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I'm still all-in on the Olympics, so I've little time right now for movies. However, the week before the games began, TCM ran a whole day of Olympics documentary. In training for the games, I caught three:

100. (1959.) The Games of the V Olympiad Stockholm, 1912 (2017)
This "documentary" is essentially three hours of remastered newsreel footage of preparation for the 1912 games, the games in progress, and the immediate aftermath of the games, all without any sort of commentary. While incredibly clear, the shots of the games themselves show disappointingly little of the actual competitions. All you're left with is hours of people swimming, running, boating, riding, and shooting through the frames on their way to standing on podiums. It's an interesting historical document but barely entertainment.

101. (1960.) First: The Official Film of the London 2012 Olympic Games (2012)
A century later, the potential of cinema is realized as the games are filmed as pure propaganda... for the games. Come see the Greatest Show on Earth, the ultimate triumph of the human spirit over physical and mental limitations! I very much enjoyed the London games themselves, but I found their official film to be as generally empty and unsatisfying as the average corporate sponsor's commercial tie-in product.

102. (1961.) Tokyo Olympiad (1964)
Somewhere in between the two extremes of documenting history and re-writing it is this, a true work of art. The games are messy and confusing, just like the very human athletes who participate in them. And despite — maybe even *because* of — all their shortcomings, they're also amazingly beautiful. If you watch just one documentary about an Olympic games, make it this one.

Drink Coke! (Tokyo Olympics)

(Forget what I said earlier about unsatisfying corporate sponsors. Coca-Cola has been sponsoring the games since 1928. As they'll be quick to tell you, winners always have and always will drink Coke!)

A fourth documentary is still on my DVR, so there may very well be more to come.

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I'm watching a movie right now that is kind of boring. So let me kill some time by typing up brief reports of some other films I've seen.

78. (1937.) The Stepfather (1987)
Is this a thriller? A slasher? The Stepfather tries to be both, which I suppose is a fitting metaphor for its titular antagonist. I don't think I'll watch it again.

79. (1938.) Sparkle (1976)
This musical drama is made of all the same stuff as Dreamgirls, just not quite as well. I suspect that has more to do with the era when it was made than anything else. As a nostalgic blaxploitation musical, it is more interesting as a historical artifact of its contemporary industry than actual entertainment.

80. (1939.) The Blue Gardenia (1953)
Did the protagonist kill her would-be rapist? Even she doesn't know for sure (and neither does the reporter who is starting to fall for her). I liked the suspense (if not always the acting), although the best part of this is seeing George Reeve in a supporting role as a dashing police detective. Bonus: the would-be rapist is Raymond Burr.

Drink Coke! (The Blue Gardinia)
"I could just murder for a Coca-Cola right now."

81. (1940.) The Princess and the Frog (2009)
Somehow, I'd never seen this — Walt Disney Animation Studios' attempt to recreate the style of their 1950s heyday. I have no memory of its development or release. I must not have been aware it existed. Anyway, I have now seen it, and I quite liked it.

82. (1941.) Lunatics: A Love Story (1991)
This, I did not like. The story is embarrassingly simple, so I suppose the audience is supposed to be wowed by the characters or the visuals or something else that isn't there. I won't say it's unwatchable, but I will recommend that you not waste your time on it.

More to come.

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Films can be escapist fun from the shittiness of real life. So let's escape.

71. (1930.) Mona Lisa (1986)
Bob Hoskins was a great actor. Here he plays a slow-witted but well-intentioned man, which is a necessity to get the story where it wants to take us. To his credit, I kept overestimating his character exactly as I was supposed to. (The title is not an accident; the Mona Lisa is a famous painting because you see in it what you want to see.) I didn't love the film, but I respect it.

Drink Coke (Mona Lisa)
I want to see a Coke

72. (1931.) Lisztomania (1975)
I don't respect Lisztomania, but I admit it has its moments. It's a totally bonkers musical film falling somewhere between biopic of Franz Liszt and allegory about music's power to brainwash the masses. I don't know if Liszt did drugs, but the filmmakers sure did, and they informed the script: It starts all fun and euphoric excitement, but it takes more and more effort to top the previous experience and by the end you just want it all to stop. (The Jack Kirby's Thor-influenced Frankenstein's monster Superman is about three musical bridges too far.) The turning point, as is so often the case, is the mid-film song-and-dance number in which Roger Daltry rides a giant erection straight (in)to the devil. The film wants to say a lot about too much, but the ultimate moral of the story is that what may look like a great metaphor on paper is often unwatchable garbage on screen.

