General Della Rovere

December 2, 2022

Internet Movie Database Movie Reviews

A con man is made to impersonate a hero and finds his conscience

CoyoteRambles, Mr. Otter and I met for the Saturday Zoom Movie, and it was Mr. Otter’s choice…he had been leaning heavily toward Italian postwar cinema, and this was no exception.

The plot is standard but well done: bad guy con man makes himself the go-between communicating with the Germans running the town on one side and the families of the Gestapo’s captives on the other, taking his own cut of whatever bribes and payments are passed back and forth. Then the Gestapo makes him pretend to be the shining light of the Resistance, Della Rovere, and go to prison with other freedom fighters, hoping to get information from them.

This was good, but pretty talky for a war/betrayal/resistance movie.

Man of the World

December 1, 2022

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William Powell is using a scandal sheet to blackmail men to pay him to keep stories about them unpublished…his schemes go awry when he meets Carole Lombard and promises to go straight…but of course it’s not that easy…

This was one of a boxed set of five Carole Lombard movies that Mr. Otter and I watched one week…this one was pretty good, although William Powell was less charming and more scummy than usual.

Not bad, but not memorable.


September 22, 2022

Internet Movie Database Movie Reviews

The best friend of a murdered man talks a PI into trying to solve the case, working with a prostitute who may be the next victim.

This is a movie I’ve heard about since it came out (and since I was 12 at the time, of course I wasn’t allowed to see it, lol!). It wasn’t the greatest whodunit ever, especially since the audience knows very well who the bad guy is; he’s shown listening to tapes he made of the victims’ sexual encounters several times, so duh. The low-key but intense interaction between Sutherland and Fonda is good, and so is Roy Schieder as the pimp of all three murdered girls.

Not exciting, but a good psychological suspense movie.


August 26, 2022

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Joe is a middle school music teacher who dreams of being a jazz musician; he falls down a manhole and goes to the afterlife, has adventures and things work out in the end.

This was cute, and I wanted to like it more than I did, but it was a pretty typical Disney/Pixar kind of movie; I wanted to like it more than I did.

The vision of the afterlife was bland but interesting, with souls needing to find their ‘spark’, their inspiration to return to Earth, to be reborn, but not enough to save the movie from being pretty ordinary.


August 25, 2022

Internet Movie Database Movie Reviews

From the book of the same name by Michael Ende

Momo lives in a peaceful village until the Grey Men show up and start buying everyone’s time…and then everyone is busy and stressed, and Momo has to fix things.

I have a German friend who has been in the US for many years, but when she still lived in Germany, Michael Ende wrote the Neverending Story…and she sent me a copy of the beautiful English language edition from there, with multicolored type and lovely illustrations. And when I raved to her about how much I enjoyed it, she sent me his previous novel, Momo (which was originally translated into English as The Grey Gentlemen.)

And forty years later, I still have both of these books and still love them.

Ende’s worldbuilding is a big part of his appeal; his plots are interesting, and his writing doesn’t talk down to children.

I found the movie of Momo cute, but very ‘kids will like this because it’s cute and quirky’, rather than a good fantasy story that happened to have children in it; but this movie was made in the days of Goonies and Explorers (No, I am not a fan of either Goonies or Explorers. Deal with it.), and has that same kind of ‘adults writing for kids with no idea what they really like’ feeling.

And I just looked…and Michael Ende, unhappy with the movie of Neverending Story, is one of the screenwriters. But I stand by my comments, the movie is just…cutesy. There are some good action sequences, but it never really seemed to come together.

The girl who plays Momo is cute and perky, the Grey Men are not scary but certainly not appealing, and there are some good scenes. It wasn’t horrible, just not as good as I remember the book being…I guess I need to go back and reread it.

Still…not one I’d recommend.

Night of the Iguana

August 25, 2022

Internet Movie Database Movie Reviews

From the play by Tennessee Williams

Defrocked-preacher-turned-alcoholic-tour-guide Richard Burton is working in a small town in Puerto Vallarta. A bus with a load of church ladies breaks down and he recommends they stay at the hotel run by Ava Gardner. And everyone is chasing everyone else, demons are unleashed, and the titular iguana is pursued and caught by two cabana boys to be fattened up for sacrifice…or rather, dinner.

Our New Year’s Day Videofest theme was John Huston, and this was one of the first movies. This is a rather heavy handed and slow moving version of the play; the only time I’ve seen that, it was awesome, well written and acted; this movie feels like someone said, Whoa! gotta tone down the interesting stuff and make it slow and sultry!.

Burton is phoning in his performance as the disillusioned preacher circling the drain, consumed by lust and his need for alcohol. He (of course) was thrown out of his church for seducing one of the church ladies, and now has his eye on a young thing who is part of the tour…at the same time that the tour leader (hottie Deborah Kerr) also has her eye on the same girl, and Ava Gardner has her eye on him. Much shouting, many accusations, tears and recriminations follow.

