Showing 11 - 20 of 521 posts found matching keyword: movies

Look, maybe we would all be better off if we just stayed home and watched more movies.

45/2054. Once Upon a Time... In Hollywood (2019)
I thought Quentin Tarantino was a genius from the moment I saw Pulp Fiction at Tara Theater in Atlanta in fall 1994, but ever since Inglourious Basterds I've felt he's increasingly interested only in making alt-history torture porn. Once Upon a Time... certainly has more than a little bit of that. However, I think this film transcends that limitation, creating a commentary on modern culture by looking at a time that was no better or worse than today but was infinitely better at crafting its own mythology. In other words, it's a very good film.

46/2055. Schindler's List (1993)
Hey, Randy, I finally watched Schindler's List. You're right, even though Spielberg is up to all his old audience-baiting tricks, it is an amazing movie that should be seen by every living person at least once. (In the first act, I thought, "How could they make this selfish prick into a hero?" And then the movie made me believe. Both the viewer and Oscar Schindler will come to realize that monsters are real.)

47/2056. Encanto (2021)
At last Disney finally embraced the fact that they can no longer write a comprehensible narrative in a children's film and just stopped trying. If colorful characters and catchy songs are enough to entertain you for an hour-and-a-half.... you won't feel the need for me to finish this complete thought.

48/2057. Morgan (2016)
Yeah, I watched this just because it starred Anya Taylor-Joy, and from that goal, it was worth it. That said, it is an otherwise disappointing thriller about the dangers of artificial intelligence that is terrified of exploring *any* of the questions it raises. Keep your expectations very, very low.

49/2058. Cabaret (1972)
I'd never been a fan of Liza Minelli's public persona, so I hadn't seen this film because I expecting I wouldn't like her in it. I was right. I found her character very, very irritating. On the other hand, I also found I could strongly associate the movie's central theme of societal outsiders trying to dance while knowing the world around them was burning. So... mixed bag?

50/2059. Cry Macho (2021)
The naturalistic performances might be the best example of Clint Eastwood's directorial style, but this film is not his best work, mainly because the weak script does not prove enough of a framework to support a bunch of actors standing around being their own, empty selves.

More to come.

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So you say you want to be in show business, kid?

60/2069. Varisty Show (1937)

If you watch the whole sequence, you'll realize these dancers are actually turning counter-clockwise and the film is running backwards. I don't have the first clue how choreographer Busby Berkeley came up with such an idea — it took some incredible crane shots to make the long takes work seamlessly — but the final result is such a show-stopping spectacle that it makes you think these kids just might get away with stonewalling the National Guard. (Seriously, that's what's going on in the plot when this number rolls out. Realism is an unwanted intrusion in any good musical.)

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In hindsight, do I watch a lot of movies about death?

39/2048. Death on the Nile (2022)
There's a lot in this that sequel to The Orient Express that will feel not quite right to hardcore Christie fans, but I was more bothered by the CGI used to replicate 1930s Cairo than the anachronistic cultural mores or addition of Poirot's backstory. Don't get me wrong, I still liked it and would definitely keep watching Kenneth Branagh Poirot movies.

40/2049. The End (1978)
In this blackest of comedies, Burt Reynolds plays a man so afraid of pain that he is determined to kill himself before his terminal disease can. When this film works, it's usually because of Burt's natural charm, though it does squeeze some good comedy bits from very real human situations. (I found the third act slapstick to be too broad given the dark matter that preceded it. Your mileage — and tolerance of Dom DeLuise's over-the-top antics — may vary.)

Drink Coke! (The End)
Drink Coke and die!

41/2050. The Green Knight (2021)
The classic legend is about a knight on a quest to have his head chopped off, but this modern telling is more acid trip than road trip. Every line of dialog only makes the story more confusing. It might be more tolerable if it wasn't all filmed in a dark forest without lighting. Blech.

