theotterlimits

Otter's Eclectic Movie Reviews

Archive for the category “$$$$$ $”

The Last Remake of Beau Geste

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

moana

Internet Movie Database          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

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.

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

babyjane

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

An aging child star is taking care of her disabled sister.

Mr. Otter and I were traveling and enjoying Karina Longworth’s wonderful podcast series, You Must Remember This. On this trip, we listened to her series about Joan Crawford, about whom we knew very little, and decided to watch some of the movies Longworth discussed. This was one of them.

At this point in their careers, Bette Davis and Joan Crawford are both older (54 and 56 respectively…oh my god, both younger than I am now!) and were looking for a vehicle that would give them, if not a comeback, at least some money.

Davis is truly awful to watch as she does an excellent job as the child star whose self-centeredness repels all who know her and who gives up her ‘career’ to take care of the sister who was disabled in a car accident she causes (this is all in the first ten minutes of the movie, no spoilers here.) She dresses, acts and looks like pure crazy. She is a joy to watch, truthfully, because one thing you can always say about Davis: she didn’t care how bad she looked or how much the audience hated her if the part called for it.

Joan Crawford should have looked equally awful, but couldn’t bear to, so she is more made-up and put-together. Her character is more sympathetic, and is good counterpoint to Davis’ horror.

I won’t say any more about the movie, because I don’t want to give anything important away. But seeing the characters go further and further down the path they’re on is like eating too many sweets…you know you’re going to regret it and you should stop, but you just can’t.

This is definitely worth watching at least once. Tacky, exploitive, brash, annoying but compelling.

Denial

denial

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

From the book, History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier by Deborah Lipstadt

A Holocaust denier sues a historian for libel when she says his facts are wrong. Because the lawsuit happens in Britain, the historian has to prove that the Holocaust happened.

This was a well-made and interesting movie. Didn’t hurt that Serious Honey Rachel Weisz played the historian, and Otter Family Favorite Actor Timothy Spall the denier.

Good courtroom drama, a bit of cliffhanging ‘what will happen?’ at the ending (although the fact that a movie was made at all means that the audience knows the ending already) and good writing and characterization.

An excellent and important piece of history, ably presented.

The Women

women

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

A week in the life of half a dozen women, whose lives are intertwined.

Mr. Otter and I have been greatly enjoying Karina Longworth’s You Must Remember This podcasts. Every time we drive somewhere together we listen to several of them, and have a great time. In 2016, she did a six-part series about Joan Crawford, about whom we knew very little, and this was one of the movies Longworth talked about.

This was a groundbreaking movie for 1939, because THERE ARE NO MEN IN IT. There are six or seven women who are main characters, and the story is made up of their conversations both in person and on the phone. Now, they are mostly talking about what everyone at the time assumed that women mostly talked about: clothes, parties and men. The plot revolves around one woman and the question of whether or not Joan Crawford will/has managed to seduce him.

But having a whole movie with no men in it was an amazingly bold move for the time, and (given the society-gossipy nature of the plot) it’s compelling, funny, and very watchable.

And the star power is evident- Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell, Paulette Goddard and other well-known actresses. Written by Clare Booth Luce and Anita Loos, and word is that F. Scott Fitzgerald also had a had in it.

It is a period piece, and nowadays many people would probably roll their eyes at these society women who do nothing but shop and get their beauty treatments and say catty things about each other…oh, sorry, that’s not so old-fashioned, is it?

Seriously, it’s worth watching for the writing, the actresses and the way the story is structured…and Joan Crawford (the vamp, of course, what else could she be?) is great.

What did you do in the war, Daddy?

war

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

 A group of American soldiers is told to capture an Italian village; the Italians want to have a festival before they surrender, the Americans haven’t had R&R in a long time, hijinks ensue.

Mr. Otter brought this home from the library where he works, and Ottersis and I thought it might be fun…I’ve heard of it, and didn’t mind giving it a try. Plus there were some good people in it, most notably James Coburn, a favorite actor Chez Otter, and Harry Morgan, who will be forever known as Col. Potter from the TV series M*A*S*H.

This was great farce, with nothing really unbelieveable happening but silliness piling on silliness until suddenly everything works out and the Americans come out heroes. But getting there is all the fun, and fun it is.

From the shenanigans at the festival, to the following near-disasters, to the crazy solutions to problems, and subplots adding in, this was funny, well written and pretty hilarious.

Star Trek: Beyond

stbeyond

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

The third installment in the rebooted Star Trek franchise, which unfortunately is continuing to go where everyone has gone before…

<sigh>. Okay, it’s time to get on my soapbox again: Giving people the same stuff they’ve already seen is so boring. Sure, everyone will come see it, and you’ll make a lot of money on the opening weekend…but it’s just the same old stuff over and over. (Are you listening, DC Comics? You should be..)

So let me start by saying that I loved the first of the new Star Trek movies. It was well written, edgy, exciting, fun, and a great new take on a series that has been done to death.

But the last two movies show that they are not willing to take any chances any more…

So on the good side, this was better than Star Trek: Into Darkness, which just annoyed the crap out of me. Gaaah. I don’t even want to think about it.

This was fun in many ways: excellent special effects, good explodo, well-known characters doing the usual stuff, a few nods to the original series and (this was nice) acknowledgement of Leonard Nimoy’s death in 2016. All that was well done. The basic plot wasn’t bad either.

