The Desert Song

July 12, 2018

desert

Internet Movie Database

Another in the ‘innocuous socialite masquerading as a daring do-gooder’ genre, this time Nelson Eddie is the son of a general in the French Foreign Legion, and they all hang out in the local town. He is also (really not a spoiler) the Red Shadow, who is somehow helping the Rifs rebel against the French.

And The Girl comes to town, engaged to an officer, with Romantic Notions, so of course he decides to kidnap her so that she will fall in love with him…hey, it’s musical comedy, it doesn’t have to be PC or make sense!

This made-for-TV version of the Sigmund Romberg operetta is mostly intact; Mr. Otter checked and they cut out one song which he dismissed as ‘forgettable’. Gale Sherwood is very cute and has a fine voice, and even the aging Nelson Eddy sounds good.

Filmed in black and white, which is probably better than the hideous color mixes that would have been used in the 1950s, this is, with all its flaws, much much much much much better than the hideous 1953 movie version with Gordon MacRae and Kathryn Grayson, which still makes me shudder when I think of it, thirty-some-odd years after I saw it while dating Mr. Otter. (And I hasten to add that I saw it on TV, folks. This otter is not old enough to have seen it in the theater. (Mr. Otter is, but I’m not.))

Anyway. There are some good songs, too many dream ballet sequences (one is too many), some good dancing by Bambi Linn, and a lot of silly drama, as is usual in Romberg’s pieces.

But Mr. Otter wooed me with many of these songs, so I loved watching it with him. Baritones. They’re the BEST.


Ant Man and the Wasp

July 12, 2018

ant

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

Ant-Man is back! Under house arrest for helping out the Avengers in Germany, but still needing to save the world…or at least a little part of it. Joined by the volatile Wasp, and up to amusing business as usual.

This is the ‘bumbling superhero’ type of movie, and while amusing, is not really my cup of tea. Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly are good, the plot moves well, there are great special effects and some surprises (including the traditional Marvel added scene in the end credits, DO NOT MISS THIS) but it was just funny hijinks with not really much at stake.

And…I know the Marvel universe is full of pseudoscience, but in many of the movies they try to make the pseudoscience make sense in the context of the movie. In this one I felt like they would throw around some science-y sounding words and then MAGIC! Something would happen and I would just be expected to go with the flow. I got really tired of this after a while: OMG (science sounding words) we better (more science sounding words) (MAGIC HAPPENS) because (science sounding words).

So yes, the story was amusing, I kinda like the “bumbling but it all turns out ok” way that  And-Man operates, sure. But not the best Marvel movie ever.

Except the tardigrades, aka water bears, who were ADORABLE. Aaaawwwww.

 

 


Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

July 12, 2018

beasts

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

A prequel set in the Harry Potter ‘verse. Newt Scamander comes to the United States in the 1920s to help a rare creature, and gets involved with muggles (known as ‘no-maj’-es in the US, where magic is Not Allowed) and, you know, shenanigans. And lots of cute creatures.

I have pretty much given up on the Harry Potter oeuvre; I liked the books, plot holes aside, but by the fourth movie they were just sinking under the weight of having to condense ten hours or more of plot into a bit over two hours. Meh.

But I really like Eddie Redmayne, and this looked interesting, and I was going to be at the Red Cross for three hours with needles in my arms doing apheresis, so why not?

And it was ok verging on good. If this had been written as a standalone, it would have been better, but of course it’s going to have sequels that will set up the Harry Potter series and the political and dark magic underpinnings that preceded those books. So sure, whatever.

I liked the three principal actors- Redmayne, the girl and the no-maj sidekick guy; they worked well together and the sidekick didn’t just come off as an idiot and the butt of all the jokes; he was a pretty cool character in his own right, and I liked him a lot. Serious Honey Johnny Depp shows up briefly, about which I will say no more.

And…the sequel is coming out next year, and I’m sure there will be another one…and it will NEVER END.

So I’m pretty much done with these; not only do I get tired of waiting years to find out how the next installment goes (I’m looking at you here, George R. R. Martin) but the whole PORTENTOUS thing just blows this out of the water for me. It’s not deep. It’s not a huge revelation. It’s just a kids’ fantasy series, guys, so stop taking it all so seriously.

And now I better change my email address before the hate mail starts pouring in…


The World’s Greatest Lover

April 26, 2018

world

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

Gene Wilder goes to Hollywood to try to become a star in silent movies. Hijinks ensue.

I remember seeing this movie several times in the movie theater when it came out- I was (and am) a huge Gene Wilder fan, and this was one I remember really liking. This is Wilder’s second or third time writing and/or directing, and although it’s sort of an old-fashioned period piece full of last century’s humor, it’s still funny and charming.

Wilder plays a nebbishy guy who needs to change his life, so he brings his terminally naïve wife (played by a young Carol Kane) to Hollywood, where they enter a competition to become the new hot movie star for Rainbow Pictures, run by a demented Dom DeLuise.

