Gay Purr-ee

February 9, 2016

gaypurree

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

Boy cat loses girl cat. Boy cat goes to the big city to find girl cat. Boy cat foils villain. Boy cat gets girl cat.

The New Year’s Videofest theme this year was CATS. This movie seemed like a good choice.

Seemed.

I mean, there were some good things about this- there were good people doing voices (besides Judy Garland and Robert Goulet, who were okay)- Red Buttons, Mel Blanc doing a lot of minor characters, and Hermione Gingold as the cat-madam.

But it was kind of silly and wierd. It was made in the day when children’s cartoons were just made for kids and not the adults who are with them, so the plot was really predictable. There were some time discrepancies that I’m sure someone said, never mind, it’s for kids, they won’t notice or care…but a sailing ship took way more than a couple of days to get from France to America, even more time to get to the gold strike in the Yukon, and then back. And I was annoyed at Goulet’s character’s name, Jaune Tom, which everyone kept pronouncing like John Tom rather than Jone Tom. Just me being fussy.

We actually MSTed this pretty thoroughly, and that was fun.

(Mr. Otter: You forgot to mention the whole thing about her being sold into prostitution…
Me: Not sold, more like led down the primrose path.
Mr. Otter: The catnip path, more like…!)

The best thing about this movie were the bad cat’s minions, who had a truly surreal song and dance number with him about The Money Cat (which, of course, is what he cares about.) Other than that, the songs were forgettable. The cute kitten sidekick was cute, but in a really annoying way.

I was glad to see this once. Once. And that was enough.


Born Free

February 8, 2016

bornfree

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

From the book of the same title by Joy Adamson.

Joy Adamson and her husband spend most of their year on a game park in Kenya, where George Adamson is a warden in charge of taking care of animals that attack humans. When a lion and lioness are killed to protect a village,  they rescue three lion cubs whose mother is dead, and when they turn them back into the wild, one stays with them. Hijinks ensue.

I remember seeing this when I was growing up, but I’m not sure if it was the movie or the subsequent TV series; I did read the book, I know- everyone did, it was a huge best-seller- but it all kind of blurs together with the unending 60s nature documentaries and tv shows…

Back to now. We were watching this as part of the New Year’s Day Videofest (theme: CATS) and several friends had stopped by to join in the fun…and this was fun, because it was so MSTable. Times have changed a lot in the ensuing 50 years, and a lot of what was happening and what they did was really amazingly not what people do now, or at least not what they admit to…like letting a small adorable rodent (and I don’t remember what it was) drink alcoholic beverages because it was so cute when it was drunk…

And there was a lot of soul-searching, which made us all roll our eyes, since from the perspective of fifty years later (and from the title, duh) we already knew that the lioness would survive and do fine in the wild.

This was a fun blast from the past, but very dated. The lions were cute as well, although they were obviously trained lions, as they must be interacting with actors.

Fun, not great, but amusing.


Cat People (1982)

February 8, 2016

catpeople

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

A girl goes back to her home for the first time in years, meets her brother, and finds out about the family secrets…

Flash back in time…it’s April 10, 1982. Mr. Otter and I were on our first date, and what do you do on a date, in Riverside California on a Saturday afternoon in the 80s? Why, go to the movies, of course! This was playing at the local theater. He paid for the movie, I took him to lunch (Big Macs for everyone!) and history was made.

I have always had a soft spot for this movie since that time; I remembered it as kind of slow moving, and (for the time) pretty sexy for a ‘first date’ movie. But I liked it. Malcolm MacDowell was young and handsome, trying desperately to help his career recover from the debacle that was Caligula (didn’t work). Nastassja Kinski and Annette O’Toole were both wonderful (and GORGEOUS) as well.