73. (1932.) Mahler (1974)
An earlier film made by the same writer/director as Lisztomainia. This watches more like a conventional biopic of dour, difficult composer Gustav Malher. I found to my surprise that I missed some of the latter film's enthusasiam.

74. (1933.) Walk a Crooked Mile (1948)
This buddy cop early Cold War procedural goes out of its way to have the g-men make mistakes that result in lost lives. I cannot believe that the FBI was ever this incompentent whatever the social mores of the day were. They ignore a man dressed as a priest, discount the possiblity that a woman could be the guilty party, and accuse the naturalized citizen because he has a suspicious accent. Well, okay, maybe that last one still holds.

75. (1934.) One Sunday Afternoon (1948)
On the opposite side of the entertainment spectrum from "geo-political crime drama" is this traditional Broadway-style musical adapted into a film in which it takes all three acts to teach the irritatingly dim protagonist that his best buddy is not a good person. I enjoyed the songs, settings, actors, and the reminder that life at the turn-of-the-20th-century was just all-around rotten. (I don't think that last bit was intentional on the part of the filmmakers. I might have been reading my own biases into a world where women were either trophies or slaves, "painful" dentisty was the only option, and lynch mobs were still considered justice.) I judge the film to be a good way to pass the time on a Sunday afternoon when football is not an option.

77. (1936.) Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (2009)
Did I say "escapist fun"? The takeaway here could have been "if you take agency, you can make a good life for yourself," but it's not. If fictional 1980s protagonist "Precious" was a real person, she would in all likelihood have died in obscurity decades ago from a disease forced upon her by her abusers, and the film doesn't let you forget that uncomfortable fact. It's more a "life sucks so let's do what we can to make it less painful for one another" scenario. It's a useful reminder and a good film.

More to come.

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I don't just watch made-for-tv mysteries, you know. I watch other stuff. Some of it is even pretty good.

63. (1922.) Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland (1989)
Look, I'm a big fan of Windsor McKay's original turn-of-the-20th-century Little Nemo in Slumberland comic strip. I have a complete volume of reprints of the entire run. So I'm probably not the target audience for this, shall we say, "reimagining" of the concept for the 1980s (with fewer racist stereotypes and more talking squirrel sidekicks). It's just not Little Nemo, knowwhatimean? While the animation is quite good, it's just not good enough to overcome a dull story and glacial pacing that would have put even 1910 audiences to sleep.

65. (1924.) Z (1969)
This political thriller/cautionary tale plays almost like a documentary in all the best ways. I spent most of the run time wondering where it was going, and I can say it was worth the trip.

66. (1925.) ...And Justice for All. (1979)
I have a vague memory that back in college, one of my drama-major roommates, Kenny, rented this and had a small watch party. I didn't watch it at the time because A) I'm anti-social, and B) I don't care for Al Pachino. My mistake. It's really, really good. Sorry, Kenny!

Drink Coke (And Justice For All)
Drink Responsibly

68. (1927.) The Mask of Dimitrios (1944)
I would have liked this mystery/revenge story more if not for that fact that the motivation of Peter Lorre's protagonist novelist's motivation is completely opaque, as though he is hunting Dimitrios just so they can make a movie about it.

70. (1929.) Run Lola Run (1998)
Another great movie! I remember everyone talking about it at the time, and they were right to. I wish I'd seen it then.

More to come.

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59. (1918.) Magic in the Moonlight (2014)
You know, in a lot of Emma Stone stone movies, I start by thinking "Gee, I don't care for this. Maybe I'm over Emma Stone." Then she wins me over again. As usual, Stone and Colin Firth are delightful, but, sorry, I cannot endorse a "follow your heart and the world is magical" fairy tale May/December romance from a writer/director who married his own daughter. Ick, dude.

60. (1919.) Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)
So far as video game movies go, this is pretty good. Jim Carrey's still got it!

64. (1923.) Gidget (1959)
Wait, I've never put Gidget on this list? I've seen the third act at least three times. I will never get tired of Cliff Robertson and James Darren fighting over Sandra Dee.

Drink Coke! (Gidget)
Get a beach body with Coke!

61. (1920.) Rafferty and the Gold Dust Twins (1975)
Some movies don't have much of a point. This odd couple road trip romantic comedy buddy movie adventure story is one of those. (To sum up: "We're all just hitchhikers on the road of life.") Is it enough for a film to just exist?

