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!


A Quiet Place

October 19, 2018

quiet

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A family lives alone on a farm, trying to keep themselves safe from predators.

I missed three movies this summer while I was traveling, and recently checked them all out of my local library to watch. I gave Mr. Otter first choice, and he picked this one.

And we were both really pleased with it, and because it was so well made and suspenseful, I’m just going to say that it was well made and suspenseful. The writing was spare and excellent, the actors were really really good, and the situation was believeable without being overexplained.

This was great, you should see it. But not alone, it might scare you too much.


Batman: Gotham by Gaslight

April 26, 2018

gaslight

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From the graphic novel of the same name by Brian Augustyn

Batman and other Gotham characters are recast in a late 1800s Gotham City, and must stop a series of “Jack the Ripper” style murders.

I loaned several seasons of the truly excellent Gotham TV series to a friend and his teenage sons, and one of the sons got me this as a thank-you present. And they say millenials don’t do well with social interactions! A very thoughtful gift!

Anyway. I took this along when I went to the Red Cross to do Apheresis, and it was excellent for lying for a couple of hours with needles in my arms- interesting, well done, suspenseful and fun.

The animation was good- stylish but not overfancy. The characters were good too, and the whodunit ending was surprising, if you haven’t read the book (and I don’t remember reading it if I did, so I was certainly not expecting what happened.)

My only slight problem with it was the period setting, which was a mishmash of both British and American and several different decades of things, references and happenings.

But, to misquote another movie…”Forget it, Otter. It’s comic books.”

Worth seeing if you are (like me) a fan of Batman or Gotham.


7 Days in Entebbe

March 20, 2018

entebbe

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A ‘Inspired by True Events’ story about the hijackers who took a planeful of people (including a hundred Israeli citizens) to Uganda, and how the Israeli government sent special forces troops in to rescue them.

Mr. Otter and I went to see this; both of us, of course, were around when it happened, but considering that it was the month I graduated from high school, I wasn’t reading a lot of newspapers at the moment. But nobody at that time could miss hearing about it, it was a huge deal. And still is.

This movie…is not as good as we hoped it would be. I can’t speak for absolute historical accuracy, but they spent a lot of time trying to humanize the terrorists, which neither Mr. Otter nor I thought was either a good idea or very well done.

There was also a big plot thread with one of the soldiers and his girlfriend, who was pissed off that he wouldn’t be around to see her dance performance (really? Army guy is supposed to not follow orders to see your show?) and many cuts to the dance itself, which was an modernish thing that had us saying, Huh? Here is what Mr. Otter found out about it afterwards, because (good librarian that he is) he looked it up:

Mr. Otter: Apparently the first one is a piece about conformity among
the Haredim, which is supposed to somehow tie in to Israel’s tough
stance vis-avis the Palestinians. It’s a fairly famous piece, first
danced in 1990. The other piece is probably something about something,
too.

The second piece was during the credits, and was also a weird modern thing. And btw, this is not a reflection on the dancers, who were excellent; it just seemed out of place in a movie like this, especially with no explanation. I would have been happier with more politics and soldiering and less touchy-feely. I wonder if this stuff was put in specifically so that women would come to see an action movie?

This was okay, but not great. There was not enough tension, and the politics and public opinion were mostly told rather than shown…we were pretty nonplussed by the whole thing.


Ghostbusters II

March 1, 2018

ghost

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The Ghostbusters are back! and this time they’re working with Sigourney Weaver to stop a centuries-old evil guy who wants to return to life…

OtherOtter and I were hanging out and decided to watch a movie, which of course meant trying to find something we both had not seen lately and wanted to watch…this one fit the bill nicely. She had not seen it and it has obviously been at least 16 years since I have, since there is no review of it.

And it was fun! it’s not as funny as the original, of course, but then nothing is. The Ghostbusters have fallen on hard times and disbelief, Sigourney Weaver has been married and divorced and has a child but no husband, and there is a bad guy wanting to be reincarnated into her kid. Hijinks ensue.

This was, of course, dated…and watching it with a 20something, there were many times I said, you’ve never heard of (reference they just made), have you? Sigh. But we enjoyed it.

Not top of the list, but good for an evenings amusement.


Cars

February 1, 2018

A Disney dot Pixar Film

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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.


The Bride of Frankenstein

January 21, 2018

bride

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Frankenstein’s Monster didn’t die in the first movie (or any of the subsequent ones) and Dr. Pretorius, who is obsessed with creating life, teams with Dr. F to create a female companion for the monster.

