Showing 1 - 10 of 497 posts found matching keyword: movies

RAMBO III references are still topical, right?

I drew this with my left hand!

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Way back in 2012, I arbitrarily decided that 150 was a good goal for new-to-me movies in a year. (That's about 3 a week, an easily achievable number, I figured.) For each year of the past decade save one (2016), I have soared way over that bar. In 2021, for the first time, I hit it exactly.

147. (2006.) Ron's Gone Wrong (2021)
This movie is really a series of gags that dance around the edges of several important ethical questions without ever directly addressing them (or even admitting that they exist). If the bots are sentient (like Johnny 5 in Short Circuit), aren't they being treated like slaves? And if they aren't (like C-3PO in Star Wars), why the big fuss to save one's "life"? The message seems to be "invasive social media run by huge corporations can be bad except when it isn't." I know it's a children's movie (financed by a huge corporation), but if I'm supposed to be ignoring what's on the screen, why am I watching at all?

148. (2007.) Peppermint (2018)
Jennifer Garner plays at being John Wick in a murderous revenge fantasy film that is only as good as Jennifer Garner can make it. Very violent second-class fluff.

149. (2008.) Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)
While the previous two movies have problems, they also have some redeeming qualities. This one, on the other hand, is just bad. From the outset, it's schizophrenic, as though the studio wanted to remake 1978's Superman with dumber villains with the added specter of extinction event global thermonuclear war. The film's worst sin is abandoning the charming, optimistic Wonder Woman of the first movie for a more world-weary version (in ugly period makeup) who dourly broods and lusts for a lost love. (Why is this even set in the 1980s? Every single plot point would have worked better if it was set in the 50s.) The result is a haphazard mishmash of a movie with subject matter not suitable for little children and boring for adults: perfect drivel for tweenagers, I guess.

150. (2009.) Little Women (1994)
Now this is how you make a movie about wonder(ful) women. When I watched the 2019 adaptation of this movie, I wrote that I liked it very much and couldn't "imagine the 1994 [Winona Ryder] version could possibly be better." It isn't, though that does not mean that this movie isn't also good in its own way. This version has fantastic scenery and a great cast, especially Kirsten Dunst, who may be the best of all the Beths I've seen. I just happen to like the 2019 version a little better.

And that's all the movies I saw in 2021. While we're on the subject, let me add that the actor who appeared most often in those 150 movies was Doris Day (5 times). Second place was a 5-way tie between Jack Carson, James Gleason, Loretta Young, Robert Mitchum, and William Hurt (4 each). Who will it be next year? Only time will tell.

More to come.

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I'm running out of time to finish reviewing movies I've seen in 2021 before the end of the year, so I better hurry it up.

142. (2001.) Tennessee Johnson (1942)
You know Andrew Johnson, right? The first president to be impeached? The president who pardoned Jefferson Davis and opposed giving citizenship to freed slaves? Well, this movie says sure he had a nasty temper, but he did all those other things to make America better! It... hasn't aged well.

143. (2002.) She Freak (1967)
This B-movie remake of Freaks is not particularly good or entertaining, but it does have the rarest of things: Coke and Pepsi logos on screen at the same time!

Drink Coke! (She Freak)

144. (2003.) Paddington 2 (2017)
Watching this delightful film I found myself wondering if it wasn't actually better than the original. I still don't know, so I guess I'll just have to watch them both again to find out.

145. (2004.) A Clüsterfünke Christmas (2021)
This parody of Hallmark Christmas films soon reveals the true fact that it is impossible to parody a genre film without actually succumbing to the trappings of the genre. I still found a lot to laugh at (and with).

More to come.

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Watched just in time for Christmas:

146. (2005.) Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)

This movie is infamous because of how public response to its Santa-with-an-axe ad campaign ended up getting the movie pulled from theatrical release. But what it should be infamous for is how it twists the Batman's origin into a (lame) horror story.

As my Christmas gift to the world, I've translated the movie back into comic panels.

Vengeance is a dish best served with cookies
Can't fault this logic

Now you can say you've seen Silent Night, Deadly Night (just like how for years I said I'd seen the R-rated Robocop when I'd only read the PG-rated Marvel Comics adaptation). Merry Christmas!

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Movies are escapism! Let's get away!