42/2051. The New Mutants (2020)
Whenever someone wonders what "studio interference" is, point them to this movie. The writer and director were very clearly using trying to make a horror film about adolescence and sexual awakening, but the studio wanted more traditional superhero fare. The actors seem completely confused (disinterested?) about what they're supposed to be doing, and the result *is* a nightmare, just not one that anyone would want to see.

43/2052. Tony Hawk: Until the Wheels Fall Off (2022)
The old footage and glowing interviews about Hawk's early days are cool. Unfortunately, Hawk is unable or unwilling to examine his adult life outside of the world of skating, so in the end, he seems almost a victim rather than a champion, especially as the story ends wallowing on his inevitable physical decline. Was the intention of this documentary to make him a martyr?

44/2053. Closed for Storm (2020)
Another documentary, this time about the doomed New Orleans Jazzland theme park, from its conception to its destruction by Katrina to its abandonment by Six Flags to New Orleans' continued inability to do anything with it's remains. Honestly, it's the last part that I found most interesting because that was when the film veered from mere morbid nostalgia to something bordering on political activism against corrupt governance. Rage against the dying of the light, indeed. Of course I liked it.

More to come.

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youtube.com

Looks like it's time to buy a Roku.

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When I'm not reading fan mail, I'm watching movies!

33/2042. Turning Red (2022)
The movie that did so well, they made its writer/director a vice president of the studio! I'm on record as a fan of coming-of-age movies, so of course I liked this one. Its a nice change of pace where the "villain" of a story is a well-intentioned (if overprotective) parent.

35/2044. The Go-Go's (2020)
The Go-Go's heyday was just slightly ahead of my time, and I didn't know much about the individual members. It's pretty clear that a lot of their very worst behavior to one another and former members and managers got whitewashed out of this documentary, but that's probably the price you pay to get them to speak on the record in a project like this (which is really a promotion for a reunion show).

36/2045. When We Were Kings (1996)
Another documentary, this time an Oscar winner about the Ali/Foreman Rumble in the Jungle. It is an interesting time capsule of news footage, but I never got the impression that we get in the heads of the actual boxers so it feels glossy and distant, like a Life Magazine cover story.

37/2046. Bridget Jones's Diary (2001)
I don't quite understand why this romcom was the sensation that it was. The pacing is uneven, the protagonist is painfully over-awkward, and the obviously contrived confusion about the two love interests drags on far too long. Maybe it's an English thing.

Drink Coke! (Bridget Jones's Diary)
There is no wrong day for a Coke!

More to come.

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At last count, I'd seen 39 new-to-me movies so far in 2022. At the current pace, I'll finish the year with 145 movies seen. That's... not the worst number. But it is about the dumbest thing I could be worrying about these days, so let's just move on.

29/2038. The French Dispatch (2021)
I've heard this called "the most Wes Anderson of all Wes Anderson films," and I think that's a fine description. It is an anthology, and the short run time allotted to each story combined with the usually unusual Anderson mannerisms means most characters are little more than refuse cans of half-baked quirks. In the end, it feels slick and thin, like the glossy pages of a magazine. But I also think that is kind of its whole point. That said, I really do enjoy me some Wes Anderson films, and I have already watched this one three times.

Drink Coke! (The French Dispatch)
Enjoy a highly abstract re-imagining of a whatever they call Coca-Cola in 1968 Ennui-sur-Blase, France.

30/2039. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
I'd never seen this before — don't judge me! — and I decided it was past time to correct that oversight. For the most part, it is (literally) boilerplate slasher-genre thriller with a unique and clever twist on the slasher himself. The ending doesn't really work for me, but I can certainly understand why it's an enduring classic.

31/2040. X-Rated: The Greatest Adult Movies of All Time (2015)
This purports to be a documentary of "great" x-rated movies but is sadly little more than a promotional brochure for the modern skin-flick industry. I won't say that it has *no* intellectual value, but anyone who tells you they watched this for the articles would be lying to you. (Except me of course; I'm a paragon of prudishness!)

