December 22, 2014


Internet Movie Database
CinemaSins          Movie Reviews

An actor who is known for a series of comic-book based action movies is trying to change his image by starring in a theater adaptation of a Raymond Carver short story.

Spider Jerusalem and I went to see this, thinking it would be a comedy and kind of an action movie…and we were pleasantly surprised, even though it was nothing like our expectations.

Michael Keaton is great, as the driven actor who is determined to prove that there is more to him than his superhero alter ego, which is what he is famous for. The movie pretty much takes place over one night, the opening night of the play, and was filmed in ten minute takes that were edited together to present a seamless picture of the few hours on each side of the opening; the viewer sees last rehearsals, hissy fits, nerves, disasters, fights, backstage cast and Michael Keaton, the epicenter of the hurricane, playing a wonderful role, a man who has a vision and is determined to see it fulfilled…and…what exactly was going on in his series of action movies when he played The Birdman?

This is a smart, fast moving and wonderful movie, full of surprises and good acting, and is very worth seeing, whether on the big screen or at home.


December 20, 2014


Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

Another ‘loop’ movie, like Groundhog Day, where someone is stuck reliving the same day over and over and over.

Spider Jerusalem is fascinated by my professed refusal to see ‘oogie’ movies, mostly meaning those with TTBFTD (Things Coming Back From The Dead.) No ghosts, spirits, revenants, hauntings or anything like that for me, I’m out the door so fast you can see the lines in the air. Sure, I’m fine with zombies and most vampire movies, they have RULES. I am also fine with the second Evil Dead movie and Army of Darkness, but I wouldn’t see the first Evil Dead movie again, even with a low budget and homemade special effects, it was too oogie for me.

So SJ, who loves anything paranormal or scary, keeps trying to find a movie that’s too oogie for me. Cabin in the Woods? nope, it was great, especially the elevator scene. 28 Days Later? No, that was great, even though it isn’t really zombies. John Dies at the End? pretty darn good, and really funny. Also more coherent than the book.

So it was his turn to pick a movie (Mr. Otter, SJ and I get together to have dinner and watch stuff a couple of times a week) and he said, this is a teen movie, even though it’s a ghost story, so it shouldn’t be oogie. Well, I said, if it is, I’ll just go and you guys can finish watching it without me.

And…it wasn’t oogie. It skirted the fringes of oogieness, but never quite got there.

The girl in the movie is smart and resourceful; when she finds herself in a wierd and awful situation (living through the same day over and over with her family) she does a good job of trying to figure out what’s going on, and taking care of business.

This is well written, and, for an obviously low-budget indie movie, well made.

But not oogie. Sorry, SJ!

The Color of Magic

December 20, 2014


Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

From The Color of Magic and The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett

Let it be said right up front that I spent 30 years NOT being a Discworld fan. I was loudly and vociferously NOT a Discworld fan to everyone who would listen to me, and at great lengths…and the reason I was NOT a Discworld fan was because I had bought and read these two books, the first two in the series, in the mid 1980s when they came out, and did not like them.

Fast forward to 2012, when Spider Jerusalem was our housemate for about 9 months.

Spider Jerusalem IS a Discworld fan. He’s read all the books and seen all the movies and expressed his amazement that I was NOT a fan. I explained my complete nonenjoyment of these two books.

Oh, those were his first books, SJ said, and he was learning to write. They’re much better now.

And he showed me several movies made from the series, and when I saw the movie of  Going Postal…by golly, I became a fan too. Of SOME of the books, and have read a bunch, and am now evangelizing and proselytizing to everyone I know, just as he has done.

So what does all that have to do with this movie? Well, Faithful Reader, as you see above, this movie was made from the first two books in the series, the ones I disliked and that made me NOT a fan. But now I am a fan, and I saw the movie, and it was cheap, so I thought, what the heck? and bought it, and recently took it to the Red Cross when I was doing apheresis and would need something amusing to watch for two and a half hours.

And…well, this was amusing. It’s about a wizard in the Wizard’s Guild who has never been able to learn any spells, and his adventures with the Discworld’s first tourist, and a magic book that wakes up after being quiet for a long time. Tim Curry is the bad guy in it, and there were several good scenes. The writing (‘mucked about by Terry Pratchett’) was good, better than the books, and the special effects and filming were excellent. All in all, it was pretty good, a decent fantasy, funny in parts, and with a satisfying ending.

It was good enough to show to Mr. Otter after I got back, although after seeing it twice, I probably don’t need to see it again.

