Showing 11 - 20 of 487 posts found matching keyword: movies
Tuesday 6 July 2021
Last month Ned "Otis" Beatty died. This month it's director Richard Donner. Twenty Twenty-One is proving to be a bad year for people associated with Superman: The Movie.
Should we start a pool on who's going to be August's victim? As you might expect from a 43-year-old movie, there really aren't too many principal cast and crew left. Long retired Gene Hackman (Lex Luthor) is 91. Valerie Perrine (Ms. Teschmacher), 77, has been fighting Parkinson's for years. The longest odds go to Marc McClure (Jimmy Olsen), a comparatively sprightly 64.
Somewhere behind the camera, executive producer Ilya Salkind is 73 and editor Stuart Baird is 74. Only one of the five credited screenwriters, Robert Benton survives at 88. And who wants to live in a world without John Williams in it? He's 89.
Fortunately, all three of the Kyrptonian villains from the opening scenes of Superman: The Movie are still stalking the Earth. Terrance Stamp (General Zod) is 82, Jack O'Halloran (Non) is 78, and Sara Douglas (Ursa) is barely older than Jimmy Olsen at 68. One would hope they get to keep terrorizing Planet Houston for years to come.
I don't mean to be callous. It would be nice if someone could fly around the world fast enough to reverse the flow of time and stave off death. But that sort of thing can only happen in the movies.
Monday 28 June 2021
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!
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.
Tuesday 22 June 2021
It's become pretty clear that Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel creations sit somewhere between made-for-tv movies and Murder, She Wrote series episodes. But I count them as more the former than the latter in no small part because each is a standalone story longer than an hour, and the network never commits to making more than one or two at a time. They may not be as artistically pure as Knives Out or Sleuth, but so what.
67. (1926.) Poisoned in Paradise: A Martha's Vineyard Mystery (2021)
Something about the romantic leads in this series bothers me, but that may just be bad acting. I like these mysteries, though. Perhaps its the commitment to their location or the grizzled lead, but they always put me in mind of 1980s Magnum P.I. episodes.
69. (1928.) Morning Show Mysteries: Murder Ever After (2021)
This series got retooled following the pandemic, much to its detriment. Everything feels a little rushed, like they had to start filming before all the pieces were set. Or perhaps, they were trying to make old formulas work with incompatible pieces. Either way, a lesser entry (with a nonsense murder mystery) in a series I was otherwise enjoying.
76. (1935.) Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Til Death Do Us Part (2021)
Good golly, I enjoy me some of this series' supporting cast but very much not the lead. The mystery in this entry was too transparent, though I'm willing to blame that on the need to make room for the main character to get married — and for a romance to be rekindled between her divorced parents. Hallmark knows who their biggest market is.
More to come.
Monday 14 June 2021
Good help is getting increasingly harder to find.
Saturday 12 June 2021
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.
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.
Thursday 3 June 2021
The more I've seen, the more I've tried to get at least a little more discerning with the movies I watch. Have I been successful? You be the judge.
53. (1912.) How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (2019)
I watched this strictly because I'd seen the two previous — the first I liked a lot, the second not so much — and I genuinely wanted to know how the trilogy was going to end. Even if this was more or less the same plot as the second movie, I very much appreciated how the characters and themes matured over time. (I'd still say that no one needs to see past the first film, but I'm not mad at the series.)
54. (1913.) A Tale of Two Cities (1937)
I don't think I've made any secret of the fact that I am no fan of Charles "Why Write One Word When Ten Will Do" Dickens, and this critically acclaimed adaptation of his best selling novel didn't change my mind. Take the words out, and Dickens is still just stalling for time until the curtain drops.
55. (1914.) Mortal Engines (2018)
Imagine a movie pitch meeting where someone says "Let's remake Star Wars but with cyberpunk!" It's got everything Star Wars is known for: densely decorated sets, orphans destined for great things, cool-looking villains, suave mercenaries, alien robots, world-ending turbolasers. Unlike Star Wars, its actors don't have the charisma to cover for thin characterization and giant plot holes. Oh, well. They can't all make a billion dollars.
56. (1915.) Pather Panchali (1955)
This Indian movie is on a bunch of all-time "greatest" lists because there isn't really much like it. It is beautiful, but its thin narrative rolls along so slowly that I found it very hard to maintain focus. I won't argue with those who call it great, but I won't call it one of my favorites.