This is a dark emotional overheated slightly horror-ish movie about a family who are throwbacks to a prehistoric time when women were sacrificed to black leopards and humans had offspring with said leopards as well, so the ability/curse of turning into leopards has come down to MacDowell and Kinski, which he knows and she doesn’t. The problem is, they don’t really control the change; it’s brought on by the sight and smell of blood, which can get pretty inconvenient, not only for them but for people around them.

Moody and atmospheric, kind of slow moving, but I’m sentimental about it…especially when I get to watch it with Mr. Otter again…


The Rabbi’s Cat

February 8, 2016

rabbi's cat

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

From the graphic novel of the same name by Joann Sfar.

In 1920s Algeria, the Rabbi’s cat eats a talking parrot, and gains the gift (?) of speech.

I loved this graphic novel (and the sequel) so when we decided (okay, it was a unilateral decision, Mr. Otter objected strongly, but we did his theme last year) on the theme of CATS for the New Year’s Day Videofest, this was an obvious choice.

Ottersis and Spider Jerusalem were with us, and we were all charmed by this movie. It’s done in Sfar’s scratchy, kind of blobby style, but so well done that the visuals transposed seamlessly into the movie. Sfar is French, so the movie was subtitled, but very well and humorously done. The story of the Rabbi, his beautiful strong-willed daughter and her cat was wonderful, especially the cat’s comments on the various religious discussions he enters into with not only other Jews but Muslims as well.

This was a real winner! I hope they make the second book into a movie as well…


Night Shift

February 8, 2016

night shift

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

A nebbishy morgue attendant gets put on night shift, and is given a wierdo slacker as an assistant, and hijinks ensue.

I was at the Red Cross doing apheresis, and for once I hadn’t brought my own movie…I have been through their four cabinets of DVDs and watched pretty much everything I want to see, and at this point I’m going for anything that looks like it’ll distract me for a couple of hours…and this filled the bill nicely.

Henry Winkler is the nebbish that everyone walks over, Michael Keaton is perfect as the crazy slacker daydreamer who is full of get-rich-quick schemes, and Shelley Long (whom I remember from Cheers because I’m old) is the hooker they befriend…and end up pimping the girls out of the morgue, to great success because Winkler is a genius with money and not only gives them a fair share of the money, but health care and retirement as well! which, of course, does not go down well with the other pimps in town, and there are threats, chases and shenanigans.

Charming and funny, a period piece but nonetheless enjoyable.


Trumbo

February 8, 2016

trumbo

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

From the book Dalton Trumbo by Bruce Cook

A docudrama about Dalton Trumbo and the blacklisted Hollywood writers in the 50s.

Mr. Otter and I saw previews of this movie and we were all excited about it, being writer/librarian types (well, he’s a writer and we’re both librarians…) We were ready to go at the beginning of December when it opened…in NEW YORK. And a few art theaters. And NOWHERE around us.

Dammit.

So we waited patiently, and just before Christmas, it opened across the country; we actually went to a theater we hate (overpriced and no coffee. AMC really sucks.) just because it was literally the only time that weekend we could see this movie.

And we were so happy with it.

Bryan Cranston is a huge favorite of ours, we’ve seen Breaking Bad twice and really really like him. We even went back and watched a bunch of Malcolm in the Middle (a show that we had heard of but that, tvless as we are, we had totally missed when it was being broadcast) for his sake. And he is a perfect choice to play Trumbo.

My younger friends had no historical context for this movie, but even though the blacklist was before I was born (but not, I feel compelled to point out, before Mr. Otter’s birth. Just sayin’.) it is still in my ‘recent history’ brain file…I feel very comfortable back to about 1930 as recent history.

Anyway. So we went to see it, and it was WONDERFUL. Concise, well written, full of good actors in various bit parts (including Helen Mirren as Hedda Hopper, John Goodman, Joaquin Phoenix, and, of course, Alan Tudyk, who was very very good.

