Showing 1 - 10 of 406 posts found matching keyword: movies

Where was I with movies? Ah, yes.

178. (1617.) Late Nite (2019)
What starts as a biting commentary about the state of late night television ends as a feel-good buddy comedy of sorts. I liked but didn't love it.

179. (1618.) Lafayette Escadrille (1958)
A very cliched tale about early World War I pilots. The highlight is Clint Eastwood in a bit supporting part. That guy has charisma.

182. (1621.) The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)
Until now, the only Woody Allen film I'd seen and liked was Midnight in Paris. This film covers much of the same sort of ground — the siren's lure of artificial worlds and those who make them — just as masterfully. If you liked one, you must see the other.

183. (1622.) Transylvania 6-5000 (1985)
Weak material elevated by a great cast, especially Carol Kane.

185. (1624.) Buck and the Preacher (1972)
Sidney Poitier directed and starred in this tale about poor race relations in the American Old West. It has the atmosphere of Clint Eastwood's Westerns. If you like that sort of thing — and I do — then it's a pretty good way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

More to come.

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Contrary to what you might have read, I do watch movies that aren't Hallmark movies.

168. (1607.) The Quiller Memorandum (1966)
Another Cold War spy movie that is long on drama/suspense yet light on action. That works to its advantage, especially considering the delightfully gray ending. (How did George Segal start his career with roles like these and end his career on sitcoms? That guy has range.)

169. (1608.) The Emoji Movie (2017)
Critics railed against this movie, calling it among the worst ever made. I don't think it's *that* bad, but it is too little material spread too thinly over some poorly-thought-out scenes with a moral that makes no sense given the initial premise. In summary: Meh.

172. (1611.) Brother John (1971)
I read online someone called this the "blackest film ever." It's a fitting description. Silent, judgy Sidney Poitier is a, what, an angel? An alien? I watched this twice, and I still don't know. I really enjoyed guessing, though. I'd watch it a third time.

The movie takes place in a small Alabama town filled with racists and rapists. Almost everyone is knee-deep in petty sin. It's a weird place to put so much Coca-Cola product placement.

Drink Coke! (Brother John)
You can't see it here, but there's even a Coca-Cola clock on the wall behind Bradford Dillman.

173. (1612.) The Three Musketeers (1921)
Damn, d'Artagnan was a total dick in this silent adaptation by Douglas Fairbanks (in the role of... d'Artagnan). There's a lot of fun in the swordplay, so it's not a total loss.

174. (1613.) Belladonna of Sadness (1973)
I can sum this animated film up with three letters: W.T.F. In a slightly longer summary, it's about a young wife in medieval Europe who is raped by nobility on her wedding day, discovers she likes sex (a lot), and eventually makes a deal with the devil to... have more sex, I guess? Her endgame isn't exactly clear. She's burned at the stake, and the French Revolution happens. The end. Seriously bonkers. Some of the animation is quite impressive, though.

175. (1614.) Riders to the Stars (1954)
To prove that space travel is feasible, three men are launched into space to find out why metal fatigues so quickly outside of the Earth's atmosphere only to discover that the human mind is the most fragile material of all. Reading that back, I realize that sentence is far better than the movie itself. Avoid.

More to come.

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I watch so many Hallmark Mystery movies these days, I should make them their own list. And I will.

148. (1587.) Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: A Game of Cat and Mouse (2019)
157. (1596.) Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: An Inheritance to Die For (2019)
167. (1606.) Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: A Very Foul Play (2019)
Miss Teagardern is the mystery detective I most enjoy hate watching. That nosy librarian has it coming. The worst of it is that her mystery stories tend to be some of the best put together. Grr!

171. (1610.) Mystery 101: Words Can Kill (2019)
177. (1616.) Mystery 101: Dead Talk (2019)
On the other hand, this series about a writing professor specializing in mystery fiction tends to have painfully bad resolutions. Solvable, yes, but the methods the protagonists use to prove their theories violate so many laws themselves. So frustrating.

176. (1615.) Death Al Dente: A Gourmet Detective Mystery (2016)
184. (1623.) Eat, Drink & Be Buried: A Gourmet Detective Mystery (2017)
Probably because the lead detective in this series is actually a police woman, these mysteries often feel a little more procedural than some of the rest of their kin. Comparatively, only the barest lip service is paid to the "gourmet" aspects. Food and the restaurant business are rarely more than set dressing.