This movie has been a running joke for as long as I can remember…but on the other hand, I have never seen it. And when Craiggers and I were driving for nine hours to get back home, and listening to Karina Longworth’s You Must Remember This podcasts about the lives of Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff (which were awesome for a car trip) we had to watch this the next evening, having seen Dracula the night before.

I had grown up with monster movies on TV, running almost continuously on the weekends. Many of them were hosted by people like Elvira or Seymour, who made fun of the (mostly awful) movies they hosted…and I mentally lumped this in with all the other Frankenstein knockoffs, of which there are many.

But Longworth said this was arguably the best, even better than the original, and talked about it at great length, so Craiggers and Mr. Otter and I cranked it up after dinner.

This movie was completely different than I expected, even after hearing the podcast description. The beginning of the story, where Mary and Percy Shelley and Lord “I’m So Cool” Byron are talking and Mary tells them ‘the REST of the story’, is cheesy, and of course they have to recap the original and show how the monster survived by hiding in the basement. But after that, it gets very good.

The look of it is very modern, and in fact, even though the frame story is set in the very early 1800s, the story itself is in late Victorian times, which is a little weird. The sets are big and angular and blocky, almost modernist, and not what one expects from a mad scientist’s castle.

Karloff, in the continuing role of the Monster, is now much more sympathetic. He is befriended by a hermit, and learns to speak a few words; this calm period ends when they are discovered by huntsmen who attack the Monster, who runs away and is found by Dr. Pretorius, who convinces him to kidnap Dr. F’s new bride; the only way Dr. F can get her back is by helping Dr. P create new life, a woman to keep the Monster company, which does not work out well at all.

There are some interesting things about this movie…firstly, Elsa Lanchester as a thin beautiful woman, playing both Mary Shelley and the Bride…not the impression I have of her from later films, nor the mental image I had for this movie.

Secondly, Dr. P’s examples of being able to ‘create life’ are shown to be these weird creepy little people in jars who are playing roles- the lecherous king, the clergyman, the beautiful woman- and trying to get out of the jars to interact with each other. Very strange.

The other thing I didn’t realize is that Mel Brooks’ brilliant movie, Young Frankenstein, is more a parody of this than the original Frankenstein; there are many scenes and characters (like Madeleine Kahn, Chloris Leachman’s character, the policeman, and the hermit) that are instantly recognizable. Interesting.

The ending was not what I expected…stark and abrupt, although it had been foreshadowed, and of course the Universal checklist* of what horror movies must include does not make a happy ending for the monster a possibility. And Elsa Lanchester! I had only seen parodies of her character, including Madeleine Kahn’s amazingly funny performance…seeing the real thing was scary and kind of sad. And it was such a short (although powerful) scene to have become so legendary.

This was worth watching; we mocked frame story and the ‘tiny people in bottles’ scene, it was silly, but the rest of the movie was actually a good psychological thriller, and both Karloff and Lanchester really give us characters to identify with.

If, like me, you have not yet seen this classic, you owe it to yourself to give it a try.

*From Scare ’em to Death- then Cash In by Richard Hubler,
Saturday Evening Post, May 23, 1942 (seven years after Bride of Frankenstein)

…More than most Hollywood productions, tbe horror film bas a set formula. George Waggner, an easy-going, slow-apoken ex-Philadelphian, is entrusted with the production of most of Universal’s chillers—which means moat of those in the industry. He says they must have specific characteristics:

  1. They must be once-upon-a-time tales. In one film, executives insisted upon having the word “legend” in the preface stand out in boldface.
  2. They must he believable in characterization. A scientific premise, such as the building of a monster, may seem phony, but never the character or motives of Doctor Frankenstein.
  3. They must have unusual technical effects. One of the best was the operating table ascending into the lightning, a sequence ao good in the original Frankenstein that it was repeated in the latest.
  4. Besides the major monster, there must be a secondary character of weird appearance, such as Igor, the brokennecked mentor of Frankenstein.
  5. They must confess right off that the show is a horror film. In the first Frankenstein picture an interlocutor appeared to tell the audience to brace itself.
  6. They must include a pish-tush character to express the normal skepticism of the audience. This sacrilegious fellow must he later confounded, as was stout fellow Ralph Bellamy in the latest horror productions.
  7. They must be based on some pseudoscientific premise.

To this potpourri of rules, Waggner claims to have added his own ingredient, modern psychology. He tries to make the hero not only horrible but likable, to work up audience sympathy. “My horror films have to be tragic and inevitable,” says Waggner. “Just like a Greek play.”