But I am still a fan. Just in case you were wondering.

War and Peace

December 20, 2014


Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

From the novel of the same name by Leo Tolstoy.

A story of upper-class Russian families during Napoleon’s campaign against Russia in 1805. People live, die, fall in love, you know how these things go.

I’ve run a book and movie discussion group for a couple of years now; the number of attendees was dwindling, and I could see that the group was not long for this world; still, two years is a good run for something like this. So when Mr. Otter and I went away all summer, I gave the group a choice of not reading anything while we were gone, and picking up when we came back, or having three months to read a book. And everyone voted to try a really long book…this one, in fact.

I actually took it on vacation, and read the requisite 50 pages, but after that I opted for more fast-moving fare. Mr. Otter had read it fairly recently, and a couple of other people in the group had either managed to read the whole thing or at least gotten through those 50 pages. We assembled, the four of us, and watched the THREE AND A HALF HOUR version made in 1956.

And…well. Audrey Hepburn was beautiful, and young Henry Fonda is always worth watching. The movie gave me enough of a framework for the book that I will definitely tackle it again in future; it’s always easier to read something like this if you kind of know where it’s going. And we all enjoy each other’s company.

But it was slooooow. We ended up msting it a bit, and yelling at the stupid things (like a child that is born but the audience doesn’t see him til he’s 6 years old, and the time shift is not mentioned…!) The ending was satisfying, and the second half of the movie was better than the first, just because more was happening…but it was LOOOONG. And SLOOOOOW.

And that was the end of the book and movie group; now we just get together once a month to watch a movie…


December 20, 2014


Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

A fairy-tale detective story with a Rashomon retelling.

I was in Southern California visiting Ottersis and Music Mike was over as well; we had had dinner and were looking for something fun to watch. Ottersis had control of the paddle (and we were in her house, after all) so she got to choose.

Have you guys seen this? she said, it’s been on my list forever. We admitted that we had not, so she pushed the button.

And…it was cute. A ‘fairy tale characters meet noir police work’ sort of story. Silly, but funny. Predictable. And then…they started the Rashomon thing, retelling the events from each separate point of view. And it got funnier and funnier, and there were a lot of AHAs from us, and we laughed our butts off.

This one takes a bit of time to really get going; the first story is a setup for everything else that happens, and it just cannonballs along from there. We really liked it, and you will too if you give it a chance.


December 17, 2014


Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

Gary Cooper and Paulette Goddard are going to settle the Ohio Valley, and nobody is going to stop them!

Mr. Otter and I did some traveling this summer, and one of the places we went was the Fort Pitt Museum in Pittsburgh PA. He had just wanted to see where the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers come together to make the Ohio River, and maybe the site of the fort…I checked the map and said, there’s a museum there, why don’t we stop and see it? And so we did.

It was an excellent museum, city-run, with many good exhibits about the period when the British, French and Native Americans were duking it out for control of this area…and one of the exhibits the museum had was of movies that had been made about that period, including a lot of pictures and information about this one. And, in fact, they were showing this movie in their theater, but we couldn’t stay for it, since we had to be across the state in Gettysburg by 7 pm…we made it, but just barely.

But we said, that movie looks good, when we get home we’ll watch it. We ended up having to buy it on Ebay, and settled down to spend an evening with it.

And for what it was, an overblown paean to American imperialism (made right after WWII), it was pretty good. Gary Cooper is always fun to watch, and Paulette Goddard was excellent as the hot girl that he follows no matter what trouble she gets into. The bad guy (Howard Da Silva, who will always be Ben Franklin to me, so very odd seeing him as the villain) was bad, the Indians were restless, the fort was burned but by god, the English settlers just never gave up.

A real period piece, nothing really remarkable about it, kind of heavy-handed, but fun.


December 17, 2014


Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

Okay, I’ll tell you what this is about, but you won’t believe me til you see it for yourself…a car tire comes to life and goes on a rampage, killing everyone with whom it comes in contact, and following a woman it has a crush on.

See? I told you you wouldn’t believe me. I didn’t either, til Ottersis showed me this wierd and silly movie.

There’s more to it than just that, which is what makes it so much fun to watch; the filmmakers break the fourth wall by including a bunch of people who have to watch the tire to make the movie happen, who know it’s a movie, but who are (of course) bound to become victims just the same…

This is a really funny, wierd and witty movie about the most unlikely of beings, a self-aware and independently mobile car tire.

Just rent or stream it, it’s funny and worth seeing. Trust the Otter.