Showing 1 - 10 of 578 posts found matching keyword: movies

27/2338. Guns Akimbo (2019)
Daniel Radcliffe's choice of offbeat roles continues to delight. He adds necessary empathy to this pretty dumb action film about a man who trolled the wrong guy on the Internet and ended up with guns bolted to his hands in an underground Mortal Kombat-style tournament. I look forward to where I might bump into Radcliffe next.

28/2339. Dear White People (2014)
As if you couldn't tell from the title alone, this is a very pointed comedic satire of race relations in the stuffier upper-echelons of higher education. It recognizes that there are no easy answers to society's stickier problems, which means the ending may not be the most satisfying. But it's certainly worth a watch.

29/2340. Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (2023)
This, on the other hand, should be watched by no one. To say that this is not my Aquaman is an understatement; I honestly hope it is no one's Aquaman. True story: I turned off the tv at the 2/3 mark when the bad guys killed Aquaman's father and kidnapped his baby because I thought that was the ending this movie deserved. Blech.

30/2341. Bangkok Dangerous (2008)
Nick Cage plays a cold-blooded assassin who can't keep his personal and professional lives apart as a job goes sideways in guess where. It's not great, but compared to Aquaman.... Damn, I hated Aquaman.

31/2342. A Little Romance (1979)
An antidote to bad action movies! This is a gentle coming-of-age romantic comedic adventure of two adolescents in Paris (and Venice) that any fan of Wes Anderson films will love. I sure did.

More to come.

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22/2333. Now, Voyager (1942)
Apparently, this romance was the highest grossing film of Bette Davis' career... and I can't see why. Just the right movie at the right time for weary World War brides, I guess. There's an argument to be made that it's a good example of how the Hollywood Hays Code censorship made mundane scenes extra suggestive by omitting context, but it's really just dull.

24/2335. Dicks: The Musical (2023)
Ok, well, speaking of the Hays Code, this satirical musical (in the vein of Rocky Horror) is its nightmare scenario. It's clearly looking for extra opportunities to offend everyday sensibilities, and it wildly succeeds. I found most of the songs very enjoyable, but there were several moments in which I cringed. I'm glad it exists. I might watch it again.

23/2334. Gilded Newport Mysteries: Murder at the Breakers (2024)
There's not a lot to recommend this improbable mystery set in the Gilded Age vacation home of Cornelius Vanderbilt. I recognize and appreciate that Hallmark Mysteries is trying new things (and grabbing at that sweet, sweet Downton Abbey-hungry audience), but this one seems miscast and poorly crafted.

25/2336. The Black Marble (1980)
Speaking of poorly crafted mysteries, this. (Well, it's more crime caper than mystery, as the audience is on the crime from the beginning.) I watched specifically for Paula Prentis, but her thin character arc is more ridiculous than the vainglorious dog-killing villain played by Harry Dean Stanton. And the extended climactic "chase" in the kennels felt like it took an hour. Pass.

26/2337. The Country Girl (1954)
If you have any doubts about Grace Kelly as an actress, watch this drama in which she is either a nagging wife or a victim of an abusive alcoholic Bing Crosby. The script is intentionally misleading, which is part of the fun. I can see the last scene as either hopeful or depressing, depending on your personal POV. Well done.

More to come.

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16/2327. The Racing Scene (1969)
James Garner narrates a documentary about a year in the life of his racing company. It's a lot like Grand Prix with the most dramatic moments edited out.

17/2328. Cornbread, Earl and Me (1975)
It would be easy to handwave away this innocent-black-kid-gets-shot-by-police story as an overly melodramatic mid-70s exploitation film if the same shit wasn't still making headlines.

Drink Coke! (Cornbread, Earl, and Me)
Drinking pop is a key plot element that the Coke product placement team wisely stays away from.

18/2329. True Justice: Family Ties (2024)
It seems that Hallmark is leaning more into the procedural style mystery movie, which I suppose is fine for variety. Unfortunately, the plot construction follows the "last, least likely suspect" approach, so the murderer's motive is... weak. Oh well. As I've said before, I don't watch these things for realism.

19/2330. The Fake (1953)
An American insurance agent stumbles into a British art forgery scheme with just enough fisticuffs, romance, and plot twists thrown in so that all the boxes can be checked off. I enjoyed it in spite of its limitations, but all the cliche elements do tend to encourage eye-rolling.

20/2331. Adaptation (2002)
Brilliantly written meta-movie satire by Charlie Kaufman who uses himself as the fulcrum to demonstrate that Hollywood films are all a waste of time. It's no wonder the material attracted such an accomplished cast. (Kudos also to director Spike Jonze for getting himself out of the way so it seems all Charlie's film.) Even when it is completely predictable — seriously, the second half couldn't be telegraphed harder — it never goes quite where I expect. Loved it.