This movie takes Trumbo from 1947, when he was a thriving and respected screenwriter, through the insanity of the communist witchhunts and the blacklisting of the Hollywood 10, his prison time, and out the other end when he’s trying to make a living as someone who still cannot be openly hired. The actors who play well-known famous people (John Wayne, Edward G. Robinson, Hedda Hopper) are all excellent, but the best was Dean O’Gorman playing Kirk Douglas…in one scene, he’s watching the rushes from the movie Spartacus (which Trumbo wrote but couldn’t take credit for.) The rushes are from the actual movie, except for one scene, which they redid with O’Gorman instead, and it fits in so seamlessly it’s kind of mind blowing.

This was an amazing movie. Well written, well acted, and it really showed up the blacklist for the vicious evilness that it was. Everyone should go see this movie. Now. Really, just go ahead, you can read more reviews later.


Mental

February 7, 2016

mental

Internet Movie Database           Movie Reviews

The movie revolves around a family where the dad is neglecting his family to run for office (and having an affair), the mom has a nervous breakdown because of this and because the five daughters are such a handful, and the daughters spend time on the internet diagnosing themselves with various mental illnesses to get attention. The dad, at the end of his rope, picks up a charismatic hitchhiker (Toni Collette) and installs her in the house as the new nanny, and she brings even more chaos to the already over-the-top household.

Mr. Otter and I were having an evening at home, and he had brought this from his library…it looked amusing, so I gave it a try, and it certainly kept my interest!

There were many things I liked about this movie. The daughters were cute, ranging from eight to about 14. Liev Schreiber, as Trevor the Shark Hunter, was great, and Toni Collette was totally believeable as the wierd and nonconformist nanny. Things mostly resolve well for most people in this movie, and getting there was kind of fun.

On the other hand, this was kind of wierd…everyone in this movie did really strange and random things. Totally un-PC, but that’s Australians for you; I would not recommend this movie to anyone who is sensitive about mental illness or those who are (or are not) diagnosed with it, but for me, it was mostly funny. And I liked the teen romance aspects of it, because teenagers really do go hormonally nuts and do a lot of odd things…that part worked really well.

A quirky but fun movie for those not sensitive to its mockery.


Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome

February 7, 2016

thunderdome

Internet Movie Database 
CinemaSins         Movie Reviews

Max is back! more post-apocalyptic vehicular mutant craziness as he travels across the landscape, into the city of Bartertown, and beyond. As the title promises.

Mr. Otter and I saw this in the movie theater BEFORE WE GOT MARRIED. Yes, we are very very very old. I had not seen either of the two previous movies, but Mr. Otter had and liked them, so we went to see i(t. Heck, back then I would go see almost anything with Mr. Otter, EXCEPT WOODY ALLEN MOVIES. And I’ve always like explodos, although I somehow missed Mad Max.

So I was pleasantly surprised, nay, almost ecstatic, at this movie. Mel Gibson was cute as a box full of puppy dogs at that point, and had not shown his frothing-at-the-mouth-racist side. I had loved Gallipoli and seen it a couple of times, so I didn’t have to be dragged to the theater at all.

And this movie was great. As it still is. Sure, it’s WAAAAAAY over the top. Plot holes you could drive a Mack truck through. Very little is explained, and what is explained doesn’t really make sense.

But none of that matters.

This movie looks and feels right. The crazy promise of Road Warrior is realized perfectly here, with Bartertown full of glamor and mud and death matches for the masses. Who has not quoted, TWO MEN ENTER, ONE MAN LEAVES and BUST A DEAL, FACE THE WHEEL? Admit it, you know you have. Tina Turner is exotic and glamorous and sexy and fun, and everyone feels sorry for Master-Blaster when he is defeated.

And then, suddenly, one is transported to the oasis in the desert, where children are keeping the story of their parents alive and hoping for rescue…this is the other great part of the movie, Mel Gibson and the kids interacting. It’s so different from the first part that it’s almost like Miller was making two different movies, but it works.

