Showing 11 - 20 of 393 posts found matching keyword: movies

♫ "Movies. We get movies. We get sacks and sacks of movies!" ♫

77. (1516.) The Reluctant Debutante (1958)
It's always a little weird watching a movie that is clearly a strict adaptation of a stage play. They almost always make me wish I was seeing the show live. While the film is cute enough, I imagine live actors playing it out in real time would have given it the goosing it needed to really come alive.

78. (1517.) The Good Dinosaur (2015)
Every once in a while, Pixar releases a film whose mere existence appears to be a demonstration of some advance in their technical expertise. In Nemo it was "look what we can do with water!" In Brave it was "look what we can do with hair!" Here, it's "look what we can do with scenery!" It's the environmental scenery that steals every scene and is, frankly, the only real reason to watch this coming-of-age adventure story.

79. (1518.) The Garbage Pail Kids Movie (1987)
As I watched this, the one thought that ran through my mind over and over, as if on a skipping record, was "Holy shit, someone thought this was a good enough idea that they paid money to have it made." Would I have thought it was awesome if I had seen it when I was 12? That I can't definitively say no bothers me immensely.

80. (1519.) Mid90s (2018)
Jonah Hill's directorial debut is similar to Ladybird and Eighth Grade in all the right ways. Amazon's A24 studio continues to collect auteurs making coming-of-age movies that feel like genuine biopics. Kudos.

83. (1522.) Tomorrowland (2015)
This movie was panned by critics for pacing issues and heavy-handed hectoring. I can see that. However, it nonetheless combines the best of director Brad Bird's imagination, affinity for retro sci-fi, and optimism. (Besides, I've always had a soft spot for female android tweens.) I found it very enjoyable.

Also: when you teleport, you'll need a Coke.

Drink Coke! (Tomorrowland)

84. (1523.) Book Club (2011)
This was Mom's pick, and I'm happy to report that it was a pleasant surprise. The all-star cast helped a lot, especially Candice Bergen.

More to come.

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It's June already, and I'm still listing movies watched in April! I need to speed this up.

67. (1506.) High School U.S.A. (1983)
Michael J. Fox leads a cast of recognizable young television stars in this made-for-TV teenage sex comedy without the sex. (The generic title is exactly on point.) It's an interesting snapshot of the state of early 80s television talent, but not a very good film.

71. (1510.) Niagra (1953)
This Hitchcockian suspense thriller has a strong film noir influence. Personally, I wouldn't call it noir because it lacks the typically flawed, doomed noir protagonist. (Monroe isn't the anti-hero protagonist here, Jean Peters is, and her role is more akin to Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window than Jimmy Stewart in Vertigo.) Don't let my quibbling dissuade you; this is a good film no matter what label you put on it.

72. (1511.) Blithe Spirit (1945)
I can't say why exactly — maybe it was the garish makeup, maybe it was the characters, maybe it's just my own stubborn inability to believe in the supernatural — but this hybridized romantic comedy/ghost story left me cold. I can't deny it has some snappy though.

73. (1512.) Pete's Dragon (2016)
As if trying to put as much distance as possible between itself and the original material, this remake is now set in the Pacific Northwest instead of the Atlantic Northeast. (Passamaquoddy doesn't even get a mention!) The film is too busy trying to tug at whatever emotional strings it can find to create real characters or much in the way of a plot. But I guess that's what Disney films do these days.

74. (1513.) Paddington (2014)
Whatever magic the original Paddington Bear had has been successfully recreated in this enchanting film. I don't know how any movie can manage to be so satirically snarky and absurdist while also being completely sincere. Delightful.

76. (1515.) Bye Bye Braverman (1968)
Four unlikable men travel across New York City to attend a funeral of a fifth unlikable man in this existential comedy. The journey is the destination, and that journey isn't very enlightening or satisfying. But at least they drink Coke.

Drink Coke! (Braverman)

More to come.

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Today marks the start of the 13th annual Wriphe.com Superman Month!

Is this the year I finally make it to the Superman Celebration in Metropolis, Illinois? Probably not. It's next weekend, and I already have other plans.

Their guests of honor will include original Supergirl, Helen Slater, and Erica Durance, Smallville's Lois Lane. Their lists of guest artists, however, leaves something to be desired compared to past years. I guess they do have to save something for next year.