21/2332. The Girl Who Had Everything (1953)
What else do you give the girl who has everything but William Powell to play her father? Sadly, Powell is criminally underused because the studio is clearly more interested in the dumb, doomed romance built around Elizabeth Taylor. If I were in charge there would have been less Taylor, more Powell. (I suspect Powell thought so, too. This is the last movie he ever made at MGM.)

More to come.

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11/2322. Mystery Island (2023)
So far as Hallmark mystery movies go, this one tries harder than most to echo an Agatha Christie novel. There are several overt references to And Then There Were None which sort of gives the game away. The fun here was watching the characters, mostly crime novel fans supposedly familiar with Christie's oeuvre, fail in different ways to find the obvious answer.

12/2323. The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965)
I avoided this Michelangelo biopic for years because it's long and I don't like biopics. But I finally gave in after reading that it's apparently pretty accurate, including subtle hints that Michelangelo was a homosexual. I'm no Michelangelo, but I can certainly relate to some of his artistic attitudes.

13/2324. Haunted Harmony Mysteries: Murder in G Major (2023)
More Hallmark! It's a bit more... fantastic than what the channel usually tries -- one of the amateur sleuths in this is a ghost -- but it's still the usual small cast plus love-interest detective. Hey, at least they're willing to try something different.

14/2325. It's a Big Country (1951)
This anthology film, mostly of immigrant stories, is pretty blatant pro-America Cold War propaganda, which sometimes feels a little preachy. But it's got William Powell in it delivering a lecture on the parts of America he loves, so I give it two thumbs up.

15/2326. Somewhere I'll Find You (1942)
Two brothers, both newspaper foreign correspondents covering the unrest leading to World War II, fall for the same woman... and it's just terrible. Every scene of Clark Gable being a dick to Lana Turner is too long and dull, dull, dull. For frustrated housewives only.

More to come.

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6/2317. Time Bomb Y2K (2023)
This documentary has no commentary or interviews, just clips of footage taken from original sources as the world marched toward a potential disaster on January 1, 2000. The clip selection (perhaps out of necessity) tends towards typically overblown media sensationalism, and the end result is like leaving a cup of history out in the sun and reviewing it later after the sane parts had evaporated out. A history reduction! Its fever pitch doesn't quite match my memories of the era, but that would admittedly make for less entertaining television.

7/2318. This Place Rules (2022)
Another documentary of a different sort as journalist Andrew Callaghan records himself traveling around the country attending Trump rallies in the weeks leading to January 6, 2021. Unlike Jordan Klepper's similar pieces for The Daily Show, Callaghan's point of view isn't as obvious, sometimes seeming more empathetic and sometimes entirely apathetic. At times, this feels a bit like an art piece, and as with all things in Trump World, it's hard to ascertain how much is truth and how much is performative. If nothing else, it's an interesting artifact of its era.

8/2319. Thriller 40 (2023)
There are plenty of interviews in this documentary celebrating the 40th anniversary of the release of Michael Jackson's Thriller album. There's a lot of talk about how Thriller and the artistic genius behind it changed the world of music and entertainment for the better but very little discussion about the controversial legacy of Jackson himself. Maybe that's the way it should be; it just felt a little hollow looking backwards at what I (and all the interviewees) know to be in Jackson's future.

9/2320. The Liquidator (1965)
This spy action/comedy, with a theme performed by my favorite James Bond theme-songstress, Shirley Bassey, features Rod Taylor as a British secret agent with a license to kill... who hires other people to kill for him, which is a smaller part of the plot than you'd expect. In fact, the story is a bit of a meandering hot mess as it struggles to exploit a niche that other James Bond rip-offs hadn't yet. Honestly, I don't know that I would have made it all the way through if it wasn't for the prominent role of given to Jill St. John, my favorite Bond Girl.

Drink Coke! (The Liquidator)

Which is not to say that the movie is entirely stupid. It's hard to read in the image above, but "Refreshes you best" was indeed Coke's international slogan in 1959. Here is also cleverly serves here as a visual double entendre for the sexual proclivities of our hero, who works in a diner called the Bird Cage where he stalks attractive (and willing) young women -- a fact that is entirely relevant to the third act twist. Oh, well. They can't all be Diamonds Are Forever.