But (and here is where the Physics Police show up) there were some things that made my disbelief hit the ground with a loud thud. Many of them had to do with the ship being in outer space:

  • If a sharp pointy object (or many of them) hits hard enough to breach the hull and end up with the point in a pressurized area, the hole is not going to seal itself; it’s either going to leak air around the projectile or (more likely) forcibly expel the projectile and all the air through that great big hole.
  • Also, if there is any kind of a hole in a pressurized area, you aren’t going to have only the people near it sucked in…it’s like a party, if anyone is invited, you have to invite everyone.
  • A deep space ship cannot fall to land without burning up or coming apart; you won’t have just a few burned spots, it’ll be GONE. They cannot be made to survive that…and they actually made this point about another ship, not the Enterprise…but if it’s true for one, it’s true for all.

That’s enough of physics; there was a lot more, and it annoyed me. That’s sloppy writing, and you can work it out so it’s more believeable IF YOU CARE ENOUGH TO TAKE THE TIME.

Also, one of the things that EVERYONE rolls their eyes about on the original show was how often all the senior officers would trot down to a planet and all be in danger at once. In this movie, Spock has to go down to the planet, and he’s hurt, so they send McCoy with him TO FLY THE SHUTTLE on the pretext that he has to make sure that Spock is okay…then he does nothing except lend Spock a shoulder to lean on. And, I will point out, he is helping him in such a way that he is ripping Spock’s wound open, rather than taking his other arm. Wouldn’t a doctor know that? Anyway…it makes no sense to have McCoy do any of this, except that evidently the powers that be decided that McCoy needs more screen time for his curmudgeonly rants, and that’s how they did it. Seriously stupid writing.

So…it was okay. There were some good parts. It wasn’t as bad as the second one (and is this going to turn into a series where every other one is awful, like the original Star Trek movies???) I’d say this is a renter, except it was great on the big screen.

Oh, and just before the movie, Simon Pegg (Scotty) came onscreen with an announcement filmed on set, thanking everyone for coming to a movie theater to see it. Interesting.

Zootopia

zoo

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

A girl from a small town has a dream of going to the big city and becoming a police officer. And of course, because it’s Disney, you know everything will turn out fine.

I LOVED the preview of this movie, the scene in the DMV with the sloths. Not because I think DMV, or even government workers are necessarily sloths (having been on a city payroll myself for many years) but because THAT IS MY LIFE. My life happens at about 1 1/2 times the rate everyone else in the world is going, and every single day is like that scene. Yes, all those incredibly slow people are nice, worth knowing, and do their jobs well…but OH MY GOD COULD YOU PLEASE JUST DO IT ALL A LITTLE FASTER BEFORE MY BRAIN IMPLODES WITH WAITING FOR YOU ALL?

Sorry. Anyway, I laughed very hard at those previews, and didn’t think any more about it. I don’t go see most Disney movies, and definitely not in the $$$ theater $$$, since they are pretty predictable, so I thought, if a lot of people tell me it’s good, I’ll rent it.

But then I found myself in Yuma Arizona.

Now, Yuma may actually be a nice place to live. I was only there for about 21 hours, which turned out to be about 18 hours too long. I was on my way home from a wonderful vacation camping across southern Arizona. My camping buddies had flown home from Tucson on Sunday, and I drove home doing some more camping and touristy stuff; Yuma was my last stop before Southern California and then home. And I had some fun stuff to do there:

  1. Go to Del Taco for lunch (my obsession, especially now that the only one within 20 miles of my house has gone)
  2. Visit the Territorial Prison, which sounded interesting
  3. Go to the Camel Farm, where there are camels and exotic animals to pet and visit.
  4. Get a motel for the night (luxury! after camping for several days.)

So I arrived in Yuma. I visited the prison, which was not nearly as interesting as it sounded. I found the Camel Farm, which was a really depressing looking place; I didn’t even get out of the car, just drove the ten miles back into town. I tried for over an hour to find the Hummingbird Garden which is supposed to be in the long park on the Colorado River, with no luck. And I was done. I was hot and tired and frustrated, I hadn’t found a single thing to do, and I was just done. I went back to my motel, got out my ipad, and checked for movies.

And found this one, in a theater that I had passed so I knew where it was. It was only seven bucks, and they had ice cream. This was the best part of the day; I was alone in the theater, the ice cream was delicious and the movie was fun.

I liked it. Typical Disney fare, no surprises, but it was funny and charming, and amused me for the afternoon.

And the next morning, I got out of Yuma and had a wonderful day. And I never have to go back.

Now that’s a good movie.

Cat People (1982)

catpeople

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

A girl goes back to her home for the first time in years, meets her brother, and finds out about the family secrets…

Flash back in time…it’s April 10, 1982. Mr. Otter and I were on our first date, and what do you do on a date, in Riverside California on a Saturday afternoon in the 80s? Why, go to the movies, of course! This was playing at the local theater. He paid for the movie, I took him to lunch (Big Macs for everyone!) and history was made.

I have always had a soft spot for this movie since that time; I remembered it as kind of slow moving, and (for the time) pretty sexy for a ‘first date’ movie. But I liked it. Malcolm MacDowell was young and handsome, trying desperately to help his career recover from the debacle that was Caligula (didn’t work). Nastassja Kinski and Annette O’Toole were both wonderful (and GORGEOUS) as well.

This is a dark emotional overheated slightly horror-ish movie about a family who are throwbacks to a prehistoric time when women were sacrificed to black leopards and humans had offspring with said leopards as well, so the ability/curse of turning into leopards has come down to MacDowell and Kinski, which he knows and she doesn’t. The problem is, they don’t really control the change; it’s brought on by the sight and smell of blood, which can get pretty inconvenient, not only for them but for people around them.

Moody and atmospheric, kind of slow moving, but I’m sentimental about it…especially when I get to watch it with Mr. Otter again…

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