Showing 1 - 10 of 419 posts found matching: movies

I was going to blog about my broken car today, but you don't want to read about that. Instead, here's something else you don't want to read about: movies I watched!

125. (1564.) Double Dynamite! (1951)
Reportedly named for Jane Russell's chest, this screwball movie instead spends most of its runtime chasing the antics of odd-couple Groucho Marx and Frank Sinatra. Enjoyable (even if the Sinatra-as-sad-sack routine wears thin).

126. (1565.) Footlight Parade (1933)
If there's any kind of movie that they don't make them like anymore, it's Depression-era, Ziegfeld-style musical spectacles like this. Worth a watch.

127. (1566.) First Men in the Moon (1961)
More fantasy than sci-fi (there's plenty of fiction here but drastically little science). I found it very dry, boring, and almost cruelly misogynistic.

128. (1567.) Five Came Back (1939)
Survival horror isn't really my thing, so I'd chosen not to watch this on several occasions. I finally gave in because with Dad around the house, about the only thing I can be sure we won't argue over are TCM films. Happily for me, this is a long way from the modern interpretation of the genre, and I was surprised by how watchable it was. (It feels cliche at points, sure. But so does Emerson if you're already familiar with the century of similar work that followed the ground he broke.)

129. (1568.) Bachelor Mother (1939)
They say that 1939 was the best year in Hollywood history, and if even its throwaway romantic comedies like this — starring Ginger Rogers and David Niven — are any indication, they're right.

130. (1569.) Lilies of the Field (1963)
Sidney Poitier was a damn fine actor, and this movie is really, really great on many levels. Icing on the cake: Coca-Cola gets a shout-out.

131. (1570.) Pocketful of Miracles (1961)
Frank Capra's remake of his own Lady for a Day is terrible. I'm on record as no Capra fan, but it's still a shame his career ended like this. Let's pretend this doesn't exist.

More to come.

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When last I listed some movies watched, I only listed six. I've got such a backlog, I don't know why I stopped so short. (Perhaps because six is how many it takes to get an eggroll. Har, har.) Therefore, today you get eight!

117. (1556.) Ransom! (1956)
As you can tell by the exclamation point, this is the original, not the Mel Gibson remake. It's much better than that one, in part because you never even meet the kidnappers. You really don't know what's going to become of the kid. Suspenseful with an extra helping of "serious" actor Leslie Nielsen.

118. (1557.) Woman in the Moon (1929)
There's a short list of directors I'll watch anything by, and Fritz Lang is on that list, even though his greatest movies are silents. This one is a third spy film, a third science fiction, and a third nutso. It would be better if it moved faster, but it's worth it for Lang's unique vision.

119. (1558.) Money Monster (2016)
George Clooney plays a television stock market pundit with no redeeming values. However, because he's George Clooney, you really want him to win out when he becomes the victim of a kidnapping. The movie has several obvious flaws but manages to overcome them with dramatic momentum earned by its lead actors.

120. (1559.) War of the Worlds (1953)
No, really, I'd never seen this classic. Sure, I'd heard the radio production many times, but I wasn't aware that the movie version had a genuine miracle save the Earth. It's a bit heavy handed. Special effects are great, though.

121. (1560.) Mystery 101: Playing Dead (2019)
This is the second in a series about a mystery-writing teacher who solves mysteries. I like Jill Wagner and the general concept, but this has a really messy and unsatisfying ending.

122. (1561.) Beat Street (1984)
Rappin', Breakin', and this would make an ideal box set for lovers of 80s rap exploitation movies. That guy has to exist somewhere. Hrm. Maybe he's me.

123. (1562.) Cold Turkey (1971)
Comedy by Dick Van Dyke and Bob Newhart, songs by Randy Newman! A seriously great movie about religion, exploitation, and human nature at the crossroads of Middle America.

124. (1563.) Desk Set (1957)
Stop me if this sounds familiar: Katherine Hepburn is a know-it-all and Spencer Tracy is a curmudgeon. I know, I know, but the formula works. There are no bad Katherine Hepburn + Spencer Tracy movies.

More to come.

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I saw 23 films in July, but I still haven't finished reporting for June. So let's take care of that now.

111. (1550.) Legally Blonde (2001)
I've never been a big Reese Witherspoon fan, but I do understand now why so many people like this film. It's dumb and fluffy, but sometimes that's all you want in a comedy.

112. (1551.) Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde (2003)
Uh-oh. Dumber and less inspired than the first. Not a good mix. Easy to see why there hasn't been a third.

