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Let's finally tie-off 2022 movies.

150/2159. A Nous la Liberte (1931)
Another French film comedy. This one I liked immensely, in large part because the friendship demonstrated between the two leads who worked together to escape from prison. Funny and heartening is a good combination.

151/2160. The Automat (2021)
I've been fascinated by Automat restaurants since I first learned of their existence in the 90s, by which time they were all but completely gone from the world. Automated cafeteria food delivery still sounds like heaven to me (especially since this documentary fills in the hows and whys behind my imagination), yet somehow McDonald's touchscreen cashiers don't quite replicate the dream.

152/2161. Thoroughbreds (2017)
This is the equivalent of Heathers for modern teenaged audiences, and I liked it about as much. Which, for the record, means I'll probably never watch it again. I'm uncomfortable enough with people as it is that I don't want to spend any more time than I have to with fictional sociopaths.

154/2163. Barely Legal (2003)
You'll often hear film critics deride voiceover narration, and this film is a perfect example of the worst faults of the device: flowery bullshit compensating for a weak script and missing scenes. The only bits actually worth watching feature SNL alumni, presumably all improvising their funny lines.

155/2164. Idiot's Delight (1939)
Reportedly contains Clark Gable's only song-and-dance performance — "Putting on the Ritz," just like Frankenstein! — and's he fine. The real problem is that the entirely unnecessary (and too long) prologue in the first act steals most of the romantic tension from the rest of the film. A good example that less is often more in stoytelling.

156/2165. The Thief Who Came to Dinner (1973)
The script gives poor Jacqueline Bisset nothing to do other than be arm candy for too-pretty cat burglar Ryan O'Neal, who is also criminally underwritten. (He steals because... his job is boring? His wife left him? Because the plot demands it?) Frankly, the highlight of the film is the setting: early 1970s Houston. It has more character than the people.

More to come.

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Reading a bunch of critic's best-movies-of-2022 lists made me curious, so I went back and counted. I watched 16 movies released in 2022 in 2022.

Six were documentary/biopics. Four were mysteries. Three were cartoon/superheroes. One was Downton Abbey. And these two were on most of the aforementioned "best" lists:

153/2162. Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022)
Friend Ken was a big fan of this nearly indescribable sci-fi action film, and he has been encouraging me to see it since it was still in limited release. The last movie Ken promoted this much was Into the Spider-Verse, and I'm happy to report that both lived up to Ken's hype. This is bonkers in all the right ways. I'm sure it's destined to become a beloved cult film in the Buckaroo Bonsai tradition.

157/2166. The Banshees of Inisherin (2022)
After a great deal of thought, I think I've decided this might be my favorite film released in 2022 that I watched in 2022. Re-teaming the actors and writer/director of the fantastic In Bruges in a character piece, it's much, much smaller in scope than Everything Everywhere but every bit as enthralling in its own much, much more focused way. (I cannot believe that the Colin Farrell in this and the Colin Farrell in The Batman [or Miami Vice or Daredevil] are the same actor. Give this man all the Oscars!)

More of both of these sorts of films in 2023, please!

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145/2154. Freebie and the Bean (1974)
The influence of Bullitt is obvious in this buddy-cop anti-cop comedy. It's almost funny, but the episodic scenarios suffer from uneven tone — though they often successfully recognize their own absurdity, the gags either go too far or not far enough, rarely hitting the bullseye of what makes each scene actually funny. (And the ending? Don't get me started.) There's a good movie in here somewhere; it just needed different people in creative control.

146/2155. The Mummy (1932)
This is the Karloff classic, and I found it boring, though that probably has a lot to do with how much it borrowed from the financially successful Dracula made by Universal the year before. Karloff and his makeup are, of course, the highlight. (Actually literally.)

147/2156. Le Million (1931)
The title is a reference to a lottery ticket that has gone missing in this classic French cinema's idea of an early screwball comedy as told largely in (subtitled) song. I have problems with the central love interests, but I'm a prudish American and probably shouldn't be making value judgments on French culture.

148/2157. White Cargo (1942)
I've thought about this film several times since I watched it in part because of some clever dialogue but mostly because of Hedy Lamarr's skimpily-clad, gold-digging "native" Tondelayo and her "mammy-palaver." She's the kind of girl who sticks with you, which is very much the point of the film.

149/2158. Ashes and Diamonds (1958)
I watched this Polish film when TCM ran it to honor Martin Scorsese's birthday. Apparently, it's one of his favorites, and it's easy to see the influence in his work, especially Mean Streets. I didn't love it myself, but I'm not a huge fan of most of Scorsese's films, either.

More to come.

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140/2149. Cop Land (1997)
Sylvester Stallone is very good in this modern crime drama where the cops are the robbers. Of course it helps that the rest of the cast includes DeNiro, Keitel, Liotta, and about a half dozen other fantastic talents.

Drink Coke! (Copland)
Commit crime and drink Coke!

