The Men who Stare at Goats

April 8, 2017

mengoats

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

Loosely based on the book of the same name by Jon Ronson

Several men are involved in the US Army’s attempts to make new-age and paranormal abilities useful in spying and combat.

I was at the Red Cross to do Apheresis, which means a couple of hours with needles in my arms, and I was looking for something amusing to watch, and this caught my eye…and boy, was it ever amusing. I was laughing out loud and all the nurses were coming over to see what was so funny.

The cast is stellar- George Clooney, Jeff Bridges, Ewan MacGregor and Kevin Spacey. Ewan MacGregor is a reporter trying to find out about a program that was designed to teach soldiers (or spies) to use mind power for various things, including making an enemy’s heart stop by staring at them (they trained on goats, hence the title). He tracks down Clooney, Bridges and Spacey, all of whom have history with each other, and he is led on a chase from one place to another as he tries to find out the truth.

This was actually a gem-well written, funny, full of great details. The military background is hilarious, and Clooney is so deadpan it’s amazing.

Trust the otter- use your mental powers to track it down, you’ll be glad you did.


The Last Remake of Beau Geste

April 8, 2017

lastbeau

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Very loosely based on the novel Beau Geste by P. C. Wren

Two Englishmen end up in the French Foreign Legion because of the theft of a famous and valuable jewel.

Confession: I, the Otter, am a HUGE French Foreign Legion junkie. I have a couple of dozen books (plus just about everything P.C. Wren ever wrote, and I’m not kidding), and have seen all the movies and tv shows I can find on Le Légion étrangère. 

I saw this movie when it was new (a couple of times, I think, back when you had to see it when it was at a theater, because there was no way to watch it at home when you wanted to…yes, I’m old.) and I remember that it was hysterically funny. Now, there is a phenomenon which we Chez Otter call the “Caddyshack effect”, where you remember something you saw when young as being awesome and it isn’t when you see it twenty or thirty or forty years later…but I was willing to take the risk.

I saw this on Amazon.com, and bought it…and a bit later Mr. Otter and I watched it, with not a little trepidation on my part.

And it was fun. Silly 70s era fun, with a lot of good people (Michael York, Ann-Margret, Marty Feldman, and a host of people who were well-known then but not so much now) being pretty amusing. The plot was silly but good, and gave a couple of nods to the novel, and it was nice to see it again.

Not one of the funniest or best movies of all time, but certainly fun to watch, and (more importantly) not at all disappointing. Whew.


Ghostbusters (1984)

January 25, 2017

ghost84

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

Three guys start up a business catching ghosts that are annoying people in New York City. Then things get wierd…

I was kind of horrified to learn that, in the 15 years since I started reviewing movies…I HAVEN’T WATCHED THIS ONE EVEN ONE TIME.

I know I haven’t, because if I had, it would have been here. So, after seeing the excellent update of Ghostbusters that just came out in 2016, I went downstairs to our Basement of DVDS and…this wasn’t there! Anywhere! I know we own it, honey, have you seen it? No I haven’t seen it, did you loan it to someone? (loud wails and cries of woe) (clicking keyboard keys) 2 days later: Amazon delivery! And now we own it again. Whew.

I was actually dating Mr. Otter when this came out, and we saw it in the theater together. And, of course, loved it. This movie is right up there with Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Terminator 2 for great quotable sound bytes; there are many I use to this day, in all kinds of situations. And I won’t launch into them here, because they are already bouncing around in your head. Don’t pretend they’re not.

But I will tell a story. In 2012, I spent a long weekend in Santa Barbara with a couple of girlfriends; one of them traveled with me by train, and the other joined us later that night after driving up from LA. The two of us who took the train got to the motel to check in, and were joking with the desk clerk, and suddenly noticed that her name tag said ZOOL. I am not joking. We (including the clerk) laughed ourselves silly, claimed to be the Keymaster, and made all the Ghostbusters jokes. Turned out that the day we checked in was the day (or day after) Whitney Houston died, and the desk clerk’s name was Whitney and she just didn’t want to deal with everyone having to comment on it…so she became ZOOL for the duration. I loved that!

So back to this awesome movie. The casting is superb (I’m a huge fan of both Murray and Ackroyd, although they were by no means the only good actors there. I also had a crush on Ernie Hudson for a long time…), the writing is fast paced and witty, the special effects were amazing in their day (and many of them purposely looked slightly cheesy, because the story required it).