Out of curiosity, I took a look at the Greater Metropolis Convention & Visitors Bureau website to see what else there might be to do in town between autograph sessions underneath the Superman Statue. Metropolis isn't a big town, and the Visitors Bureau only lists 15 total "sights and attractions." Of course the big draw is the Harrah's Casino (which I haven't visited) and the Super Museum & Gift Shop (which I have and highly recommend). They also have a bowling alley, gym, state park, and microbrewery. I guess the town isn't big enough to support a full sized brewery.

Their most unusual non-Superman offering might be the Mermet Springs "full service dive site" inside an abandoned stone quarry that includes "the jet airplane from the movie U.S. Marshals." That short sells what they offer, as the Mermet Springs website lists 2 additional planes and 10 other man made objects to swim around. Not counting Jimmy Olsen.

I find it easier to believe that Jimmy Olsen can hold his breath for three hours than that he can win at checkers

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Spoiler warning: I like movies.

58. (1497.) Trafic (1971)
While not as charming as Tati's earlier works — a result of fewer characters and the more anonymous "modern" setting — his commentary on the transportation industry of the early 70s has plenty of well-earned chuckles.

60. (1499.) Happy Death Day (2017)
The only genre of horror film that I enjoy is the old-fashioned, gore-filled slasher flick, especially ones where the hero gets in the last licks. Happy Death Day delivers all that plus some great character development and romance (with an overt nod and wink to the classic Groundhog Day). It figures that it was written by an established comic book author. It's a lot of fun.

61. (1500.) The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015)
I remember reviewers panning this film for being a shallow example of style over substance. That's true. But there's plenty of room in the market for stylish spy movies in the mold of the Sean Connery James Bond films of the 60s. (Not coincidentally, Ian Fleming played a role in the creation of the original U.N.C.L.E. television series.) I liked it.

62. (1501.) It Started with a Kiss (1959)
The highlight of this silly romantic comedy is the prominence of the Lincoln Futura, the concept car that Chuck Barris would repaint into the 1966 Batmobile. Awesome to see it rolling through Europe.

63. (1502.) Sing (2016)
I thought this movie would be a crass exercise in corporate synergy, Universal using its movie arm to promote its music catalog... and I was right. It's okay, but ultimately hollow and unsatisfying bit of pop music fluff (especially because most songs are limited to short snippets).

66. (1505.) Lady Street Fighter (1981)
I watched this whole thing, and I can't tell you what it was all about. I can say that the title is very literal: some woman with a bad accent got into a lot of fights on streets. So bad it's good. Man, I love TCM Underground.

More to come.

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Neither Mom nor I watch a lot of serialized television. I prefer stand-alone movies. She prefers going to bed with a mystery novel. We've found an overlapping sweet spot of entertainment that we both enjoy in the Hallmark Mysteries and Movies channel.

Most of the following are what used to be called "made for television movies," if that distinction has any meaning anymore in the modern landscape of streaming media. Most of them are based on series of books.

64. (1503.) Murder, She Baked: A Plum Pudding Mystery (2015)
We started by watching the misadventures of professional baker and amateur sleuth Hannah (Alison Sweeney). Mom had read and loved the books. The movies are cute, if heavier on the romance than the mysteries. Alas, Sweeney has moved on to other series and will bake no more murders.

65. (1504.) Site Unseen: An Emma Fielding Mystery (2017)
41. (1480.) Past Malice: An Emma Fielding Mystery (2018)
42. (1481.) Emma Fielding: More Bitter Than Death (2019)
Emma Fielding is the Indiana Jane of mystery fiction, an archaeologist who somehow spends more time chasing murderers than relics. On television, she's played by the botoxed face of Courtney Thorne-Smith of Melrose Place fame. I'm okay with these, but it's not my favorite series.