113. (1552.) Mary Poppins Returns (2018)
To be perfectly clear, this isn't a bad movie. It's well made and the actors appear to be trying very hard, often too hard. But, and this is a big but, it feels soulless, like a ghost wearing the skin of someone you loved in order to lure you into its clutches.

114. (1553.) On Dangerous Ground (1951)
The worst part of this crime noir is the ending with its totally unearned "happy" outcome for the disillusioned hero and the embittered object of his desire. I can't recommend it.

115. (1554.) Attack of the 50 Foot Cheerleader (2012)
By the time this was made, I don't think the audience it was meant to serve existed anymore. Who needs softcore porn in the Internet era? It's a weird sort of nostalgia indeed.

116. (1555.) The Monster Squad (1987)
The Goonies remade with the Universal Monsters. It has it's moments, but they are few and far between. For the record, I feel the same way about The Goonies.

More to come.

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Since I started seriously tracking the movies I watched in 2012, the actor I've seen the most is William Powell (33 times). That isn't an accident.

Powell is one of those "actors" who always turned the characters he played into some variation of himself. We usually call that class of actor — which includes the likes of Jimmy Stewart, Clint Eastwood, and Tom Cruise — "movie stars."

Powell's cool, confident, and sarcastic persona was perfect for playing con men, attorneys, and especially gumshoes. He's most famous as Nick Charles, the detective who caught the Thin Man in seven movies (the best of which is the first), but you may recognize him as Philo Vance who he played in five other films (beginning with the silent-turned-talky The Canary Murder Case).

I mention this because tomorrow, July 29, would be Mr. Powell's 107th birthday. TCM is celebrating with seven films between 6AM and 6PM. Manhattan Melodrama is in the middle (11:15AM). That's the movie that Public Enemy Number One John Dillinger was walking out of when he was gunned down by G-Men. It's also the first film to pair Powell with his on-screen soul mate Myrna Loy, the future Nora Charles (and not-coincidentally, the actress I've seen the most, 35 times). Oh, and Cary Grant is in it, too (14 times).

Happy Birthday, Mr. Powell.

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As my father's late mother would have said, there's always time for picture shows!

104. (1543.) John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum (2019)
Seeing this in a theater was my treat to Dad treat before his heart surgery, and it was a worthwhile experience... if you like bloody murder-fest actioners, which Dad certainly does. Unlike many reviewers, I thought it was better than Chapter 2. Kill 'em all, John.

105. (1544.) Lady of Burlesque (1943)
A very enjoyable B-picture murder mystery based on a book written by, of all people, the burlesque queen Gypsy Rose Lee. You go, girl! The protagonist is played by Barbara Stanwyck, who I should mention is the greatest actress who should have played Lois Lane but didn't.

107. (1546.) The Bishop Misbehaves (1935)
This film is more a comedic crime caper than the sort of whodunit it's lampooning. Disappointed by the lack of mystery, I found it a bit tedious. Your mileage may vary.

108. (1547.) Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970)
If this film is to be believed, America is almost as responsible for Pearl Harbor as the Japanese. Another case of victim blaming? From what I've read, the history is pretty solid.

Drink Coke! (Tora, Tora, Tora)
The Pause That Refreshes... before thousands die in a surprise attack: Coke!

109. (1548.) Kong: Skull Island (2017)
Historical accuracy has no relationship with this film. They couldn't even keep Kong's height consistent. I suspect if plays well with the Pacific Rim crowd. I liked the style, but most 1960s comic books were better written.

110. (1549.) Get Out (2017)
I can see why this was such a big hit. More psychological thriller than horror, it is very well made and a lot of fun. It drags a bit late when the writing is on the wall and you're waiting for the reckoning that is obviously coming, but I found that reckoning to be plenty satisfying enough to make up for the wait.

More to come.

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The Shadow knows what I sing in the shower. It's this:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CXpWfd1BNkQ

Wind? Strobe lights? Hammerpants? Oh, early 1990s, where have you gone?

Seriously though, this is always the song I think of when I see Talyor Dayne's name come up, which isn't often enough. Tell it to my heart, indeed.

And while I'm on the subject, with apologies to The Hunt for Red October, I still consider The Shadow to be the best Alec Baldwin movie. (I like Royal Tenenbaums more, much more — it may well be my favorite movie ever — but Baldwin's only the narrator, so it doesn't really count. For similar reasons, the best Sam Elliot movie is Road House, not The Big Lebowski.)

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Mom and I continue watching Hallmark mystery movies. We've discovered that they're a uneven bunch, often relying on formula to overcome a lack of characterization and charisma. As an actor, it must be a good paycheck if you can get it.

We were big fans of the "Murder She Baked" series. Mom had read the books, and the actors had a rapport better than most of the comparables. Sadly, that series was canceled, and much of the cast moved on to other things. Specifically, these things.