Truthfully, I cannot praise this movie highly enough, and the best thing is that it stands up extremely well to repeated watching…which I’ll be glad to do, just come on over and we’ll call the Ghostbusters one more time…


What did you do in the war, Daddy?

August 4, 2016

war

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

 A group of American soldiers is told to capture an Italian village; the Italians want to have a festival before they surrender, the Americans haven’t had R&R in a long time, hijinks ensue.

Mr. Otter brought this home from the library where he works, and Ottersis and I thought it might be fun…I’ve heard of it, and didn’t mind giving it a try. Plus there were some good people in it, most notably James Coburn, a favorite actor Chez Otter, and Harry Morgan, who will be forever known as Col. Potter from the TV series M*A*S*H.

This was great farce, with nothing really unbelieveable happening but silliness piling on silliness until suddenly everything works out and the Americans come out heroes. But getting there is all the fun, and fun it is.

From the shenanigans at the festival, to the following near-disasters, to the crazy solutions to problems, and subplots adding in, this was funny, well written and pretty hilarious.


Ghostbusters (2016)

August 4, 2016

ghost

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Five women take it on themselves to try to stop ghost incursions in New York City, with amusing results.

Who ya gonna call? This update to an old standard (which, I am horrified to find out, I have not reviewed, which means I haven’t seen it since 2001 or earlier…! Far too long.) is pretty damn good.

If you are one of the three people in the world who has not seen Ghostbusters (1984), you have missed one of the seriously most hilarious movies on the planet, with a stellar cast, great writing, and wild comedy.

How do you do it again? By changing it out…the five main male parts from the original are played by women (and awesome funny women, Melissa McCarthy and Kristin Wiig being the standouts);  the female secretary is now gorgeous but dumb beefcake (Chris Hemsworth, a joy to see having so much fun in something less ponderous than Thor movies); the basic plot is changed to an occult terrorist rather than ancient gods returning; and many of the old Ghostbusters cast have token parts that made me laugh and point at them and enjoy seeing them again.

It wasn’t screamin’ hilarious, but it was funny. There was a lot of charm, and the humor fit the women who played the (not the same as the original) parts.  There were references to the original, but it was its own movie, and was good enough to stand on its own feet.

And of course, the special effects were excellent.

Well done, Ghostbusters. Very well done.


Deadpool

February 23, 2016

deadpool

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Guy becomes superhero, finds out his girlfriend is in danger, takes care of business.

This is one of the most hyped superhero movies ever- teasers, trailers, word of mouth. In the month leading up to its release, you couldn’t go anywhere on the internets (except maybe lolcat sites) without seeing references, promos or comments.  (No, I was wrong…)

And you know what? it was TOTALLY JUSTIFIED hype, for once.This movie was AWESOME.

I finally found time to go see it at the 9:50 show on a weeknight, about six days after it opened, after everyone else I knew had seen it and emailed me about how good it was.

Me: I’m going to the 9:50 show of Deadpool, want to come?

Mr. Otter: What’s it about?

Me: Costumed superhero. Fighting. Witty dialogue. Morena Baccarin.

Mr. Otter: Sure, what the heck. I got nothing else better to do.

Even Mr. Otter loved it. This movie hits all the right notes- over-the-top violence and gore, a great (and much more accurate than usual) car chase, wonderful dialogue and asides from Deadpool, great supporting characters, Serious Honey Morena Baccarin, and a good script that holds together well all the way through.

I can’t praise it highly enough. Go see it. I’m going a second time as soon as I have a spare minute.


Hail, Caesar!

February 11, 2016

caesar

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

A ‘fixer’, the guy who solves problems for the studio, goes about his work in Hollywood in the early 1950s, dealing with a star who has disappeared, a cowboy star who has to act, a pregnant leading lady, and so on.

This was wonderful. Mr. Otter and I like most Coen Brothers movies, although I have seen The Big Lebowski twice and except for two scenes and one line, find it totally forgettable…on the other hand, they gave us Fargo and O Brother Where Art Thou, so I cut them MILES of slack.

And this was fun and charming. Josh Brolin is always worth watching, but there are also George Clooney, Scarlet Johansson, Channing Tatum, Tilda Swinton (twice!), Ralph Fiennes, Frances McDormand, and an actor I had never seen before, Alden Ehrenreich, who is cute as a box full of puppy dogs.

Mr. Otter and I both enjoyed this. Not deep and enduring, but a damn good movie, fun, interesting, and full of slices of Hollywood at the time; the various films that one sees bits and pieces of are a hoot, the wonderful plot aside.

Go see it, you’ll be glad you did.