Showing 1 - 10 of 20 posts found matching keyword: otto

The final tally of movies watched in January was 14. I've already given you the first batch of 6 (including La La Land — have I mentioned La La Land?). So here are the remaining 8.

7. (1066.) Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
I really don't understand why people like this movie. Yes, it's patterned after a World War II movie, but few of the "sci-fi" elements (by which I mean fantasy elements with electrical power) or enemy motivations make any sense. Worse, no time is spent on character development. (I swear, some of the characters exist just to sell toys.) Everyone seeing this already knows who wins, so when people start dying, as they must, THERE IS NO REASON TO CARE. If you don't just love all things Star Wars — because, I don't know, nostalgia? — avoid this exercise in fanwankery.

8. (1067.) My Favorite Brunette (1947)
Friend Otto called me an artless heathen because I mentioned that I don't like Bob Hope movies, so he insisted that I watch this. It's cute. I can definitely say that it's the best Bob Hope movie I've ever seen (but that's a pretty low bar).

9. (1068.) American Gigolo (1980)
This film, cut from the same cloth as Basic Instinct, looks and sounds like Miami Vice. No wonder Richard Gere only plays prostitutes or johns. He's good at it.

10. (1069.) Here Comes the Groom (1951)
Bing Crosby stars in a Frank Capra musical! If your idea of romance is hitting a woman over the head with a club and dragging her back to your cave as you whistle Johnny Mercer tunes, this movie is for you!

11. (1070.) Too Hot to Handle (1938)
Another "love" story that shows its age as Myrna Loy's career is destroyed and saved by A Number 1 sleazeball Clark Gable (and B Number 2 sleazeball Walter Pidgeon).

12. (1071.) When Ladies Meet (1933)
Myrna Loy has a heart-to-heart with her lover's wife. The dialog is pretty darn good. I liked it.

13. (1072.) The Barbarian (1933)
Rich fiancee takes a trip to Egypt where she is kidnapped by a prince posing as a peasant. She refuses his love and escapes back to her fiance. Then, at the wedding, she pledges her love to the prince. "Stockholm Syndrome" wouldn't be named for another forty years, but it could have been called "Barbarian Syndrome." Myrna Loy is beautiful, but this is not her best work.

14. (1073.) Midnight Lace (1960)
Doris Day plays a role that should have gone to Grace Kelly in this would-be Hitchcockian thriller. I found it predictable, but the suspense was still top rate.

More to come.

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Easter is all about a man who came back from the dead, so naturally we must be talking about Superman. That description applies doubly to the statue now sitting beside my television.

This Superman broke his chains and his ankles

It was a gift from a friend. He had ordered it for himself from eBay, but when it arrived in a shoebox of broken parts, I got an unexpected gift. Years ago he gave me a cracked copy of the Jan & Dean Meet Batman record album. "Give it to Walter; he'll glue anything!" (This is probably why I can't have nice things.)

Fortunately for Superman, I could rebuild him. I had the technology. Don't tell Steve Austin, but a new tube of 2-part epoxy costs considerably less than 6 million dollars. After a week of wire, tape, glue, and touch-up paint, Superman may not be good as new, but he's much better than he was.

Now if you'll excuse me, I think I hear some peanut-butter filled chocolate eggs calling my name.

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My friend Otto was part of a gallery show at Mason Murer in Atlanta on Friday. Because I'm such a great person, I dragged myself out of my cave and went to show my support.

Art by Otto Lange

Otto's work was good as always, but his work wasn't the only pieces I liked.

Art by Will Rafuse

Naturally, I dug the neon signs by Will Rafuse (above), but found the pastel water by Liana Repass unusually captivating.

Art by Liana Repass

I look forward to Otto's next opening scheduled for November.

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As I said in my first post this month, Superman turns 75 years old in 2013. To help illustrate how old that is, this is a picture of the very first Superman toy.

You kids get off my yard!

Your grandparents might have played with this thing. It's a toy made of wood! In the year 2013, not even toothpicks are made from wood anymore.

That's a 13-inch Superman figure made by Ideal Novelty & Toy Company in 1939/40. Back then they called it a doll. These days, we'd call that an action figure and emphasize its 14 points of articulation. After all, boys don't buy dolls.

This doll belongs to my friend Otto, who owns two of them. (Why 2? Because when Otto finds something this awesome, he doubles down!) His dolls have been restored and re-painted, especially noticeable on the faces. If you look at the original face of the doll, you might understand why. Hey, this is America; who hasn't had a facelift by the age of 75?

