Ten Inch Hero

October 31, 2012

 

Internet Movie Database

A group of misfits in a sandwich shop in Santa Cruz, CA

It was Spider Jerusalem’s turn to pick a movie, and he was in the mood for something light and charming…and this was perfect.

A girl who is  trying to find her adopted daughter and has tracked her to Santa Cruz gets a job in a cafe with a bunch of other locals- the nerdy girl, the guy with weird hair and too many piercings, the slutty girl and the laid-back-dude owner. Their lives become intertwined, and romance blooms.

Charming, witty and fun, with good characters and a few really awesome scenes. Well worth renting and seeing.


Monster

October 26, 2012

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Well. What can you say about a movie about a lowlife female serial killer who was sexually abused as a child, has been a prostitute since she was 13, and finally snaps and starts killing her clients?

Well, that’s pretty much it. In a nutshell. Yes, Charlize Theron did a good job, but she was playing a pretty straightforward character, and I felt no sympathy at all towards her (and, to be fair, I don’t think the movie was trying to engender any…Mr. Otter and I both think that it was more of a ‘wow, a female serial killer, that’s rare, might make an interesting movie’ kind of thing.)

But Christina Ricci. Oh my. As Theron’s very young lesbian girlfriend, torn between wanting to be accepted by her judgemental religious family, and wanting to find love with a person who accepts her for what she is, and getting deeper and deeper into Theron’s crimes, and trying to reconcile all the different conflicting feelings she has…she’s amazing.

This is the reason to go see this movie, to see Ricci’s fine performance. If you can stand two hours of sordid redneck slice-of-life drama, that is…but overall, I thought it was worth it.


The Mole People

October 26, 2012

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Explorers discover an ancient civilization. It’s silly.

Tagline from the 1956 (only) release: …a savage civilization a million years old, raging with blood-lusting fury!

More like wierdly-dressed dorks beating up on mutant beings and pissing off the archaeologists who find them.

This was one of the entries in the 2007 New Year’s Day Videofest, theme: Underground.

This is one of those truly awful 50s films, with a barely coherent plot, bad photography, cheap special effects, awful acting, and…but why go on? The good part was that we actually watched the MST3K version, so Mike and the ‘Bots totally took this puppy apart.

Starring John Agar (warning signal right there) and one of Mr. Hair’s favorite bit players, Alan Napier (astute readers will remember him as Alfred on the Batman TV series). Nobody else you’ve ever heard of is in this, believe me.

MST3K is always worth watching…this one is a dog otherwise, although I remember liking it in my lost youth…but I was a wierd kid…


Moby Dick (1930)

October 26, 2012

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Bears a nodding acquaintance with the book of the same name by Herman Melville

Moby Dick as you’ve never seen it before!…with good reason, I think.

“Call me Ishmael.” Now, that has got to be one of the most famous opening lines in Western literary history, along with “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” and “It was a dark and stormy night.”

And yet. In their infinite wisdom, the writers of this movie decided that sticking to the actual plotline of so famous a work was simply not something they wished to do. Here’s a tip: as in Bleak House, if you are going to film a book, try not to stomp all over one of the most famous works in the English language, because all anyone will care about is that you rewrote it, and all they will want to say is what a bad job you did and how stupid you were to even think of doing it.

And this reviewer is no exception.

Ahab Creely (yes, Captain Ahab has a last name in this movie, I guess because he’s no longer a symbolic figure or something) is played by John Barrymore, and is a philandering drunken wastrel, typecasting if ever I saw it. It was hard in many scenes to tell if Barrymore was playing a drunk or simply showed up for work that way. He helps out Queequeg in a local tavern when the ignorant townsfolk take Q’s small portable idol away from him and they become friends.

Then after many vicissitudes at sea, girl trouble (of course they’ve written a girl part into this, duh! Joan Bennett, kinda cute) and rivalry with Ahab’s brother Derek (Derek? DEREK? Oh, please give me a break….) Ahab (who by this point has, of course, lost a leg and must go through many emotional traumas and Learn Lessons) kills the Great White Whale (here, a gray whale with a white hump and nose…I’m not joking, it’s a model of a GRAY WHALE. Talk about rewriting famous stuff, sheesh! they must have had one around that they could use cheap. And why could they not paint it white? who knows? But I digress…)

So he kills the whale. Goes home. His girlfriend loves him even though he lost his leg. And we end on a happy note.

And my more astute readers will notice a big ol’ fat omission, on top of pretty much rewriting the whole plot: ISHMAEL IS NOT A CHARACTER IN THIS MOVIE.

And I don’t think I need to add any commentary to that, you probably get the idea perfectly well…the one interesting part is that this is one of the pre-code* movies, so it’s a little more risque than the movies became a few years later.


