The Brothers Karamazov

January 9, 2018

kara

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From the novel of the same name by Dostoyevsky.

Ivan is in love with Katya is in love with Dmitri is in love with Grushenka who is sleeping with the brothers’ father Fyodor while brother Alexi the priest tries to make peace and everyone despises Smerdyakov, Fyodor’s smarmy illegitimate son.

No kidding. I thought it was going to be yet another Russian political the-government-is-evil-let’s-have-a-revolution kind of thing…but no. It’s a big ol’ thundering family drama, full of anger, tears, forgiveness and lots of people ending up unhappy (because Russian).

Ottersis, Mr. Otter and I wanted to see this…not only is it the last movie we had chosen and not seenfor the New Year’s Day Moviefest 2018 (theme: Hollywood’s take on other countries) but also Ottersis and I are in complete agreement on the hotness of Yul Brynner, which is awesome. In fact, I am now promoting him to Serious Honey. You’re welcome, Yul.

So this takes place in the 1870s in Russia, and everyone is fighting over money and sex, and it’s actually really good. Although it clocks in at 2 1/2 hours, it moves really well, and what developed in the last half hour surpised me, if not everyone (Mr. Otter says he read the book but doesn’t remember it that well.)

And the cast list is a 50s roll call of good actors: Brynner, Lee J Cobb, Harry Towne, Claire Bloom, Richard Basehart, and (we were all surprised to see) William Shatner playing the priest brother. And he was actually good, and SO young!

But the best was Serious Honey Maria Schell, sister of Maximilian Schell, as Gruschenka. She was so good when she was onscreen you couldn’t look away from her- beautiful, a good actress, a worthy foil to Yul and his high horse, which he kept getting on…she was just amazing. I looked at the list of her credits, and as I thought, I’ve never seen her in anything except (and I didn’t remember this) a forgettable part in the first Superman movie from 1978.

Anyway. This was really worth watching- lots of drama, tension, pretty good writing and good plotting. Guess I’m going to have to read the book now…


My Favorite Spy

April 8, 2017

spy

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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.


White Cargo

March 18, 2017

cargo

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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.


Risen

March 15, 2017

risen

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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.


Finding Dory

August 4, 2016

dory

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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?)


Cat People (1982)

February 8, 2016

catpeople

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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…


The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini

January 16, 2016

ghost bikini

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A bunch of teenagers at a haunted house with a bikini-clad ghost trying to do a good deed within 24 hours. Shenanigans!

Our friend Craiggers was visiting us, and we all like silly movies; he has a penchant for both campy horror-ish stuff, and Beach Blanket movies, and this was a very silly combination of both.

The ghost does indeed wear a bikini (a huge one by today’s standards, covering up a lot of her) and the woo-woo special effect was that you’d see her in pale double exposure, but where her bikini was supposed to be, you could see through to the background.

Tommy Kirk is in this, and Nancy Sinatra as one of the teens (and of course she gets a song…) And Basil Rathbone and Boris Karloff both have walk-ons as well, which was fun.

There is some campy stuff, and silly antics, but unless you really like this brand of silliness, it’s pretty excruciating…this one is not for the faint of heart, kids!