Manchester by the Sea

August 28, 2017

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

A loner finds out when his brother dies that he has been named as his 16 year old nephew’s guardian.

This is one of those movies that looks really, really good in previews, mostly because of really, really good editing.

We chez Otter really, really like Casey Affleck. (Okay, I’ll stop the really, really thing. Really.) He is a fine actor and has been in a lot of (didn’t say it) very good movies.

This movie felt like it was trying to be deeper than it was, but it never really got off the ground. Taking this kid in makes Affleck’s character face a horrible mistake he made in the past, and they all work through it, and it’s all better in the end. Hope that wasn’t a spoiler, because that was seriously the whole movie.

Lucas Hedges was excellent as the teenager. The writing was good. The story could have been good, but it was like hearing someone tell you a really great story in a mumbling monotone…there are good bits, but they get lost in the telling.

I was underwhelmed by this, although I wanted to like it.

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My Favorite Spy

April 8, 2017

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

April 8, 2017

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.


White Cargo

March 18, 2017

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.


Now, Voyager

January 29, 2017

voyager

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

From the novel of the same name by Olive Higgins Prouty

A meek spinster who has been under her domineering mother’s thumb her whole life gets psychiatric help and celebrates her freedom by taking a world cruise, coming back a mature and confident person.

This is a movie that I have always heard about as incredibly romantic…I knew it was about a ship, and that Bette Davis and Paul Henreid were in it, but nothing more. And (I think) it was in listening to Karina Longworth’s excellent blog on the history of Hollywood, You Must Remember This, that this movie was mentioned and we said, we should watch this! So we did.

And it was NOTHING like what I expected. Rich Boston folks and a nebbishy daughter who can’t say BOO to her mother. They had Bette Davis dressed and not-made-up to look plain and mousy, so that when she took the trip and had an actual love affair, she could blossom into being beautiful.

It wasn’t a bad movie, for what it was worth; the actors were good, the writing was good…just not our cup of tea. When it was over, I looked up the book, and found out that not only was this novel that I had never heard of (I didn’t know the movie was based on a book) a best seller, it was one of a series of 5 books that were all famous in their time (1931-1951). She was also the writer of the book Stella Dallas, which is another movie I have heard of but didn’t know it came from a book. This book/movie were both evidently a huge boost to positive perception of psychiatry, as well

So…interesting. The movie is good, albeit predictable, and we found the ending a little hard to swallow…nobody is that nice! But it was good to finally see this. Worth the time for the actors and settings, not so much for the plot.


The Accountant

January 29, 2017

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 Magnificent Seven (2016)

January 26, 2017

seven

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

A remake of the 1960 western of the same name, which was itself based on Kurosawa’s movie The Seven Samurai. People in a small town hire seven down-and-out gunslingers to protect them from the bad guys.

So here’s what’s different:

  1. It’s not a Mexican town, it’s an American Southwest mining town, and the evil industrialist mine owner is trying to make people work harder so he can make a ton o’ money. I’m not sure how killing the workers is supposed to achieve this, but whatevs…
  2. Instead of an average Joe (or Jose, since the original was set in Mexico) being the town spokesman, a beautiful girl whose husband has been killed in the reign of terror (hired thugs shoot up the meeting in the church, then burn it down, ordering people to leave the bodies there as an example) goes on her own and hires some guys.
  3. She runs into Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt, up to hijinks as a bounty hunter and gambler, and when she shows them some money and mentions the bad guy’s name, they’re all about helping her. And they find a bunch of other guys they know who can help.
  4. For a town girl, she sure does well at spending something like a week in the saddle doing hard riding…and they all seem to find their friends (in hiding) pretty well too.
  5. The seven are carefully multicultural and inclusive. The original group o’ white guys included Charles Bronson pretending to be Mexican, and Russo-Japanese Yul Brynner pretending to be just another guy, but the rest were Euro-types. The new set include Denzel, a Korean actor playing ‘generic Asian’, an ACTUAL Mexican guy playing a Mexican (must be a first for Hollywood) and, of course, a Native American. Plus three white guys.
  6. There is very little explanation of who these guys are, why they would be willing to do this, or what their connection is with Denzel.
  7. The Comanche (who, btw, is played by an actor who at least has some Native ancestry…Alaskan, but at least authentic…) of course runs into his arch enemy during the final battle and they fight. Because like women in a battle, who must be shown fighting each other, Native Americans must also be shown to fight each other instead of whatever target shows itself. Sigh.
  8. Don’t even get me started on the final battle, which was full of eye-rolling stuff like Gatling guns that accurately shoot single bullets over distance.
  9. And…of course they rescue the town, fulfill their various destinites, and (those who are left alive) ride out victorious.

I kind of liked this as I was watching it, but my brain kept saying, but…what about this? No, that’s not right…but this other thing? no, that doesn’t work either.

Even with the star power hired to attract viewers, this is a letdown. Pass on it and watch the original again instead, you’ll be glad you did.