September 29, 2012

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

A complete and total mish-mosh retelling of Theseus and the Minotaur. With lots of special effects.

Okay, I admit it. I really liked 300. Good writing, great eye-candy. So when I saw previews for this (made by the same people) in the theater, I thought, oh HELLS yes.

Although even the previews (which are usually carefully crafted to make the movie look WAY better than it is) looked pretty awful…what I was expecting, having seen them, was incredibly good special effects and a plot and dialogue straight out of a 1960s Steve Reeves movie.

I hate it when I’m being cynical and turn out to be right…but yes, that’s exactly what this was. Even with good actors like John Hurt (who Craftygirl kept referring to as Ollivander because that’s where she knows him from…she’s so young…) and Stephen Dorff, who I mostly remember as the bad vampire from Blade, and he was AWESOME in that…and Mickey Rourke, for God’s sake, who has certainly done better…even with good actors like them, this was a seriously awful movie.

The writers grabbed bits and pieces of whatever legends they felt like, made the Greek Gods look like 80s glam rock stars (and not in a fun, campy, good way) and rewrote everything you think you remember about Greek mythology with a liberal hand. Not even worth a historical no-brainer category, because removing your brain WOULD NOT HELP when watching this turkey.

Maybe putting your eyes out with skewers, pouring hot wax in both ears til it solidified, and putting Wilson and Squink down your pants to fight with each other…but that’s about the only thing that could have made this ignorable.

No, I’m wrong; if SOMEONE ELSE had done all that so I could laugh hysterically and take pictures…THAT would have been fun. Although it would have had nothing to do with this godawful movie.

Craftygirl, Spider Jerusalem and I msted the hell out of it, made frequent pauses for drinks, ice cream and treats, and groaned at the stupid parts. Which were legion.

Profit from my example. Skip this awful movie. Or at least…if you feel compelled to watch it, and end up doing the skewer/wax/cat triathlon…call me first so I can bring my camera over…!

Kung Fu Hustle

September 28, 2012

The Internet Movie Database       Movie Reviews

Poor boy becomes kung fu god.

Okay, I’ll admit it: I don’t get the whole martial arts thing. Sure, I watched the TV show Kung Fu as a kid, still like David Carradine…but that was about it. I fell asleep during Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (at home, not in the theater) and never finished watching it. I didn’t like Kill Bill, I don’t read manga, I just don’t get any of it.

But the Dog Master told me to try this…and he was right. Not only is this movie accessible to those like me who don’t do the whole Hong Kong Cinema/martial arts movie thing (although I could tell there were a lot of references I was missing) but it’s funny. And charming.

It’s about a bunch of crime lords who make a move on the poorest alley in town, full of low rent people…who happen to include three martial arts masters who take apart the bad guys…and then a wannabe who finally gets his wish.

This one is a winner, it’s well worth seeing.

Kiss Me, Kate (2003)

September 28, 2012

The Internet Movie Database       Movie Reviews

From the stage play of the same name.

This is the filmed version of the Broadway revival from 2000…evidently the only time it was revived, although I find that hard to believe. They performed it in front of a live audience for the filming.

Well…hm. On the one hand, there are a lot of good things about this production, and it may very well earn Otter Family Favorite status…I certainly have heard Mr. Otter playing his favorite bits over again several times in the last three days since we watched it. The leads were really good- all could sing, act and dance, and they all looked right.

Unfortunately, the guy who played Frederic Graham, although he was handsome, funny, and could sing…was just not sexy. Not a bit. In a role where he should be shooting sparks off every which way, as indeed Howard Keel did in the 1953 movie of Kiss Me Kate, he was not a bit steamy. Ah well.

The musical numbers were staged well, the sets and costumes were good, and the songs were, by and large, wonderful.

But…the script. We have actually ordered a copy of the libretto, unable to believe that (as claimed) what they filmed was the original play…the cover of the dvd does say that the production was ‘adapted’ for television (they televised this particular performance after filming it) and there were absolutely no bonus materials, so there is nothing to tell what was ‘adapted’ or why they did what they did. It seemed to us that one character was ludicrous, even for a musical, and just screamed out TOPICAL…the story’s end was weak, the best scene (and a major amount of final explication) cut to ribbons, and the songs were in VERY odd places…truly, if this is indeed the actual script, they did it a favor rewriting it for the movies. More on this when the libretto arrives…

Verdict: the 1953 movie was better, but this is a kick and well worth watching.

Kiss Me, Kate (1953)

September 28, 2012

The Internet Movie Database       Movie Reviews

Cole Porter’s musical about…well, about a musical production of the Taming of the Shrew, both onstage and off.

This is one of the BEST MOVIES EVER, and one I have loved since I was a very young otter indeed, watching it for the first time with the Barracuda.

Yes, they cut some great songs, and rewrote some of the plot, and have a cheesy guy actually playing Cole Porter in a very wierd intro scene…but really, overall, it’s wonderful. Great songs, great dancing, a hilarious plot, romance, you name it. Oh, and it was one of those 3d films, that’s kinda fun too.

