Showing 1 - 10 of 432 posts found matching keyword: movies

I started June on a terrific pace of movies, but then I got sidetracked by six seasons of Downton Abbey. (So good. Wouldn't it be nice if your biggest problem in life was making sure you were drinking from the correct glass at dinner?)

102. (1756.) Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary (2019)
When I told my father I watched this film about the making and legacy of another film, he said "Documentaries don't count as movies!" I think he's wrong. Like other feature films, the best documentaries tell complete stories using the language of cinema. The stories in documentaries just happen to be real. If you like GalaxyQuest or sci-fi fandom in general, I think you'll enjoy this.

103. (1757.) Pokemon Detective Pikachu (2019)
This is what Dad and I watched together instead. I'm not going to call it great cinema, but for a movie aimed at kids, it's delightfully self-aware of what what it is and how it came to be. The old man and I enjoyed ourselves.

104. (1758.) Flower Shop Mystery: Snipped in the Bud (2016)
Mom had read this book and revealed the whodunnit aspect as soon as the killer made his first appearance. When you know where these Hallmark mysteries are going, the inevitable romantic subplot has to carry so much more weight than they can stand. I'm sorry, Brooke Shields, but I'm just not buying you as a flighty former lawyer-turned-flowershop girl dating the former cop-turned-bartender next door.

105. (1759.) Chef (2014)
I'm sure every movie critic has already compared this film to food, so I'll just say... it's okay. Jon Favreau wrote and directed the thin story of a man rediscovering his roots through food, so it must have meant a lot to him even if that deeper meaning isn't reflected in the finished product. (The highlights are the cameos by other actors Favreau has worked with in other projects. In particular, Downey Jr. steals his only scene.)

The first half of the film observes the downfall of the protagonist chef and is utterly devoid of delicious soda pop. But when things start to turn around and everyone is having a good time...

Drink Coke! (Chef)
Things Go Better With Coke!

106. (1760.) Rambo: Last Blood (2019)
Better John J. Rambo should have been killed by a hail of police gunfire in Hope, Washington, in First Blood than live to make this gory and pointless piece of murder-porn.

More to come.

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I revised the scripts here on the back end at Wriphe.com, and I've made it harder to see my lists of movies. Stupid, stupid Walter.

96. (1750.) The Shape of Water (2017)
I suspect this must have won Best Picture because it looks so damn good. The story is so simple that it's almost impossible to describe without giving it all away. If you ever hear anyone tell you that they thought Inception was too complicated to understand but they sure liked the trippy visuals, point them towards this.

97. (1751.) The Lost City of Cecil B. Demille (2017)
This documentary is about one man's quest to uncover the set of Cecil B. Demille's 1923 The Ten Commandments buried in the California desert. There's not a ton of drama, but I found the Hollywood history and giant statuary very interesting.

98. (1752.) Hotel Artemis (2018)
Jodie Foster kills it in her lead role in this badly underwritten action film. Really, she's way too good for this. But so was the rest of the cast. Not a total waste of 90 minutes, but hardly a classic.

99. (1753.) A Kiss Before Dying (1956)
When Robert Wagner tires of his partner, he kills her and frames the death to look like an accident. That's the plot of this 1956 movie. Seriously.

100. (1754.) Sex Kittens Go to College (1960)
No, I still don't think I can differentiate Mamie Van Doren from Jayne Mansfield, but I'm not sure I'm supposed to. Here she plays a stripper-turned-genius who Adam-12's Martin Milner falls for. But the best part of this is the on-screen role for Elektro, Westinghouse's walking, talking robot from the 1939 World's Fair. Maybe I'm a nerd, but I think the robot is far more interesting than anything else in this sex farce.

101. (1755.) The Human Comedy (1943)
What's funny about humans? Apparently, it's that we happily go to war when we have to, or at least that's the point this World War morale booster tries to make. I found it charming, mostly for the anthology slice-of-life presentation of a time gone by. But we still drink Coke!

Drink Coke! (Human Comedy)
Yes, that's Li'l Rascal Alfalfa at the center screen. He plays the bully. What range!

More to come.

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I've been very depressed for the past few weeks, and I'm not really in the mood to try and think up something interesting to talk about here on the blog. So let's talk about movies I've watched instead.

88. (1742.) The Sand Pebbles (1966)
You think things are bad now? Look at how much worse they were when this takes place in the 30s, as the colonial-minded US was caught in the Chinese Civil War with hardship and death on all sides as personified in Steve McQueen's protagonist. Or the 60s, when the movie was made amid the growing troubles in Vietnam and race relations on the home front. Maybe life just always has and always will suck.

