Showing 1 - 10 of 561 posts found matching keyword: movies

[The Internet ate my original post here, which was a very long complaint about the movie The Flash. I'm not going to try to recreate it. The important takeaways were that that A) it has Batman in it, and B) it sucks.]

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84/2250. Elmer, the Great (1933)
The premise here is that baseball player Elmer (Joe E. Brown in an over-the-top performance of buffoonery that would embarrass Adam Sandler) is such a great batter with such intolerable eccentricates that the Chicago Cubs are forced to lie to him about his love interest in order to ride his bat to the World Series. Of course, the lies lead to crime, specifically a gambling syndicate, that potentially compromise the game. Because that's what lies do.

85/2251. Skippy (1931)
Never heard of the comic strip "Skippy"? I doubt this film will make you seek it out, although I'm lead to believe it was a big hit in its day. Li'l Jackie Cooper breathes life into one of the most famous comic strip characters of the early 20th century in a series of misadventures involving, among other things, dog murder. Seriously. Cooper was nominated for an Oscar for this because everyone is heartbroken to see a child crying over a dead dog. Shame on you, Hollywood!

86/2252. Three on a Match (1932)
While the popularity of the Skippy comic strip inspired a peanut butter brand to steal the name, Three on a Match was built on the popular superstition encouraged (created?) by a safety match tycoon to sell more matches. The story is a salacious tale of intertwining lives of three former classmates. Naturally, the third one to light on the match suffers a bad end, although that's owed more to her use of drugs than her thrifty use of matches. (Trivia note: this movie also supposedly includes Jack Webb's first screen appearance, but good luck spotting him in the crowd.)

87/2253. Private Detective 62 (1933)
Decades before Remington Steele, debonaire but destitute William Powell fast-talks his way into a becoming a partner in a private detective agency. Too bad for Bill that his new partner is no Stephanie Zimbalist and lacks any sort of scruples.

88/2254. The Castle of Sand (1974)
I interrupt today's list of pre-code Hollywood films with this Japanese police procedural with a very strong social justice message. (Lepers are people too!) The last act leans a little too heavily into sentimentality for my tastes, but the extended Dragnet-style investigation that precedes it earned my tolerance as the killer's motivations are finally revealed.

89/2255. Svengali (1931)
From the German Expressionism of the set designs to the Horrific gothic shadows of the lighting and costumes, it's pretty clear this production was heavily influenced (for the better) by the original Dracula. What's most surprising about this adaptation of the novel Trilby is how sympathetic it actually is to the hypnotic outsider Svengali, who really could (and perhaps should) be presented as something of a demonic sexual predator. I think the movie is much less kind to the prudish English fop Billee, who in his own way, isn't any better than the story's titular "villain," although I'm certainly willing to admit that my 21st-century perspective probably colors my interpretation of what "acceptable behavior" is. Worth a watch.

More to come.

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78/2244. If I Had a Million (1931)
This is the rare anthology film, with each segment built around the idea of a dying businessman giving away a million dollars each to individuals he chooses at random out of a phone book. Interestingly, the new money makes very little difference in the lives of most of them. Pretty good on the whole.

79/2245. The Color of Money (1986)
Paul Newman revisits the character of 1961's The Hustler twenty-five years down the road. I didn't care for "Fast" Eddie Felton then, and I don't much care for him now. The strength of the movie is actually the charismatic up-and-comer played by Tom Cruise. Gee, once upon a time, that guy could really act.

80/2246. Crime Wave (1953)
I really love snarling, toothpick chomping Sterling Hayden playing a cop who just might be dirty as he leans way too hard on an ex-con the audience knows is innocent. It's good noir with a satisfying payoff.

81/2247. Julie (1956)
The ridiculously contrived third act of this unsubtle thriller starring Doris Day would seem to have inspired much of the following-year's Zero Hour! (co-starring Serling Hayden), which as we all know, is the template for the single greatest comedy film ever made, Airplane!. So that's cool.

82/2248. The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie (2004)
The movie takes the television characters on an epic "save the world" adventure that, other than some very, very dark turns, isn't really any different than the source cartoon. But it is 100% worth watching for David Hasselhoff's brief but hilarious part. (I hope that man has had half as much fun in the entertainment industry as I have had watching him.)

