No Time To Die

November 18, 2022

Internet Movie Database Movie Reviews

Bond comes back from retirement to face yet another villain armed with world-ending technology…

I am conflicted about Bond. For a long time I was a purist: I loved the books and refused to watch any Bond movies that didn’t at least give a nod to a Fleming book or story…but this is the Franchise That Will Not Die, and so must be fed.

And I really really liked (yes, he’s stepping down) Daniel Craig as Bond; I think he’s the best one since Connery, and have actually gone to see all of his movies in the role, unlike other Bonds whose non-canon movies I eschewed (yes, I’m looking at you, Timothy Dalton. And especially The Man of Wood, Pierce Brosnan.)

But…this one was really good. Daniel Craig was really good. The cinematography and special effects and all were really good…and wow, this movie had a lot going on. It was like they all got together and said, this is Craig’s last Bond film, let’s just throw EVERYTHING into it. And they did. And it was a lot of plot devices, reveals, backstory, imminent catastrophe, you name it…but it mostly worked well, and I enjoyed it as much the second time I saw it, six months later.

So okay. It’s the Bond that makes the movie, not the origin material.

So now we have to wait and see who the new Bond will be…

But this movie? Yes, go see it, it’s serious bang for your buck. Well worth it if you like the genre.


Don’t Look Now

November 17, 2022

Internet Movie Database Movie Reviews

From a short story of the same name by Daphne DuMaurier

Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie are in Venice, trying to get over their grief at the death of their only daughter…then WEIRD STUFF starts happening.

This was at the same time compelling, creepy, slow moving, strange and atmospheric, and ultimately satisfying. Sutherland and Christie are great at showing the strain on their marriage their daughter’s death has caused, and their ups and downs are very believable. The wierd psychic stuff is kind of low-key; you have to watch for what is happening to put it all together at the end. And the ending, the final payoff, is very satisfying.

Worth tracking down and watching!


Dune (2021)

October 21, 2022

Internet Movie Database Movie Reviews

From the novel of the same name by Frank Herbert

Yeah, right, summarize Dune in one line! Okay, here goes: Paul Atreides’ father is killed, making him Duke of a planet that produces the most valuable substance in the universe, which everyone is assembling to fight over.

LOL. Not even close. The book is, even with its ponderousness, a wonderful classic that all of you should have read by now. It’s rich, full of great characters and inventive storylines and danger and romance and…

It’s good, okay?

But there is so much happening in the book that the 1984 David Lynch version on the big screen has been considered a joke ever since. I liked it at the time, but I had read the book and knew what was happening; I understand that if one has not read the book, it is well-nigh incomprehensible.

There was also an excellent miniseries made in 2000 with William Hurt; it was 4 1/2 hours long, and did a much better job of telling the story and making sense out of it.

So now here is yet another movie version, with all the modern FX tech. Mr. Otter and I were pretty excited and went to see it as soon as it hit the theaters…and our opinion is… (drum roll please) PRETTY DAMN GOOD.

The story is edited down to comprehensibility, and it was well done. The plot moves and makes sense, as far as I can tell nothing important was left out, the FX were, of course, wonderful, and the actors were good. Except Jason Momoa, who is good eye-candy but can’t act to save his life, but he played the warrior who dies nobly almost right away, so that worked out fine.

Really, my only quibble with this movie were the words in the title at the beginning of the movie: PART I.

On the one hand, dammit. I hate waiting for the next part of ANYTHING.

On the other hand, good. Making this into several parts will allow them enough time to actually tell the story right…and it looks like they got a good start.

So the Otter is cautiously optimistic about this one. Stay tuned for more reviews, everyone!


Free Guy

October 21, 2022

Internet Movie Database Movie Reviews

A mild-mannered bank teller finds out that he’s actually an NPC in a video game.

Okay, I’ll admit it: I really really like Ryan Reynolds. He’s not a Serious Honey, but he’s cute and charming and funny. And I have one of those movie passes where you can see all the movies you want to for one monthly fee. So, I thought, why not?

And I was glad I saw this. Yes, it’s silly and kind of predictable, but it was really charming. Reynolds is perfect for Normal Guy Rising to the Occasion, the writing was good, the plotting was solid and of course the special effects and animation were excellent. Following the Hero’s Journey as he realizes what his world is really like, and searches for a way out, is a great ride.

This was a really fun movie, and highly recommended.


Stillwater

September 22, 2022

Internet Movie Database Movie Reviews

An unemployed oil-rig worker from Oklahoma goes to France and takes on the French legal system to try to exonerate his daughter of the charge of murder.

This was pretty darn good. Matt Damon, of course, is the reason Mr. Otter and I ventured out to our local movie theater, but everyone in this movie was good. Damon did a wonderful job of the bewildered father trying desperately to find some way to save his daughter in a country where he doesn’t even speak the language, let alone understand the legal system. The plot has several twists, some fast action and some slow contemplative moments, and all are paced just right.

Very enjoyable!


Black Widow

September 16, 2022

Internet Movie Database Movie Reviews

The story of the eponymous Marvel character’s early life and her relationship with her sister.

Before we get started, I want to say that I was REALLY EXCITED about this movie in late 2019, couldn’t wait for it to come out in…Spring of 2020…and we all know how that went. So a year and a half later, we’re all vaxed (at least I hope you are!) and this movie was finally released to theaters. And being a movie-loving Otter, I renewed my Ultimate Movie Pass from Regal and, mask firmly in place, went to see it. And it was LOVELY being in a movie theater again, and I’ve been going ever since…almost always middle-of-the-week, middle-of-the-day, but still. I’m lovin’ it.

