instead of terrorists or mafia, the villains are apologists for boys-will-be-boys sexual misconduct. It also helps that the cast is chock full of talented comedic actors, an unusual casting choice that really underlines the theme of a two-faced society. Recommended.

112/2121. Danger Lights (1930)
The "danger lights" in the title are railroad markers that warn engineers of obstructions on the track. In this case, the danger is a love triangle. It's not a great film, but it does have some great shots of period railroads. Consider it an historical curiosity.

113/2122. Licorice Pizza (2021)
A very episodic story of a May/December romance based on actual events in early 1970s Los Angeles, Licorice Pizza gets by largely on the freshness of its lead actors. As you must know by now, I'm a sucker for coming-of-age stories, even when the outcome of the love story seems completely unearned.

Drink Coke! (Licorice Pizza)
Paradise is a 1970s analog radio booth.

More to come.

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104/2113. The Green Slime (1968)
The important thing about this movie isn't that its monsters are lame and its human characters are stupid — were the first 15 minutes of this the inspiration for Armageddon? No, it's that the script was co-written by the guy who co-created Batman, Bill Finger. Viewed through the lens of a Silver Age comic book story, it's not *all* bad.

105/2114. Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
Should have been titled "Catharsis: The Movie." The whole point is that all characters are having the very worst weekend of their lives, and if you can laugh at that, maybe you can laugh at your own problems, too. Kudos to the entire cast for pulling this off so well.

106/2115. Pink Floyd: The Wall (1982)
Another movie that I'd seen in bits and pieces over the years. Well, now I've seen it all in one sitting, and it is very much just as depressing as the album (which is probably why I haven't listened to that all the way through in decades). Sadly, its key themes of the loneliness of mental illness and the seduction of fascism as a panacea to difficult problems is probably just as relevant in modern America as it was in early 80s Britain, and I'm pretty sure we don't have any better solutions now.

Drink Coke! (Pink Floyd: The Wall)
Coke is for crazies!

107/2116. In Harm's Way (1965)
John Wayne and Kirk Douglas lead an all-star cast through an epic that equal parts soap opera and war film, and in typical fashion for director Otto Preminger, it's pretty darn ambivalent about both. I've generally liked the Preminger films I've seen, this included. Maybe I should make an effort to see more.

Drink Coke! (In Harms Way)
Coke is also for rapists!

108/2117. Car Wash (1976)
"A Day in the Life of a Full Service Car Wash" is a great idea for a film and I loved it. 'Nuff said.

More to come.

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I know I just reviewed a batch of movies two days ago, but when I wrote that, these two felt like they should get a separate post. So they did.

103/2112. The Single Standard (1929)
Greta Garbo's capricious protagonist suffers through a series of romantic misadventures that illuminate how differently men and women are treated by society. There are a surprising number of suicide attempts, all of them by men, suggesting that maybe women aren't the weaker sex.

As it happens, I just a few days ago watched a surprisingly similar movie:

119/2128. The Grasshopper (1970)
Jaqueline Bisset's capricious protagonist suffers through a series of romantic misadventures that illuminate how differently men and women are treated by society, this time adding race and homosexuality and youth culture and drugs into the mix. I'm inclined to call this an exploitation film, both for its slapdash craftsmanship and overly sensational subject matter — Jim Brown beats a racist pedophile for raping his wife and is then shot to death in a revenge killing... on a basketball court!

Despite their stylistic differences (which, frankly aren't so different considering the cinema sensibilities of their eras), both The Single Standard and The Grasshopper ask their female leads to carry most of the emotional weight. The former seeks to showcase Garbo's protagonist's 1920s strength while the latter wallows in Bisset's 1960s weaknesses.

Did society change so much, or did Hollywood? Frankly, the key difference is probably that Garbo's movie was written by women, while Bisset's was written by men (including Garry Marshall of Happy Days and Pretty Woman fame). Everyone loses when their opponent is allowed to tell the story.

More to come.

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99/2108. The In Crowd (1988)
Start with Hairspray, subtract the cynicism and commentary on racism, add a sexual predator father, and you get this! It's not without charm, especially scene-chewing VJ Joe Pantoliano and the "biker versus nerd" dance-off.

100/2109. Repo Man (1984)
When I was in high school, there were several boxes for movies on the "Cult Classics" row at Blockbuster that I looked at and looked at but could never bring myself to rent. Repo Man falls into that category and demonstrates how bad my decision-making process was in 1991. This is a punk-rock film that delights in subverting expectations.

Drink Coke! (Repo Man)
Cars, beers, and Coca-Cola are the few brands in this movie pointedly populated with generic products.

101/2110. The Fearmakers (1958)
Dana Andrews comes back from Korea to discover that gangsters have taken over his PR firm to advance a Communist plot: lobbying Congress! The film wisely focuses on the tighter picture of Andrews trying to avenge his former co-worker and plays as a pretty entertaining noirish crime story.

102/2111. The Watermelon Woman (1996)
I enjoyed the half of this film that is a fictionalized biography representing how poorly Hollywood treated colored people in its early days (as if anything has changed), but the other half, a companion plot about the young, gay, black would-be documentarian's messy personal life felt like something I had to sit through to get to the good stuff. I suspect most viewers have the opposite opinion, and I do not deny that both halves contribute to a superior whole.

More to come (sooner than later).

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93/2102. The Buddy Holly Story (1978)
Must all Hollywood biopics be commercially compelled to warp facts to fit their desired narrative? We're led to believe that Holly was a diva and The (racist, sexist) Crickets' careers died with him, neither of which is true. Good music, though.