32/2041. Nobody (2021)
Imagine a slightly-more-grounded-in-reality John Wick and you've got this. I really enjoyed it, especially because of how lean it is. The film knows exactly what it is and cuts everything else down to the bone, requiring heavy lifting from the actors and stuntmen to sell the fantasy. And they do. Heartily recommended to action fans.

34/2043. Cut, Color, Murder (2022)
Hallmark's latest detective franchise movie series is mostly just silly. The killer is exactly the person that the police would have identified in the first 15 minutes if they hadn't been too busy falling over themselves to get the local hair salon owner to do their work for them. This one really feels like Hallmark is running out of new ways to re-combine their romance-murder mystery Mad Libs.

More to come.

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About halfway through my hatewatching of last night's Oscars telecast, I was planning on writing today about how Dune won 6 Oscars last night despite the fact that I strongly disliked it. Sure, it's well made from a technical standpoint, but it's all in service to the pretentious direction of a very undeserving script with two-dimensional characters in a world with only two colors: brown and browner. To their detriment, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences didn't ask my opinion about any of that.

Instead, what I am writing about today is Will Smith's battery of Chris Rock live on-stage after the comedian made a joke about Will's wife's short-cropped hair. That was captivating television!

Smith's behavior was not telegraphed. Before walking onstage, he initially appeared to be laughing along with the joke. Thirty seconds later, he was telling Rock to keep his wife's name out of his f-ing mouth. At least I think that's what he said. In their infinite wisdom, ABC chose to keep the cameras rolling but cut the sound. (Despite what we tell children about sticks and stones, in America violence is acceptable but a few choice words are not. Our ears are delicate and need to be defended. Much like Will Smith's wife.)

I did not at the time know that Jada has lost her hair because of alopecia. If Rock knew, I'd agree he made an inexcusably tasteless joke on live television. I'd also agree that's good cause for holding a grudge, but physically slapping the comedian in front of the audience seems a bit over-the-top. Be a professional, Will! That's what backstage is for. (One can only imagine the carnage of Will Smith watching a Don Rickles performance.)

If the Academy Awards was a sporting event and not a movie industry circle-jerk, Smith would have been sent to the locker room for his outburst. Instead he was given the Best Actor award and allowed to demonstrate he deserved it by playing the teary-eyed victim in the solo spotlight. Give that man a second statuette!

Frankly, when first I saw it all, I thought it was staged. I was glad to discover it wasn't, if only because that meant that Rock and Smith hadn't collaborated on creating an artificial Jerry Springer moment just to break up an otherwise dull evening of entitled movie stars delivering political screeds. The Awards could use a little more unscripted drama — though I'd prefer it to be of the sort where Faye Dunaway (rightly) gives away Moonlight's Best Picture award to La La Land. A little genuine spontaneity isn't always such a bad thing.

Speaking of bad things...

38/2047. Dune (2021)

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Has it really been three weeks since I last mentioned movies? Let's fix that!

25/2034. Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Haunted by Murder (2022)
Oh, no, is the murderer a... g-g-ghost? No, Shaggy. No it is not. Mom solved this one in the first thirty minutes by simply identifying the least likely suspect. I'm thinking maybe this series is running out of steam.

26/2035. Viva Knievel! (1977)
Have I really not reviewed this movie yet? I feel like I have. And if I haven't, shame on me. It's everything you could want in a Dukes of Hazzard episode plus Gene Kelly in his single worst on-screen performance ever. (When you are being out-acted by a motorcycle stuntman, it's time to hang it up.) The perfect example of a movie so bad it comes out the other side.

27/2036. Free Guy (2021)
I liked it. The script and the director (and Ryan Reynolds) were aware enough of the hows and whys video games are made to maintain their strong satirical point amid the excesses and oversimplifications necessary in crafting a "blockbuster" comedy-actioner for mass market audiences. Kudos.

