theotterlimits

Otter's Eclectic Movie Reviews

Archive for the category “$$$$$”

Copper Canyon

copper

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

Oh, you know, the bad guys are taking advantage of the miners in the small western town and the local beauty asks the guy for help and he doesn’t want to but he falls in love with her and takes care of business.

It was the New Year’s Day Videofest, and the theme was Hedy Lamarr. One of the reasons we chose her was that she made such a broad range of movies, especially this one, which is a western.

And- bonus!- it streamed for free. Now that all the video rental stores are gone, and Amazon and Netflix are going head-to-head, older movies are sometimes hard to find. We had to buy three of the movies we watched for this New Year’s Day fest, because they weren’t available anywhere.

So we watched it. We did take a short break in the middle when a couple of friends and their kids came over, but otherwise we paid attention.

And…it wasn’t bad. A typical late 40s/early 50s (1950, to be precise) western, with pretty scenery, a so-so plot with a couple of amusing parts, Hedy Lamarr looking gorgeous and acting fiesty, and Ray Milland cracking jokes and trying to act all aloof but he’s really taken with Hedy and if it means coming out of hiding and saving the town from the evil Yankees who are stealing from the peace-loving ex-Confederate miners (yup) then that’s what he’ll do.

A perfectly okay Western, totally watchable.

White Cargo

cargo

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

From the book Hell’s Playground by Ida Vera Simonton and the play White Cargo by Leon Gordon.

Yes, this movie of which you’ve never heard was not only a bestselling book but a play on both the New York and London stages. Who knew?

So it was the New Year’s Day Videofest, and our theme this year was Hedy Lamarr. This was the second movie of the day, picked solely for the cheesiness of the title. And it was indeed cheesy.

The story is about being away from ‘civilization’ at a British-owned rubber plantation gruffly run by Walter Pidgeon. A new guy comes and Pidgeon gives him the talk about how he’ll go crazy too and everyone hates everyone there eventually and by the way DON’T mess around with the local girls. Which you know the new guy is going to do even though he says he won’t, because on the cover of the movie is Hedy Lamarr in slightly dark makeup and a skimpy outfit, saying, “I am Tondelayo!”

And of course everything goes wrong, and the new guy is carried home in a box. The story is told by the next guy who replaces him, who manages to stick it out and tells the story in flashback.

Evidently Tondelayo, in both the book and the play, is what they referred to in those days as a ‘negress’…this made the Hays office have kittens at the very thought, so that’s why Hedy Lamarr, as white as white can be, was put in makeup for the role. Bad enough to have sex alluded to in the movie, but INTERRACIAL sex? Never! even though of course that’s what this is all about.

A mediocre movie, fun to laugh at.

Now, Voyager

voyager

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

From the novel of the same name by Olive Higgins Prouty

A meek spinster who has been under her domineering mother’s thumb her whole life gets psychiatric help and celebrates her freedom by taking a world cruise, coming back a mature and confident person.

This is a movie that I have always heard about as incredibly romantic…I knew it was about a ship, and that Bette Davis and Paul Henreid were in it, but nothing more. And (I think) it was in listening to Karina Longworth’s excellent blog on the history of Hollywood, You Must Remember This, that this movie was mentioned and we said, we should watch this! So we did.

And it was NOTHING like what I expected. Rich Boston folks and a nebbishy daughter who can’t say BOO to her mother. They had Bette Davis dressed and not-made-up to look plain and mousy, so that when she took the trip and had an actual love affair, she could blossom into being beautiful.

It wasn’t a bad movie, for what it was worth; the actors were good, the writing was good…just not our cup of tea. When it was over, I looked up the book, and found out that not only was this novel that I had never heard of (I didn’t know the movie was based on a book) a best seller, it was one of a series of 5 books that were all famous in their time (1931-1951). She was also the writer of the book Stella Dallas, which is another movie I have heard of but didn’t know it came from a book. This book/movie were both evidently a huge boost to positive perception of psychiatry, as well

So…interesting. The movie is good, albeit predictable, and we found the ending a little hard to swallow…nobody is that nice! But it was good to finally see this. Worth the time for the actors and settings, not so much for the plot.