142/2151. Foxy Brown (1974)
Pam Grier is on a mission to avenge the death of her government agent boyfriend, who was killed by a narcotics gang... after being tipped off by her own brother. There's some unintentional silliness in here, but the entire film is worth the climax.

Drink Coke! (Foxy Brown)
Sell out your sister's boyfriend and drink Coke!

143/2152. Alligator (1980)
Foxy Brown's Pam Grier plays the title character In Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown, where her love interest is played by Robert Forster. I mention that because by coincidence, Forster is the lead actor in this mediocre killer monster movie. And no one even drinks Coke in it! (The closest it gets is the one kid nearly eaten while wearing an "I'm a Pepper" t-shirt.)

144/2153. Matinee (1993)
I really enjoyed this heartfelt love letter to the creature features of the late 50s and 60s set during the Cuban Missile Crisis. I mean, I love movies about the movie business, I love atomic monster sci-fi films, and I love coming-of-age stories, so it's sort of tailor made for my specific interests. But I think everyone will appreciate John Goodman's conman with a heart of gold.

Drink Coke! (Matinee)
Watch movies and drink Coke!

More to come.

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If you know why, you know why.

Don't worry. He'll be up and around in no time.

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135/2144. Nothing Compares (2022)
This autobiographical documentary makes it pretty clear that society really mistreated Sinead O'Connor, didn't we? I admit that I got sick and tired of The Song when it was everywhere in 1990, but I remember watching Sinead tear up that photo on Saturday Night Live and not thinking much of it at the time. Catholics and idolatry, amiright?

136/2145. Reform School (1939)
This long lost mostly-Black film about crime and punishment aired for the first time on TCM, and I have to say, it's actually pretty darn entertaining. Troubled inner-city kids struggling to survive a corrupt for-profit justice system is apparently very old news.

137/2146. Get to Know Your Rabbit (1972)
I know I say this about every Brian De Palma-directed film, but while the idea at the center of this story could have made a great film in different hands, almost every scene and camera shot in this thing could have been done better. Reports are that star Tommy Smothers reportedly walked off the set of this "comedy" — which might have had something to do with how badly miscast he was for the protagonist role to begin with — and studio brass couldn't stop interfering with the product. Still, Orson Welles murders his too-small part and makes me wish someone with stronger comedy chops had been at the helm.

138/2147. Black Hand (1950)
Another weird casting choice as Gene Kelly plays an Italian immigrant willing to sacrifice himself (but not children) to take down the mafia. Kelly's actually surprisingly effective in the role despite not dancing a single step.

139/2148. Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine (1965)
Come for the fembots, stay for the Vincent Price, who is far funnier and more charismatic as the villainous, scene-chewing Dr. Goldfoot than Frankie Avalon and Dwayne Hickman are as the hammy protagonists.

More to come.

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128/2137. To Hell and Back (1955)
The story of the most decorated United States soldier of World War II, Audie Murphy, as told by... Audie Murphy! Murphy's participation, though wooden, is the only reason this movie works; it's just too hard to believe that such a character could exist in the real world.

129/2138. The Whistler (1944)
If you're a fan of the Golden Age of Radio — and who isn't? — you no doubt recognize The Whistler as an anthology series of suspense stories. The movie version focuses on just one story (more or less) as a well-intentioned Richard Dix at the end of his rope is drawn into a number of life-or-death situations. I actually liked it more than I like the radio show.

131/2140. McEnroe (2022)
John McEnroe and his friends and family tell his life story in this autobiographical documentary. This was done in a similar style as the Tony Hawk documentary I watched earlier this year, and I thought this one superior, largely because McEnroe is more willing (or capable) of investigating some of the worse/private aspects of his life story in addition to the happier/famous moments.

Drink Coke! (McEnroe)
You might say that archival footage doesn't count as product placement, but they didn't have to use this particular shot.

132/2141. This Is Joan Collins (2022)
Another autobiographical documentary, this time for the Dynasty star whose career had a lot of ups and downs (and #MeToo moments). She's quite charming.

133/2142. The Animal Kingdom (1932)
Speaking of charming women, Myrna Loy is herein supposed to be playing the proverbial gold-digging wife who tries to corrupt her artistically-minded husband, but I choose to interpret her character as a well-intentioned sophisticate working to save a wishy-washy gadfly from throwing away his fortune on drunks and whores. Casting is everything!

134/2143. Men in White (1934)
More Myrna Loy, here playing the exasperated fiance of Clark Gable's selfless driven doctor who has made the mistake of knocking up a nurse... and then operates to save her life after her illegal back-alley abortion goes awry. Welcome to the future, everybody!

More to come.

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It's been over a year (see: Mar 22, 2021) since I last posted pics of Coca-Cola product placement in movies I'd seen before I started tracking what I was watching. I've re-wartched quite a few films since then, so here's an update.