10/2321. The Tale of Zatoichi (1962)
The Internet tells me that the blind ronin Zatoichi was an incredibly popular action hero in Japan. I don't see why (no pun intended), but the film, the first of many for the character, isn't exactly bad as it is a little slow and dull. But maybe it was better than whatever else Japanese audiences were being offered in 1962. Maybe it took some time for Dr. No to cross the Pacific. (The fifth Bond film, Japanese-set You Only Live Twice, wouldn't arrive in theaters until 1967. By then, there had already been 14 Zatoichi films!)

More to come.

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As you can tell from the following numbering, we've rolled into a new year of movies!

1/2312. Fear of a Black Hat (1993)
I thought I'd seen this mockumentary years ago, but surely I would have remembered something this funny. This hews closely to the template laid down by Spinal Tap, but the song parodies and attacks on hip hop stereotypes make it fresh and unique.

2/2313. Where Danger Lives (1950)
I'm not going to lie, this title brought back no memories, so I had to look it up on imdb to refresh my memory. I know now why I forgot it. (Doctor Robert Mitchum falls for an insane patient!) The irony of my failing memory is that just yesterday I was thinking about Claude Rains' ridiculously small part herein as an accused abusive husband. When you only remember what a movie got wrong... well, that's your capsule review.

3/2314. You Can't Take It with You (1938)
If I'm so irritated by Frank Capra's trademark too-happy-to-be-possible endings, why do I keep watching his films? In this case, it was to see a Jimmy Stewart film I hadn't yet seen. And now I have. Bonus: appearance of Spring Byington, who is for my mother what Agnes Moorehead is for me, e.g. an actress we're always delighted to bump into in an unexpected supporting role.

4/2315. The Youngest Profession (1943)
This family melodrama in the "Andy Hardy" vein is about a girl autograph hound who thinks her father is cheating on her mother because of the evil machinations of... Agnes Moorehead! Seriously, I didn't know Moorehead was in this when I set my DVR to record it. No, that was because the poster promised me William Powell, who has one line at the very, very end of the movie. Still worth the wait. William Powell is the best.

5/2316. Barbie (2023)
Mom bought the DVD for herself for Christmas, and we watched it together. She was lukewarm -- it wasn't really to her taste -- but I had a blast. Greta Gerwig wins again! I've watched it twice more since. Honestly, my favorite part is that Ken was nominated for the Academy Award but not Barbie, which is exactly the very sharp point of the entire film. I hope he wins.

More to come.

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143/2309. Violent Night (2022)
Santa Claus as reluctant action movie star in a film that is exactly what it promises to be. The script is a little rough around the edges, many of the camera shots are too tight, and most of the "actors" were clearly stunt people. But those were largely features, not bugs. If you want to see Santa Claus killing very bad people with a sledgehammer, then this is certainly that.

144/2310. Merry Little Batman (2023)
This Christmas-adjacent movie about Batman's very young son trying to replace his crime-fighting father leans heavily on 1960s animation aesthetics and feels about twice as long as it needs to be. I like the weirdness of the tone and style, but it reached me much too late in life -- and after far too many murderous psychotic Joker stories -- for me to find it endearing.

145/2311. Platinum Blonde (1931)
Frank Capra is the director, but this isn't quite as treacle as the films he would become better known for. It's the old story of opposites attracting and worlds colliding, but it's not very deep and the "happy" ending is an amicable divorce. I didn't care for it.

And that brings us to the last of the 145 movies I watched in 2023. At final count, Glenda Farrell, star of the "Torchy Blane" movie series, was the actor most often on my screen (6 times). The next closest was Jimmy Stewart (4 times in 2024, 23 times since I started tracking in 2012). I'd certainly watch more of both of them.

I'm already 17 new-to-me movies into 2024, which puts me on a pace to exceed my annual goal of 150. Will I get there? Only time will tell.

More to come.

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137/2303. Asteroid City (2023)
It feels almost like all other Wes Anderson films were setting the stage for this, the most Wes Anderson film yet. I probably don't need to tell you that this was my favorite movie of 2023. Like Birdman, the meta-commentary on plays, acting, art, and entertainment is more text than subtext, yet it still manages to be evasive enough for multiple interpretations. "You can't wake up if you don't fall asleep."

138/2304. Altered States (1980)
Because I don't enjoy body horror or drug movies, I have been avoiding this movie since I first became aware of its existence (thanks to a Mad magazine parody), and I was right to. It's a hot mess. Screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky's words are here, but the director and actors sidestep Chayefsky's cynicism for an irritatingly earnest.... horror romance? Not very not good.

Drink Coke! (Altered States)
Coca-Cola is the mildest mind-altering drug in this picture.

