November 15, 2019

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

Instead of the origin story of a superhero, we get that of a supervillain, the eponymous Joker.

There has been a lot of controversy about this movie, which is basically about the rise of a crazed serial killer; those who oppose it say that this is another example of glorified violence. Personally, I think the movie made the Joker and his life look damn unattractive, but that’s just my opinion. I did think it was brilliant and that Joaquin Phoenix (who is a favorite actor Chez Otter) deserves a damn Oscar for this. He was that good.

And now I’m going to venture into SPOILERLAND, so if you don’t want to find out anything about what happens, stop here.

So wow. I had tried to see this for a month, even attempting to get to a movie theater while on vacation, and it just didn’t work out…then I suddenly found myself with an afternoon free (anomalous for me) and just went ahead and did it…and I’m so glad I did.

This is the slow descent into madness of a serial killer, and Phoenix brings out every nuance of crazy. He is believeable, sociopathic, and scary as hell. I can see why it got huge acclaim at the Venice and Cannes festivals; it’s not about capes or superpowers, it’s just about this one guy and watching him live his life.

The one thing that I found odd was his last interaction with the woman and child he’s fixated on…did he kill them? He just left their apartment, but nothing was shown…I found out later that all his interactions with her were imaginary, from meeting in the elevator onwards; this makes more sense than that she (especially being the mother of a young child) would have ANYTHING to do with him, but I somehow missed that that was going on.

Otherwise (and that was probably my mistake, not the writers’) it was well written, amazingly acted, and dark as hell.

If your taste runs to this sort of dark psychological drama thing, make sure you see it. If it doesn’t, here’s a nice kitty you can look at instead:


Avengers: Endgame

May 10, 2019


Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

Can the Avengers save the world after Thanos destroyed most of it?

Five years after Infinity War, the world has gone to hell in a handbasket. We the moviegoers know that things will get better, but not exactly how…and it was a wild ride, let me tell you!

Firstly, just in case you haven’t seen it yet, of course I have to talk about what happens, so here’s the



Okay? Now the rest of us can get on with this…

What I knew going into this movie (and I was adamant about NOT reading or watching ANYTHING about it til it came out. Having just closed escrow on a house that needed a ton of work helped me to ignore all the buzz…!)

  1. Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth (Iron Man, Captain America and Thor, respectively) all had contracts that would end with this movie. Downey had made it public that this would be his last one, so everyone expected him to die; but I didn’t see anything about Evans’ or Hemsworths’ plans…but I figured they would be somehow written out of the future Marvel movies.
  2. The end of Infinity War signaled the Captain Marvel movie, which came out two months ago, so we all knew that she would in some way either save the day or help to do so.
  3. There would be some kind of time travel because A) Dr. Strange and B) how else were they going to fix it?

So that was what I knew going in. I was bracing myself for disappointment, because how could a movie ever live up to that amount of hype and hope and scrutiny? And…overall,  I was pretty darn happy with it.

The first hour and a bit is ALL CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT. We see what has happened to the world since Thanos disappeared half the population, and specifically the chaos that has ensued, and how the Avengers themselves were impacted. No fighting, no flying, just…character development. Lovely.

Then they catch up to Thanos…and things don’t go as expected. By them or by me.

And then the time travel stuff starts; I always have a problem with time travel, it’s inherantly flaky. To be fair, they did everything they could to make this work sensibly and follow rules, which helped a lot. It was really well done, and although you could pick at details til the cows come home, get tired of waiting and go away again, it was good.

And what about the Big Three? I was very happy with the end results for both Iron Man and Cap. Thor…part of me thought what they did with his character was awesome, and part of me rolled my eyes and said, really? After Ragnarok and Infinity War you did…this? But sure, whatever. It did work, on many levels. And the changes in his character added a touch of needed humor, so that was good.

Overall? I call it excellent, and kudos to Marvel and Kevin Feige. Can’t wait to see what comes next…

Guardians of the Galaxy 2

August 31, 2017

Internet Movie Database
CinemaSins         Movie Reviews

The Guardians are back, and the universe needs saving!

Woo HOO! I was so looking forward to this movie…the first one was DAMN good, and the previews of this one were all excellent…but of course we know how that goes, don’t we?

I am SO PLEASED to say that this is a sequel that, contrary to the usual run of things, is at least as good as, if not better than, the original.

The main storyline has to do with Peter Quill/Starlord’s absent father, who shows up, and is everything Peter dreamed of his father being…or is he? Meanwhile, characters we think are bad guys might be good guys and vice versa, and of course there must be deadly danger, great action scenes, and snappy dialogue.

I was totally in tears at the end of this movie, and really really liked it; the two GoG movies together are a really excellent continued story, but either of them can stand alone, which is hard to pull off well.

Hurrah for the Guardians of the Galaxy!


Captain America: Civil War

May 10, 2016

civil war

Internet Movie Database
CinemaSins         Movie Reviews

Basically, this is about the morality of being a superhero…should they be free to take care of what needs doing, or is that vigilanteism? And what if they make a mistake? And who has the authority to say do this or don’t do that? And what do they do if they don’t agree with their orders?

In other words, Marvel has taken on one of the central problems with the whole superhero thing, and done an absolutely brilliant job of it. There may be some SPOILERS in the following; I’ll try not to be too specific in my rapturous prose, but DAMN this was good.