Drink Coke! (Beverly Hills Cop II)
Goes great with donuts. (Beverly Hills Cop II)

Drink Coke! (Blade Runner)
Taste the future! (Blade Runner)

Drink Coke! (The Blues Brothers)
It's dark, we're wearing sunglasses, and we're drinking Coca-Cola! (The Blues Brothers)

Drink Coke! (China Syndrome)
Just don't spill it! (China Syndrome)

Drink Coke! (Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb)
Keep your bodily fluids pure with Coke! (Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb)

Drink Coke! (The Gauntlet)
Bring her in... for a Coke. (The Gauntlet)

Drink Coke! (The Jerk)
No one hates Coke cans. (The Jerk)

Drink Coke! (Magnum Force)
A man's got to know great taste. (Magnum Force)

Drink Coke! (She's All That)
Coke looks great in glasses. (She's All That)

Drink Coke! (Superman II)
Better. (Superman II)

Drink Coke! (Superman III)
Best. (Superman III)

Drink Coke! (Tommy)
The only good thing in life. (Tommy)

I don't know about you, but I'm getting thirsty.

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125/2134. You Can't Cheat an Honest Man (1939)
W.C. Fields' misanthropic humor stands up well over time, and it works especially well here, where Fields is foiled by the equally irreverent dummy Charlie McCarthy. There has long been a rumor that MGM refused to cast Fields as the titular Wizard of Oz over his outrageous salary demands, but Wikipedia's bio of Fields seems to suggest his demands were high specifically because he wanted MGM to refuse him so he would have time to write this. True or not, there's a lot to laugh at here.

130/2139. Look Who's Laughing (1941)
I'm re-arranging my viewing order to mention this here, as it is the first movie reuniting Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy with their radio cohorts, Fibber McGee & Molly and the Great Gildersleeve. The plot is silly, sure, but this radio-sitcom-adapted-for-the-screen format will take the world by storm when the television comes along. Bergen's love-interest co-star, some actress named Lucille Ball, probably took notice.

126/2135. Here We Go Again (1942)
Look Who's Laughing must have made plenty of money to earn this follow-up. I'm really digging these Charlie McCarthy movies. In this one, Charlie is often given mobility by a midget in a mask — the original uncanny valley? — but Bergen's clever creativity and wry humor carry the day.

127/2136. Elvis (2022)
Baz Luhrmann's much ballyhooed biopic wants you to believe that the King of Rock and Roll was some sort of literal superhero (which would make The Colonel a Bondian supervillain). So long as you don't take it too seriously, it is entertaining enough. Austin Butler does a very good impression. Its heart is certainly in the right place, as you can tell by its dedication to replicating real-life product placement!

Drink Coke! (Elvis)
Drink Coke, fake Elvis!

Everyone knows Elvis really preferred Pepsi
Drink Coke, fat Elvis!

More to come.

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Some movies are so important, so incredible, so... thirsty that they deserve special attention. Which is why I'm skipping ahead in my regularly scheduled reviews to cover E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial a movie featuring a Mysterious Alien Creature:

141/2150. Mac and Me (1988)

If, like me, you're only familiar with this movie from Paul Rudd's long-running gag with Conan O'Brien, here's what you need to know about this delightful movie for children:

A family of four aliens living peacefully on a planet where Coca-Cola naturally bubbles up from the ground is accidentally captured by an automated probe and returned to Earth. Frightened by the NASA scientists, the family flees, and the smallest is thrown by the downwash of a helicopter into speeding traffic, where it splatters on a car windshield. It gets better and stows away with a mother and her two sons relocating to Los Angeles where mom has a new job at Sears.

The younger, wheelchair-bound son, Eric, discovers the alien and is attacked by drills and circular saws. After being diagnosed with schiziprehnia and drugged, Eric traps the alien in an Electrolux vaccum cleaner and earns its trust via Coca-Cola and Skittles. To protect his new "friend" from the pursuing scientists, Eric puts it inside his teddy bear and takes it to meet Ronald McDonald at a culturally-diverse football dance party.

Joined by their new next-door neighbors, the brothers take the alien to the desert in search of its family who they find in an abandoned California gold mine behind a Wickes furniture billboard. The family looks dead, but Fortunately for everyone, the kids brought two cans of Coca-Cola to revive them!

The alien family, desparate for more Coke, enter a grocery story where security guards start shooting at them, killing Eric in the crossfire.

Drink Coke! (Mac and Me)
Actual Quote: "It's like what they drink on their own planet!"

I won't spoil the ending, but it involves a United States Citizenship Oath Ceremony, a pink Cadillac, and bubble gum.

It's not overstating anything to call this is a work of genius. Obviously created with the intent of promoting the rampant consumerism of the 80s — I really don't think there's a single scene without a Coke in it — it works equally well (probably better) as an ironic take-down of American Capitalism's worst excesses. I wish I could make something like this up, and I encourage you to watch it yourself, preferably with a Coke in one hand and a Big Mac in the other.

You can thank me later.

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To be continued...