89. (1743.) Kid Galahad (1937)
It's impossible to make a film about boxing without including a corrupt boxing promoter. Or, in the case of this film, two (played by Edward G. Robinson and Humphrey Bogart). In the end, everyone gets what's coming to them. In this case, that means bullets.

90. (1744.) Confessions of a Nazi Spy (1939)
This is a retelling of an actual FBI case against a Nazi propaganda plot against America that mostly involved convincing white working-class Americans that other races deserve the boot. Of course, that's never been a hard sell in America.

92. (1746.) Lust for Life (1956)
Full credit to Kirk Douglas's star power for surviving an entire movie as a completely unlikable mental patient. I mean, I might know some people *exactly* like Van Gogh, and I would never watch a movie about them.

Ok, hold on. I'm being too negative, aren't I? Let's try something lighter. How about an animated movie created by the same people who made the 1964 stop motion Christmas classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer?

93. (1747.) Mad Monster Party? (1967)
It's crap! Heh. Actually, it's just not very good. It's supposed to be a comedy, but the timing is just awful. I have to believe that this is the fault of the uncredited editor, who simply must not have understood the art of telling jokes. Otherwise, it's got some fun art design and interesting animations, and it very obviously had to be a key influence on the creation of the thematically-similar (but vastly superior) Nightmare Before Christmas.

95. (1749.) Filmed in Supermarionation (2014)
The topic of mid-60s animation is a key theme in this documentary of the studio that created the British Thunderbirds television show. The documentary is a good oral history of an era of television that we will never see again. I found it very interesting, if a bit bittersweet. But these days, bittersweet may be the only sweet there is.

More to come.

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Real life sucks. So let's watch movies!

80. (1734.) Flower Drum Song (1961)
As we make our turn into Act II, we get a big song 'n' dance number from Helen, a working-class girl who pines for the protagonist. Afterwards, she disappears from the story never to be seen or mentioned again. That would be bad storytelling in any medium! Otherwise, not a bad movie.

81. (1735.) Love Story (1970)
Speaking of bad movies.... this. Like Taxi Driver earlier in the month, I watched this knowing I would hate it but also knowing that I should have seen it at least once. I did, and now I have.

82. (1736.) Paths of Glory (1957)
Thankfully, nothing makes a better palate cleanser than a truly great movie. (Does any actor in history have a better batting average than Kirk Douglas?) As darkly cynical and anti-war as a movie can get. Heartbreaking and very, very good.

83. (1737.) Marie (1985)
Apparently a true story about one women who spoke out when she saw corruption in Tennessee state government. There's plenty of suspense, and a happy ending. Thanks to Marie, there's no longer any corruption in government!

84. (1738.) Ferdinand (2017)
Sometimes you watch a movie and think "what were the people who made this thinking?" I can't answer that question here. Bad casting, inexplicable set pieces, a very confusing message and moral.... All in pursuit of a quick buck built on an established brand, I guess? Just go watch the Oscar-winning 1938 Disney short instead. Don't fuck with a classic.

85. (1739.) Song of India (1949)
It's really true that they don't make 'em like this anymore. The best part of this Tarzan-adjacent Sabu adventure is the climax with the big mountain cat hell-bent on suicide. Get 'em, tiger!

86. (1740.) Young Man with a Horn (1950)
I praised Kirk Douglas above, and while this movie isn't bad, it's also no The Bad and the Beautiful. Most of that is a result of cliched storytelling clearly imposed by a studio avoiding the darker aspects of real life gone sideways. Oh, well. They can't all be winners, even for Kirk Douglas.

87. (1741.) Once to Every Woman (1934)
The title of this melodrama set in a medical ward is a reference to the "true love" found between the head nurse and new head of surgery. It was cool to see some old medicine, but I wouldn't recommend you stay up late to watch it.

More to come.

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Superman might not have time for movies, but I do. (Have you seen what's on television? I can only watch so much of that.)

First off, let's knock out these five at once:

58. (1712.) Mystery 101: An Education in Murder (2020)
61. (1715.) Ruby Herring Mysteries: Prediction Murder (2020)
71. (1725.) Flower Shop Mystery: Dearly Depotted (2016)
75. (1729.) Matchmaker Mysteries: A Fatal Romance (2020)
91. (1745.) Flower Shop Mystery: Mum's the Word (2016)
94. (1748.) Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Heist and Seek (2020)

There's not a whole lot to say about these individually. Most of them are fair to middling mysteries, nothing to write home about. Ruby Herring is still getting better with each installment, while Aurora Teagarden has given up on even acknowledging its red herrings. The others are good enough for watching with your mother when there aren't any game shows on.