83/2249. Desperate (1947)
When a robbery goes sideways, a well-intentioned teamster and his wife spend the rest of their life on the run from evil mastermind Raymond Burr instead of, you know, going to the cops. I guess if they'd done the sensible thing, it would have been a much shorter movie, and who wants that?

More to come.

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72/2238. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (2023)
Complaint 1: This movie was made explicitly for fans of Indiana Jones, with all the excessive fan service and nostalgic callbacks that entails. (No surprise to see Kathleen Kennedy's name in the credits.) Complaint 2: It's too long by an hour. Other than that, it was fine, the third best Indiana Jones movie. Far better than Crystal Skull, which I just rewatched last week to find that it is even worse than I remember.

73/2239. El cochecito (1960)
The theme of this satirical Spanish movie is that the elderly and invalids are just as fucked up and deserving of respect as everyone else. It's almost cute, until you get to the shocking ending.

Drink Coke! (El cochecito)
A man steals a wheelchair... and a Coke!

74/2240. The Crippled Masters (1979)
TCM ran this and El cochecito back to back on a theme night. In this martial arts cripple exploitation film, the theme is also that the physically handicapped can be just as deadly as normally abled martial artists. Other than the gimmick of a pair of martial artists without the use of their arms or legs, it's really pretty dull.

75/2241. Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Something New (2023)
If you're not up to date on your behind-the-scenes of the ongoing Hallmark Channel vs Great American Media catfight, you might be surprised that the title character in these was recast and the timeline rolled backwards to her college years. (My biggest complaint is actually the recasting of Aurora's friends, but this series has always been about the supporting cast for me. I don't like Aurora herself.) But the script is still written by Teena Booth who is a consistent workhorse at delivering a very satisfying formula of mild-mannered murder mystery.

76/2242. The Goodbye Girl (1977)
Romantic comedies in the movies came of age as screwball comedies of the 1930s which transitioned to the sex comedies of the 50s. Here in the 70s, we can see the genre becoming what we now recognize as a modern example with a healthy dose of New Hollywood's unique interpretation of "realism." It's pretty good, in no small part because it knows exactly what it is and what it wants to be doing.

Drink Coke! (The Goodbye Girl)
There were so many shots of Coca-Cola product placement, it was hard to choose just one.

77/2243. The Second Time Around (1961)
Perhaps this is best described as an adventure picture, Debbie Reynolds Goes West. But it leans heavy on broad comedy and romance (choosing between Andy Griffith at his most cornpone and Steve Forrest at his most oily). I think I'll call it an interesting artifact of its time and leave it at that.

More to come.

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66/2232. Something's Gonna Live (2009)
This documentary follows Robert Boyle and his friends reminiscing about the highs and lows of their Hollywood careers. There's a lot of grumpy-old-men complaining about how things have changed since their heydays in the 1950s through 70s (such as working for Hitchcock), but there's also a lot of open admission that the "good" old days weren't always so good (especially for minorities and the disenfranchised). A good documentary for cinephiles.

67/2233. The Dancing Detective: A Deadly Tango (2023)
Not so many years ago, Lacey Chabert was Hallmark's crossword-puzzle writing mystery solver. Now she's an undercover American agent on Interpol assignment in the ballroom of a corporate murderer. The crossword-writer was more believable. It's all very contrived, but I'll take what I can get after The Pandemic reduced the flow of new made-for-tv mystery movies to a trickle.

68/2234. Shazam! Fury of the Gods (2023)
Much has been said in reviews about the third act's bad CGI and extended Skittles product placement, but the real problem with this sequel is Shazam himself. Zachary Levi plays the Big Red Cheese like a complete moron. What can I say other than he's not MY Captain Marvel.

69/2235. Deep Valley (1947)
This movie made so little impression on me that I just had to look it up on IMDB to remind myself what it was: poor little Ida Lupino is a socially deprived mountain girl who falls for an escaped criminal good-for-nothing. Spoiler alert: It doesn't work out.

70/2236. Inside Moves (1980)
For a movie that begins with a very graphic suicide attempt, this movie about a cast of characters struggling through physical disabilities that put them on the margins of society is surprisingly uplifting. Directed by Richard Donner, there's even a running sight gag of a Superman: The Movie pinball machine inside the local hangout at the center of the film. It's all very good.

