The Brave One

January 4, 2018

brave

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

A Mexican boy raises a bull for a bullfight.

The New Year’s Day Moviefest (theme: Hollywood goes Around the World) was in full swing, and there were a bunch of us having a great time watching movies. This was the entry for Mexico, and Mr. Otter and I had been wanting to see it because it won a Best Picture Oscar in 1957 for Best Original Story for Dalton Trumbo, whose name couldn’t be on it because he was blacklisted.

And in fact his name was not on the version of the movie (streamed from Amazon) that we watched, either.

It’s sweet and sentimental, and very very dated.

On the one hand, it’s a good straightforward story-the boy raises the bull for the ring, kind of ignoring the whole ‘the bull dies at the end’ thing. At the last minute, he tried to get him reprieved, even talking to El Presidente, but the reprieve comes too late. The ending is good, and believeable.

On the other hand, it’s old fashioned, predictable and sentimental. It’s a story we’ve seen over and over, and there was pretty much nothing new added.

The thing that was good about this (and I’m sure this was Trumbo’s writing shining through) was that the Mexican characters were all normal characters, rather than ethnic stereotypes. There were scenes in the school with the teacher talking about Mexican history (chronologically backwards, which made us all laugh) and in the end, the boy is going from famous place to famous place through the very modern Mexico City, and much of that seemed like it was put in to show American audiences a non-stereotypical view of Mexico and its people.

The one thing that was very very dated was that everyone spoke stiff formal English, to show that they were really speaking Spanish to each other, instead of just talking like normal people, but that’s a small quibble.

For the time, and the kind of movie it is, this was pretty good.

 


The Founder

October 8, 2017

Internet Movie Database         Movie Reviews

A biopic about Roy Kroc, the founder of the McDonalds megalopoly, from his early days as a not-very-successful traveling salesman to becoming an international businessman.

This had great trailers, but I never got to the theater to see it…actually, it was the first movie I downloaded and watched on my iPad, once I found out that Netflix was doing that (yes, I’m old and behind the times.)

If you don’t know much about Ray Kroc, there might be some SPOILERS here. Just sayin’.

 

Serious Honey Michael Keaton is Kroc, and manages to walk the fine line of making him a sympathetic enough character, but also letting the viewer see the shark in him, so that when (as is inevitable) he screws the McDonald brothers over, it’s completely believeable.

The setup is good- the guy who’s going to make it rich on the next scheme, and his wife at home, whom he visits now and then Laura Dern) who is tired of his promises…and then he stumbles on a winning idea, and runs with it, and makes it a success…and buys it from the originators for a pittance (which is the story I had always heard too).

The ‘running the business’ part is well written too, interesting but not so much detail as to lose the viewer; the personalities are front and center here, and the inevitable clash of ideas for the future of the company.

The setting (late 50s) is well replicated and nothing I saw seemed to be out of place except…this Otter was born in San Bernardino, and grew up near there…and that was not shot anywhere near there, there are TREES and GREENERY. The credits say that it was shot in Georgia and New Mexico…

This was a good movie, well written, well acted and interesting.

 


Sing

August 31, 2017

sing

Internet Movie Database
CinemaSins         Movie Reviews

An agent tries to revitalize his failing theater by having a talent show. Shenanigans!

I was at the Red Cross ready for apheresis, which involves three hours of time and needles in both arms, so I wanted something amusing. I saw this in the Netflix folder they have, and thought it might be fun…and indeed it was!

Matthew McConaughey (an Otter Family Favorite Actor) is the voice of a koala theater owner, in a city populated by all different kinds of animals dressed as, and acting like, humans. There is no explanation of this and there doesn’t need to be…it just is, and is actually peripheral to the story, which involves several different performers and groups all trying to win the competition as we get to know them.

This was well written, engaging and fun. Not deep, not meaningful, just good fun. Watch it, you’ll be glad you did.


Lust in the Dust

August 31, 2017

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

A dancehall girl, lost in the desert, ends up in a saloon in a small town among a bunch of questionable characters, all searching for the same thing…

Mr. Otter and I are fans of John Waters’ oeuvre, and we had not seen this, so when Craiggers (whom we were visiting) suggested watching it, we were glad to join in.