62. (1921.) Carefree (1938)
Unethical psychiatrist Fred Astaire manipulates Ginger Rogers in a film whose sexual politics have not aged well. (Speaking of not aging well, we get to see a hypnotized Rogers go on a rampage with a stolen shotgun because mass shootings were still "funny" in 1938.) It's got good song and dance numbers, though.

More to come.

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I just watched Chaplin for the first time since 1992. It's a good movie even if it does deify its subject and spackle over his sexual penchant for young and unavailable girls. But I can't hate someone who loves Coke.

Drink Coke! (Chaplin)
He's obsessed with his work... and the Pause that Refreshes!

Meanwhile, I've also watched these new-to-me movies:

46. (1905.) King of Jazz (1930)
The first Bing Crosby movie! He's already pretty darn good, and there's an embedded Walter Lantz cartoon, but the highlight of this revue is the dance number "Ragamuffin Romeo" performed by Marion Stadler and her husband, Don Rose. That alone is worth the price of admission.

48. (1907.) Nebraska (2013)
I was really worried about how depressing this was going to turn out to be, and it is, but it's also this:

Receptionist (earnest): Does he have Alzheimer's?

David Grant (deadpan Will Forte): No, he just believes what people tell him.

Receptionist (saddened): Oh, that's too bad.

I liked it a lot.

49. (1908.) Flying Down to Rio (1933)
The first Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers movie! Ginger is great, Fred is okay — but isn't that usually the case? The plot is mostly screwball with a big, ridiculous closing number that's all T&A — 1933 style!

51. (1910.) Shall We Dance (1937)
More Astaire/Rogers with some great dance numbers set to Gershwin tunes, including a romp on skates performed to "Let's Call The Whole Thing Off." I enjoyed it.

52. (1911.) For Me and My Gal (1942)
The first Gene Kelly movie! Kelley springs onto the screen with his movie persona (arrogant and chauvinistic yet charming) fully formed. It's great seeing them both on the screen, but they aren't working with the very best material. Oh, well.

More to come.

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Movies watched in March, part 2 of 3:

29. (1888.) Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018)
No, it's not as good as the original, but once I realized that was the point, I relaxed and really enjoyed what it gave me. The bit with the Disney Princesses™ more than made up for any dull moments.

31. (1890.) My Dream Is Yours (1949)
A singer who looks and sounds like Doris Day struggling to make it as a singer is not the most believable of plots in a musical movie starring Doris Day, but that's sort of beside the point. You didn't come for the drama; you knew she's destined to succeed when you bought your admission ticket.

32. (1891.) Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993)
I didn't like Annie Hall, and I like Annie Hall II: The Annie-ing even less. Yeah, it's a mystery movie, but Woody Allen's super-annoying screen persona had me cheering for the killer.

33. (1892.) Witness to Murder (1954)
It's like Rear Window with Barbara Stanwyck as Jimmy Stewart. Because the witness is a woman, no one believes her and the killer manages to have her committed to an asylum. It's good.

35. (1894.) Bugsy Malone (1976)
1976 saw the release of Network, Taxi Driver, Rocky, Carrie, All the President's Men, The Omen, A Star Is Born, and a movie musical scored by Paul Williams in which kids (including Scott Baio and Jodie Foster!) played 1920s gangsters shooting cream pie guns and driving bicycle carts. How did I not know this existed? It's bonkers in the best possible way.

Drink Coke! (Bugsy Malone)
Dance numbers make me thirsty.

More to come.

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Movies watched in March, part 1 of 3:

23. (1882.) Romance on the High Seas (1948)
This was Doris Day's first movie, and she's as cute as a freckled button. I've never been a huge fan of her 60s sex comedies opposite Rock Hudson (what with their badly outdated sexual politics), but her natural charisma is obvious here. It's no wonder she went on to become such a star.

24. (1883.) Avengers: Endgame (2019)
I said I wasn't going to watch this after how angry I was at how much Avengers: Infinity War sucked, but it finally came on broadcast television, and I didn't have anything better to do. It's not as bad as A:IW, but that's not the same as being good. In fact, I'm sure I'd hate it if A:IW hadn't set the bar so damn low that it couldn't even be tripped over. And there was Coke.

Drink Coke! (Avengers Endgame)
The story of how Bruce Banner and the Hulk merged would make a better movie than what this actually gave us.