Happy Diamond Jubilee, Superman!

(If you're interested, you can see pictures of Otto's restorations on his Tumblr blog, otto-pedia.)

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Last week, my favorite pair of jeans developed a hole in the seat. You can imagine my disappointment.

They were a 4-year old pair of Levi's 527™. The 527™, in case you were unaware, is very similar to the famous 501®, but a little looser in the seat with a boot cut flare on the leg. I used to wear 501®s until I discovered a pair of 527™ in a remainder bin at a discount department store. I find the 527™ to be more comfortable, but for some reason they just don't last as long. Eventually, my butt becomes just too much for them.

But they're just a pair of pants, right? Time to move on. I've still got 2 other pairs of Levi's 527™ jeans that are functionally identical. Or so I thought until today. Now another pair of my jeans has developed a hole in the seat.

My friend Otto buys wears Levi's that are decades old that he hunts down like a detective. He says the secret to making them last forever is to never wash them. If that's the price to keep my jeans in one piece, I guess I'm just going to have to get use to replacing my jeans every few years.

Two pairs of jeans, two holes in the seats, both in one week. If there's a moral to this story, it's that jeans, like everything else in life, will always let you down in the end. And that's news that you've just got to take sitting down. I'm going to take this as a sign that I should get off my ass... and go shopping for more jeans.

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The big movie experiment of 2012 is finally complete.

299. Gun Crazy (1950)
This movie is your typical "boy loves girl, girl loves murder" story. It's obvious pretty quickly that this isn't going to end well for the boy, but isn't that always the case?

300. Another Thin Man (1939)
The Thin Man movies are easily the highlight of my 2012 movie experiment. Not a bad one in the bunch.

301. The Haunted World of El Superbeasto (2009)
I read that Rob Zombie set out to make a Scooby-Doo episode with cursing and nudity. As much fun as that may sound in concept, no one wants to watch a 90-minute long Scooby-Doo episode. As my movie-watching buddy Otto would say, "it's not very good, but at least it's long."

302. The Thin Man Goes Home (1945)
I had to get the final, unseen Thin Man in under the wire. I'm getting good at figuring out who the guilty party is in these mysteries. Too bad I've seen them all. I look forward to watching them all over again in a few years once I've forgotten who the murderers are!

303. Speak (2004)
I think having seen this movie, made when Kristen Stewart was 14, it becomes hard to defend what she does in Twilight as "acting." There is exactly one scene in this movie where Kristen briefly acts extroverted and excited, but for the rest of the film she plays the same wallflower you see when you watch her promote her films on talk shows or "act" in other movies. Is "typecasting" the right word when you're always asked to play yourself?

304. The Pirates! Band of Misfits (2012)
Silly and all too short, this film seems to have been made for the DVD generation. There's far too much detail on the screen to take in with a single viewing.

305. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1 (2012)
I expected to hate this direct-to-DVD adaptation of Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns. And I did.

306. Justice League: Doom (2012)
Why do these television adaptations of comic book super heroes have to display super heroes as borderline weak and incompetent? This film plays with that cliche in its conclusion, but doesn't manage to salvage my irritation at several scenes of heroes acting like teenagers gone wild.

307. I Love You Again (1940)
I closed the year with a William Powell/Myrna Loy film that isn't a Thin Man movie. The pair lived up to expectations, which should be no surprise considering that they appeared in 14 movies together overall. The studio wouldn't have done that if it wasn't working.

So that's it: 307 new-to-me movies watched in 2012. That means I started a new movie, on average, nearly once every 28 hours. I don't think I'll try to break that record in 2013, so I guess I'll have to try to find something else to occupy my time. Any suggestions?

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The second half of the November movie list:

276. The Descendants (2001)
Brilliant. The second Clooney film I've seen this year and the second I've loved. Does he make bad movies?

277. Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)
Suggested by Grimmy, this movie picks up speed when the bodies start piling up in the second half. Grimmy has recommended several films this year, and they have all been worth watching. Thanks, Grim.

278. Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
Three great movies in a row? I was on a hot streak here, although I have to admit to stacking the deck with a Wes Anderson film.

Quote: "I love you but you don't know what you're talking about."

I'm sure everyone reading this knows I love Wes Anderson films. If you didn't, you do now.

279. Paper Man (2009)
Yes, I watched this film because Emma Stone is in it, but it is Ryan Reynolds who manages to steal the film as an imaginary super hero. This is a classic case of a thin script much improved by some charismatic actors.