Drink Coke! (Inside Moves)
A cripple walks into a bar... and orders a Coke!

71/2237. Thief (1981)
James Caan really inhabits the role of an ex-con who gets squeezed by some very stupid, stupid men. Like most Michael Mann films, I didn't love it, but I respect it.

More to come.

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58/2224. Flaxy Martin (1949)
The title character is not the protagonist but the femme fatale, the reason the protagonist runs afoul of the law in this compilation of crime noir cliches. I watch enough of these that I must like crime noir cliches.

61/2227. I, Tonya (2017)
It's weird, getting old and seeing movies made of historical events that you remember living through. This very comedic interpretation of the scandalous events of 1994 leans heavily in Tonya Harding's favor, but even when she's on her best behavior, the movie is populated entirely by some of the worst people behaving badly, so it's hard to feel too charitable.

Drink Coke! (I, Tonya)

62/2228. 1917 (2019)
Friend James told me this was a great film, and I didn't take him seriously enough. It really is amazingly well crafted and, yes, beautiful in its depictions of the horrors of the Great War. Honestly, it's a masterpiece.

63/2229. Ellie & Abbie (& Ellie's Dead Aunt) (2020)
On the other end of the movie making spectrum is this much, much smaller fantasy coming of age film with a budget so small you'd lose it in the laundry. Sucker that I am for coming-of-age films, I still enjoyed it very much. (It's kind of nice to be reminded that as fraught as teenage hormones and relationships are, they aren't a literal war.)

64/2230. Storm Warning (1950)
Ronald Reagan is a crusading prosecutor driven to rid his town of the Ku Klux Klan! The film hints at an underlying connection between the racist Klan and the manipulative forces of industry, but that's subtle enough not to get in the way of the crime thriller. Pretty darn good.

65/2231. Don Juan (1926)
Credited as being the first movie with synchronized sound, it doesn't really capitalize on the innovation. It's mostly just another swashbuckling adventure film of its era with sword sound effects reliably clanging on cue.

More to come.

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54/2220. Stray Dog (1949)
I intentionally followed my viewing of Cats with this Akira Kurosawa writen/directed police procedural, which is a much better movie. Its only real flaw is a lack of actual dogs. The true subject is the directionless state of young men in post-WWII Tokyo, hence the allegorical title.

55/2221. The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh (1979)
Unlike Strange Dogs, I bumped into this by pure happenstance. I'm glad I did. The premise of a basketball team built on astrology is inherently silly, but that's the sort of film this is, and it dives in head-first (see: Jonathan Winters as a goofball team owner and his own evil twin brother.) Like most home aquariums, it's fun but not deep.

Drink Coke! (The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh)
Coca-Cola is a performance-enhancing drug

56/2222. Carle Laemmle (2019)
The descendants of Universal Studios founder Carle Laemmle who participated in this documentary would have you believe that the man was a saint. Maybe he was, but it's hard to imagine that he united his competitors and defeated the Edison Motion Picture trust without at least having a iron-rod backbone.

60/2226. Burden of Dreams (1982)
The numbering on this one is out of order because I logged it late. Oops. But also pretty fitting considering the subject. In hindsight, I now know that this documentary was the explicit basis for the very silly 2-part 2022 Documentary Now episode "Soldier of Illusion." The lengths that Werner Herzog went through to make his Amazon River movie are terrifying.

57/2223. The Apple (1980)
The Apple is, without a doubt, the single greatest movie musical ever made about Adam and Eve as rockstars in a world dominated by the recording executive devil. The makers of Cats could learn a few lessons on how to do "bonkers" right.

Drink Coke! (The Apple)
There's a ton of Coke in this film, very little of which is bottled.

More to come.

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49/2215. Inside Out (1975)
Not the more famous Pixar movie but a Nazi Gold heist movie starting Telly Savalas, Robert Culp, and James Mason. It's got a made-for-tv vibe, but that's not all bad, especially considering its genre, one of the few in which crime can pay. (It's always okay to steal from Nazis.)

50/2216. Being Mary Tyler Moore (2023)
HBO's recent documentary benefits from having plenty of home movies that reveal Mary Tyler Moore as a real human being. You actually get a pretty good feel for her as a person, and that's the point of these things, isn't it?

