Mr. and Mrs. Smith

October 26, 2012

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This is the long review, and it contains A SERIOUS SPOILER…and this movie is good enough to see first, before hearing about the ending. So if you haven’t seen it, please don’t read this until you have. (This means you, Mr. Otter).

They’re both assassins, although neither knows that about the other.

And no, that’s not the spoiler, that’s all over the trailers.


Brad Pitt. A good actor, although totally not a honey.

Angelina Jolie. Ditto.

Brad Pitt. Amusing. Slightly self deprecating. Delivers lines well.

Angelina Jolie. Ditto.

Brad Pitt. Although not a honey, totally easy on the eye.

Angelina Jolie. Ditto.

You get the picture.

This was actually very much better than I expected…the three things the audience is in it for are:

  1. The contrast between what they do for a living and their rather humdrum (although fairly luxurious, by most ordinary peoples’ standards) life together
  2. How the heck can they keep their real jobs secret from each other?
  3. And of course, what happens when they FINALLY find out about each other?

And the audience is not disappointed…this is fast moving, funny, and full of action. Jolie and Pitt kick butt, including each other’s, and I loved the fact that Jolie actually kicks more and better butt than Brad, very nicely done.

I read somewhere that there was a hot sex scene that they cut from this to lower the rating…they build up to it nicely, but after all the buildup it would still have been nice to see a little more of it…but that’s a small criticism. Overall, this one was a winner and well worth watching.

Reality Police: They’ve been set up. Everyone in both their organizations is out to get them. They’re trapped. They have nowhere to go. They have more weapons than any other human beings could possibly carry. They do the Butch and Sundance thing, come out with all guns blazing, shoot everything in sight…and it’s suddenly all right?

Nope, sorry, didn’t work for me. They were killing low level flacks and hit men, not the guys in charge of either organization who decided they needed taking out, and that problem was never resolved.

Oh, and also, even though Jolie seemed to work for an all-women organization, and the forces of both orgs were combined to take the two out, all the people attacking them at the end were men…hm. Probably just better not to notice, it was a HECK of a fight scene.

And don’t think that just because the ending jumped the rails that I didn’t like this, I’ll probably see it again someday, it was really good amusing eye candy.

Miss Morison’s Ghosts

October 22, 2012

The Internet Movie Database

From the book, An Adventure*, which was originally published anonymously, but in later printings had the ladies’ names added (since after so much publicity, everyone knew who they were anyway).

Two women, one the principal and the other the vice-principal of an Oxford college, visit Paris. At Versailles, they had some rather odd encounters, and what seemed to have happened is that they were somehow transported to or shown Versailles in the late 1700s instead of the early 1900s, including a woman who might have been Marie Antionette.

The movie was interesting; nice to see Wendy Hiller after so many years, still looking good and doing a wonderful job with her character; the interaction between the women was good, and the recreation of their experience was just right, spooky enough to be interesting but not scary enough for them to be alarmed by it until they compared notes later.

My biggest problem with this was that aside from mentioning the book the story came from, the filmmakers didn’t tell us anything about the movie they made from these incidents except that some of it is true…I wanted to know whether what was shown of the lives and relationships of these women was true or fictionalized, and there was no indication…not good. But an interesting flick just the same.

Here’s a web site for those who want to know more about the book, thanks to my friend GATADD for supplying it!

Monkey Business

October 22, 2012

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The irrepressible Marx brothers get up to hilarious shenanigans on an ocean liner.

Ah. Thanksgiving weekend. Cooking done, crowds gone. Days of shopping, sauntering, enjoying the beautiful weather. Leftovers for dinner. And of course a good movie to end each day. And this was no exception.

A very good example of the oeuvre des Freres Marx, this one is farcical, funny, and full of great dialogue. There are the obligatory silly yet wonderful musical numbers, and Harpo chases all the women in sight. Groucho is endlessly inventive in wordplay, and Chico is hilariously obtuse. And Zeppo, of course, gets the girl.