Drink Coke! (Free Guy)
Gaming goes better with Coke!

28/2037. Mortal Kombat (2021)
This, on the other hand. I mean, it doesn't have an exemplary plot or action sequences, there's no significant characterization, the actors are made of wood, and the dialogue couldn't be worse. On the up side, it was helpful to be reminded why I don't play the Mortal Kombat games anymore.

More to come.

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I was recently chastised for not understanding who that Super Bowl Chevy Silverado commercial tied into the season finale of The Sopranos. "Haven't you seen one of the five greatest television dramas of all time?" No, I guess not. I don't watch dramatic television. I watch movies. Speaking of which....

20/2029. Valley of the Dolls (1967)
Some movies are badly misjudged on release. Critics in 1967 disliked this movie... and they were right. On the upside, I now understand that Beyond the Valley of the Dolls is a very specific parody of this movie. I'll definitely rewatch the parody again before I would willingly rewatch this.

21/2030. American Pop (1981)
This story of four generations of Americans is the first Ralph Bakshi movie I've seen that made me think he may have been capable of creating genuine art. Sadly, the narrative falls apart a bit in the third act but is still worth a watch.

Drink Coke! (American Pop)
Life is a series of downers that ends... in a hall with some Coca-Cola paintings.

22/2031. In the Heights (2021)
It took three tries for me to watch this movie all the way through, and I have to say that ultimately it was worth it. Great songs, charismatic actors, incredible cinematography: I've since watched it a second time. (How was this directed by the same man who helmed the Jem and the Holograms movie?)

Drink Coke! (In the Heights)
Doomed romances go better with Coke!

23/2032. The Cheyenne Social Club (1970)
Despite the recurring themes of sex and death, this is really just a light comedy serving as an excuse to have aging stars and personal friends Jimmy Stewart and Henry Fonda pal around in the violent Old West. It's no classic, but not every movie has to be.

24/2033. Lovely to Look At (1952)
Think An American in Paris but with a lopsided love triangles. The good songs are all in the first act. After that, they're almost all ballads (the one exception being Red Skelton's cover of "Go Tell Aunt Rhody") which really hurts the pace. Definitely watch In the Heights instead.

More to come.

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Today's movie reviews bring me up to date with what I've seen so far this year. I could blame my recent dearth of movies watched in the past two weeks on the Olympics, but workload and Henry have played their parts as well. Oh, well. I'll just have to try harder to have free time in front of the idiot box.

14/2023. The People vs. Dr. Kildare (1941)
I'm not a doctor, but I'm pretty sure this isn't how medicine works. And I'm no lawyer, and I *know* this isn't how law works. Still, it made for an enjoyable melodrama.

15/2024. Mary Stevens, M.D. (1933)
Maybe I'm just a sucker for medical melodramas, but I thought this one was also pretty entertaining. You can tell it's pre-Hays Code when they openly discuss the possibility of Dr. Stevens having an abortion.

16/2025. Mon Oncle (1958)
I don't think I like Jacques Tati's clever takedown of mid-20th century consumer culture more than I like misadventures of Mr. Hulot's Holiday, but I like that I have to think about that. They really are both great films.

17/2026. That Uncertain Feeling (1941)
This is a screwball sex comedy in which Merle Oberon leaves her successful, loyal husband for Burgess Meredith's self-proclaimed asshole. (I did say it was a screwball, right?) The premise should be really irritating, but the talented cast almost manages to pull it off.

18/2027. Silver Streak (1976)
You know, I thought this would be more of a straight comedy than an adventure thriller, but it's surprises like that that make movies worth watching. Wilder and Pryor had some great chemistry.

19/2028. Treasure Island (1934)
Pirates, treasure, murders, parrots, ghosts... there's a reason this is a classic. For some reason, I had it in my head that Captain Flint and Long John Silver were the same character. I must be misremembering my Classics Illustrated comic books.

More to come.

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To be continued...

 

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