74. (1728.) Comrade X (1940)
Imagine if they set a Cary Grant romantic comedy against the backdrop of the Communist revolution. It goes out of its way to intentionally misunderstand the revolution its satirizing — girls can't be boys! — but it does have its moments.

76. (1730.) Taxi Driver (1976)
I've been avoiding this for years because I thought I wouldn't like it, but I finally gave in... and discovered I was right. I felt slimy for watching. (Fuck Natural Born Killers. This is how you inspire murderers, as Hinkley Jr proved.) However, it does look and sound great. If any one movie is responsible for the feel of Fight Club, it's got to be this one. Probably not the best choice in the current political climate.

Drink Coke! (Taxi Driver)
You drinkin' from me?

77. (1731.) Our Miss Brooks (1956)
Eve Arden and her radio/television show of the same name are great, but this film isn't. Ninety minutes is simply too long to sustain the man-hunter plot.

78. (1732.) Peter Rabbit (2018)
My Dad said he hated this because that rude rabbit Peter killed old man McGregor, which I really think says more about my father than this movie. I thought it was cute, especially thanks to the antics of the good bunnies, Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail.

More to come.

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Fifty-six movies and counting since the start of March. It's almost like something has been making me stay inside and watch movies....

67. (1721.) Floyd Norman: An Animated Life (2016)
A documentary of Floyd Norman, an animator on The Jungle Book among many other interesting things. He's even been named a Disney Legend, a title conveyed by the company on people of its choosing "for the significant impact they have made on the Disney legacy," which might be more impressive if they hadn't given the same award to Barbara Walters after Disney bought ABC.

68. (1722.) The Group (1966)
On more than one occasion I thought "why am I still watching this dishwater dull soap opera?" The answer, I guess, is because it was Candice Bergen's first film role. She's okay, though the role really doesn't ask much from her. Larry Hagman is more interesting in his trademark role as "the Asshole."

69. (1723.) Sunrise at Campobello (1960)
The true inspiring story of how FDR overcame polio to become president! It was very clearly a stage play first, and as it strongly relies on characters standing still and making speeches, it doesn't actually get good until Franklin is strong enough to consider a return to politics.

70. (1724.) Nickelodeon (1976)
This is close to a being a good movie, but it's badly let down by weak characters and a lack of overall story direction. (What's the point of it all? Is it a history? A romance? It's definitely not a comedy.) I watched it in the director's intended black-and-white format on TCM, and I can only imagine how much worse it would be as originally released by the studio in color.

72. (1726.) The Great Buster (2018)
Another documentary, this time about Buster Keaton, who oddly is not a Disney Legend despite the fact his genius movie Steamboat Bill, Jr — that's the one where the building facade falls on him and he narrowly escapes harm because he's standing in a window — was the inspiration for the title of Mickey Mouse's first talkie, Steamboat Willie. I guess they have to draw the line somewhere.

More to come.

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If you don't watch TCM because you don't care for "old" movies, you're watching during the wrong hours. I saw most of these during the wee hours of Monday mornings in April during the TCM Imports programming.

59. (1713.) Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance (1972)
Based on the critically acclaimed manga comics, I found the live action adventures to actually be better than the source material. Beware that there's a completely gratuitous semi-consensual rape scene (oddly used to demonstrate how honorable the protagonist is), but if that's the strangest thing you've ever seen in Japanese cinema, this might be your first Japanese movie.

62. (1716.) Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx (1972)
Gotta love that title. The first movie is the origin story, but this one sets up the formula that the others will follow: wandering, wronged protagonist (and his infant son, Daigoro!) takes up odd jobs as stepping stones on the path to vengeance. The highlight here is the the establishment of the cub as an independent character worth cheering for.

64. (1718.) Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart to Hades (1972)
The climactic fight at the end of this episode is so over the top ridiculous that it rivals anything you might see in bigger budget American action blockbuster fare. "A rip-roaring good time!"

66. (1720.) Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in Peril (1973)
Did I mention the gratuitous nudity earlier? They finally worked it into the story in this tale of a disgraced sword-mistress who uses her feminine charms (read: tits) to distract her opponents.

73. (1727.) Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in the Land of Demons (1973)
Maybe my favorite of the bunch. For one thing, it's beautiful. For another, the themes of honor and responsibility at the core of the series resonate strongly in separate tales for both father and son.

79. (1733.) Lone Wolf and Cub: White Heaven in Hell (1974)
If the James Bond influence was notable back in Baby Cart to Hades, it's written on the surface of this one as the baby cart becomes a Q Branch snowmobile to fight zombies. Not that this is all exactly bad, it just doesn't live up to the bar set by its immediate predecessor.