Things I liked about this movie:

  • Bad Boy Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) coming down on the side of being supervised, with good reasons for doing so, and then legitimately losing his shit when it was reasonable to do that. Very well written, great character development.
  • The major disagreement being between Captain America and Iron Man, who started out snarling and circling like wild dogs and became friends, only to (now) come down on opposite sides of the central issue that affects them both.
  • In fact, with basically ten superheroes in this movie, six or seven had great character development. Ant-man and Spider-man were just fun walk-ons, and the same for Hawkeye, although it was great to see him back in the thick of things. Very Whedon-esque (In fact, I just had to check back and make sure Whedon was not one of the writers…much of this felt like him. No, he wasn’t, but it’s worthy of him.)
  • I liked that the characters who weren’t there either had reasons for not being there, or at least their absence was acknowledged…it makes for better continuity within the Marvelverse of these movies and shows.
  • And speaking of which, there were several mentions of things that tied this to the previous movies and some of the TV shows like Agents of SHIELD…but that weren’t necessary to have seen. Good writing.
  • And thank you for not going into everyone’s origin story yet again. That is one thing I hate about all the Batman movies, they feel the need to reinvent the wheel over and over and over…but don’t get me started on that latest DC godawfulness
  • I liked that (except for the first scene, which had plot reasons for it) they managed to keep the fighting to places where there were fewer people, and the filmmakers made it look like they were doing that on purpose…in other words, they actually learned from The Incident (destroying NY in the first Avengers movie).
  • There was also a lot of talking, and conversation, and character development. Again, kudos for that. Do you catch a theme here, Devoted Fans? I love that the Marvel universe is mostly populated with people who have extraordinary abilities, not just fighting suits who spout lines.

I could go on for an hour, but suffice it to say that this might be the best thing Marvel has done since the first Avengers movie made us all stand up and cheer. You go, Marvel! Keep it up, we love it!

And I’m off to see this movie again…anyone coming along? You’ll love it, I promise!!

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.

Mad Max: Fury Road

October 25, 2015


Internst Movie Database
CinemaSins         Movie Reviews

The fourth in the Mad Max franchise. Guns and cars, what else do you need to know?

Now, I must confess: I’ve never seen either the original Mad Max nor the sequel, Road Warrior. Yes, I know, I know, they’re on my list, okay? Back off, I’m warning you…

And although I had never seen the first two, in 1985 Mr. Otter and I went to see Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, and both really liked it. So I did have some idea what to expect.

That’s why when this movie came out, we were very interested, for many reasons:

  1. Better special effects. Yes, Thunderdome did have a good budget, and (for the time) amazing special effects. But this movie? WOW. Just WOW. Explosions, car crashes, chases, body mods, you name it. Wow.
  2. No Mel Gibson. Now, he was fine in the first three Mad Max movies, but not only is he getting a little long in the tooth, and way too full of himself, but he is a total nutcase in real life, and I really don’t enjoy even seeing him on the screen any more. I don’t usually worry about what actors do away from the camera or let it keep me from seeing good movies, but in Mr. Gibson’s case I’m willing to make an exception.
  3. Charlize Theron, who is AWESOME.
  4. All the mysogynistic assholes who started ranting about this movie as soon as it came out. Here’s a scathing post on the controversy. We Chez Rees were glad to plonk down our hard-earned money to support women kicking ass and taking names, you damn betcha.
  5. Fun. All the reviews said this movie was just a whole lot of fun to watch.

I was also interested to see how they would manage replacing an icon like Mel Gibson in a new entry into the series, since there are a lot of continuing series where the actors are getting a bit long in the tooth to keep making the same kind of movies. No, Bruce Willis, I am not actually pointing my finger at you, but if the shoe fits…

And I have to say, I was very pleased. Sure, there are plot holes you could drive a souped-up Cadillac with spiked hubcaps and a jet engine through, but damn it was good. Charlize Theron was awesome, and carried her share of the plot and then some. There was an actual story that sort of made sense, a bonus for action movies. The special effects were AWESOME, and there was a lot of OH MY GOD WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN? suspense. The bad guys were very bad, and it was a joy to see them go down. And Tom Hardy was good as the 21st century Mad Max; he was a good action hero, and not so eye-catching that he detracted from Charlize Theron. I’m sorry this movie terrified so many stupid men, but truly it was a joy to see women being intelligent and capable action heroes.

The otter loved this movie, you will too!

The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover

October 27, 2013


Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

Four people whose lives coincide violently over the space of a week.

I saw this movie in the theater when it came out, and loved it.

I was pretty much the only person of my acquaintance who did…EVERY OTHER WOMAN I KNEW who saw it WALKED OUT OF THE THEATER. I’m not joking. Personally, I think this one is on my top ten movies of all time list…but certainly not one for everyone. Spider Jerusalem did not like it at all. Why doesn’t someone just kill him? he kept asking. That’s not the point, I said, it has to proceed to its inevitable conclusion. And yes, it’s hard to watch knowing that Things Will End Badly.

There is a reason that the very beginning of the movie shows theater curtains opening; that’s our tip-off as to what Greenaway is doing here. And it works-this is a perfect example of Grand Guignol- theater made to push the limits of fear, horror, sex, death…you name it.

Yes, it is EXTREMELY graphic. This is at the same time one of the most beautiful and one of the grossest, most appalling movies I have ever seen…it’s an amazing story of contrasts, and Greenaway handles them perfectly. The combination of beauty and true gross ickiness, of love and despair and cruelty, of quiet moments bursting into uncontrollable violence…it’s really amazing.

Seeing it again was a treat- I had forgotten almost everything except the scene in the delivery van (ugh) and the ending; it was so satisfying to once again see it unfold, in its inexorable way, with consequences following actions and no escape in sight for any of the characters. Really really good.

Watch it if you have a strong stomach. You’ll be glad you did.