Duck Soup

March 3, 2020

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

Groucho ends up running a country. Wheee!

Who doesn’t love the Marx Brothers? Well, at least we Chez Otter do! CoyoteRambles was visiting, and movies are a big part of his visits, so we all decided on having some fun and watching this again.

It’s one of my fav Marx Bro movies; the ridiculousness of the plot (Groucho is made the leader of a fictional country that is on the brink of war with another country. You can guess how well that turns out…), the Hail Freedonia song (as well as Hurray for Captain Spaulding), the costumes and settings, the silliness of everything going on…this movie has it all!

Whether or not you have seen it before, or even if you have never seen the Marx Brothers at the top of their game, this is a great one to watch over and over and over…


2001: A Space Odyssey

February 18, 2020

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

There is a book with this title by Arthur C. Clarke; he worked on it with Stanley Kubrick while the movie was being filmed, and the book was released after the movie came out with out.

Like I can describe this movie in one sentence. Okay, here goes: Human evolution as enhanced by wierd monoliths, from early man to space travel, and what happens to the first astronauts to go to Jupiter. Hm. Not perfect, but it’ll do.

I saw this movie when it was new, when I was a very young otter indeed, at the Hollywood Cinerama Dome, which has an 86 FOOT WIDE SCREEN. It was quite an experience, and I’ve never forgotten the wonder and coolness of that movie, and have seen it many times.

And yet, here it is 2020, and I had not reviewed it…which means that I have not seen it since January 1, 2002, which is when I started reviewing every movie I watch. Wow. That amazed me.

CoyoteRambles was visiting us, and as is our wont, after a good dinner we settled down with some delicious libations to watch a movie or two. This came up in the conversation, and since he had taught it in a class for foreign students, we decided to watch it; one of the best things about watching movies with CoyoteRambles is that he knows so much about movies.

And as I remembered, it was wonderful.

But…there are SPOILERS ahead.

If you are one of the few in the world who haven’t seen it yet, you may want to come back to this review after watching it. Go ahead, I’ve got some free time.

You back? Okay!

So yes, the cinematography is amazing. And beautiful in many ways. We found out from CR that the only reason the makeup artist DIDN’T win an Oscar for the first section, the apelike hominids, was because everyone thought they were really apes instead of people with amazing makeup…wow.

It’s fun, fifty years later, to see the concept of future tech.

On the one hand, video phone calls and recorded video messages. On the other hand, no handheld devices.

On the one hand, computers. On the other hand, mostly keypads or voice commands.

On the one hand, a regular shuttle flight to the space station, stewardess and all. On the other hand, palatial amounts of room and meal/drinks service…not really the travel experience of today for most people, plus for a trip like that economizing on space would be important.

Hindsight is so easy. But the internal logic of how all of it worked together was very consistent, and a joy to watch, either then or now…although seeing it as a 10 year old, the plot didn’t completely make sense to me until I read the book…but I was that kind of kid, ALWAYS read the book.

CoyoteRambles said he had had an epiphany about the movie, even after watching it umpteen times: at the end Kier Dullea finds a hidden recorded message about the government finding a monolith on the moon, realizing that it was sending a signal to Jupiter, and covering that up…and that ‘knowing’ that, having it in his memory but having to lie about it, was what drove HAL crazy. That was an interesting insight!

This is one of the truly great movies. If you haven’t seen it, do it now.

 

 


A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

December 6, 2019

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

A journalist is assigned to do a story about Fred Rogers and ends up becoming his friend.

This was more interesting than I expected. Mr. Otter and I really only went to see this movie because we both think Tom Hanks is the awesome with awesome sauce on top and a side of awesome. I thought, a movie about Mr. Rogers? Isn’t that going to be a little dull? But no, it wasn’t.

I was a little too old to watch Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood as a kid, but I’ve certainly seen his show since growing up, and I have to say, Tom Hanks really nailed his voice, movements and slow, friendly cadence. And seeing the contrast between this quiet, gentle person and the brash, conflicted, skeptical reporter really made for a good movie.

A reporter named Tom Junod (renamed Lloyd Vogel in the movie) is burned out from being a war correspondent, has burned bridges with every magazine editor in town, is a bad boy who’s hard to work with and who has big anger issues…and his editor, as his last chance, assigns him to do a short article on Mr. Rogers…which turns into a long article and a lifelong friendship, because that’s just how Mr. Rogers worked.

This movie is well made, charming and heartwarming without being stupid, soppy or sentimental. If you need a bit of ‘up’, it’s a great one to see.


Get Out

October 19, 2018

get out

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

An African-American who is engaged to a white girl goes to visit her parents for the weekend and things just get damn wierd and creepy.

Let me start by saying that I am not African-American, just so you know where I’m coming from here. Mr. Otter and I watched this, having heard a lot of buzz about it when it came out, and I rented it from my local library with a few other movies I had missed recently.