If you like overblown emotional meltdowns, this is a good example, but otherwise not so great.


August 4, 2022

Internet Movie Database Movie Reviews

From the novel of the same name by Joe Gores

Mystery writer Dashiell Hammett gets involved with a mystery…

And, well, that’s about all there is to say.

It was Saturday Zoom movie night with Mr. Otter and CoyoteRambles. CR loves noir films and had picked this one.

It was pretty good, for something as self-indulgent as making up a story with a real author as main character (I know, people do it all the time, just not one of my favorite themes). The mystery was fine, as were the actors…the acting and tone of the movie was kind of uneven, and it just didn’t grab me…although I didn’t figure out the ending way ahead of time, which was a nice surprise. Evidently the production was fraught, and a lot of film ended up on the cutting room floor.

Bonus points: in this story, Hammett is helped by his neighbor, a LIBRARIAN.

Gone Are the Days!

July 27, 2022


Internet Movie Database

From the stage play called Purlie Victorious; the movie can be found under both titles.

This was one of our Saturday Night Movies that we watched during the shutdown (and are continuing to do so) on Zoom with CoyoteRambles. This was Mr. Otter’s pick, I think because he had seen it once upon a time and wanted to see it again.

The story is about a young man who, now a preacher, returns to the plantation where he grew up, and wants to buy an old barn from the owner so that he can turn it into a church for the Black folks who are still there. He talks his fiancee into impersonating the last living member of the family to get money from the old curmudgeon, and of course hijinks ensue and fun is poked at attitudes about race.

This was funny in some places, cringeworthy in others. The cast of characters (Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Godfrey Cambridge and Alan Alda as the plantation owner) is excellent, and the story is good…it was just a little heavy-handed for me.


March 10, 2020

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

From the novel of the same name by Jane Austen

I recently listened to this on Audiobook; I had read it years ago, but literally couldn’t remember any of the plot other than that she’s a wannabe matchmaker. And in listening to it, I found out why I remembered so little of it…I really didn’t like it. Emma is annoying, very little actually happens, and I found it pretty hard going…if I weren’t driving so much that I’m virtually living in my car at this period in my life, I might not have finished it.

But the previews looked good, and Bill Nighy (an Otter Family Favorite Actor) was in it, so Mr. Otter and I hied us down to the movie house to see it.

And, well. It was a good adaptation, but it’s a book that is seriously improved by editing. The actors were good (and Bill Nighy was totally wasted- anyone could have played the role of her father as rewritten for this movie). I didn’t like Emma any more in the movie than the book, but it was well written.

But still. Compared to Pride and Prejudice, or Sense and Sensibility, or Persuasion, this story is just kind of lame. No sparkling characters or situations that make you turn pages to find out what is going to happen or wonderful dialogue…mostly it’s a spoiled rich girl learning her lesson, and class snobbery in the country.

And the score (which, if you actually notice it, that’s a bad thing) went from delicate early 19th century instrumental to rustic choruses singing pastoral and church songs…which was really distracting, and I guess was supposed to show the class contrast? didn’t work for either of us.

Watch it if you’re an Austen fan, or like movies of this period, or want to see pretty scenery and costumes…but otherwise? meh.

La La Land

February 8, 2019

Internet Movie Database Movie Reviews

A pianist and an actress meet in LA and fall in love.

We chez Otter had gathered for the annual New Year’s Day Videofest, which had as its 2019 theme: Best Cinematography Oscar. Mr. Otter and I had not seen this one, so we were happy when it started off the day of movies (the names of the 8 films we choose get drawn from a bowl so we never know what’s coming up.)

This got a ton of press and awards; the list of Oscars that it won:

  • Best Actress
  • Best Director
  • Best Cinematography
  • Best Music, both Original Score and Original Song
  • Best Achievement in Production Design (which I had never heard of and had to look up; used to be called Best Art Direction. Whatever.)

You’ll notice that NONE of these awards have anything to do with the quality of writing or plot. And with good reason. This was beautiful fluff.

Yes, it is a pretty movie. The first number, with everyone dressed in brightly colored clothes, stuck on a freeway onramp, dancing around and on their cars, was awesome.

And it kind of went downhill from there, for several reasons:

  1. Neither Ryan Gosling nor Emma Stone can really sing. They can, as we say Chez Otter, carry a tune in a bucket, and they look really pretty, but neither are really singers.
  2. The plot was so not that good. Two broke wannabes in LA find each other, but then they have to choose between each other and their dreams. Either way, btdt.
  3. The songs were so generic; I literally cannot remember one tune, phrase or song title, even the one that won an Oscar. Just pretty fluff.

And…you know. Blah blah blah, and except for the VERY pretty eye candy all through this movie, that was about my reaction to it. Glad I watched it, never need to see it again, meh.