68. (1507.) Morning Show Mystery: Mortal Mishaps (2018)
69. (1508.) Morning Show Mystery: Murder on the Menu (2018)
70. (1509.) Morning Show Mysteries: A Murder in Mind (2019)
81. (1520.) Morning Show Mysteries: Countdown to Murder (2019)
82. (1521.) Morning Show Mysteries: Death by Design (2019)
These are based on books co-written by Al Roker about a morning-show celebrity whose entire social network appears to be filled with murderers. Holly Robinson Peete of 21 Jump Street has the lead opposite Rick Fox, who could probably be replaced by a block of wood without anyone noticing. I enjoy this series, partially because I like a bit of ethnic diversity in the otherwise lily-white Hallmark landscape and partially because I'm always able to solve them before the halfway point. (They make me feel smart, even though by design a toddler could likely put the clues together.)

85. (1524.) Darrow & Darrow (2017)
86. (1525.) Darrow & Darrow 2 (2018)
87. (1526.) Darrow & Darrow: Body of Evidence (2018)
Unquestionably my favorite of the Hallmark mystery bunch. The younger titular Darrow is Kimberly Williams-Paisley, who I had something of a crush on in the mid 90s in her pre-According to Jim appearances in Steve Martin's Father of the Bride remakes and the Relativity television series I watched with my girlfriend at the time. I could still watch her for hours, and I have.

So that's what my Mom and I do together — even when it isn't Mother's Day.

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I saw exactly two movies in theaters in April. To no one's great surprise, they were

59. (1498.) Captain Marvel (April 2, 2019)
75. (1514.) Shazam! (April 28, 2019)

Marvel Comics got to call their movie Captain Marvel despite their character not taking that name until the mid-2000s, whereas DC's Captain Marvel movie was called Shazam! despite their character having been called Captain Marvel *until* the mid-2000s. Comics are strange.

Old comics are the best comics

Both films prove the old adage that a hero is only as good as their villain. Marvel's Captain Marvel twists itself in a very unfortunate knot to give her two whole races of badass yet sympathetic aliens to punch. Sadly, the twist doesn't make a lot of sense, but it's far better than the personality-free baddie that DC's Captain Marvel is pitted against. He just wants to fight things, which is fine if all you want from your movie is watching computer generated scenery crumble. Yawn.

Despite that, I can't say that one movie is really better than the other. Captain Marvel is aimed at a more mature crowd and I did enjoy it more, but I suspect kids will enjoy what they've been given in Shazam!. Everyone has to watch their first superhero movie eventually, and Shazam! would be a fine enough place to start. It's not amazing, but it is comparable to the super hero films I had access to as a kid. Condorman is no Casablanca, but I remain a fan.

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In 1996, I was in the mood to watch a sad movie, so I asked my co-workers at the Chili's in Toco Hills for a recommendation I could take to the Blockbuster Video across the parking lot. Their suggestion was Two Moon Junction. I don't have a great memory of that film, but I do remember ultimately being disappointed by it. It was sad enough, I guess, but not in any poignant way. It's no The English Patient. (Which is just as well. I hated The English Patient.)

That's really the thing about movie reviews: it doesn't matter so much whether a critic likes or doesn't like something, it matters whether you and the critic like the same things. Therein lies the value of a film critic.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution used to have a critic named Eleanor Ringel. (She still writes criticism for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Why the Atlanta Business Chronicle runs movie reviews is another question altogether.) Ringel has long been my favorite critic because I know that anything she likes, I'll hate, and vice versa. She has the anti-Walter's taste in film. For example, she hates The Incredibles and loves Avengers: Infinity War. That's just wrong. Wrong, but useful. Compare Ringel to Rolling Stone critic Peter Travers, who earned his reputation by giving any blockbuster summer movie a great pull quote to use for their marketing. That's not useful.

Anyone who is capable of separating what they like from why they like it can be a critic. Sadly, that's too high a bar for most. I mean, it's fine if you like Aquaman, but you have to be able to explain why for anyone else to find value in your subjective opinion. "It was a fun thrill ride" is not a helpful blurb if my idea of fun is an episode of NOVA about the construction of medieval cathedrals and yours is watching idiots eat Tide PODS® on YouTube.

For going on 8 years now, I've been obsessively tracking on this site the movies I watch. I do that mostly for my own benefit, though I do try to put what I've watched into some context of why I did or did not enjoy it. If that helps anyone else find a movie to watch, great. But stay away from Two Moon Junction. It's not good.

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Movies!