I knew that it was a horror-ish movie from the African-American perspective; I was envisioning an abattoir in the parents’ basement…but this was both way more interesting and waaay creepier than that.

I don’t want to give anything away, but this was not only a well-written and edge-of-your-seat horror movie, but it also had a lot to say about race relations. And being able to combine both in one movie is amazing. The characterization is good, the writing is good, the storyline just goes places I did not foresee.

If you can stand suspense and some blood, watch this, it was great!


The Desert Song

July 12, 2018

desert

Internet Movie Database

Another in the ‘innocuous socialite masquerading as a daring do-gooder’ genre, this time Nelson Eddie is the son of a general in the French Foreign Legion, and they all hang out in the local town. He is also (really not a spoiler) the Red Shadow, who is somehow helping the Rifs rebel against the French.

And The Girl comes to town, engaged to an officer, with Romantic Notions, so of course he decides to kidnap her so that she will fall in love with him…hey, it’s musical comedy, it doesn’t have to be PC or make sense!

This made-for-TV version of the Sigmund Romberg operetta is mostly intact; Mr. Otter checked and they cut out one song which he dismissed as ‘forgettable’. Gale Sherwood is very cute and has a fine voice, and even the aging Nelson Eddy sounds good.

Filmed in black and white, which is probably better than the hideous color mixes that would have been used in the 1950s, this is, with all its flaws, much much much much much better than the hideous 1953 movie version with Gordon MacRae and Kathryn Grayson, which still makes me shudder when I think of it, thirty-some-odd years after I saw it while dating Mr. Otter. (And I hasten to add that I saw it on TV, folks. This otter is not old enough to have seen it in the theater. (Mr. Otter is, but I’m not.))

Anyway. There are some good songs, too many dream ballet sequences (one is too many), some good dancing by Bambi Linn, and a lot of silly drama, as is usual in Romberg’s pieces.

But Mr. Otter wooed me with many of these songs, so I loved watching it with him. Baritones. They’re the BEST.


The World’s Greatest Lover

April 26, 2018

world

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

Gene Wilder goes to Hollywood to try to become a star in silent movies. Hijinks ensue.

I remember seeing this movie several times in the movie theater when it came out- I was (and am) a huge Gene Wilder fan, and this was one I remember really liking. This is Wilder’s second or third time writing and/or directing, and although it’s sort of an old-fashioned period piece full of last century’s humor, it’s still funny and charming.

Wilder plays a nebbishy guy who needs to change his life, so he brings his terminally naïve wife (played by a young Carol Kane) to Hollywood, where they enter a competition to become the new hot movie star for Rainbow Pictures, run by a demented Dom DeLuise.

And silliness happens, and charm, and funny stuff, but the ending is touching, and it’s nice to see Wilder just being his own funny self.

Bonus: we were visiting friends, one of whom mentioned that he played one of the legionnaires in this movie, and we did indeed spot his younger self in that scene!

 


Cars

February 1, 2018

A Disney dot Pixar Film

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CinemaSins          Movie Reviews

Race car Lightning McQueen (get it?) has to get to California to win the big race, but gets stuck in a tiny town in the Southwest, and of course it’s full of eccentric characters and he falls in love and learns about life.

Music Mike knows this guy who could get us into Disneyland for free, so of course we were all over that. We went in the middle of the week in January, so as to avoid crowds, and since neither of us had ever been to California Adventure, we decided to do that (we had to choose one place or the other.) A chunk of CA is about the Cars movie, and more is getting changed over; it’s a HUGE deal with little kids, especially little boys, as I know from working on a children’s desk in a library since forever.

The thing is, I had never seen the Cars movie (nor, of course, any of the sequels or the million videos or cartoons or books or any of the other spinoffs.) So when we walked through Radiator Springs downtown, and there was Luigi’s tire shop with the tower of tires, and the traffic-cone motel, and Fran’s V-8 Diner, and the awesome spinning ride that was a bunch of tractors with Tow Mater’s voiceovers, and the big car race ride, and the neon at night, I didn’t get ANY of it.

But the neon was great, and the big ride (and some of the little ones) was really fun.

So when I got home from that trip, I checked the Cars movie out of the library and watched it. I told Music Mike, and mentioned to Mr. Otter, that I thought Mr. Otter and I had watched it way back when…but it’s not in my reviews, and neither of us really remembered it, so obviously we didn’t.

And (getting back to the review) I have to say, it was really fun. The animation was good; not as spectacular as today’s movies, but damn good. The story was pretty predictable, but told with wit and charm. And it didn’t hurt that most of the story takes place in my favorite place ever, the Southwest.

The voice actors were good, although I didn’t recognize any of them (including Serious Honeys Paul Newman and Michael Keaton). There were plenty of in-jokes and asides for the grownups to be entertained, and it never got boring.

And I sat through the credits and laughed hysterically…they’re almost the best part of the movie.

A fun time. Didn’t make me want to go out and see the sequels, but I sure enjoyed it…and now I appreciate what I saw at Disneyland even more.