Once Upon A Time….In Hollywood

August 3, 2019

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

A pretty-much-washed up TV actor and his driver move through 1969 Hollywood, interacting with the movie/TV community and the Manson family…

 

Mr. Otter and I had to vacate the house for most of a day to let our awesome contractor, WonderPaul, do his thing.

I”m going to go see the new Tarantino flick at our local Emporium du Movies, I said. Wanna come?

Hm, said Mr. Otter, I didn’t much like his last couple of movies, and I’m not sure about this one…on the other hand, we have to be out of the house, so okay!

Thus we hied ourselves downtown, managed with help to find the almost-invisible parking garage, and armed with popcorn and coffee for Mr. Otter….were treated to half an hour of previews. Most of which we enjoyed.

But not half as much as we enjoyed this movie.

Bad boy, self-involved asshole, provacateur, annoying git…call Tarantino what you like, the fact is that along with all those things, he is brilliant. He knows his movies, TV shows and Hollywood history. And all of that knowledge makes this story wonderful. There is so much richness here, so many details that are just right, so many things to say Wow! and exclaim over. There are great characters, wonderful settings, good storytelling. A lot of the movie is just people talking to each other, and none of it is dull.

And then there’s the Manson family thing…because Di Caprio lives next door to Roman Polanski, his wife Sharon Tate, and their semi-permanent houseguest Jay Sebring. In 1969. And anyone in the audience who knows anything about the horror that was the Manson Family knows that this is not going to end well. I loved watching this movie. I enjoyed the characters, especially Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate. I loved the carefully crafted cameos of well-known Hollywood figures who showed up here and there. I loved the dynamics, the jokes, the look of the movie. And every time the date on the narrative got closer to the end, my fingernails dug into the seat arms. Because even though I knew (from other reviews) that Tarantino, as is his wont, had played a bit fast and loose with the actual events…I was still expecting a bloody horror at the end.

And I will say no more, except that i was right, and it was both awesome and satisfying. And I LOVE LOVE LOVE this movie and can’t wait to see it again.

I know there are a lot of people who are unhappy with the things Tarantino rewrote, but at both the beginning and end he emphasizes that this is a FABLE of Hollywood, not actual truth. And a very good one it is too.

A masterpiece, says the Otter. Go see it right now.

 


Avengers: Infinity War

May 3, 2018

infinity

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Everything in the Marvel universe just goes to hell in the worst possible ways.

So…the 18th movie in the Marvel franchise, plus who knows how many tv shows, ‘one-shot’ shorts, and related stuff. In just 10 years, if you start counting from Iron Man In 2008. Here’s a list. The hype over this has been incredible, and if you missed it, you have been living in the outback with the dingoes, seriously. Even Mr. Otter, who dislikes all things Marvel, knows that this exists. (Probably because I can’t stop talking about it…)

In fact, four days after this movie came out, Mr. Otter was being prepped for (NOT SCARY OR LIFE THREATENING let me point out) surgery, and I asked his doctor how long it would take. About 2 1/2 hours, he said. Just enough time for me to see a movie! I chirped, and when the surgeon asked which one, we both geeked out about it for about 5 minutes. Then I kissed Mr. Otter, ran off to meet Ottersis at the theater, and had a wonderful time, totally ignoring my phone’s vibrations during the movie as the nurses tried to tell me that Mr. Otter was fine and was I going to come back and visit him anytime? In my own defense, I DID walk out on the credits and the amazing teaser trailer at the end and went to see him, so I get some spouse points there…

Anyway. Wow. There is so much in this movie, so many different plot lines and personalities pulled together to make up this megablockbuster of a movie- I knew (from the several trailers that hit the Interwebs) that literally everyone that had ever had a Marvel movie about them would be in this, and the thing I was worried about was that it would just be a big ol’ scrimmage with lots of fighting but no plot development…but no.

Sure, there was A TON of action, fighting and general mayhem, but the characters were good and the movie mostly did them justice. The plotting was tight and the writing was great, and nobody did anything that made me go, Huh?

I am hoping that, like the three first Lord of the Ring movies, a 4 hour Director’s Cut will be released on DVD; there was obviously more story here than they could cram into a movie in the theater, and cuts had to be made…but I want it ALL.

And the ending was…I’ll just say amazing. And unexpected, at least to me. And that is all I can say about this movie without ruining it for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet…and if not, WHAT IN THE HELLS ARE YOU WAITING FOR? Go! Go NOW!

 


The Green Mile

January 26, 2017

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From the novel of the same name by Stephen King

A prison guard in charge of Death Row in the 1930s South takes charge of a prisoner with unexplainable abilities.

This is one of those perfect movies. I remember seeing it in the theater, and how overwhelmed I was at just how good it is. The book is one of King’s best, originally published in six parts as a serialized novel (and it worked very well in this format, which was how I originally read it, although nowadays it’s collected into one volume).

Tom Hanks is in charge of the ‘Green Mile’, which is the section of the prison that’s Death Row. It’s in the 30s, so prisoners are executed with an electric chair, which is a big part of the plot. There’s a prisoner who has been convicted of a crime he didn’t commit, a crazy bastard of a prison guard, and a whole lot of great plotting and good writing.

And the ending is perfect as well.