139/2305. Albert Brooks: Defending My Life (2023)
Rob Reiner's documentary interview with Albert Brooks is pretty entertaining because Albert Brooks is very entertaining. It could have been three times as long and been just as good.

140/2306. Best Defense (1984)
Speaking of not very good.... Looking back on Eddie Murphy's lifetime body of work, very few of his movies are really any good. He has admitted he did this one just for the money, and it shows. Dudley Moore isn't any better in this very mediocre spy "comedy."

141/2307. The Cheaters (1945)
This very slim plot involving scammers bilking a girl out of her inheritance at Christmas barely sustains the 90 minute runtime. It did not hold my full attention, but it also didn't drive me away. Make of that what you will.

142/2308. An Actor's Revenge (1963)
This experimental Japanese movie is staged to look shallow, like a stage play, which is directly relevant to the story, but the story itself is something like a dull cross-dressing version of Hamlet. I like my movies a little weird, but the slow pace put me to sleep. I did not want to wake up for more.

More to come.

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130/2296. Mystic Pizza (1988)
If I had seen this when it came out, I know I would have hated it. And not just because I would have been 12 and I would have hated everything that wasn't Transformers and comic books but because each of the girls are clearly making choices that sabotage their own lives. But with the perspective that Middle Age provides, I really enjoyed it.

Drink Coke! (Mystic Pizza)
This product placement becomes a little more blatant when you discover this wasn't filmed at the actual restaurant.

131/2297. The Bachelor Party (1957)
TCM broadcast a night of Paddy Chayefsky-written films, including this one, which is NOT the sophomoric Tom Hanks comedy but a typically satirical Chayefsky look at the institution of marriage and how we usually fail it. I liked it.

132/2298. Middle of the Night (1959)
Another Chayefsky work, this time a look at the unconventional courtship of a May/December romance hindered by self-deception and social expectations. I did not care for the rom-com ending; they're doomed!

134/2300. I Wouldn't Be in Your Shoes (1948)
Run by TCM as an off-the-beaten path Christmas movie (it's set around the holiday), this is a crime drama in which a disagreeable dancer is framed for murder and it's up to his wife and the police detective who loves her to find the clues. It's a fun puzzle, but the ending... oh, boy. I'm glad everybody brought a gun to the housewarming.

135/2301. She Done Him Wrong (1933)
When I wrote my capsule for I'm No Angel a few weeks ago, I was actually thinking of this, the other Mae West/Cary Grant movie. I'm No Angel is the much better of the two, but they both showcase why May West is an enduring star.

136/2302. 42 (2013)
A biopic of Jackie Robinson's first year in baseball, which, as is usually the case in these sorts of movies and the primary reason I don't usually like them, bends history to fit its narrative. However, Robinson was a unique individual deserving of his place in history, and the movie is well-crafted and charming. So I'll just say nice things about it.

More to come.

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123/2289. Night on Earth (1991)
I very much enjoyed writer/director Jim Jarmusch's Mystery Train, and although this uses a similar anthology approach to short, character-driven stories, it didn't connect with me nearly as well, at least in part because of my own innate distaste for interacting with strangers in claustrophobic circumstances, which is the central conceit of each vignette featuring a cab driver and passenger at the same time in different places around the globe. Good idea, but not for me.

124/2290. 20th Century Women (2016)
Something about this bildungsroman, were a young man searches for himself with the help of several variations of feminists in late 70s California, struck me as very honest and relatable. But then, you already know I'm a sucker for coming-of-age stories.

125/2291. I'm No Angel (1933)
The plot in this is a mess, but no one watches Mae West films for their plots. Kind of like a Marx Brothers movie, the attraction here isn't the structure or characters but West's persona and her ability to insert a double entendre into every conversation, appropriate or not.

126/2292. Fast Food Nation (2006)
Ostensibly a criticism of the American fast food industry, it would seem that writer/director Richard Linklater really has an axe to grind with just about every aspect of American life, from career-driven corporate rats to angsty teenagers and everything in between. It's all too depressing to be funny and so unfocused as to be overwhelming. I'm sure there's plenty of truth in here, but fuck it all and let the world burn.

127/2293. Blue Beetle (2023)
Why is America burnt out on superhero films? Because we've seen them all before. This borrows too many parts from several well-worn Marvel movies to be anything more than mildly amusing, but at least it focuses on a Latino family for a refreshing change.

128/2294. Anvil: The Story of Anvil (2008)
A documentary about a 1980s Canadian metal band that didn't hasn't yet is determine to make it big. An unblinking look at the sacrifices it takes to make dreams come true... even when they don't. Pretty good.

More to come.

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To be continued...


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