This is not a great movie, in the usual sense…but it’s fun, visually arresting, full of action and fast paced plot and a blast to watch. Trust the Otter, and come over and have some popcorn; we’ll do a triple Mad Max feature night.


The Road Warrior

February 7, 2016

road warrior

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

Max is back and kicking bad-guy ass again in this sequel to Mad Max.

Mr. Otter and I recently saw the fourth in this series, Fury Road (which came out 20 years after the third) and I mentioned that I had never seen the first two…so we had a Mad Max Movie Night soon after, and watched the first three.

This is the second…and this movie is where the legend really begins. Here is the burned, blasted and dessicated landscape, ravaged by some ecological apocalypse that the filmmaker wants us to believe is our future. Gas is scarce, and machines are prized, so of course an enclave with a tanker truck is an armed camp, soon to come under siege. And here for the first time we see the crazy drivers of wierd vehicles with wild scars, tattoos and body modifications, not to mention really interesting clothing. This is the movie that cemented the vision of the future that comes to mind whenever anyone mentions Mad Max.

Which is why I was completely surprised by the first movie of this name, which was a pretty tame sf shoot-em-up in comparison. In just two years, George Miller jumped from this, the evil gang in Mad Max:

toe

to this, the evil gang in Road Warrior:

humungus road warrior gang

That’s quite a jump, considering that it set a whole series of on-screen craziness in motion.

The plot is much better too, more visual and much more straightforward- Max is still the loner whose family is dead, but mostly he’s there to kick bad guy butt and blow up whatever gets in his way. The bad guys are pure evil, and the good guys are just trying to get by, including some comedy relief characters and the cute feral kid.

This is the Mad Max I was expecting, and I was not disappointed. Crazy costumes, vehicles and action, lots of fun to watch.


Mad Max

February 4, 2016

mad max

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

Max is a police officer in a future Australia, where there has been some kind of social breakdown amid climate change and shortages. Max is part of the Moving Violation Patrol, or MVP, who are charged with keeping roving gangs of motorcyclists under control; when his wife and kid are killed, he goes ballistic and hunts down the gang members and kills them.

Mr. Otter and I saw the new Mad Max movie, Fury Road, as soon as it came out, and I LOVED IT. I was waxing enthusiastic about it on the way out of the theater.

Hmpf, said Mr. Otter in his in-my-day-things-were-better voice, sure, there were a lot of explosions but it didn’t have the same kind of ecological message the first three had.

Now, we had seen the third Mad Max movie, Beyond Thunderdome, when it came out (and that should tell you how long we’ve been together…), and that was a big favorite of mine…but I had never seen the first two.

Why don’t I borrow them from the library and we’ll have a movie night and watch Mad Max and Road Warrior? I said, and so it was done, about a week later.

And…I was kind of surprised by this one…mostly by how low-key it is. Sure, it’s the future, things are bad, the climate has changed, civilization is obviously breaking down. And yes, he drives a pretty souped up car, and the motorcycle gangs are Bad People…but this looked pretty much like any low-budget early 80s (it was actually 1979) SF movie-most stuff is everyday, with a few exotic details thrown in to make the time and place different from here and now. There isn’t any of the punky violent just plain wierdness of Road Warrior, Beyond Thunderdome and Fury Road. This is really understated in comparison.

Here are two posters for this same movie; the first is the original poster from 1979, and the second is the one that’s on IMDB as  I write this in early 2016:

max poster 1 max poster 2

Shows you how much things have changed, and how much hype this movie has gotten.

Basically, it was The Wild One set slightly in the future in the desert…not a bad story, but certainly not the stuff legends are made of. Mel Gibson is amazingly young and cute, in his pre-famous-nutjob-racist days, when he was just a cute Australian import. Two years later he starred in both the sequel to this (Road Warrior) and Gallipoli, and from there he became a star. But here he’s just a guy in a low-budget movie, and that’s it.