The Professionals

September 21, 2018

pro

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews 

From the novel A Mule for the Marquesa by Frank O’Rourke

Four guys who specialize in fighting and weapons are hired by a Very Rich Guy to get his wife back after she’s been kidnaped by Mexican bandits.

I love Las Vegas. I don’t do the usual Vegas stuff, much- I love the bookstores, the Neon Museum, and places like that. I also love the two parks nearby- Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, and Valley of Fire State Park.

Valley of Fire is gorgeous, and many movies have been shot there…but this movie is special to them, because not only did the movie company build a road out to the White Domes, where the did a lot of the shooting, but there are pieces of the set still there that you can hike to.

So Squirrel Lady and I were in Nevada, and stopped at this State Park. We were going to take this hike, but when we got to the Visitor’s Center, on the white board where they list current information it literally said, Hiking: NOT RECOMMENDED. It was over a hundred degrees there at the time, so I can see why they said this…so we drove and looked at stuff, but did not hike.

When I got home from this trip, I had a free evening, so I rented this from Amazon and watched it…and you know, it was pretty good!

The plot is one of those 60s ‘bad guys are good and good guys are bad’ revisionist Western plots…but there were good people in it (Lee Marvin, Burt Lancaster, Robert Ryan, Woody Strode actually playing a main character instead of getting killed in the first ten minutes, Ralph Bellamy and- wow, I just saw this- Jack Palance playing the bad-guy Mexican bandit who’s causing all the trouble. And Claudia Cardinale as well. Kind of a 60s Western go-to list of actors.

The story was good, with lots of action and some humor. The ending was predictable but well done. And it was cool to see how much of it they did shoot in VoFSP…I recognized a lot of the landscape.

So go there, then rent this…you’ll be glad you did!

 


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.


Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

July 12, 2018

beasts

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A prequel set in the Harry Potter ‘verse. Newt Scamander comes to the United States in the 1920s to help a rare creature, and gets involved with muggles (known as ‘no-maj’-es in the US, where magic is Not Allowed) and, you know, shenanigans. And lots of cute creatures.

I have pretty much given up on the Harry Potter oeuvre; I liked the books, plot holes aside, but by the fourth movie they were just sinking under the weight of having to condense ten hours or more of plot into a bit over two hours. Meh.

But I really like Eddie Redmayne, and this looked interesting, and I was going to be at the Red Cross for three hours with needles in my arms doing apheresis, so why not?

And it was ok verging on good. If this had been written as a standalone, it would have been better, but of course it’s going to have sequels that will set up the Harry Potter series and the political and dark magic underpinnings that preceded those books. So sure, whatever.

I liked the three principal actors- Redmayne, the girl and the no-maj sidekick guy; they worked well together and the sidekick didn’t just come off as an idiot and the butt of all the jokes; he was a pretty cool character in his own right, and I liked him a lot. Serious Honey Johnny Depp shows up briefly, about which I will say no more.

And…the sequel is coming out next year, and I’m sure there will be another one…and it will NEVER END.

So I’m pretty much done with these; not only do I get tired of waiting years to find out how the next installment goes (I’m looking at you here, George R. R. Martin) but the whole PORTENTOUS thing just blows this out of the water for me. It’s not deep. It’s not a huge revelation. It’s just a kids’ fantasy series, guys, so stop taking it all so seriously.

And now I better change my email address before the hate mail starts pouring in…


Avengers: Infinity War

May 3, 2018

infinity

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Everything in the Marvel universe just goes to hell in the worst possible ways.

So…the 18th movie in the Marvel franchise, plus who knows how many tv shows, ‘one-shot’ shorts, and related stuff. In just 10 years, if you start counting from Iron Man In 2008. Here’s a list. The hype over this has been incredible, and if you missed it, you have been living in the outback with the dingoes, seriously. Even Mr. Otter, who dislikes all things Marvel, knows that this exists. (Probably because I can’t stop talking about it…)

In fact, four days after this movie came out, Mr. Otter was being prepped for (NOT SCARY OR LIFE THREATENING let me point out) surgery, and I asked his doctor how long it would take. About 2 1/2 hours, he said. Just enough time for me to see a movie! I chirped, and when the surgeon asked which one, we both geeked out about it for about 5 minutes. Then I kissed Mr. Otter, ran off to meet Ottersis at the theater, and had a wonderful time, totally ignoring my phone’s vibrations during the movie as the nurses tried to tell me that Mr. Otter was fine and was I going to come back and visit him anytime? In my own defense, I DID walk out on the credits and the amazing teaser trailer at the end and went to see him, so I get some spouse points there…

Anyway. Wow. There is so much in this movie, so many different plot lines and personalities pulled together to make up this megablockbuster of a movie- I knew (from the several trailers that hit the Interwebs) that literally everyone that had ever had a Marvel movie about them would be in this, and the thing I was worried about was that it would just be a big ol’ scrimmage with lots of fighting but no plot development…but no.

Sure, there was A TON of action, fighting and general mayhem, but the characters were good and the movie mostly did them justice. The plotting was tight and the writing was great, and nobody did anything that made me go, Huh?

I am hoping that, like the three first Lord of the Ring movies, a 4 hour Director’s Cut will be released on DVD; there was obviously more story here than they could cram into a movie in the theater, and cuts had to be made…but I want it ALL.

And the ending was…I’ll just say amazing. And unexpected, at least to me. And that is all I can say about this movie without ruining it for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet…and if not, WHAT IN THE HELLS ARE YOU WAITING FOR? Go! Go NOW!

 


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!

 


Justice League Dark

April 26, 2018

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The first team-up of the sorcery/magic Justice League group.

Okay. So first, you need to know that I am a HUGE John Constantine Hellblazer fan. I have the whole 300 issue run in graphic novel form, and Son of Man was one of the three comics that made me start reading graphic novels again after a 30 year hiatus. I LOVE Constantine.

So when DC did “The New 52”, finally ending the 20+ year run of the original comic, and rebooted it as this Justice League Dark teamup, I was skeptical…and read the first several issues and ranted for days about how bad they were. Constantine’s character was WAY watered down from his original foul, mouthy, semi-evil bad boy origins, and being a team player is NOT on his list of job skills.

But I somehow got a copy of this movie recently, and thought, well, let’s give it a try.

And…you know…I liked it.

The story is the usual thing, mysterious evil stuff at work and who’s doing it? and let’s go a lot of spooky places and fight stuff and find out.

But the story was good; Zatanna wasn’t as annoying on screen as she is in print because hearing her cast spells is much better than reading it  (she casts magic spells by saying things backwards, which I find extremely distracting, and kind of stupid). I always like Jason Blood, because Etrigan (a demon who talks in bad verse) is hilarious, and the group worked well. Constantine was really pretty well represented here; they had to clean up his language A LOT, but he was still rude and mouthy, obviously hot for Zatanna, and not so much a team player as a ‘I’m going to do this, you can follow if you want’ kind of person.

I enjoyed this a lot! might go back and give the later comics another try…


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.