280. Network (1976)
This movie is so cynical, it makes me look like sunshine. None of the characters in this film talks like a real human being, but that's part of it's charm. I'm sure this film must be a huge influence on the work of Aaron Sorkin. I can't believe that this film was written by the same writer behind Marty.

281. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008)
And the string of enjoyable films comes to an abrupt end. I gotta give the movie credit, it's better than the book. However, that doesn't take a whole lot of work.

282. Hobo with a Shotgun (2011)
If had been made in the decade it simulates, it would be a Troma film. So much gore... are you sure this is Canadian?

283. Victor/Victoria (1982)
My friend Otto recommended this a long time ago because of my appreciation for Robert Preston. Preston is indeed great, but James Garner was so unromantic as the male romantic lead, I found it hard to pay attention to the end. Jim Rockford, you're better than this.

284. The Three Musketeers (2011)
Victor Hugo for the video game generation, this film is fantastic eye candy. In the first 15 minutes, the film rips off The Princess Bride, A Fistful of Dollars, and Hudson Hawk. Bizarre.

285. John Carter (2012)
Superb character animation in this very loose adaptation of the Edgar Rice Boroughs classic. You know something has gone horribly wrong when The Asylum is putting out movies more loyal to the source material than you are.

286. Liz & Dick (2012)
This film is the Wikipedia of biopics. The relationship between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton is defined only by its high- and lowlights. I've never liked Liz Taylor, but even I have to say that Lindsay Lohan isn't fit to portray her. To quote Liz in the movie, "I'm bored."

287. Camelot (1967)
This musical uses songs to advance its plot and characterization as all good musicals should. Too bad that Richard Harris' voice isn't up to the amount of singing required of him.

288. The Wrong Man (1956)
Hitchcock's idea of a true crime drama. Hard to believe that anyone could ever mistake Henry Fonda for a criminal.

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Movies, week of May 13-19.

120. The Triplets of Belleville (2003)
I liked the way this movie looked, but I enjoyed it even more after I discussed it with my brother who had coincidentally also watched it last week. It is in all ways broader than Sylvain Chomet's follow-up, The Illusionist (more caricature, a wider scope of humor and drama, less bound by reality), but less deep. Don't get me wrong: it's good. It's just a different sort of movie.

121. Bikini Beach (1964)
Mom loves these beach movies, but she had to admit that this one is not very good, even by the standards of the genre. Drag racing, driving monkeys, and a parody of the British Invasion (with Frankie Avalon in two roles!) combine to put you to sleep.

122. Get Yourself a College Girl (1964)
The skimpy plot was right out of an Elvis movie, and like an Elvis movie, the plot only served to link the musical segments. I think the highlight was Stan Getz and Astrud Gilberto performing "The Girl from Ipanema." I love that song.

123. Down to Earth (2001)
The movie, based firmly on Warren Beatty's Heaven Can Wait, is just an excuse to shoehorn some Chris Rock stand-up routines into an extra paycheck. Funny, but unnecessary.

124. Grandma's Boy (2006)
My friend Chris loves this film about the semi-complicated life of a video game tester. In its own way, it's just like my mother's beach movies: a simple, unrealistic story designed to be something to hang some jokes and good times on in order to kill a few hours of time. Differnet generation, same concept.

125. The Lost Squadron (1932)
More Richard Dix! The climax of this film about former WWI pilots-turned-Hollywood stuntmen forces the protagonists to do something completely stupid for no apparent reason other than provide a dramatic ending to the story. Very disappointing.

126. The Phenix City Story (1955)
My grandmother was from Columbus, Georgia, and frequently called Phenix City, Alabama, as "the wrong side of the tracks." This movie explains why. It is surprisingly entertaining to watch some of the stupidest gangsters ever ruin their own racket by being really, recklessly stupid.

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March movies concluded.

59. An American Werewolf in London (1981)
I generally don't like werewolf films, but since I was planning to watch New Moon, I figured I owed this horror classic the old college try. To my surprise, I hadn't missed anything. To sum up: a boy is bitten by a werewolf but survives, told by his dead friend that he will become a werewolf, turns into a werewolf, and is killed. The SFX are good, but someone really should have tried to squeeze a little plot under all that makeup.

60. The H-Man (1958)
This movie has a significantly better user rating on imdb.com than New Moon, proving the adage that you shouldn't believe everything you read. Even if you hated New Moon, there's nothing here that's remotely better. The special effects of melting people -- every bit as creepy if slightly more mysterious than the melting Nazis in Raiders of the Lost Ark -- are the highlight of this pedestrian Japanese morality tale of the dangers of the radiation tests. That's two movies in a row where special effects are used to cover weak stories. It's a trend!