Finding Dory

dory

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

The eponymous fish, who we first met in Finding Nemo, now has her own movie. She has remembered her parents, whom she lost in childhood and then forgot (because, as she tells EVERYONE she meets, she has short-term memory loss…which means that the repeated joke in the movie is her doing or saying something, forgetting it and then repeating it ten seconds later.) And she goes to find them. Guess how it ends? (Hint: it’s a Disney movie. You know how it ends.)

Okay, I’m being kind of mean to it, which will get me in trouble, because Maid of Awesome loved it and told me to go see it.

Really, this was a charming feel-good movie, in the stamp of all others of its ilk. If you like them, you will like this one. I did enjoy it, I laughed at the funny parts, I got a little teary-eyed at the sad parts, and I loved the otters saving the day at the end, being one myself.

I am not a huge fan of modern Disney anything; I’m an old curmudgeon about it, and horrified a young friend when I admitted that not only have I not been to Disneyland in twenty years but have no intention of going again, except MAYBE to see California Adventure, which was just being built the last time I was there. I also admitted to loving Fantasia, which she hated, having been raised on the new Disney stuff.

Anyway. It’s  pretty typical Disney/Pixar, which is not a bad thing. Go see it, it’s fun. (Okay, Maid of Awesome?)

John Wick

wick

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

Russian mobsters piss off the eponymous character and he spends the whole movie getting his revenge.

Let me start by saying that yes, this movie was beautifully filmed, amazingly choreographed and the fight scenes were really, really well done. Okay? I get why people like it. I really do.

But…

  1. Keanu Reeves. That’s a deal-killer. The only way I agreed to let Spider Jerusalem show me this was that I didn’t have to pay a cent for it. Because there are several people I will not knowingly or willingly pay money ever again to see on the big screen (or even the small screen, if I have to pay for it) and Reeves is one of them.*
  2. This is pretty much the same plot as Taken, in that something is done to the main character and he spends the rest of the movie putting it right. Except for the part where Taken had good writing, Liam Neeson, and a plot and characters that had at least a bit more to them than just a series of violent acts.
  3. No, having Reeves spend thirty seconds remembering moments with his dead wife does not count for either character development, good reason for the following hour and a half of violence, or believeable emotion from Keanu Reeves, who hasn’t had a facial expression other than “Huh?” in at least ten years.
  4. And this is the worst: AN ADORABLE PUPPY IS KILLED TO SET OFF THE PLOT. No. No way. No how. Nuh uh. Not Chez Otter. We do not watch movies where the animal dies, especially gratuitiously to give the plot a reason to happen.

When this scene was over, I paused the movie and said to Spider Jerusalem, in effect, WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING SHOWING ME A MOVIE WHERE THE DOG DIES?

His answer combined parts of, it’s part of the plot! I told you this was part of it when I saw it last year! You like Boondock Saints and the cat dies in that!

No, sorry. “Part of the plot” does not fly. I pointed out that when he told me about it last year and told me about the dog dying (which I do not remember) I am sure I said no, not if the dog dies. And in Boondock Saints (a favorite of mine) you see the cat walk across the table, one of the guys throws a gun on the table, it goes off and there is a huge splotch of blood on the wall. It is hysterically funny and you DON’T SEE IT DIE OR HAVE TO SEE ITS ADORABLE CORPSE. Big difference. And it isn’t killed to make the story move, which I think is heinous.

So if you like action, can stand Reeves, movies with very little wit or charm but hella good fight choreography, and (unlike me) don’t care about the ADORABLE PUPPY being beaten to death…go for it, you’ll probably like this.

*Sylvester Stallone, Woody Allen, Kevin Costner…and I think there’s one more but I’ve mercifully forgotten who.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

uncle

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

Two spies during the cold war, one British and one Soviet, are forced to work together. Hijinks ensue.

This otter is old enough to remember the original TV series this is based on, with Robert Vaughn and David McCallum…I didn’t watch it, but my mom did; I would hear the theme music as I was getting ready for bed the night it was on every week.

I had not gone to see this in the theater, since most reboots of 60s stuff are not that great, but I was at the Red Cross to do apheresis, and needed something amusing for a couple of hours, and thought, what the heck?

And it was amusing. I liked Cavill in this better than I do as Superman; he’s not as stiff and ponderous here. I always like Armie Hammer, and he was good as the Russian spy. And (bonus) Hugh Grant was their handler!