But I digress.

So let me just say right here and now: I love the MCU. Not ever movie or tv show is stellar, they have dropped the ball a few times, but over all, their body of work is breathtaking. They have been making good movies and tv shows that tell stories that interlock and create a shared history and mythology, characters that viewers really care about, and stories that are (mostly) really really good. And I love nothing better than to head to my local emporium des movies to see whatever the new one is, knowing that at the very least I’ll be entertained with an interesting, fun, well made action film with good characters.

And speaking of characters, this movie…was problematic.

SPOILERS AHEAD FOR AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR.

Just sayin’.

This is a prequel. And that poses big problems for the writers, because I think prequels are the hardest thing there is to write effectively. The audience (mostly) has already seen the movie that tells us what happens to this character (she died in Infinity War), and we’re all watching for continuity errors (given that the MCU is based on alternate timelines impinging on our own, but if that happens it better be for a good reason…). Black Widow’s antecedents wouldn’t have any of that, so whatever we learn about her is more of a memento mori than character growth, since (at least for me) her impending doom overshadowed the story.

It takes place after Civil War, and has flashbacks to her past; the basic plot is that the people who trained her control a bunch of other Black Widows all over the world, and Natasha and her adopted family must stop them.

Now, it was a good story, and when (as I do every few years) I have my next MCU binge and watch all the movies and TV shows in order (just the good ones…I’m looking at you, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) then this will fit in nicely after Civil War, and might work better in that context.

Also, I did really like Florence Pugh as her sister, and evidently there is a movie coming up to showcase her as the lead in a group of anti-heroes…not only would I be glad to see that character again, but it would cement this movie more firmly in the MCU as her kickoff rather than a fond look back at a part of Natasha Romanoff’s life and career.

Another shout-out to Serious Honey Rachel Weisz who plays Romanoff’s surrogate mom, and who shows up to help her kick some serious booty.

Did I love it? no, but I liked it for what it was. Would I see it again? Heck yes. Want to join me?


The Painted Veil (2006)

September 2, 2022

Internet Movie Database Movie Reviews

From the novel of the same name by Somerset Maugham

A doctor takes his unfaithful wife to a cholera outbreak in China.

My book group read this and it was OUTSTANDING. The characters, descriptions, events all masterfully written, what a wonderful book.

I chose the 1934 version of this for our Saturday Zoom Movie night, and when my turn to pick rolled around again, we watched the remake. And it was good, but like the previous one, suffered from rewriting.

This was really good in so many ways; Ed Norton makes a good obsessed researcher, and Naomi Watts is a good choice for Kitty, the vain socialite who marries him. And I love Liev Schrieber, what a good choice he is for Kitty’s lover Townsend!

This movie sticks closer to the book in most ways; the big difference is at the end, when Kitty returns to London, there is a scene between her and Townsend that is a modern woman-empowering rewrite of the book; it’s not bad, but it completely changes her character and her choices. Not sure I’m happy with that…but it’s still a very good movie.

Why don’t you read the book, and then come over and we’ll watch it again and discuss the ending?


12 Monkeys

September 1, 2022

Internet Movie Database Movie Reviews

A convict from the future is sent to the past to try to find out what cause the plague that wiped out most of humanity, and stop it if possible.

I saw this once or twice in the mid-90s when it came out, and remembered it as brilliant-Bruce Willis, a very young Brad Pitt, Madeleine Stowe, and of course directed by Terry Gilliam. Seeing it again 20 years later, as a much older Otter…maybe not brilliant, but still very good.

This is one of those movies where you have to just accept several premises: that time travel works, that it is possible to change the past, and that huge coincidences are just part of life. On the other hand, given those three things, this movie has edge-of-your-seat suspense and really mind-blowing twists and turns. Even having seen it, albeit 20 years earlier, I was rivited by the plot and waiting to see how it would play out (I vaguely remembered the general plot but not the details.)

Bruce Willis is perfect for the desperate but clueless main character, and Brad Pitt as the crazy son of the virologist. Madeleine Stowe is excellent as always, as the psychiatrist assigned to Pitt’s case.

Just get on the roller coaster and ride. Everything will make sense by the time it’s over.


Bill

August 26, 2022

Internet Movie Database Movie Reviews

William Shakespeare leaves home to pursue his dream of becoming a writer…

It was 2020, and Mr. Otter and I spent much of that year watching various things on television…including streaming all eight seasons of Horrible Histories (well, we had to buy the last two from England, they don’t stream here…) We also looked for other things the same cast had done, and this was one of them.

This was funny and charming; Shakespeare is in London trying to make it as a writer and gets mixed up in all sorts of other things including murder and a plot to blow up Queen Elizabeth I. There is madcap humor and silliness galore, and overall it’s a fun romp.

Well worth watching the next time you’re locked up for a year!


Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison

August 25, 2022

Internet Movie Database Movie Reviews

From the novel of the same name by Charles Shaw.

A marine and a nun are stranded on an island in WWII after it’s evacuated, and are still there when the Japanese come and occupy it.

This was one of the films we watched on our New Year’s Day Moviefest 2020 (theme: John Huston.)

This was really good! Robert Mitchum (who, I think, has just won promotion to Serious Honey) is perfect for the part of the guy who is trying to do his job and save his country but is falling for this woman he cannot be in love with; Deborah Kerr is a total hottie and very good for the part of the nun who is practical and not at all dainty and girlish, and the growing relationship between them, and the question of where it can/will go, gives as much tension to the movie as the Japanese occupation and their attempts to block that.

Highly recommended, very enjoyable.