I really can’t praise this movie highly enough, and I’m trying not to say ANYTHING that will give any part of it away; it’s written so perfectly, every single detail fits in so well, that to tell any of it would rob you of the enjoyment of seeing it for the first time…and if you’ve already seen it, no need for me to blather about how good it is, you already know.

Whenever someone says, Top ten movies? the list changes. I know The Princess Bride is on it. I know The Man Who Would Be King is on it. And I know this movie is on it. The other seven? We’ll have to get together and discuss that, won’t we?


Ghostbusters (1984)

January 25, 2017

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Three guys start up a business catching ghosts that are annoying people in New York City. Then things get wierd…

I was kind of horrified to learn that, in the 15 years since I started reviewing movies…I HAVEN’T WATCHED THIS ONE EVEN ONE TIME.

I know I haven’t, because if I had, it would have been here. So, after seeing the excellent update of Ghostbusters that just came out in 2016, I went downstairs to our Basement of DVDS and…this wasn’t there! Anywhere! I know we own it, honey, have you seen it? No I haven’t seen it, did you loan it to someone? (loud wails and cries of woe) (clicking keyboard keys) 2 days later: Amazon delivery! And now we own it again. Whew.

I was actually dating Mr. Otter when this came out, and we saw it in the theater together. And, of course, loved it. This movie is right up there with Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Terminator 2 for great quotable sound bytes; there are many I use to this day, in all kinds of situations. And I won’t launch into them here, because they are already bouncing around in your head. Don’t pretend they’re not.

But I will tell a story. In 2012, I spent a long weekend in Santa Barbara with a couple of girlfriends; one of them traveled with me by train, and the other joined us later that night after driving up from LA. The two of us who took the train got to the motel to check in, and were joking with the desk clerk, and suddenly noticed that her name tag said ZOOL. I am not joking. We (including the clerk) laughed ourselves silly, claimed to be the Keymaster, and made all the Ghostbusters jokes. Turned out that the day we checked in was the day (or day after) Whitney Houston died, and the desk clerk’s name was Whitney and she just didn’t want to deal with everyone having to comment on it…so she became ZOOL for the duration. I loved that!

So back to this awesome movie. The casting is superb (I’m a huge fan of both Murray and Ackroyd, although they were by no means the only good actors there. I also had a crush on Ernie Hudson for a long time…), the writing is fast paced and witty, the special effects were amazing in their day (and many of them purposely looked slightly cheesy, because the story required it).

Truthfully, I cannot praise this movie highly enough, and the best thing is that it stands up extremely well to repeated watching…which I’ll be glad to do, just come on over and we’ll call the Ghostbusters one more time…


Deadpool

February 23, 2016

deadpool

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Guy becomes superhero, finds out his girlfriend is in danger, takes care of business.

This is one of the most hyped superhero movies ever- teasers, trailers, word of mouth. In the month leading up to its release, you couldn’t go anywhere on the internets (except maybe lolcat sites) without seeing references, promos or comments.  (No, I was wrong…)

And you know what? it was TOTALLY JUSTIFIED hype, for once.This movie was AWESOME.

I finally found time to go see it at the 9:50 show on a weeknight, about six days after it opened, after everyone else I knew had seen it and emailed me about how good it was.

Me: I’m going to the 9:50 show of Deadpool, want to come?

Mr. Otter: What’s it about?

Me: Costumed superhero. Fighting. Witty dialogue. Morena Baccarin.

Mr. Otter: Sure, what the heck. I got nothing else better to do.

Even Mr. Otter loved it. This movie hits all the right notes- over-the-top violence and gore, a great (and much more accurate than usual) car chase, wonderful dialogue and asides from Deadpool, great supporting characters, Serious Honey Morena Baccarin, and a good script that holds together well all the way through.

I can’t praise it highly enough. Go see it. I’m going a second time as soon as I have a spare minute.


Trumbo

February 8, 2016

trumbo

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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.


Who Framed Roger Rabbit

January 23, 2014

roger

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CinemaSins         Movie Reviews

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From the novel of the same name by Gary K. Wolf

A detective is hired in a divorce case that turns out to be much more complicated than he thought.

I was surprised to find that I have never reviewed this movie. Mr. Otter and I saw it when it came out in 1988…and who among us who was old enough to go to movie theaters then can forget the joy of seeing this movie for the first time? Seeing such a witty, fast moving, wonderful script brought alive with people and toons INTERACTING? it was completely new and different. I still remember how amazing it was, sitting in the theater and seeing this and thinking, they can’t do this, it’s not possible…but it WAS.

And I’ve watched it several (okay, MANY) times since…but evidently not since January 1, 2002, when I started reviewing movies.

So now’s my chance. And what, twenty six years later, is there left to say about this movie?

It stands up to the test of time very well. It’s still charming and funny, bright and irreverent, a visual treat and a really wonderful piece of work. We love Bob Hoskins chez otter, and this is arguably the best-known thing he’s done in a pretty impressive body of work. And Chris Lloyd, oh man. What a genius of complete over-the-topness. And we still quote a lot of lines from this movie around the house- “I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way” and “oh my god, it’s DIP!” being two of my favorites.

So watch and enjoy, this is one of the best movies ever.