theotterlimits

Otter's Eclectic Movie Reviews

Archive for the category “characters: average”

My Favorite Spy

spy

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

A silly farce where things are lost and found, people are mistaken, and hijinks ensue.

It was December. We were making plans for our yearly New Year’s Day Videofest, and I had a list of movies starring Hedy Lamarr, because that was our theme for this year. Mr. Otter and I discussed possible movies, taking into account what was available on Netflix, at our local libraries, and things we could either buy cheaply or rent cheaply from Amazon. This movie streamed for free, and Mr. Otter said, Oh, I saw that when it was new, it was HILARIOUS. Great, I said, we don’t have any comedies, let’s go with that.

And we did. It was #6, after everyone else (Ottersis, mostly) had left, and we started watching it. And after a bit, Mr. Otter said, um.

Um? I said, something wrong?

Well, said Mr. Otter rather sheepishly, this isn’t the movie I was thinking of. I just remembered that the hilarious spy movie that I mixed up with this one was called Comrade X. I’ve never seen this one.

Um, I said…

But it was there and we watched it. Silly lightweight farce. Lamarr and Bob Hope were individually good but didn’t have much chemistry. The plot was heavy on slapstick and light on plot. It was okay but not great.

Um.

The Strange Woman

strangewoman

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

From the novel of the same name by Ben Williams.

A beautiful woman from out of town marries a wealthy merchant in 1820s New England…but also seduces his son and factory foreman. Things do not go well.

The New Year’s Day videofest was in session, and this year’s theme was Hedy Lamarr. This was our fifth movie, and it was okay, but there were parts that really made us roll our eyes.

Hedy was beautiful and believeable as the manipulative, self-centered girl who is trying to escape a life of poverty by marrying rich, but (not being satisfied with the quiet life she’s chosen) is looking for more on the side.

But some of the plot twists were just so ridiculous…like the scene from when she’s a kid, and pushes a boy who can’t swim into the river, and doesn’t rescue him til adults come by to see her do it…of course this boy is the son of the rich merchant she marries, and then she seduces him. That’s the kind of thing that had us saying, Nah! very loudly at the screen.

It wasn’t bad, just really unbelieveable in places…I don’t know if this was a faithful rendering of the novel, but the movie was only so-so.

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.

The Accountant

accountant
Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

Ben Affleck plays an autistic-spectrum accountant, who, for various reasons, is not only the best accountant ever, but also can out-fight anyone and shoot a rifle extremely far and accurately. He lives a quiet life but is actually the accountant for various bad guys around the world, and the treasury department is trying to track him down.

Mr. Otter and I decided not to be at home for the little trick-or-treaters, and decamped to the movie theater instead, and this is one of the movies we saw.

This was watchable, but had a lot of problems. Firstly, Ben Affleck, who I think is actually a good actor, did a good job playing an autistic person-but since that means having a flat, un-outgoing personality and no real verbal skills, it meant that the character was not very interesting to watch…and he’s on screen for almost the whole time.

Secondly, there were HUGE coincidences and unexplained plot points that made no sense. I won’t go into them, one of them is the big reveal of the movie, but seriously, both Mr. Otter and I said, no way! Just…no way could that ever have happened.

John Lithgow was good, and it was nice to see him, but it was not much of a part.

And…no, this one really isn’t worth a long review. Good actors, some good action sequences, mediocre writing. Skip it.

The Revenant

revenant

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

Guy gets mauled by a bear, left for dead, returns (title, get it?) to take revenge. Wonder how it’s going to end?

This won a SLEW of awards, including Best Actor, Director and Cinematography awards, and was nominated for even more (both Golden Globe and Academy awards). And…well…I’ll give you cinematography and even director.  Leo didn’t have to do more than stumble around looking half dead, so although he’s an excellent actor, there is no way I would agree that he deserved best actor for this; it was probably just, oh, here’s Leo again, we’ll give it to him so he’ll stop bothering us. And you notice that neither of these august bodies offered this movie best screenplay.

And why? Because it was AWFUL.

Yes, I came out and said it. One of the most talked about and lauded movies of the year (2013) that it was made…is just appallingly awful.

And there are SPOILERS ahead, so if you really do want to watch this tedious and annoying movie without knowing what will happen (but you really do know what will happen, trust me…there are no surprises in store) then stop reading here and come back after you’ve wasted TWO AND A HALF HOURS OF YOUR SHORT LIFE on this thing. You could have read my review in five minutes and then picked up a good book, but no. You have to show how you know better than I do. Go ahead. See where it gets you. Prove me wrong.

I’ll just wait here.

(2 hours and 34 minutes later)

So. Now you know. Aren’t you sorry you didn’t listen to the Otter?