54. (1493.) The Quiet American (1958)
Anderson Cooper introduced this movie on TCM and made it clear that the moral of the film — which essentially argues that those savage in Vietnam need American intervention to straighten them out — was the exact opposite of the moral of the original book. That means if you were doing a book report on The Quiet American, your teacher knows if you read it or not.

55. (1494.) Perfect Bid: The Contestant Who Knew Too Much (2018)
The totally true story of how one man broke The Price Is Right according to that one man! Actually, it seems pretty plausible, but it does take a long time to get to the important bits. In some ways, it feels like a very entertaining court deposition.

56. (1495.) The Crossword Mysteries: A Puzzle to Die For (2019)
How come in all these Hallmark mystery movies, the amateur detective protagonist has to get romantically involved in a police officer? Are cops the only people allowed to solve crimes on tv? Whatever happened to the private detective genre? Rockford needs love too.

57. (1496.) Girls Just Want to Have Fun (1985)
Sarah Jessica Parker and Helen Hunt just want to win a dance contest. Was this the inspiration for John Waters' Hairspray?

More to come.

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More movies watched in April.

48. (1487.) What's Up, Doc? (1972)
The biggest problem with this callback to the screwball comedies of the 1930s is Barbara Streisand. Not only is her character about as charming as nails on a chalkboard, I just don't buy her as a Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Something about her on-screen presence really, really rubs me the wrong way. The net effect of this film was just to remind me that I could be watching the much better movies that inspired it instead.

49. (1488.) Ace Ventura: Pet Detective Jr. (2009)
Speaking of movies that make you wish you were watching the movies that inspired them: don't watch this. Jim Carrey makes the originals work, and his absence here is painfully glaring.

50. (1489.) Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (2016)
I'm on the fence about this one. It's charming in its way, but it is somehow simultaneously stale. Perhaps I'm just weary of Tim Burton's aesthetic. Hrm. Maybe it's me. I can see myself watching this again one day.

51. (1490.) Lifeforce (1985)
Space vampires! This feels like a Hammer horror, which I suspect was the goal.

52. (1491.) Jour de Fete (1949)
Jacques Tati's first full length film is a delight. It occurred to me about halfway through that general tone of Tati's films is what Roberto Benigni's Life is Beautiful was trying to replicate in the late 90s. I hated Life is Beautiful because the protagonist is an inherently selfish lout. Tati's protagonists maybe oblivious and occasionally rude, but they are never unlikable. I wish someone had pointed me towards Tati sooner.

More to come.

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This is an introductory paragraph telling you I'm about to talk about movies.

40. (1479.) Asterix and the Vikings (2006)
I first met Asterix in, as I recall, 1981 on the bookshelf of my friend, Greg. Greg and I grew apart after I skipped the 4th grade, but I've retained a nostalgic fondness for the comedic adventures of Asterix and company. This movie contained several dated pop culture references, though if this encourages viewers to hunt down a volume or two of the original comics, the dissonance is worth it.

43. (1482.) My Girl (1991)
After so many years of resisting this movie, I think I might have guilted myself into watching it. It's not bad. Dan Aykroyd reprises the well-intentioned but generally clueless character he played in Driving Miss Daisy, and Jamie Lee Curtis reprises the street smart, free spirit she played in Trading Places. Their protagonist is their daughter, and the film works best, as a sort of female Stand By Me, when the focus stays on her.

44. (1483.) Quicksilver (1986)
Someone said, "Let's make a movie where Kevin Bacon quits his lucrative stockbroker job to become a bicycle courier and runs afoul of a drug-dealing pimp." I wish it was as good as it sounds.

45. (1484.) Rabid (1977)
This is fundamentally a zombie movie where the outbreak is caused by experimental plastic surgery. Ugh. I don't think I like David Cronenberg films. One of these days, I'll probably force myself to watch Naked Lunch, but I really do think that will be the last one. They're just not for me.

46. (1485.) Mystery Street (1950)
Ah-ha! A great police procedural staring Ricardo Montalban. Highly recommended if you like that sort of thing (and judging by CBS's primetime lineup, most people do).

47. (1486.) John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)
Rubbing some of the mystery off of the original world teased in John Wick serves only to lessen the thrill, but I still liked it. There will always be room at my mental multiplex for stylish action films.

More to come.

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To be continued...

 

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