And we were not disappointed. This is typical John Waters- a parody of a well-known genre with his own broad humor and quirks thrown in. Divine is the peripatetic dance-hall girl, Lainie Kazan is the saloon owner and her rival, Tab Hunter is the handsome stranger, and Otter Family Favorite Actor Woody Strode even had a small part.

Not a great movie, but a good one, fun and with a satisfying denouement. If you have never seen a John Waters movie, this is not a bad one to start with (but Hairspray is the best)…just remember to be sure the kids are out of the room.


The Last Remake of Beau Geste

April 8, 2017

lastbeau

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

Very loosely based on the novel Beau Geste by P. C. Wren

Two Englishmen end up in the French Foreign Legion because of the theft of a famous and valuable jewel.

Confession: I, the Otter, am a HUGE French Foreign Legion junkie. I have a couple of dozen books (plus just about everything P.C. Wren ever wrote, and I’m not kidding), and have seen all the movies and tv shows I can find on Le Légion étrangère. 

I saw this movie when it was new (a couple of times, I think, back when you had to see it when it was at a theater, because there was no way to watch it at home when you wanted to…yes, I’m old.) and I remember that it was hysterically funny. Now, there is a phenomenon which we Chez Otter call the “Caddyshack effect”, where you remember something you saw when young as being awesome and it isn’t when you see it twenty or thirty or forty years later…but I was willing to take the risk.

I saw this on Amazon.com, and bought it…and a bit later Mr. Otter and I watched it, with not a little trepidation on my part.

And it was fun. Silly 70s era fun, with a lot of good people (Michael York, Ann-Margret, Marty Feldman, and a host of people who were well-known then but not so much now) being pretty amusing. The plot was silly but good, and gave a couple of nods to the novel, and it was nice to see it again.

Not one of the funniest or best movies of all time, but certainly fun to watch, and (more importantly) not at all disappointing. Whew.


Moana

March 16, 2017

moana

Internet Movie Database
CinemaSins         Movie Reviews

Moana leaves her village and sails to an island to raise a curse from her people.

Maid-of-Awesome saw this and told me how much she liked it. Now, M-o-A likes Disney. She rarely sees a Disney/Pixar/whatever animated movie that she doesn’t at least like, and many of them she comes back raving about. But this one, she said, was one of the best she’d ever seen.

I am not nearly as much a Disney fan as M-o-A, but I do pay attention to her recommendations. I was planning a multi-movie day, and made this the first one I saw. And I was not disappointed.

It’s lovely to see non-white, non-Euro girls given the central role of ‘Disney Princess’. Moana is charming and beautiful, but also strong, smart, capable and determined. And other characters are standouts too…her sidekicks, the rooster and the pig, are not annoying (as the snowman in Frozen was, I hated him sooooo much…!). Most of the villagers are typical for these movies (especially her father), but her grandmother is wonderful.

And of course Maui, with his storytelling tattoos, is a great character too. The animation is wonderful, the story is compelling; there is so much to like in this movie.

And…a bit into the movie, she sings a song about how she feels about the ocean and how much she wants to be there and misses it when she’s not. And that song exactly summed up how I feel about the desert. I know, there’s more to the song, she’s leaving her home and all…but I really liked it.

This was better than most Disney movies, and didn’t have the kind of flaws that some of them have. I really enjoyed it!


Risen

March 15, 2017

risen

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

A Roman tribune is given the job of keeping the Jews under control during and after the Crucifixion, then finding the missing body, and of course he comes to believe that Christ is the Messiah.

Mr. Otter and I have a guilty secret. We love cheesy biblical epics. Like this. And especially this. So when he brought this home from his library to watch, I was all over it.

And it stars Joseph Fiennes, whom I consider to be serious eye-candy.

And…this was actually pretty good. Fiennes is serious; he has a job to do and he is doing it, and trying not to let the supernatural get in the way until he can’t deny it any longer. He comes slowly around to his new fellowship with the people he’s supposed to be rounding up, and his change of heart is believeable.

The settings, costumes and soldier-stuff is also very good; they really did try to make this look as authentic as possible. It’s a little ponderous, because you just can’t be flippant about the Crucifixion…well, okay, Monty Python can, but nobody else.

So this was surprisingly not cheesy. It’s a little slow, and takes itself a little seriously, but it’s not at all bad.

And it’s nice to see that Joseph Fiennes is still good eye-candy. Whew.