180. (1619.) Ruby Herring Mysteries: Her Last Breath (2019)
The first Ruby Herring was boring and badly cast. They fixed both problems in this second installment by focusing on Ruby's family, friends, and love interests and recasting John Wesley Shipp as her father. I look forward to more.

181. (1620.) Deadly Deed: A Fixer Upper Mystery (2018)
Yeah, this is the series with Jewel playing a handywoman who also solves mysteries. And sings. Her beau is Maytag Man Colin Ferguson playing a true crime writer. (So many of these shows feature writers. Apparently mystery writers lead very exciting lives.) I don't know any of their character names, but that's not very important. The strength of these is based on the actors' charisma, and they have plenty.

170. (1609.) Witness to Murder: A Darrow Mystery (2019)
The Darrow and Darrow series is my favorite, mostly because I like the actors. Kimberly Williams has always been a favorite. More, please.

More to come.

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Most of the movies I've watched lately are reruns, by which I mean movies I've seen before. For example, TCM ran a month of Thursdays of James Bond movies, and I watched all of them. That's nearly two dozen movies I don't need to track here. However, I assure you that the following were indeed new to me.

160. (1599.) Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (2009)
Not counting Zombieland 2 (opening next weekend), I'm now just 2 movies away from seeing everything that Emma Stone has done. Not that I'm stalking her. That would be creepy. No. This is the opposite of that. Not creepy.

(How was the movie? Oh, fine enough, I guess. I didn't buy Matthew McConaughey as the lead love interest, but that's par for the course. I've never been a big McConaughey fan. Oh, the things I do for you, Miss Stone. Not creepy!)

161. (1600.) Young Sherlock Holmes (1985)
I remember the trailers for this from back in the day, especially the stained-glass knight. An offspring of its era — anyone else remember Young Indiana Jones and Young James Bond? — It's a fan-service movie for Sherlock Holmes lovers to show their kids. Not great.

162. (1601.) Shakes the Clown (1991)
Also not great, though mostly because of a lack of focus befitting the settings and characters. There is some genuine funny in this parody of a crime thriller, but not enough to justify sitting through the whole thing.

163. (1602.) A Scanner Darkly (2006)
I always say that there's no point to making an animated movie if you're not going to push the boundaries of "reality," and this film certainly does that. Too long, too much talking, too ambiguous in plot and point. I'm not disappointed that I finally saw it, but I wouldn't watch it again.

164. (1603.) The Happiest Millionaire (1967)
Walt Disney's last movie. The old man must have been slipping near the end, because this is terrible. It's like a remake of Mary Poppins with all the magic sucked out and replaced with the drudgery of wedding planning. Blech.

165. (1604.) Night People (1954)
A Cold War spy drama starring Gregory Peck. I found it engaging, but it's no James Bond. "Dry" might be the most generous description.

166. (1605.) Highly Dangerous (1950)
The unusual twist in this spy pulp fiction is that the newly recruited spy is *gasp* a woman. That's about all it has going for it. I'd say avoid if possible.

More to come.

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Starting the month with movies.

154. (1593.) Corpse Bride (2005)
More of everything I loved about The Nightmare Before Christmas. Very enjoyable.

155. (1594.) I Know That Voice (2013)
A documentary about voice actors made by voice actors. I pay some attention to such things, and I still found it informative.

156. (1595.) Alfie (2004)
I'm sure I'm in the minority on this, but I much prefer this slick remake over Michael Caine's star-making original. It's not as deep, but that shallowness allows Law's character to be less repulsive. Yes, I'd say it's an improvement.

159. (1598.) A Simple Favor (2018)
Ah-ha! This is what a pulp thriller is supposed to be; dark yet comedic with more than one (admittedly predictable) twist. Great performances by all.

And Coke makes it better.

Drink Coke! (A Simple Favor)

More to come.

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I should be sleeping. Instead, I'm reviewing movies!

146. (1585.) Steel Magnolias (1989)
If Julia Roberts is really from Georgia, why does her accent sound the least convincing of all the actors? This movie is little more than mundane relationship melodrama performed by a stellar cast who (mostly) do no wrong. If that's your thing.... then this.