137. (1996.) Skidoo (1968)
If you're familiar with Dragnet 1967, you know how it was often a square's hostile misinterpretation of hippie drug culture. This movie, made about the same time, tries to do better, like it was made by a well-intentioned but out-of-touch grandfather. It's worth a peek for being Groucho Marx's last movie (and you get to see Ralph Kramden on acid!), but the best part far and away are the mock commercials in the opening scene.

138. (1997.) Pillow to Post (1945)
A very light screwball romantic comedy. So light, in fact, that I already barely remember it.

139. (1998.) That Way with Women (1947)
Also a light comedy, though this time the protagonist — Maltese Falcon heavy Sydney Greenstreet as a competent and considerate automobile magnate — isn't directly involved in the romance he's helping to set up. Fun.

140. (1999.) The Loveless (1981)
First film for both Kathryn Bigelow and Willem Defoe, and it's all atmosphere. Think The Wild One without any narrative and the point is that the "outsider" bikers are the sane/moral ones and "civilization" is a lie. I liked it.

Drink Coke! (The Loveless)
Too cool for school? Drink Coke!

141. (2000.) Lust in the Dust (1984)
This parody Western is Tab Hunter's version of a Jon Waters' film. It has its moments, mostly courtesy Divine, whose bonkers performance is exactly what the material deserves.

More to come.

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I don't have anything new to say today, so let's review some recently watched movies instead.

133. (1992.) Elvis Meets Nixon (1997)
Friend Otto called to tell me he had seen this and judged it "must watch." He wasn't wrong. It's the story of Elvis's infamous December 1970 meeting with President Nixon, and it is bonkers. The details are fudged, usually for comedic effect, but the fundamentals are accurate. Otto was right; I very much enjoyed it.

Drink Coke! (Elvis Meets Nixon)
Elvis famously preferred a different brand of soda, but this movie corrects that flaw.

134. (1993.) The Strawberry Blonde (1941)
It's always interesting to compare how creators change a movie between versions. The lead, played here by James Cagney, is brighter than his future version will be just seven years later (see One Sunday Afternoon), but he's also angrier (because Cagney). This one also has less music, a larger cast, and a faster pace, but the only way it is really superior to its eventual remake is the presence of George Reeves as a heavy.

135. (1994.) Three Outlaw Samurai (1964)
This Japanese samurai movie is not perfect (some comedy is too broad and some story beats come too quickly), but it is better than the average movie, and the ending is dynamite. I enjoyed it.

136. (1995.) Tequila Sunrise (1988)
In hindsight, not a lot really happens in this cops-and-robbers romance/drama, but I didn't notice at the time because the cast is so damn talented. Kurt Russell, Mel Gibson, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Raul Julia all kill it. And though the film is named for a different drink, it's a particular soda that manages to make it into a late-film montage at the start of the third act:

Drink Coke! (Tequila Sunrise)
No movie about cocaine smuggling is complete without Coke!

More to come.

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I opened the refrigerator to reach for a Coke, and I thought, "I have some movie reviews to post." So here we go.

129. (1988.) State Fair (1945)
Like you might expect from a fair, there's not a lot of substance here, but it is a fun way to waste a few hours. I enjoyed it, but I doubt I'll remember anything about it next month. (Heck, I don't remember much about it now.)

Drink Coke! (State Fair)
I'll always remember the Coca-Cola.

130. (1989.) The Fuller Brush Girl (1950)
I learned afterwards that the title of this film is a reference to a previous Red Skelton movie, The Fuller Brush Man. But the plot doesn't really have anything to do with Fuller brushes other than as a mechanism to get Lucille Ball involved in the center of a murder mystery. Don't let that description confuse you; this is really a mistaken-identity screwball comedy, the kind that Ball and her costar, Eddie Albert, do so well.

131. (1990.) Her Husband's Affairs (1947)
Another Lucille Ball movie, this time with her as the competent spouse. (Husband Franchot Tone is frankly insufferable and completely undeserving of Lucy's love.) It's pretty clear that the formula of silly comedy movies like this and The Fuller Brush Girl are the template for what would eventually make I Love Lucy such a success on the small screen.

132. (1991.) Black Widow (2021)
In the mood for a nonsense action movie that says the word "Avengers" a lot without showing any? This is the film for you. I was kept entertained mostly by David Harbour, who steals every scene he's in.