This was fluff, light and fun and self-consciously retro. They got most of the period detail as right as they needed to (although the plot revolved around a ‘computer disk’ that was about 3 inches square. Nothing like that existed or could have existed…anything with info on it would have been a big ol’ reel of tape…) But quibbles aside, it was fun and not too annoying.

Hit The Deck

hit the deck

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

Sailors on the town. Girls. Hijinks ensue.

This is billed as another charming ‘sailors on the town’ musical like On The Town and Anchors Aweigh…beware false advertising!

Yes, it’s a musical. Yes, it’s about sailors on leave. No, it is neither charming nor fun.

Firstly, it was made in the mid 1950s, and the heavy metal boots of the fifties have stomped all the fun out of it. There are cute situations, and some romantic mixups, but they are not charming or fun.

The costumes, sets and colors are all marked with that inimitable 50s style that puts red dresses against chartreuse walls (I am not joking) and everything in contrasting “We paid for technicolor and we’re going to use it!” color schemes. The dresses are frothy and full of skirt, and the romantic situations are all farce.

And Tony Martin, Lounge Lizard Extraordinaire, is the lead…now, Ann Miller is in this, and she’s good. Debbie Reynolds is always worth watching, and Russ Tamblyn (whom I had only seen in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers) is adorable. But (except for the funhouse dance sequence, which was great) this is a lot of nothing blown up into a silly two hours of mistaken identity and dodging the MPs.

Not so much of a much. Worth it for those actors and that one scene, but really, don’t waste your time.

You Were Never Lovelier

lovelier

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

Rita is the second oldest daughter of an Argentine family; the daughters have to get married in order, so she’s under the gun, since her two younger sisters already have beaux. Fred is in town with Xavier Cugat’s band, looking for work as a dancer. Mistaken identities and hijinks ensue, and of course Rita and Fred end up together.

I’ve been listening to Karina Longworth’s excellent podcast series, You Must Remember This, and had heard the one about Hayworth’s really awful life, so was interested to see more of her movies; this was in our pile of dvds we laughingly call The Great Unwatched, so it was a good choice for the evening.

Hayworth is beautiful, composed, and charming. Astaire is, as always, Astaire. The fluff and shenanigans around them are amusing, but they are the best thing in the movie, and worth watching, especially when they dance.

Gentleman Jim

jim

Internet Movie Database           Movie Reviews

The story of James Corbett, who became the Heavyweight Champion of the World in 1892.

This is kind of a puff piece, but hey, it has Errol Flynn in the ten years that he was a Serious Honey (1935-45, before his lifestyle caught up with him…) so is worth watching.

This is the last of the set of Flynn movies that I got a while ago, and we chez Otter are trying to get through what we refer to as the Great Unwatched, so we settled down with this, expecting it to be awful.

And it really wasn’t. It’s a typical early ’40s fluff piece, but Flynn is good, the writing isn’t bad, and Ward Bond is quite good as John L. Sullivan, especially in defeat. Flynn is good enough here that one is left wishing that he could have been allowed to do some serious movies in his prime, instead of the same kind of adventure movies he did over and over.

Ah well. If you like Flynn, this is worth a watch.

Born Free

bornfree

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

From the book of the same title by Joy Adamson.

Joy Adamson and her husband spend most of their year on a game park in Kenya, where George Adamson is a warden in charge of taking care of animals that attack humans. When a lion and lioness are killed to protect a village,  they rescue three lion cubs whose mother is dead, and when they turn them back into the wild, one stays with them. Hijinks ensue.

I remember seeing this when I was growing up, but I’m not sure if it was the movie or the subsequent TV series; I did read the book, I know- everyone did, it was a huge best-seller- but it all kind of blurs together with the unending 60s nature documentaries and tv shows…

Back to now. We were watching this as part of the New Year’s Day Videofest (theme: CATS) and several friends had stopped by to join in the fun…and this was fun, because it was so MSTable. Times have changed a lot in the ensuing 50 years, and a lot of what was happening and what they did was really amazingly not what people do now, or at least not what they admit to…like letting a small adorable rodent (and I don’t remember what it was) drink alcoholic beverages because it was so cute when it was drunk…

And there was a lot of soul-searching, which made us all roll our eyes, since from the perspective of fifty years later (and from the title, duh) we already knew that the lioness would survive and do fine in the wild.

This was a fun blast from the past, but very dated. The lions were cute as well, although they were obviously trained lions, as they must be interacting with actors.

Fun, not great, but amusing.

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