And remember: you can't have a movie about life in the South without Coke!

Drink Coke! (Steel Magnolias)

147. (1586.) Framed for Murder: A Fixer Upper Mystery (2017)
Singer/songwriter/poet/actress Jewel makes a less-than-convincing handywoman/detective, but I doubt anyone watching a Hallmark mystery movie is overly concerned with realism.

149. (1588.) Class (1983)
Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy, Cliff Roberson, John Cusack, Alan Ruck, and the delectable Jacqueline Bisset all star in a very lackluster coming-of-age sex comedy more ntable for the appearance of the stars themselves than anything they do to elevate the material they are working with.

And remember: you can't have a movie about sleeping with your roommate's mother without Coke!

Drink Coke! (Class)

150. (1589.) Empire of Dreams (2004)
This is a documentary on the making of the first four Star Wars movies. Friend Keith mentioned it in passing a few weeks back, and I'd never seen it. So I watched it over the course of two days. Lots of good behind-the-scenes Star Wars tidbits, but it suffers from an excessively obsequious tone. You don't have to sell us so hard, guys; everyone has already seen Star Wars.

151. (1590.) Bathing Beauty (1944)
Something of a bait and switch, as Ester Williams isn't really the focus of this musical comedy, Red Skelton is. The disappointment was hard to get over.

152. (1591.) Plastic Galaxy (2014)
Amazon noticed that I watched one documentary about Star Wars and suggested that I watch another. Plastic Galaxy covers the history of the Kenner Star Wars action figures. Talking to the collectors themselves tended to bore me, but those were spaced between great historical anecdotes and creator interviews. (Disclaimer: I know exactly where my 1981 Millennium Falcon is.)

153. (1592.) Lovelace (2013)
Amanda Seyfried stars as the first household name in hardcore pornography, Linda Lovelace. Is this (often dull) movie an accurate depiction of her life? How horrible. Now try watching Deep Throat knowing that the star was being tortured off screen. Boner killer!

And remember: you can't have Deep Throat without Coke!

Drink Coke! (Deep Throat)
Image blurred to protect the innocent

More to come.

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Batman Day was this past Saturday. It should not be confused with Batman's birthday. According to the 1976 DC Comics Calendar, Bruce Wayne was born on February 19. Or April 7, depending on whether we're talking about the Earth-1 or Earth-2 version. (Don't even get me started on Earth-3.)

If you missed the date, don't blame yourself. Batman Day crawls blindly around the calendar like its namesake. In the past five years since it was created, it has never been held on the same date twice: July 23 (2014), September 15 (2018), September 17 (2016), September 23 (2017), September 26 (2015). If you can find a pattern in those dates, congratulations! You can be the super villain who crashes Batman Day 2020. You can call yourself "The Sequencer" and wear a costume covered in brilliantly colored, shiny sequins. Trust me; that's how comic book villains work.

In celebration of the "holiday," 10 cities across the globe gave promoters permission to shine the Bat-signal on their skylines despite it not being a Bat-emergency. Fans in Barcelona, Berlin, Johannesburg, London, Melbourne, Mexico City, New York, Rome, Sao Paulo, and Tokyo. That's a lot of cities for one hero to visit in a day. Batman's a billionaire, not Santa Claus.

The event advertised participation in 13 cities, but Los Angeles denied permits and Paris had an infestation of anti-government rioters (a situation that sounds more like a job for Superman). Meanwhile, Montreal's celebration was interrupted by a nutcase with a megaphone, which if you ask me, is about as Batman as it gets.

This town needs an enema!

Hrm. He needs more sequins.

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Not so many movies watched so far this September (because football!), but I saw more than enough in August to take up the slack.

139. (1578.) Alita: Battle Angel (2019)
The big eyes are a mistake. The story arc is a mistake. The acting is a... well, let's just say it's for children. In any case, I can see why audiences turned a cold shoulder to it. I'm sure the Pacific Rim crowd loved it. I didn't.

140. (1579.) Susan and God (1940)
A busybody uses religion to justify her holier-than-thou attitude and comes to regret it. A passable way to spend an afternoon without football.

141. (1580.) The Key (1934)
A bad melodrama, this is the worst William Powell film I've seen. He's the only good thing in it, which is not a recommendation.