51/2217. The Verdict (1946)
Not the more famous Paul Newman movie but a very entertaining murder mystery starring Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre. As a huge fan of the "locked room" subgenre, I really should have deduced the truth because I properly recognized the tropes and red herrings as such. But I was still fooled. Fun!

52/2218. Seven Thieves (1960)
Another heist film in which Rod Steiger teams up with Edward G. Robinson to... well, exactly the same plot as Oceans 11 but without any laughs. When Steiger robs a bank, no one has any fun.

53/2219. Cats (2019)
Hoooo-leee-shit. Critics and audiences have decried this adaptation from the top of their lungs, but until you've seen it, you just don't know. No one involved in making any executive decisions guiding this dance-heavy Broadway show into an uncanny valley of very unfortunate CGI'd cat-suits should be allowed anywhere near a movie studio ever again. I guarantee this is going to end up an underground cult classic if only because generations of watchers are going to fall into the rabbit hole of trying to wrap their heads around how an abomination like this could be brought to life. (And don't even get me started on the musical earworms, which are not the movie's fault but are endemic to the play. The lyrics are terrible the first time, and they don't get any better the hundredth time a chorus of "Jellicle Cats" chews its way through your cerebrum. Hiss!)

More to come.

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44/2210. Jules et Jim (1962)
You know a movie with a "love" story like this has to be (loosely) based on a true story, because it's just too bonkers to be credible fiction. It's well made, well written, well acted... I just didn't enjoy spending time with any of the characters, all clearly doomed by their own selfishness.

45/2211. Operation Pacific (1951)
This movie was remade, also with John Wayne, as In Harm's Way. That one's much better (with a larger budget). Watch it instead.

46/2212. Four Daughters (1938)
The plot of this melodrama is a little thin, relying heavily on the charm of the Lane sisters to keep the viewer entertained while John Garfield chews the scenery doing his best Oscar Levant impersonation. I'd probably watch it again just for Priscilla Lane.

47/2213. Bridge of Spies (2015)
I'm still not a particular fan of Spielberg's penchant for pushing his audience's emotional buttons, but I do appreciate his perspective on a true history story that utilizes Tom Hanks' unique talents to show us how an "everyman" with integrity, compassion, and determination can make a cold (war) world a better place.

48/2214. Carrot Cake Murder: A Hannah Swensen Mystery (2023)
At last! These are my favorite of the Hallmark mysteries. This is the first new entry in this series in years (because star Allison Sweeney has been working on other projects), and there's a bit of a disappointing casting shake-up with the introduction of a long-lost sister (a la Roy in "The Itchy and Scratchy and Poochie Show" episode of The Simpsons). I'm willing to forgive almost anything to get more of these, especially after such a long wait.

More to come.

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Last week, TCM ran a documentary on early 20th-century filmmaker Oscar Micheaux. I've seen at least parts of a few of Micheaux's films, including his response to Birth of a Nation earlier this year. I didn't include the documentary in my most recent movie reviews because I typically like to work my way through what I watch chronologically. However, we are running out of June, and I really should cover this one before the calendar turns to July.

59/2225. Oscar Micheaux: The Superhero of Black Filmmaking (2021)

As you can see from the title, documentarian Francesco Zippel really plays up the superhuman efforts that Micheaux had to perform to get his films about Black American life and starring Black Americans shown to (mostly Black) audiences. The film focuses on Micheaux's works and achievements but is light on actual biographical details of the man himself, admitting that many aspects of the man's personal life are unclear.

But what motivates me to post this during Superman Month is that Micheaux was born to a freed former slave in Metropolis, Illinois! That was 1884, about 90 years before the city embraced its tenuous connection to the Superman mythos.

The documentary concludes with a lamentation that Metropolitans would choose to erect a giant statue to a fictional hero instead of a true native son. But to be entirely fair, Micheaux was public about the social struggles of his early life in Metropolis, and he left town for good at the age of 17. On the other hand, everyone knows that once Superman moved to Metropolis, he stayed there.

A statue might be a bit much, but at the very least, you'd think they'd give him a plaque. Or a star on the sidewalk. If it's good enough for D.W. Griffith....

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To be continued...


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