Ann Miller is a serious honey, and you have to see James Whitmore Jr. and Keenan Wynn singing ‘Brush Up Your Shakespeare’ to believe it.

And Howard Keel. Serious honey Howard Keel singing wonderful songs. The only thing better than Howard Keel…is himself in TIGHTS. with a BEARD. and an EARRING. Whew. Can I watch that part again?

Rent or buy it now, you’ll love it.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

September 28, 2012

The Internet Movie Database       Movie Reviews

Partly from the novel Bodies Are Where You Find them by Brett Halliday

An East Coast crook hides out in LA by scoring a screen test in Hollywood and finds himself involved in a murder investigation.

Many people- including the Barracuda and her hubs The Dog Master, Miz Shoes, and I think Otterbro and the Mermaid- told me that I HAD to see this movie. Smugness abounds, they were right, it was GREAT.

Because not only is this a pretty good murder mystery, it’s a wonderful parody of the genre. All the sections of the movie are named after Raymond Chandler novels, and indeed many of the plot elements are taken from his books. And the books everyone is talking about and showing each other during this movie sound and look to me EXACTLY like my beloved Travis McGee novels.

The plot is fast-paced, interesting, and funny, and full of what my friend Mr. Hair called ‘splodie. But that’s not all! This movie stars Robert Downey Jr, an Otter Family Favorite Actor, and Val Kilmer, who is very good also.

But the best part, aside from the parody and references to old detective novels? well, I don’t want to give anything away, but the way it is written, especially Downey’s part, will have you laughing til you fall off your chair.

Great action, fabulous writing, explosions, chase scenes, and funny. How can you lose? watch it right away!


September 28, 2012

The Internet Movie Database       Movie Reviews

A beggar and his daughter find their way through danger and mistaken identities to wealth and love.

Howard Keel is in it, what else do you need to know?

Although Vic Damone as the Caliph is so icky, he’s almost enough to cancel ol’ Howard’s honey factor, you betcha.

This is one of those wierd ‘experimental’ musicals…the tunes and much of the incidental music came from Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances…now, this has given us such wonderful songs as Baubles, Bangles and Beads, and of course Stranger in Paradise…and Howard gets some showstopper patter songs…but many of the songs are kind of wierd, and certainly not something you’d leave the theatre humming.

And of course, the costumes. 1955. As in Brigadoon, made a year earlier, the costumes are wierdly colored fifties ideas of trendy period costumes, and some of them (like the Caliph’s turban) are so silly as to be laughable. Howard and Ann Blyth (his daughter Marsinah) both look pretty darn good most of the time, but some of the other costumes are simply ludicrous.

But the plot is intricate, fast paced and funny…the songs are good, if some are odd, the costumes and settings are really eye-catching, there are a lot of good people in this version, and if they would ever release it on DVD instead of the hideous pan-and-scan video that is the only format it’s available in right now, it would be very watchable indeed.

But this is a good musical, well worth the time spent watching it…even in the current sucky format.

The King’s Speech

September 28, 2012

The Internet Movie Database       Movie Reviews

About George the VI assuming the throne when his brother abdicates, his personal struggles with shyness and a stutter, and the speech therapist who helped him overcome it all and Do His Duty.

I must digress. As some of you may know, Mr Otter is a writer. Some of you know that he has lately been writing plays and hanging out with other playwrights. What you may not know is that he has been writing plays a long, long time. And in the early 90s, he wrote a full length play based on pretty much the same events that this movie is based on.

And it was really good. He read it to me several times, and we even had friends over for an actual staged reading of it. So I heard this play, in part or in whole, many, many times.

Fast forward a LOT of years. This movie comes out. Everyone is talking about it. And I was so, been there done that. Because Mr. Otter is a VERY GOOD WRITER. And I seriously didn’t think that even seeing yummy Colin Firth would make this story any better than what I had already heard.

Now, we chez Otter have some friends who have recently turned into our Movie Buddies. And this was the first time we got together. Doug wanted to see this, they had it, we invited them over. Don’t worry about me, I said. I’ll start it and when I get tired of watching it, I’ll check out and read or something.

So the MBs came over with it. And we talked and ate. And then we started watching the movie. Which I watched all of, for two reasons:

  1. It’s REALLY REALLY GOOD. Duh. This is what everyone had been saying about it, but I still thought, been there done that. But
  2. Although it’s the same people, events and time period, the focus of this movie is completely different.

Mr. Otter’s play was about George VI rising to the difficulty of being king, and actually went on into WWII. This movie is really about the relationship between the aforesaid king and his voice coach, Logue, and only takes the action through the crucial radio speech at the beginning of the war.

And it was DAMN GOOD. I was riveted. Everyone in the movie was excellent, the period detail was right on, and the acting (especially Firth and Geoffrey Rush, who played Logue) was a joy to watch.

So even if you were there for Mr. Otter’s play, go see this movie too. They are each excellent in their own ways.