The Martian

January 18, 2016


Internet Movie Database
CinemaSins      Movie Reviews

From the novel of the same name by Andy Weir.

An American astronaut is left alone on Mars and has to survive while the world watches and rescue is attempted.

EVERYONE on the planet (this planet) was reading this book in 2015, and I put my name on the list at my library; it took two months for me to get my hands on it, and I was reading it when I visited Dog Acres. I was staying up way past midnight every night because I couldn’t put it down, and the Barracuda said to me on the second morning, What were you laughing about at 1 am? because I laughed so loud they could hear me…

So having read and loved this book, and having gotten Mr. Otter to read it (and, Faithful Fans, if you haven’t read it you should run right out and do so as well!) we were both very excited about the movie.

And we were not disappointed, for many reasons.

Firstly, Matt Damon. There is not another actor I can think of who could play the main character of this book so perfectly. He was born for this role, and I am happy that it worked out for him to be cast in it. He was AWESOME. Great sense of humor, a good presence for as much screen time as he got with nobody else there, young enough to pull it off…he was just perfect.

The screenplay was very good too; it preserved the major events and the humor and charm of the book, although (of course) the plot was edited down somewhat…but it was done well and intelligently.

The special effects were awesome.

And…it was amazing. A wonderful movie. Read the book first, because this movie is no exception to the Otter’s almost invariable rule, THE BOOK IS BETTER…but this was damn good.

Never Let Me Go

January 18, 2016

never go

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From the novel of the same name by Kazuo Ishiguro.

The lives of three friends (two girls and a boy) from school days to early adulthood.

And…now I’m going to warn you that there are SPOILERS. Sort of. Because by the end of the first half hour, it’s obvious what’s going on, and then it’s just a matter of where the movie will go from there. So if you want to continue, scroll down…






Okay. So what’s really going on is, these children (and all their schoolmates) are clones, and their organs will eventually be harvested, and after a couple of these operations they will, of course, die from having run out of organs. There are references to ‘selections’ and they know they will ‘complete’ after a few of these…and are evidently raised to believe this is a good thing; at least they never seem to question it, or to want to revolt or run away or otherwise try to escape.

The book this movie is made from is by the same author who wrote The Remains of the Day, which pretty much says it all. Aside from the moral/ethical implications of actually doing this (and it’s hard to imagine a world where the clones are allowed to grow up, be educated and have lives with this looming over them) there isn’t much here except a simple friendship/love story.

The Dog Master showed me this when I was visiting Dog Acres for the weekend, and we had a talk about the situation; he thought that this movie could be placed in the ‘horror’ genre, but I disagreed.

If you like moody movies without a huge amount of plot, although beautifully made and with good actors, try this one…me, I like a bit more plot.

The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini

January 16, 2016

ghost bikini

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A bunch of teenagers at a haunted house with a bikini-clad ghost trying to do a good deed within 24 hours. Shenanigans!

Our friend Craiggers was visiting us, and we all like silly movies; he has a penchant for both campy horror-ish stuff, and Beach Blanket movies, and this was a very silly combination of both.

The ghost does indeed wear a bikini (a huge one by today’s standards, covering up a lot of her) and the woo-woo special effect was that you’d see her in pale double exposure, but where her bikini was supposed to be, you could see through to the background.

Tommy Kirk is in this, and Nancy Sinatra as one of the teens (and of course she gets a song…) And Basil Rathbone and Boris Karloff both have walk-ons as well, which was fun.

There is some campy stuff, and silly antics, but unless you really like this brand of silliness, it’s pretty excruciating…this one is not for the faint of heart, kids!


Present Laughter (1981)

January 16, 2016


Internet Movie Database

A farce about an aging actor, his estranged wife, an obsessed young actress, his manager, his producer, and his producer’s wife, who all swirl in and out of his apartment during the course of a couple of days.

We were visiting friends in Oregon with whom we like to watch movies, and they picked this one to show us; I’ve had this DVD collection on my ‘maybe’ list for Mr. Otter for years, so it was nice seeing something from it (and borrowing the set to watch more!)

This one was very funny (not surprisingly, since Noel Coward wrote it) and although the look of the play was dated, having been made thirty years ago, the content was fresh and great to watch. I’m not a huge fan of farce, it gets old pretty fast unless extremely well timed, and this was right on the money; the gags and misunderstandings built on each other very well, and the payoff at the end was good.

To Catch A Thief

January 16, 2016


Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

From the novel of the same name by David Dodge

Cary Grant is a reformed jewel thief living the high life on the French Riviera…but when a series of thefts occur at the hotel where he is staying, of course he is suspected of going back to his old ways, and he must catch the new thief to prove his innocence.

Wow, this was great. I was at the Red Cross doing apheresis, and wanted something good that wouldn’t be emotional (needles in both arms, I don’t dare watch anything sad!) and this was perfect.

Cary Grant is suave and amusing, the perfect urbane man-about-town-with-a-hidden-past. Grace Kelly is beautiful but also has a personality, and they work well together. And I didn’t realize it til I was watching the credits, but this is a Hitchcock movie! no wonder it was so good.

Yes, you know all the time that it can’t be Cary Grant, and that the new thief will be caught in the end, but it’s fun not only getting there, but seeing who it is.

A fun caper movie, good script and actors, a wonderful way to spend the evening!

Enchanted April

January 16, 2016


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From the novel, The Enchanted April, by Elizabeth von Arnim

Four women in 1920s London take a vacation in Italy together, and their lives are changed.

We were visiting The Pumpkin House and having a wonderful time. The Witch and Snoopy suggested that we watch this, which is The Witch’s favorite go-to, feel-good movie, and we agreed, not having seen it before. I reserved the right to check out, not being fond of touchy-feely chick flicks, but I have to say, this one is a real gem.

It starts out in rainy, dank London, with women who are unhappy in their lives, and four of them end up in beautiful sunny Italy. Right there, they had me; every time winter hits, I start dreaming of camping in the Southwest.

The characters were good; they were in various ruts in their lives, but mostly made the effort to break out of them and enjoy themselves, and change what they could when they returned home (or didn’t return, depending.) The story was believeable, but had a touch of magic realism and fantasy about it that suited the story very well and gave the whole movie a bit of charm that it would otherwise not have had.

We chez Otter like Alfred Molina a lot, and he was excellent here; the only other two actors I already knew in this movie were Miranda Richardson and Jim Broadbent, and of course they were fine too.

This is not an exciting movie, but it is a good one to watch, and if you’re in the market for something charming that will make you smile, you’ll enjoy it. Trust the Otter.

Hotel Transylvania

January 16, 2016


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Dracula’s wife was killed by an angry mob of villagers, leaving him to raise their daughter on his own. He went deep into the mountains and opened a hotel for non-human creatures, so that they would have a safe place to visit. Now, of course, his daughter is a teenager and wants to go out in the world that he is trying to protect her from.

Mr. Otter and I were visiting his wonderful family in Minnesota, and Science Teacher suggested that we watch this with some of the younger cousins; it was a whole lot of fun.

This is pretty predictable- you can call the plot points before they happen, and the ending is telegraphed way in advance. But it’s smart and funny, the dynamics of the hotel and the creatures both running it and visiting it are good, and the personalities of the main characters are funny and charming. And of course the animation is excellent.

This was a fun, feel-good movie, worth an evening’s investment of time. Enjoy!