89. (1528.) The Chronicle Mysteries: Recovered (2019)
Alison Sweeney, formerly Hannah the baker, here plays podcaster Alex who investigates an unsolved missing persons case. (Sound familiar? I have to wonder if the "Serial" podcast is getting a cut.) The missing person is played by the actress who played Hannah's sister, and Alex is romantically linked to the actor who played Hannah's sister's husband. It's really a head trip, which is good because the mystery is not. The ending is astonishingly bad.

93. (1532.) The Chronicle Mysteries: The Wrong Man (2019)
The Chronicle cast is back, this time with two mysteries. Alex is now editor of a newspaper and sets out to solve a crime involving dead lawyers and mobsters. Speaking of lawyers, Hannah the baker's mother's lawyer is now a farmer-turned-engineer. The resolution hinges on the improbably timely arrival of a piece of evidence and an unusually talkative stevedore. But if you can swallow the ending to the first one....

106. (1545.) The Chronicle Mysteries: Vines That Bind (2019)
There's a third one! As a favor to the newspaper gossip columnist, Hannah Alex travels to another state to solve a double murder in a vineyard that may have been committed by the daughter of the victim. Or his wife. His daughter! His wife! The guilty party is telegraphed far too early, so it felt like we spent most of the second half looking for red herrings. Bah.

Obviously, these are not the best that Hallmark has to offer. (Personally, I still like Darrow & Darrow.)

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Watching Star Wars the other day, two things struck me. The first was how big a liar C-3P0 is!

From the beginning, he knows who Princess Leia is, then he denies as much to Luke when the boy finds the hologram in R2-D2. Later, he lies to a Death Star officer so as to escape capture.

Now, my revelation might not seem such a big deal to you. "So a diplomatic robot lies to people. So what?" I'm glad you asked. Once it's established that Threepio is deceitful, it calls into question all of Threepio's statements that aren't otherwise verified. In other words, everything we think we know about Artoo might be false as well.

The little robot communicates almost exclusively through beeps and whistles. The audience has to trust the "human/cyborg relations" expert to interpret those noises for us. If we can't trust Threepio, how can we be sure that it was Artoo's idea to run away from Uncle Owen's garage? Maybe the "accidental" reveal of Leia's hologram was no accident. Maybe he *hasn't* found the Princess on the Death Star.

Or, of course, this could all be related to the second thing that struck me: the script kind of sucks.

But boy, it looks great!

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This is your annual reminder: TCM is airing 1776 tonight at 10:15 Eastern.

You can keep your fireworks. I'm celebrating my independence in front of my TV.

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I don't usually run movie posts back-to-back like this, but Dad's still his own part-time job. (There are only so many hours in a day, you know.) Add to that the fact that I've lost sleep because I left my phone and wallet in a Ted's Montana Grill yesterday, and, yeah, another movie review post is all you're getting.

97. (1536.) Night and the City (1950)
I found this hard to watch because I didn't sympathize with the protagonist at all. However, it has some pretty good cinematography, especially the shot of the protagonist caught by headlights in an alley as the mob closes in on him. Good noir.

98. (1537.) Hidden Figures (2016)
I'd categorize this as Bubblegum Biopic: a history of American popular culture punched up for mass consumption. (That's not an insult. My favorite musical, 1776 would fall in the same category.) I really enjoyed this, too. In hindsight, I'm glad it was nominated for an Academy Award so that more people will be encouraged to see it.

99. (1538.) Friendly Persuasion (1956)
Quakers! Civil War! Church Organs! Girls! Geese! If this sequential series of unrelated events was supposed to have a point, it went over my head. (*Someone* must have gotten it. It was nominated for Best Picture in '57. Quakers must have been a big Academy voting block back in the McCarthy era.)

100. (1539.) Destination Wedding (2018)
Recommended by friend Otto, this romantic comedy has only two roles, played by Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder as two mismatched, unlikable people destined for one another. Or not. Otto's right, it's got some funny in it, especially if you like the actors.

101. (1540.) Till the End of Time (1946)
Have you seen The Best Years of Our Lives? Yeah, this is that, but much more boring.

102. (1541.) Dirty Mary Crazy Larry (1974)
Have you seen Vanishing Point and Sugarland Express? Yeah, this is those. It's pretty good, actually.

103. (1542.) Outlaw Blues (1977)
Peter Fonda was the embodiment of 60s-70s counterculture on celluloid, here playing a felon who goes on the run from the law while simultaneously becoming the Next Big Thing in country music. It has its moments, in no small part thanks to Susan Saint James.

More to come.

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To be continued...

 

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