No-brainer: Mr. Otter claims that if you forget that it’s supposed to be somehow related to the EXTREMELY FAMOUS AND WELL BELOVED NOVEL Moby Dick, it’s actually a pretty good movie. I will let him say so without contradiction, since it’s just not worth the argument…

And by the way, this one is so obscure that I had to ask a friend to find a graphic for it, even IMDB didn’t have the poster. Thank you, Railroad David, for “enriching our lives” with this dog, and a hat tip to GATADD for providing the picture.

*The Hays Code was instituted in 1930, but had no teeth til 1934, when it fell on moviemakers like a ton of bricks. Here’s the text, and here’s Wikipedia’s article about the history of it.


Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride

October 26, 2012

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From the book The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

The Weasels have an evil plan to destroy the meadow and the river and it’s up to Toad, Ratty and Mole to stop them!

Follow this recipe:

  1. For the script, take a classic of children’s literature that has been done one too many times (it helps if it’s a book that few people have actually read)
  2. Remove the boring parts and the long windy descriptions, rewrite where needed.
  3. Next, pick several ripe actors known for their characterizations, such as Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Steven Coogan and Nicol Williamson
  4. Prepare these actors with ears, tails and a bit of makeup, but not too much costuming…let their natural colors and flavors predominate in the mixture.
  5. Fold in some small but hilarious roles for John Cleese, Stephen Fry, and Michael Palin.
  6. Mix actors generously into script, allowing their talents to mingle freely.
  7. Season with explosions, witty song and dance numbers, scary bad guys, and a happy ending.
  8. Serve often.

We have to thank Railroad David for this gem, and have been waiting for it to come out on DVD for YEARS. Reading The Wind in the Willows as an adult, I liked it but not nearly as much as those who were indoctrinated earlier in their lives seem to…although, come to think of it, I don’t know ANYONE who talks about loving this book the way people talk about To Kill A Mockingbird or Little Women or (my fav) A Little Princess or (Mr. Otter’s) The Secret Garden. Maybe you have to be English…anyway. It’s a cute story, fun to read, but nothing to get passionate over, really.

But this movie. What a joy. Lovely characters, amusing songs, a good plot, just a whole lot of fun to watch. Especially if you have kids of any age around, don’t wait another minute, run right out and get this one.

It’s delicious.


Mrs. Henderson Presents

October 26, 2012

The Internet Movie Database       Movie Reviews

A widow in 1930s London decides to buy and run a musical theatre.

This review contains plot spoilers, and the movie wasn’t good enough to write a second one, so you have been warned.

We really really wanted to like this movie. We heard pretty good things about it, the story behind it was interesting, and Bob Hoskins (an Otter Family Favorite Actor), Judy Dench and Christopher Guest are in it.

We really, really wanted to like it.

But we couldn’t.

The story is about this widow who buys a theatre, starts a successful 24 hour musical theatre, then adds live nudity on stage (approved only if the girls do not move, so they stand in tableaux while musical numbers happen on the stage in front of and around them).

Sounds good, especially when WWII starts and London is bombed and things get dangerous and difficult….you’d think it’d be a great movie.

Well, it should have been…but it wasn’t. The story was good, but most of the actors are wooden. Bob Hoskins was wonderful, and a joy to watch. Judy Dench played a difficult and aggravating woman, and played her well, but you couldn’t like her or cheer for her…and the rest of the actors, the chorus girls, the dancers…they had no spirit, no oomph…they all just got on the stage and did their stuff, but none of them seemed to have any energy.

(SPOILER) And the lovely rising star lead singer who doesn’t want to date the boys, is trapped into it by Dench, gets pregnant and gets dumped, THEN is killed by a bomb, oh give me a break. Far from caring about her or being sad, we were just rolling our eyes at the whole thing.

Sure, there were some funny scenes. And there were some good bits of dialogue. Of course Christopher Guest was wonderful, he always is. But the parts did not make a complete and interesting whole.

This one is a renter, don’t pay to see it in the theatres. And you know, if it slips off the bottom of your rental list…you haven’t really missed much.


Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

October 26, 2012

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Jefferson Smith, Average American, is appointed a senator and falls into the plots of evil men…

Wow. Just in terms of casting alone this one is a lulu. Not only Jimmy Stewart and serious honey Jean Arthur, but another serious honey, Claude Rains as the bad guy (very suave, too); Thomas Mitchell, an Otter Family Fav Actor, and a bunch more people from It’s A Wonderful Life as well. Whew! Almost overkill.

Well, another Capra “hurrah for the common man” sort of thing…not at all what I expected, but good. Jimmy was good with the kids, and it was fun to watch. Jean Arthur sure stole the show, though, I have to say…what a pip.

WARNING: seeing a movie about the good old days when we had an actual democracy may cause some people (like Mr. Otter) to become overly morose. Don’t watch it if you’ve been reading the newspapers lately…