63. Die, Monster, Die! (1965)
After H-Man, this horrible movie looks like an award winner. Dialogue is long and pointless, characters are wooden, and sets are cluttered. There is a scene in this film where the protagonists discover a hothouse filled with truly horrific creatures that could be demons or mutants, and they act as though they were seeing something as ordinary as chickens. (The female lead inexplicably saves her screams for far more mundane thunderstorms and locked doors.) At least the film does have a significantly creepy and mysterious atmosphere, which was enough to keep me watching.

64. 30 Minutes or Less (2011)
I am so sick of Jesse Eisenberg and Danny McBride. Fortunately Fred Ward and Aziz Ansari appeared just often enough to keep the timer going on this "comedy."

65. Suddenly (1954)
I told my friend Chris that he was probably the only person I knew who would be even slightly interested in the fact that I had just watched a b-movie in which hired assassin Frank Sinatra kills a television repairman. Without hesitation Chris replied, "hey, I own Suddenly!"

66. Priest (2011)
In a past life, my brother worked in Hollywood where he developed a mancrush on actor Paul Bettany. Since then, Trey insists that I watch all things Bettany does. Trey was quite pissed to learn that I had watched Twilight despite my aversion to vampire-themed fiction and demanded that I finally watch Bettany's vampire-themed Priest. Don't tell Trey, but this movie co-stars Cam Gigandet, the villain from Twilight. (And he's delightful!)

68. Superheroes (2011)
A documentary about the people who dress up like superheroes and fight "crime," by which they typically mean homelessness.

69. Zero Hour! (1957)
I watched this knowing that it is the film that Airplane! is based on. What I did not know was that the two movies share the same script: Zero Hour! is Airplane! without the punchlines. Save yourself the trouble and just watch Airplane!.

70. Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967)
A fantastic movie. Sometimes, casting does make all the difference, but it really helps when they have a great script to work with.

71. The Big Sleep (1946)
This bit of film noir provided several scenes for Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid, but fails to be anything more than a vehicle for Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. For die-hard film noir (or Bogart) fans only.

72. Friends with Benefits (2011)
Why try so hard to convince the audience that you aren't just another romantic comedy while being just another romantic comedy? I liked it despite this flaw, mostly because Justin Timberlake is so willing to make a fool of himself for my entertainment.

73. Dirigible (1931)
Frank Capra directed this film, but I watched it because it of its subject matter (the dirigibles, not the cliche polar expedition disaster). I marvel that Ralph Graves had a career as a romantic leading man: his kisses look like assaults. After he "assaulted" Fay Wray early in the movie, I kept cheering for him to die. However, Frank Capra provides the expected saccharin ending, more disappointing than ever when the wrong boy gets the girl in the end.

74. Game Change (2012)
Again, I almost didn't watch this because it was a biopic, but the allure of Woody Harrelson proved too great. Yes, the film is a hit job on Sarah Palin (the woman simply can't be that demented in real life), but it has the side effect of making John McCain look like a modern Teddy Roosevelt. I'm voting for Ed Harris in 2012!

75. The Mechanic (2011)
The sex scenes in this remake seem to define "gratuitous nudity" and left me wondering if the original film showed Charlie Bronson having vigorous sex with topless girls half his age. I guess I need to see the 1972 original and find out.

After watching 75 new-to-me movies by the end of March, I'm already halfway to my goal of 150 on the year. I think I'll take it easy in April. It sure can be hard work trying to watch a movie every day. I'm sacrificing considerable video game time.

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While there was plenty of buzz this year about the DC relaunch of Batman and Detective Comics, the Batman news that has really broken the internet apart is the pending release of Batman: Arkham City, the sequel to 2009's Batman: Arkham Asylum video game. The biggest buzz for the game concerns the excitement that players can now be Catwoman. I remember Halle Berry's Catwoman, and I want no part of that.

However, I have a friend -- for the sake of maintaining his anonymity, we will call him Chris -- who has mentioned to me three times in the past month that he is counting the days until the game is released (three weeks from today). Because Chris is a friend, I'm declaring this a testament to the high quality of Batman: Arkham Asylum and not to the dismal state of Chris' life. If a 40-year old man can be motivated to create a countdown clock for the release of a video game, maybe it's a video game I should consider playing. Once I can find a cheap, used copy, of course.

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To be continued...

 

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