I was at the Red Cross, doing apheresis, which means that I spent nearly three hours in a chair, covered with warm blankets, needles in both arms while they took out all my blood, drained the plasma and platelets, and put it back. And I get to watch a movie. I picked this one.

Oh my god. Tedious, moody, serious as all hell. Very very very predictable. Sudden flashbacks to tell the backstory (about his Native American wife, which explains why his young son is with him (because their village got torched by Bad Men and she died in the fire and they were the ONLY TWO who survived)). Then he gets mauled by a bear. Oddly enough, him surviving this is one of the few parts of the story I DON’T have a problem with; it did happen from time to time. Not likely, but possible. But the bad guy (Tom Hardy, excellent as always, although (as another reviewer pointed out) he is a serious mumbler…) gets tired of waiting, decides that Leo won’t make it, and ends up killing his son, then mostly burying Leo because he’s mostly dead anyway. Cue revenge music.

So of course Leo survives (and at one point puts gunpowder on the wound in his throat and lights is to cauterize it…THAT made my disbelief take a serious nosedive.) Then he is chased by the Bad Indians and (he has gotten a horse by this point) he and the horse jump off a waterfall, the horse dies, but he manages to get to safety, and cuts the horse open to A) eat it and B) crawl inside to keep from freezing.

But he continues down a frozen river in winter. In north Missouri. In WINTER. And he doesn’t die, get frostbite, or pneumonia? I found this impossible to believe; his extremities would have been GONE.

There are a lot of People (mostly white males) Being Evil To Each Other (mostly to Native Americans). Not untrue at all, but heavy handed. Oh, and remember the part where he set off gunpowder in his throat wound? so after the first half hour of the movie, he CAN’T TALK. Most of the movie is scenery, heavy breathing, flashbacks and sign language. Gaah.

So then he makes it back to the fort, finds out that Tom Hardy made it back, and gets ready to take care of business, which (of course) has to be done before he rests or recuperates from his ordeal. And this was the part that really cooked my pemmican.

Because during this knife fight (in the snow and freezing river near the fort) there is a scene where Tom Hardy stabs Leo through the hand with a knife. And you see the blade go through his hand into the snow/ground on the other side. And the blade of the knife (which is about an inch and a half wide) is perpendicular with Leo’s fingers. See where I’m going with this? The knife blade ( and you can see the wound on his hand) HAD to have cut muscles and tendons through his whole hand. And HE USES THE HAND TO FIGHT AND HIT WITH. And of course wins, finally.

And there I am in the Red Cross, with needles in my arms and earphones on, saying loudly, NO WAY! There is NO WAY he is using that hand for this fight and probably NEVER AGAIN! No! That hand is TOAST! and the nurses are walking over to see what I’m talking about and laughing at me and nodding in agreement.

So yeah, I guess it’s an okay movie of revenge and perseverence, but it takes itself waaaaay too seriously, is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too full of modern sensibilities and has WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYY too much Leo doing totally unbelieveable things that are just ludicrous.

The otter would like to bury this one alive and not let it come back for vengeance.

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.

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.

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.

The Haunting of Winchester House

winchester

Internet Movie Database

A family moves into the ‘Winchester House’ as caretakers and of course there are ghosts and stuff.

This review contains SPOILERS but since it’s a low-budget straight-to-video movie, I doubt you’ll ever come across it…and truthfully, if you do, you won’t want to see it. Trust me.

We have had this movie in the pile of DVDs that we laughingly refer to as The Great Unwatched, and it’s been there for a while…Spider Jerusalem watched it one time while house-sitting for us and said it was kinda meh. But because it was the Winchester Mystery House, of course we had to see it!

So let me start off by saying that I have lived within two miles of the real Winchester Mystery House for many, many years. I’ve taken the tour many times (great for out-of-town guests) and have read a lot about Sara Winchester and her interesting obsession.

The real WMH is in San Jose, across and down the street from two different shopping centers, and right by the 280 freeway. It is not in the woods in the middle of nowhere, and in fact the ‘house’ (in an undisclosed location) they use to stand in for it is a really pallid imitation, like showing someone a minnow and claiming that it’s a whale. Or some simile to that effect.

The production values are okay, not great, as is the acting. The house seems to have about six rooms, plus a basement and a secret passage. There are a lot of jump scares, and a bit of oogies with the baby (where did that come from? the main ghosts are concerned with the mystery of Sara W’s daughter’s disappearance) that is crawling into the room. But mostly pretty typical horror movie stuff.

The ending was just a damn stupid ‘Sixth Sense’ ripoff.

In the immortal word of Spider Jerusalem, Meh.

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