142. (1581.) A Dry White Season (1989)
When one good man discovers that operatives of the South African government are so terrified of the oppressed native peoples that they are willing to murder anyone who dares question them, he begins to work against them. Then his family turns against him. It's really a horror film as much as a tragedy.

143. (1582.) Fort Apache (1948)
Having seen it in bits and pieces before, I watched the whole thing beginning to end and very much enjoyed myself, especially the dark ending conceding that the myth of American history has been built by those determined not to admit their mistakes.

144. (1583.) The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947)
Shirley Temple never grew into much of an actress, but Myrna Loy is really the star of this romantic comedy (as she ought to be).

145. (1584.) Some Kind of Wonderful (1987)
The improved version of Pretty in Pink where everyone gets what's coming to them. Nice.

More to come.

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Speaking of movies I don't know why anyone would make: Batman: Hush. That's the latest direct-to-video animated Batman film from the factory at Warner Bros Home Entertainment.

The movie is based on 12 issues of the Batman comic released in 2002/03. Jeph Loeb — the pen behind Commando — was credited with "writing" the story, although he admitted that most of what he did was create ad hoc justifications for what Jim Lee wanted to draw. Jim Lee, you see, is one of the true superstars of the comic world. Back in 2002 he has just been bought out by DC Comics and they wanted to get their money's worth. That meant putting Lee on the best-selling comic, Batman, and letting him do his thing.

As you might guess, the result was that "Hush" is a series of cool looking images hanging from a story frame that barely makes sense. ("Barely" is probably too generous a word.) Few cared at the time because of Jim Lee, and the collected comics continues to be best sellers because of Jim Lee. Creating a movie from that story while subtracting Lee's distinctive personal visual style is like reading War and Peace translated from the original Russian into pig latin.

So why would Warner Bros bother with such a doomed exercise? I'm guessing because people have heard of "Hush" and don't realize (or care) that it is based more on visual art than story. And Warner Bros is only interested in squeezing as much cash from each extant property as possible forever and ever. Their corporate motto: Diminishing returns are still returns!

If you're really interested in who/what "Hush" is, do yourself a favor. Go buy a comic instead.

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Friend Chad recently asked me if I had any interest in the upcoming Joker movie. You know the one. It just won the Golden Lion award for Best Film at the Venice Film Festival. My answer, in short, was no. In long, it was *hell* no.

As a longtime reader of comics, I have a well-established mental image of what I expect from Batman and his rogues gallery. As a general rule, I don't enjoy films about gangsters (which Joker was in the 40s) or films about serial killers (which Joker has been since the 80s). I've seen both Bonnie and Clyde and Natural Born Killers exactly once, and that's each one time too many.

My biggest problem with the film is that the Joker is unequivocally a villain. Pure capital-E Evil. However, a story's protagonist has to be relatable to its audience. Just as the short-lived Joker comic series of the mid-70s focused on its eponymous star's zany antics (and minimized the collateral damage), to put the character at the center of a film it becomes necessary to humanize him, to turn him from villain to anti-hero. No, thank you.

Call me a prude, but I don't see any reason to make a film exploring how someone becomes a narcissistic, mass-murdering sociopath on the scale of the Joker. In fiction, the Joker has beaten a child to death with a crowbar, slaughtered an entire talk show audience on camera, and gassed the United Nations General Assembly. All for giggles. If such a monster existed in the real world — an Osama bin Laden-squared — would you pay to see that person's biography on the big screen?

Joker works best in comics as a larger-than-life malevolent force of nature, the personification of the chaos that Batman strives to eliminate from the world. That's exactly how "Why so serious" Heath Ledger played him (and "This town needs an enema" Jack Nicholson before that). If you insist on reinventing the character, I'd say making him mortal is the wrong direction to go. Forget realism for a character that is inherently unreal. Give us a film about how Cesar Romero's wacky Joker earned his place as Gotham City's Clown Prince of Crime with a painted-over mustache (the anti-Groucho Marx!). Or choose to elaborate on any random Joker entry from silly The Super Dictionary.

Joker is a liar! Beets are NOT good to eat.

But don't try to remake Martin Scorsese's The King of Comedy with a super-villain behind the greasepaint. Once was enough for that one, too.

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To be continued...

 

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