And silliness happens, and charm, and funny stuff, but the ending is touching, and it’s nice to see Wilder just being his own funny self.

Bonus: we were visiting friends, one of whom mentioned that he played one of the legionnaires in this movie, and we did indeed spot his younger self in that scene!

 


Ready Player One

April 26, 2018

ready

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

From the novel of the same name by Ernest Cline.

A dystopian future where everyone lives in a virtual world and a contest pits teens against a soulless company in a race for money and power.

Okay, you all know what I’m going to say right off the bat, don’t you? Yup. READ THE BOOK FIRST. The day after I saw this I had to wear my excellent new t-shirt that says, Don’t judge a book by its film adaptation…because oh, boy is that ever true in this case.

Now, don’t get me wrong- this is a good movie. Teens competing with the evil corporation that wants to destroy something of value to them, beautiful special effects, a good solid plot, good actors, what’s not to like? Nothing. It’s a good, likeable movie.

 

But if this is the movie:

  mandala 2

This is the book:

mandala

I read this book when it came out in 2012, and loved it. And since then I have listened to it on audiobook (excellently read by WIL WHEATON) at least three times. I love love love this book. And there are so many things that they just couldn’t do in the movie…not ‘couldn’t do right’, but just could not do at all. The whole movie is packed to the gills with pop culture from the 70s to the 90s- books, movies, music, computer games, video games, television show, you name it. There is no way anyone could get the copyrights to actually use all that stuff.

Plus the main character, Wade/Parzival, narrates the whole thing in first person, and literally the first quarter of the book is backstory to the rest of what is going to happen…again, no way a movie can do that. There was a tiny bit of the backstory, because the story wouldn’t make sense without it, but not much.

But mostly- and I know many people don’t agree with this- I think the characters in the book were excellent, well drawn and really interesting. And that is the place the movie most falls short- the characters are just ‘teens on a mission’ and the viewer really doesn’t care about them at all, because there is no investment in them or their world or their problems.

So I’m not going to be a hardnose and say, don’t see the movie. I’m just going to say, if you read the book first, you’ll enjoy it more because IT’S SO MUCH BETTER.

Listen to the Otter. She know what she’s talking about.

 


Batman: Gotham by Gaslight

April 26, 2018

gaslight

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

From the graphic novel of the same name by Brian Augustyn

Batman and other Gotham characters are recast in a late 1800s Gotham City, and must stop a series of “Jack the Ripper” style murders.

I loaned several seasons of the truly excellent Gotham TV series to a friend and his teenage sons, and one of the sons got me this as a thank-you present. And they say millenials don’t do well with social interactions! A very thoughtful gift!

Anyway. I took this along when I went to the Red Cross to do Apheresis, and it was excellent for lying for a couple of hours with needles in my arms- interesting, well done, suspenseful and fun.

The animation was good- stylish but not overfancy. The characters were good too, and the whodunit ending was surprising, if you haven’t read the book (and I don’t remember reading it if I did, so I was certainly not expecting what happened.)

My only slight problem with it was the period setting, which was a mishmash of both British and American and several different decades of things, references and happenings.

But, to misquote another movie…”Forget it, Otter. It’s comic books.”

Worth seeing if you are (like me) a fan of Batman or Gotham.


Touch of Evil

April 26, 2018

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Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

Based on the novel Badge of Evil by Whit Masterson

The hunt for a murderer in a town on the border between Mexico and the US involving a doctor, his wife and a hard-boiled cop.

CoyoteRambles was visiting, and for once, we all had plenty of time together to hang out. So of course alcohol and movie watching zoomed to the top of our list.

Mr. Otter and I led with Leningrad Cowboys Go America, one of our favs that CoyoteRambles had never seen…and he picked this as the second movie of the evening. He is a huge fan of noir, and is also amazingly knowledgeable about movies. He stopped the movie a couple of times to tell us interesting things about this movie…including the fact that the first ten minutes or so are all one long shot. Which didn’t impress me til I saw it…the camera goes up to roof-top level, back down again and follows several people and cars around several blocks….pretty amazing!

This movie was a good noir pick; the outstanding thing was the lighting and cinematography; it was BEAUTIFUL. The story was good, with a lot of twists and turns. Janet Leigh as the woman caught up in the plot was good; it was a little weird seeing Charlton Heston in brownface as a Mexican doctor, but at least he didn’t try to talk with an accent…he actually was pretty good. And Orson Welles played the corrupt cop that’s all over everything in the investigation…and I don’t know if it was an overabundance of makeup or his age, but I seriously didn’t recognize him, even when I knew it was him.

Speaking of recognizing people, it was fun to see Dennis Weaver as a very young clueless hotel night manager, and both Marlene Dietrich and ZsaZsa Gabor in vampy bit parts. Very nice!

This was a good one to watch with friends and alcohol- the story was interesting enough to keep us going but nobody minded some comments or discussion during the movie as well. A solid pick from Coyote Rambles!