This is a good one, whether you are familiar with the Marx Bros or not, short but consistently funny.

Minority Report

October 22, 2012

From a short story of the same name by Philip K. Dick. In the future, crimes can be predicted before they happen, and people are arrested and charged with murders they haven’t yet committed…

This is the short review, the long review contains SPOILERS, don’t go there unless you’ve seen it or have ABSOLUTELY NO INTENTION of seeing this movie because you’ll find out way more than you want to know.

Spielberg and Cruise. Together. The combination almost had me running as fast as I could in the opposite direction…I mean, either alone is seriously capable of screwing up an otherwise good movie, but put them TOGETHER…no friggin’ way! but the previews were good, and it’s a Philip Dick story, so I thought, what the heck, I have a free ticket…

And I’m so glad I went. Yes, there are 10 dollar signs above this movie, I would have been glad to pay more than the going rate for it.

Folks, this is seriously intelligent, suspenseful, well paced science fiction here, with GREAT special effects that are not overdone, no beating you over the head with how cool they are (hard to believe Spielberg had a hand in that)…drop what you’re doing, run out the door and go see it NOW, you’ll be glad you did.

Oogies: the hallucinatory bits of images of dead people that the precogs were showing were a little creepy, and there were a couple of other things that I can’t mention in the short review.






From a short story of the same name by Philip K. Dick. In the future, crimes can be predicted before they happen, and people are arrested and charged with murders they haven’t yet committed…

This is the long review, and I’m gonna tell you WAY more than you want to know if you haven’t seen it. Go back to the top if you don’t want to find out all the surprises ahead of time.

I loved this movie. I like good noir-ish sf, Gattaca and Dark City were both excellent (and had serious honeys in them too, Jude Law and Rufus Sewell respectively), and Matrix was good explodo and f/x even though it was philosophy 101…Minority Report succeeded on so many levels, it was a joy to sit through. Yes, there are 10 dollar signs above this movie, I would have been glad to pay more than the going rate for it.

Folks, this is seriously intelligent, suspenseful, well paced science fiction here, with GREAT special effects that are not overdone, no beating you over the head with how cool they are (hard to believe Spielberg had a hand in that)…drop what you’re doing, run out the door and go see it NOW, you’ll be glad you did.

I really hate Tom Cruise, he’s almost as much an “anti-honey” as Costner and Stallone (I am not actually to the point of swearing that I will NEVER see another movie with Cruise in it, as I have the other two, but he certainly isn’t at all appealing)…but he was REALLY GOOD in this. Really, really good.

And Spielberg, I don’t know what happened to him, but he didn’t do his usual ‘I will use my magic powers to push all your emotional buttons because I can, whether or not it’s approprate to the story’ thing…I couldn’t see any evidence of him stomping all over it with his heavy iron boots as he usually does. Amazing.

Yes, some of the plot twists were really obvious…I mean, think about it, is Max Von Sydow ever NOT the villain? and as my friend Virago pointed out, it didn’t make sense for them to still allow him eye access to the building once he was locked up safely in it, esp. since they knew he had changed his eyes and so his old ones were still kicking around somewhere…but that’s a small thing. There were a LOT of great surprises in this movie, enough to keep me on the edge of my seat all through it (and it’s a long one, over 2 hours).

I also liked the fact that they DIDN’T solve the question of the son’s disappearance, that would have been too neat and tidy. The sick relationship between the precogs and their ‘caretaker’ was creepy and interesting, and the black market doctor that swapped his eyes, what a GREAT scene, even with the icky fridge scene…

Oogies: the hallucinatory bits of images of dead people that the precogs were showing were a little creepy, and the whole refrigerator scene with the crazy doctor was REALLY REALLY GROSS. I didn’t mind the eyeballs at all, but that SANDWICH, EWWWWW!

So, ok, I could go on and on about this…but basically, it’s great, go see it, you’ll be glad you did.

Million Dollar Baby

October 22, 2012

The Internet Movie Database       Movie Reviews

Clint Eastwood reluctantly agrees to train Hilary Swank as a professional boxer.