25. (1884.) Calamity Jane (1953)
Another Doris Day movie (because Doris Day was the TCM "Star of the Month"), this one featuring an entirely fictional version of Calamity Jane in what is transparently a rip-off of the far superior Annie Get Your Gun. I fell asleep halfway through.

26. (1885.) I'll See You in My Dreams (1951)
Hey, look! It's Doris Day! Here she's the wife (and ambition and conscience and just plain better half) of Danny Thomas' bland songwriter Gus Kahn. I guess it's Kahn's biography (at least the Hollywood version of it), but it would have been a better movie if Day had been given the lead part.

27. (1886.) The Foreigner (2017)
Old Man Jackie Chan proves that he's probably a better actor than he gets credit for in this political action/thriller opposite Pierce Brosnan. I liked it.

28. (1887.) The Wild, Wild Planet (1966)
In the future, Mutants come to Earth to steal humans for a mad scientist's genetic experiments. Perhaps just because of what sci-fi was in the era, this feels a little like an amateur filmmaker's attempt at an original Star Trek movie, and some of the concepts are interesting. Just about everything else is bad, maybe bad enough to come around to the other side if you were in just the right mood. I wasn't.

More to come.

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Coca-Cola's response to Georgia's passage of the Election Integrity Act of 2021 ("Statement from James Quincey [Chairman and CEO] on Georgia Voting Legislation," April 1, 2021) opened with this sugar-free, caramel-coloring deficient statement:

"We want to be crystal clear and state unambiguously that we are disappointed in the outcome of the Georgia voting legislation."

Georgia Republican House Caucus response to Coca-Cola's response to their new law (excerpt from "House of Representatives letter to Coca-Cola Company," April 3, 2021):

"Given Coke's choice to cave to the pressure of an out of control cancel culture, we respectfully request all Coca-Cola Company products be removed from our office suite immediately."

Three things:

1. Nothing says you're taking a stand against "out of control cancel culture" like canceling something that you disagreed with.

2. Why would anyone expect Coca-Cola to be happy about the new law when it expressly makes it illegal to give someone a Coke and/or a smile?

(Election Integrity Act of 2121, Section 33: Said chapter is further amended by revising subsections (a) and (e) of Code Section 21-2-414, relating to restrictions on campaign activities and public opinion polling within the vicinity of a polling place, cellular phone use prohibited, prohibition of candidates from entering certain polling places, and penalty, as follows: (a) No person shall solicit votes in any manner or by any means or method, nor shall any person distribute or display any campaign material, nor shall any person give, offer to give, or participate in the giving of any money or gifts, including, but not limited to, food and drink, to an elector, nor shall any person solicit signatures for any petition, nor shall any person, other than election officials discharging their duties, establish or set up any tables or booths on any day in which ballots are being cast: (1) Within 150 feet of the outer edge of any building within which a polling place is established; (2) Within any polling place; or (3) Within 25 feet of any voter standing in line to vote at any polling place.)

3. Enjoy your Pepsi, boys. You've earned it.

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After I created my page showcasing delicious Coca-Cola movie product placement screenshots, I should updated it with notable Coke occurrences in other movies I've seen but haven't previously reviewed. Films like

Drink Coke! (The Breakfast Club)
John Hughes' classic The Breakfast Club

Drink Coke! (E.T.)
Stephen Spielberg's classic E.T.

Drink Coke! (Falling Down)
Joel Schumacher's classic Falling Down

Drink Coke! (Silent Movie)
Mel Brooks' not-quite-classic Silent Movie

And no self-respecting list of movie Coca-Cola product placement should omit

Drink Coke! (The Gods Must Be Crazy)
The Gods Must Be Crazy

I was convinced that a Coke bottle played a small role in Andy Warhol's Trash, but on review, that was a Miller Genuine Draft bottle. I first watched Trash in the late Bill Marriott's drawing class in college — he would show us uneducated students an "arthouse" movie about once a week. I loved watching movies in class, even if I didn't like most of them. I didn't like Trash then, and I don't like it now. Now that I'm sure it wasn't a Coke bottle, I hope to never watch it again.

By the way, since we're on the subject of movies I don't want to watch again, there's a Coca-Cola commercial cut into Natural Born Killers that I remember making Coca-Cola executives squeamish back in the day when the public outcry against that movie was at it's height. If I ever do watch it again, I'll be sure to take a pic. But don't expect it.

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To be continued...