57. (1916.) Hairspray (1988)
I'd seen (and liked) the musical but never the original. Though, like most John Waters movies, the choppy editing belies a modest budget, the film overflows with an exuberance that makes it impossible not to enjoy. Quite a gem.
58. (1917.) The Hoodlum Saint (1946)
William Powell plays a newspaperman (Act I: comedy) who cons his way into business (Act II: drama) and then finds himself at the mercy of a fake religion he started to get his good-for-nothing "friends" off his back (Act III: tragedy). Ho hum. I really will watch anything William Powell is in.
More to come.
Monday 24 May 2021
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.
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.
Tuesday 18 May 2021
I like to group my Hallmark Mystery movies together. They technically fit all my rules for tracking movies (self-contained stories longer than an hour), but even they know they're pretty much the live-action equivalent of Cheetos. Like most Americans, I enjoy an empty-calorie snack between meals, but I can't really recommend anyone eat them.
30. (1889.) Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: How to Con a Con (2021)
It's amazing how thin some of these mystery plots are. This one is heavily padded with a romance subplot which I will generously blame on COVID-era filming restrictions limiting the number of characters who could be on set at one time. (Two people talking about marriage is a lot easier on contact tracers than half a dozen people accusing one another of murder.)
34. (1893.) Mystery 101: Killer Timing (2021)
The protagonist is a college professor of creative mystery writing in a very small college in a very small town, yet somehow she keeps stumbling into murder mysteries on her own campus. This one actually gets clever and finds a way to mix three smaller mysteries into one bundle. Not the worst entry in this series.
47. (1906.) Crossword Mysteries: Riddle Me Dead (2021)
Despite the involvement of legendary puzzle editor Will Shortz, I didn't like the first one of these or the second... or any of this series, really, including this one. The longer these series go on, the more pressure they feel to be less murder mystery, more Hallmark romance. In this one the murder feels like nothing more than a shallow excuse for a love triangle between two detectives and a suspect.
50. (1909.) Matchmaker Mysteries: The Art of the Kill (2021)
Speaking of the traditionally Hallmark romance, yeah. This. This was like a very, very bad Remington Steele episode. Ugh. I know these filmmakers are working in a very difficult time, but dreck like this isn't helping anyone.
More to come.
Wednesday 12 May 2021
I watched a new-to-me movie every other day in April, and that count might have been higher if I hadn't also re-watched several not-new-to-me movies. The Back to the Future series never gets old.
41. (1900.) Son of Kong (1933)
This is the original sequel to King Kong which is not nearly as popular or well known for the obvious reason that it's not nearly as good. Spoiler alert: Kong's son dies, too. Great apes should stay the hell away from humans.
42. (1901.) Mrs. O'Malley and Mr. Malone (1950)
This screwball comedy-slash-murder mystery is a pleasant enough waste of time, but I cannot imagine sitting through it twice.
43. (1902.) Voltaire (1933)
This is almost kind-of a fictional biography of the French author Voltaire's later years. I got a kick out of it, but I was already a Voltaire fan going in. Given how often Bill Shakespeare appears as a character in films, there should definitely be more Voltaire movies.
44. (1903.) Henry V (1944)
Unlike Voltaire, I happen to like the writing of Bill Shakespeare, especially when it's performed as well as it is here by Laurence Olivier and company. The speeches! The comedy! The color! The horrors of medieval warfare! I still like Branagh's (grimmer) version better, but this is still a great film.
45. (1904.) Here Comes the Navy (1934)
James Cagney plays James Cagney in a love triangle on a blimp. Sorry, a rigid airship. (The U.S.S. Macon, in fact, which was a real U.S. Navy ship until it fell out of the sky about half a year after the movie was released.) I enjoyed it, and not just because we get to see the inside workings of a doomed airship.
More to come.
Thursday 6 May 2021
Stuffed animals often become a comforting, reassuring presence for their owners, and 2020 was a terrible year. Put those two things together, and you might have predicted a stuffed animal boom in 2021. But did you realize what form they'd take?
If you said teddy bears or puppy dogs, you haven't been paying attention to pop culture lately.
That last one there is a tie-in with the unmemorable Emoji Movie, which reminds me that back in the day my brother had a stuffed, vinyl E.T. doll that I found particularly unattractive. I owe you an apology, 1982 E.T.