Dang, this was good. I mean, DANG, it was GOOD! Hilary Swank was brilliant, so totally RIGHT for the character, so completely believeable…and no surprise that Eastwood, in his understated and sometimes almost unintelligible way, was excellent…but EVERYONE in this movie was good. My Golden Love Object, Total Honey Morgan Freeman. Hilary Swank’s lowlife family. The guys at the gym. The other boxers. EVERYONE IN THIS MOVIE WAS GOOD.

The script was good. The music (and it wasn’t really noticable til the end credits, which means that the music and the movie went together very well) was excellent, and written by Eastwood and his son Kyle. The staging was good. The costumes were good.

The only surprising thing about the fact that this movie won Best Picture was that the members of the Academy were actually astute enough to recognize its merits. Wow.

Go see it. It’ll be good on the small screen, but better on the big one. Don’t wait, don’t make excuses, don’t put it off, just go. Now.


October 22, 2012

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A biopic about the San Francisco supervisor, the first openly gay elected official in California, who was assassinated in 1978.

You know, it’s kind of weird watching movies about stuff you remember on the news. This was the first time it has really happened to me…I mean, sure, there’ll be clips from stuff I remember in other movies, but this is the first time I saw a serious film about events that I remember following as they happened, watching them on TV, and having read Randy Shilts’ excellent biography, The Mayor of Castro Street.

So going into this movie, I knew pretty much what was going to happen.

They evoked the time and place, San Francisco in the late 70s, very well; it was fun to see the clothes and hairstyles again. The events in the case were not only well presented, but the context was explained for those who didn’t remember it (like a European friend of mine who completely missed this, being out of the country at the time, and was interested to see it for that reason) without being intrusive in the narrative flow.

Of course, though, the best part was Sean Penn. Damn, that man is a fine actor and gets better all the time. Josh Brolin was also very good, and James Franco as Milk’s lover as well. But the real reason to see this movie is to watch Penn. He is just amazing.

Oh, and don’t forget your twinkies…

The Mikado

October 22, 2012

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Yeah, like I’m going to sum up a G&S operetta plot in one line! People fall in love, silly things happen, lots of singing, all ends relatively well.

Mr. Otter and I were wandering through our local Emporium du Media, and I spotted this in a bin…we were so thrilled to see it (our copy is a 20 year old bad grainy video that we taped the one time it was broadcast) that we actually PAID FULL PRICE for it. Unheard of. But worth it.

This is a fine production of The Mikado. Unlike most performances of this operetta, this one is set in a hotel in a 20s English seaside town, which not only lends itself to wonderful extravagances of costume, but also to the overall coolness of black-and-white effects in costume and scenery.

Eric Idle (whose name is PROMINENT on the DVD, since he’s the only person in the production that most people (including this otter) have ever heard of) does a fine job as Ko-Ko, cheap tailor turned Lord High Executioner. This is a role that doesn’t require a good singing voice, thank goodness, but he’s adept at the patter songs and also at the comedy, and is a great deal of fun to watch.

As are most of the performers. This is the only production in which Pish-Tush actually is noticeable amonng the other singers, and has a personality. Katisha is brilliant, and actually there isn’t a clunker in the bunch, rare thing that that is. There is lots of stuff going on in the background…not so much as to distract from the singers, but noticeable nonetheless. And because it’s the 80s, and made for TV, they use a few special effects that are not really needed, but are amusing.

Although not politically correct in the slightest (every time Japan or the Japanese are mentioned, the cast pull their eyes sideways with their fingers) this is an excellent production, and well worth owning, renting or watching.

A Mighty Wind

October 22, 2012

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Another of Christopher Guest’s incredible parodies of a segment of American society. This time: the (aging) folk song movement…

And oh my GOD was it funny. The Squirrel Lady and I were in hysterics just about all the way through it. Now, I have to make a confession here: one of the reasons I originally moved in with Mr. Otter (way back in the dim mists of time) was because he had THREE Kingston Trio albums I didn’t own…true, ask him yourself.