Drink Coke! (Black Widow)
Dismantling Soviet-era sleeper cells in the 21st century sure works up a thirst!

More to come.

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I rewatched The Andromeda Strain on TCM last week. Like most Crichton plots, it's mostly atmosphere. After the initial discovery of the killer virus from outer space, the rest of the film's drama all stems from a bit of misdirection about one character's previously-existing (undeclared) medical condition. As usual, the scariest thing about space is us.

Anyway. The purpose of telling you that is to show this:

Drink Coke! (Andromeda Strain)
This is hardly the only Coca-Cola placement in the movie; it's just my favorite.

Hey, Coke, I know you think there's no such thing as bad Hollywood product placement, but maybe associating your product with am insidious plague that poisons the blood isn't really in your best interest.

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I watched only 8 new-to-me movies in October — partly because I spent time watching several movies I had seen before, movies like Unforgiven, The Bad News Bears, and Metropolis. I'm still 17 short from 150 on the year with only 2 months remaining. Will I get there? Oh, the drama!

125. (1984.) The Rocket Man (1954)
Plot: A boy with an unusual voice is given a magic gun by a spaceman who wants him to do good; hijinks ensue. Is this what ran in Saturday morning matinees before everyone had television? (Fact: I watched the whole thing just because the female lead was Spring Byington, and my Mom likes Spring Byington.)

126. (1985.) The Secret Life of Pets 2 (2019)
This movie was widely panned for its lack of focus, but I think I enjoyed it more than the original. Damning with faint praise?

127. (1986.) Penn & Teller Get Killed (1989)
This dark, dark comedy is not a great movie but is still totally worth a watch for Penn & Teller fans, but it blew my mind when I discovered that the director of this movie also directed Bonnie and Clyde. How does that happen?

Drink Coke! (Penn & Teller Get Killed)
With Penn & Teller, you half expect one of them to drink the drain cleaner. Drain Cleaner: the original uncola!

128. (1987.) Frozen II (2019)
Two-thirds of this movie is better than the original, but illogical third acts are what this franchise is all about, I guess. (This was watched on Disney+, by the way. I finally went ahead and just reset Dad's password. Sometimes a manchild has got to do what a manchild has got do to.)

More to come.

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You might think that having a convalescent parent in the house would make for more time watching movies, but you'd be wrong. You know how some critics always complain that even Disney movies have scenes that can be too scary for small kids? Well, they're right; and the soundtracks of those scenes can scare sleeping old people, too. Stay away from that apple, Snow White!

119. (1978.) The House with a Clock in Its Walls (2018)
Watched because it was filmed in scenic Newnan, Georgia. The house used as the main location is right in the path of the tornado that came through earlier this year, but it received minor damage compared to many of its neighbors. The nearby high school has been condemned and will have to be razed and rebuilt. Wait, isn't this supposed to be a movie review? It was fine. I enjoyed it. I also enjoyed that section of town before it all blew away.

120. (1979.) Blow Out (1981)
This movie is not about a tornado. The title refers to a literal blown tire that is blamed for the death of a politician, but a sound engineer's recording reveals a preceding gunshot. The political intrigue plays backseat to the paranoia of the people involved as the whole thing is Brian De Palma's take on a Hitchcockian suspense thriller. (Unfortunately for the audience, De Palma never learned Hitchcock's Rule of the Ticking Bomb.) If you ever wondered how Travolta got from Saturday Night Fever to Look Who's Talking, the answer is here. The movie is worth watching for its opening scene, but once Travolta enters the picture, I recommend you turn it off.

Drink Coke! (Blow Out)
If all this suspense is making you thirsty, reach for a Coke!

121. (1980.) In Bruges (2008)
Crime noir done right with a great cast and a perfect ending. Just amazing all around. I loved it.

122. (1981.) The Scarlet Coat (1955)
A fictionalized true tale of the American Continental Army's discovery of the treachery of Benedict Arnold. It's an entertaining if slightly stiff adventure yarn best suited for Saturday afternoon matinees.

123. (1982.) By the Light of the Silvery Moon (1953)
Doris Day plays a tomboy who wants to marry, and Gordon MacRae plays the boy who doesn't want to settle down just yet. Miscommunication and hijinks ensue. While the boys are watching The Scarlet Coat, the girls can sit through this.

More to come

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To be continued...

 

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