All six of these were very watchable, and I'd recommend without hesitation to fans of action movies or Tarantino films.

More to come.

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I'm so unhappy about what's going on in the world right now. Let's talk about movies instead.

55. (1709.) The Tunnel (1935)
You'd think there'd be plenty of interesting in a fantasy story about the drilling of a transportation tunnel underneath the Atlantic Ocean connecting Great Britain and America, but it's mostly dull family drama created by the tunnel's workaholic drilling engineer and the family that gets tired of waiting for him. Bore-ing!

56. (1710.) Two Weeks in Another Town (1962)
Kirk Douglas chews scenery and whines about how great an actor he used to be in this double-edged screed against the way Hollywood treats its talent and the talent who deserve to be treated that way. (Actual quote: "Look at any movie theater. What's the audience doing there? Hiding in the dark, trading *their* problems for mine on the screen. Actors... what a job.") Everyone gets what's coming to them in the end... because it's a Hollywood movie. If there was even a drop of self-awareness in this, it might actually have been a great movie.

57. (1711.) Yojimbo (1961)
As much as I love A Fistful of Dollars, the Kurosawa samurai film that inspired it is actually better. I want to watch it again right now.

60. (1714.) Smarty (1934)
A manipulative slut (Joan Blondell) secretly wishes for a husband who can shut her sassy mouth with the back of his hand. I know I'm a bit of a prude, but I found the whole scenario unpleasant. Say what you will about the exploitation film craze of the 60s and 70s, but at least they were honest enough not to pretend they were romantic comedies.

63. (1717.) It's Always Fair Weather (1955)
This Gene Kelly/Stanley Donan musical is obviously trading on the success of the superior Singin' in the Rain, but that doesn't mean this is bad. It's got some pretty clever numbers in it, and the cynicism at its core feels more relatable than the Singin's bubbly love story. Worth a watch.

65. (1719.) The Man Who Never Was (1956)
A damn fine World War II counter espionage procedural inspired by real events. (The Brits create a fake person from a real corpse in order to confuse the Nazi's about plans for the invasion of Italy.) I hadn't intended to watch it, but once I started, I couldn't stop.

Yep. I feel better now.

More to come.

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As a self-proclaimed Dolphins' fan (is there any other kind?), I feel compelled to note the passing of Don Shula, the greatest coach in franchise (and NFL) history.

Shula was still coaching the team when I first became a fan, and I think at the time, I sort of expected him to always be the coach, at least until he no longer could. He was only the second coach in franchise history, and he did go on to coach for 26 years. There have been 11 coaches in the 25 years since he retired, which sort of tells you everything you need to know about the state of the franchise.

Not only was he a great coach, he was a damn fine actor, too.


Ace Ventura, Pet Detective (1994)

COVID-19, murder hornets, and now Don Shula? Man, 2020 continues to find new ways to suck.

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Movies are a great form of escapism even in the best of times.

49. (1703.) Black Panther (2018)
I admit it: I didn't love it, mainly because it was far too familiar. It's functionally a thin retread of the first Iron Man film in African masks. I think Marvel movies have become a brand I can live without (at least until the Fantastic Four yet another reboot).

50. (1704.) Jay and Silent Bob Reboot (2019)
Speaking of familiar, the latest Jay and Silent Bob knows it's just revisiting old material, and it leans in, essentially parodying itself. I found it delightful, but I'm a sucker for that sort of metatextural comedy, especially in service to a film franchise I have really enjoyed.

51. (1705.) Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blache (2018)
This documentary of the first significant female movie director spends a great deal of time investigating why her contemporaries remain world famous but she slipped through the cracks of history. In two words, it looks a lot like jealousy and misogyny.

52. (1706.) After Office Hours (1935)
Clark Gable stars in this romantic comedy/murder mystery mash-up. In other words, it's the Great Depression equivalent of a Lifetime Mysteries movie.

53. (1707.) The New Gladiators (1984)
If The Running Man had been made in Italy and taken place in the Colosseum you'd have this, originally released in Italian as I guerrieri dell'anno 2072! There aren't a whole bunch of nice things to say about it, but sometimes that's the fun. (You know, The Running Man was made 3 years after this, so maybe The New Gladiators deserves credit as a rough rough draft.)

54. (1708.) The Pride of the Yankees (1942)
Some humble, naive son of immigrants named Lew Gerig was apparently a pretty good stickball player in the 1920s until he got old, lost his coordination, and stopped playing. Sometime fiction is stranger than truth.

More to come.

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To be continued...

 

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