So of course I loved this. They really captured not only the reality of making a reunion concert with people who haven’t played music together in twenty or thirty years, and wrote a whole bunch of incredibly believable fake folk songs for them to play, but also got photos and footage of ‘how it used to be’ that was right on the money.

This is a wonderful movie. If you ever loved the 50s folk revival and the groups who sang the music, or just love the music itself, go to your nearest theatre now before it disappears.

Metropolis (2001)

October 19, 2012

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City of the future, robots used as servants/slaves/workers, and all is not well.

I was at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival in July of 2010, and the restored* Metropolis was one of the showpieces; I had never seen it, and it was WONDERFUL.

And when you go to that film festival (as I hope all of you will, it’s AMAZING), they always have a themed slide show of title cards and stills before each film. And before Metropolis, they had a history of SF films and of the making of Metropolis.

And one of the slides was for this movie.

I was intrigued. Evidently Osamu Tezuka, the legendary creator of so much well-known manga, had made a manga series loosely based on Metropolis in the mid 1940s…and in 2001, this anime, based on Tezuka’s series, was made.

Except for the different levels in the society, and the robot/human clash, there is very little that carries over; this is mostly a new story; it’s still about the privileged vs. the unprivileged, but it’s more of a noir-ish detective story.

But you really want to rent this and watch it. On the biggest screen you can find. Because this is a BREATHTAKING example of beautiful animation. The backgrounds, the details, the colors, the visual elegance of this movie will take your breath away.

I watched it with Ottersis and Scrabbleguy, and we gasped out loud several times, just because the animation was so stunning. And we all enjoyed it very much.

*It was cut from 2 1/2 hours to 90 minutes a few months after it was released, and the extra hour of footage has been lost for 80 years. Bits were found here and there, but the last chunk of it was discovered in Argentina. Here is the story of the restoration from the Kino website. You can buy the restored version as well, it’s called the “Complete Metropolis”.

The Merchant of Venice

October 19, 2012

The Internet Movie Database       Movie Reviews

From the Shakespeare play.

Good basic introductory Shakespeare. Cut down to just over 2 hours, and well cut- good continuity and character development, but much of the extraneous anti-Semitism is removed (obviously, a certain amount has to be there or there is no story). There is also an explanatory prologue to set the time and place for those who don’t know much about it.

Like the woman sitting behind us with her (probably) boyfriend. Who asked him, in our hearing, what a merchant was.

We didn’t collapse into screams of laughter, but it’s become a running joke chez Otter.

There are a lot of excellent actors in this, including Joseph Fiennes, Jeremy Irons (still very easy on the eye at 56, rowf!) and an extremely beautiful woman named Lynn Collins as Portia, very nice. Oh, and Mackenzie Crook was wonderful, and Mr. Otter was the one who recognized him as one of the two amusing pirates in Pirates of the Caribbean.

And we were with The Beckster, who was thrilled to see Al Pacino, her Golden Love Object, on the big screen.

And you know, he did a really fine job. An excellent actor, delivered his lines perfectly, good body language, a joy to watch…but not to listen to.

Why is it, Otter asks rhetorically, that such a fine actor as Pacino can do anything EXCEPT a relatively decent Shakespearean accent? He still sounds like Noo Yawk in this, and it’s just jarring, mixed in with all the Brits with beautiful accents. Can he not learn to pronounce words differently than his usual speech? Or is he just too much of a big shot actor to care? I don’t know, but I really didn’t like it. This didn’t bother Mr. Otter, but it made me nuts. As bad as seeing John Malkovich in Dangerous Liaisons, for the same reason.

Al, if you’re going to keep doing such excellent Shakespeare, learn how to pronounce the words correctly. If you can’t, give it up and keep doing the modern-day stuff you’re so good at. One or the other, make your choice.

That quibble aside, go see this or rent it, it’s very very nicely done.