Drink Coke! (The Buddy Holly Story)
Hit the road with Coca-Cola!

94/2103. The Westerner (1940)
Gary Cooper's usual "gee, shucks" cowpoke is alternately persecuted, befriended, and persecuted again by a caricature of infamous lawman Judge Roy Bean. Given that there is never any doubt that Cooper will win in the end, I found the experience punishingly boring.

95/2104. Mystery Train (1989)
Anthology movies can be real hit or miss, but everything really works here in a setup that presages (in style and function) what Tarantino will bring to prominence a few years later with Pulp Fiction. If you like indie cinema (or Elvis mythology), this is totally worth a watch.

96/2105. The Bronze (2015)
This movie answers the unasked question, "What if Kerri Strug grew up to be a total bitch?" Forced to train her successor, not-Strug's story is a gymnastics version of Kingpin told by less competent filmmakers. There are a couple of genuinely funny moments, but they are far too few and far between.

97/2106. Hollywoodland (2006)
This movie avoids answering the much asked question, "Did Superman kill himself?" That's the question the fictional protagonist detective is investigating, but the whodunnit is only superficial. The real subject is the more metaphysical question of what gives a man's life meaning. It doesn't answer that question, either, but it does rule out some commonly held possibilities. Not bad.

Drink Coke! (Hollywoodland)
Up, up, and down the hatch!

98/2107. Alice's Restaurant (1969)
What's most surprising about this anti-war comedy movie (based on an anti-war comedy song) is how cynical it is about counterculture. Society is so rotten, even those who would try to escape it are already corrupted, and all we can do is keep a sense of humor about it. Obviously, I liked this.

More to come.

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87/2096. Internal Affairs (1990)
Does it take a bad cop to catch a bad cop? This movie suggests "yes." (It's that age-old story where the protagonist's pride leads him to dig his own hole and you just want to slap the bastard and scream "you're doing this to yourself, you dipshit!") Far and away, the highlight is Laurie Metcalf as the straight-arrow lesbian cop.

88/2097. The Spoilers (1942)
Worth watching if only for the giant fistfight at its climax, John Wayne plays a naive but noble prospector who turns to violence when the system is rigged against him. The "spoilers" in this case are the bad guys, who like most Western villains, realize too late the errors of their ways.

89/2098. Ford v Ferrari (2019)
Vroom, vroom! 'Merican muscle cars rule the world! Fuck yeah! Matt Damon and Christian Bale put a human face on this marginally fact-based nostalgic love letter to a post-War America when men were men and Capitalistic oligarchs ruled the world. To its credit, this film is very well crafted.

Drink Coke! (Ford v. Ferrari)
Just like a classic Coca-Cola!

90/2099. Posse (1993)
This opens with a frame story in which Woody Strode hectors viewers about how the Black man was written out of the history of the American West, but the movie that follows is just writer/director Mario Van Peebles giving his own version of his father's blaxploitation films. I'd much rather have watched whatever movie the frame story was talking about.

91/2100. Sid and Nancy (1986)
Want to spend two hours with two idiot losers killing themselves with heroin? Me, neither. Good music, though.

92/2101. Bill & Ted Face the Music (2020)
Friend Mike describes this as "the third best Bill & Ted movie," and he's right. Too much CGI makes this movie's universe feel small, but the unapologetic platonic loving relationship between the middle-aged protagonists makes up for all other shortfalls.

More to come.

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81/2090. The Sandlot (1993)
I'd seen this in bits and pieces over the years, but I decided to make myself sit down and watch it all the way through before the Little League World Series this year (because the kids there always list it as their favorite movie). It's heavily influenced by Stand By Me (with a pinch of Field of Dreams), but it's no crime to borrow from great movies.

Drink Coke! (The Sandlot)
baseball and apple pie

82/2091. How to Save a Marriage and Ruin Your Life (1968)
Ah, 1960s sex comedies. They always make the repressed sexual politics of the 1950s seem reasonable by comparison. Dean Martin tries to make his friend give up his mistress, but picks on the wrong girl. Somehow, everyone has a happy ending... except the wife. *shrug*

83/2092. Orlando (1992)
Yes, this is weird, but I like weird. The narrative is really several episodes in the life of a 400-year-old gender-fluid English noble. I'm sure there's a lesson in here somewhere about discovering one's true self. It's certainly a counterpoint to that last movie.

84/2093. Johnny Guitar (1954)
This is no comedy, but it does showcase the typical 1950's viewpoint of how every strong woman amounts to nothing without a strong man backing her up. While the lead villain(ess) is a female Snidely Whiplash sans mustache who hates Joan Crawford's protagonist because they both want the same man, the mob of men that support her are motivated by a very sympathetic cause: maintaining their land and lifestyle against the coming railroad. Sometimes I forgot who I was supposed to be cheering for.

85/2094. Thomasine & Bushrod (1974)
Blaxplotation Bonnie and Clyde. I think this is marginally superior to Bonnie and Clyde, but that's mostly because I really don't like either Bonnie or Clyde. The moral here is that neither love nor insanity is more powerful than the law, by which I mean crazy white racists with guns.

86/2095. Magic Mike (2012)
Everyone talks about all the beefcake, but this is mostly a coming-of-age movie for the two dynamic male leads on opposite sides of the same journey. It's pretty good shlock entertainment, mostly on the strength of Channing Tatum's' screen charisma.

More to come.

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I wouldn't have gotten through the summer of 2020 without frequent (weekly) viewings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The balm of summer 2022 is turning out to be Dua Lipa's Future Nostalgia album, which I have listened to every-other day (or more often) since June.

Thanks, Britain!

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To be continued...

 

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