The Tomorrow War

November 18, 2022

Internet Movie Database Movie Reviews

Aliens will kill most of Earth’s population in the future so soldiers are being drafted in the present and sent to the future to fight and die…until Chris Pratt takes care of business.

OMG. This is the reason that, as much as I love time travel movies, they really should be kept out of the hands of idiots. This movie had a lot of boom and whango, as we say Chez Otter, but very little about it made sense. There were so many plot holes related to time travel that I’m not even going to go there. Mr. Otter and I spent most of the movie yelling, Why are you doing this? at the screen, and pointing out the obvious paradoxes and inconsistencies.

And I really like Chris Pratt, but not here. Even he couldn’t save this dog.


The Day The Earth Stood Still

November 18, 2022

Internet Movie Database Movie Reviews

From the short story Farewell to the Master by Harry Bates

An alien comes to earth with an ultimatum: abandon war, especially nuclear war, or the Earth will be destroyed by other alien races.

This is, of course, a legendary SF movie. My family always had the TV going on Sunday afternoons to watch whatever cheesy old SF and horror movies were playing (back in the days when you had to watch whatever the Television Gods decreed, rather than choosing for yourself.) This was a big favorite, and my sister had a huge crush on Michael Rennie, who I will admit is easy on the eye.

I saw bits and pieces of it, and of course Klaatu Barada Nicto is a famous catchphrase…but I really don’t remember ever having actually watched it all the way through, until Mr. Otter mentioned it and I said, I’ve never seen it. Well, that was a gap in my cultural literacy that got addressed pretty quickly!

For what it was, a preachy cold war movie about eschewing violence, it was pretty good. The special effects weren’t bad for the time, and the story, although pretty far-fetched (none of his abilities was ever explained, he could just do all this random stuff. And he was exactly like Earth humans…hm.) it all held together pretty well.

The story was interesting enough not to be draggy, and of course the ending, “The decision rests with you…” was great.

The Otter liked this classic and was happy not to be disappointed by it!


Don’t Look Now

November 17, 2022

Internet Movie Database Movie Reviews

From a short story of the same name by Daphne DuMaurier

Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie are in Venice, trying to get over their grief at the death of their only daughter…then WEIRD STUFF starts happening.

This was at the same time compelling, creepy, slow moving, strange and atmospheric, and ultimately satisfying. Sutherland and Christie are great at showing the strain on their marriage their daughter’s death has caused, and their ups and downs are very believable. The wierd psychic stuff is kind of low-key; you have to watch for what is happening to put it all together at the end. And the ending, the final payoff, is very satisfying.

Worth tracking down and watching!


The Madwoman of Chaillot

October 21, 2022

Internet Movie Database Movie Reviews

From the play La Folle de Chaillot by Jean Giraudoux

A very old-fashioned countess takes on the destructive industrialists of the modern world with the help of various eccentric people.

I have loved this movie since I was a young Otter. I made time for it every time it came on TV (back in the days when the Television Gods ruled what you watched, and if it wasn’t scheduled to be on television, you couldn’t see it…) I had not watched in, maybe, 40 years (yes, this Otter is old.) but when I realized that it was on one of the streaming services, I chose it for our Saturday Night Zoom Movie group.

And…it was fun. I like Katherine Hepburn, and she was awesome as the Countess who does not approve of the modern world and is attempting to keep the businessmen from destroying the part of town she lives in in quest of oil lying below the streets. One of the businessmen is Serious Honey Yul Brynner (with hair!) There is more slapstick than I remembered, campy late 60s slapstick, but it was fun watching Hepburn and her coterie take on The Bad Guys and win.

A charming evening’s entertainment.


Rome, Open City

October 20, 2022

Internet Movie Database

Although Rome is classified as ‘open’, meaning that citizens are not in imminent danger of bombing and they can move about the city fairly freely, the Nazis are in everyone’s faces, there are curfews and rationing, and life is still hard. There are two couples in love and a priest who all become involved with a fugitive Resistance worker.

It was Saturday night, time for our Zoom Movie Group. Mr. Otter had chosen this one, and he, I and Coyote Rambles all settled down to watch it.

This is the first in Rosselini’s Neo-Realist Trilogy (Rome, Open City; Paisan; Germany Year Zero) and was made so soon after the collapse of the Fascist govenment in Italy that they had to use black-market film. It was a big success, so Rosselini went on to make the other two.

Because Rossellini used mostly non-actors, and because it was shot in a Rome that looks tired and war-worn, it has a realism that is fascinating. The story is good, but the setting and visuals are actually as interesting as the plot, showing as they do how people were actually living at the time.

A unique perspective on WWII in Italy, well worth watching.


Billy Rose’s Diamond Horseshoe

September 22, 2022

Internet Movie Database Movie Reviews

Joe Jr. drops out of medical school because he wants to go into show business, so Joe Sr. lets him run his nightclub for a while, and gets a girl to pretend she’s interested in him to keep Jr away from Sr’s girlfriend. Shenanigans! And lots of musical numbers.

Completely ordinary, great if you like the aforementioned musical numbers. Lots of good singers and dancers to watch.


Klute

September 22, 2022

Internet Movie Database Movie Reviews

The best friend of a murdered man talks a PI into trying to solve the case, working with a prostitute who may be the next victim.

This is a movie I’ve heard about since it came out (and since I was 12 at the time, of course I wasn’t allowed to see it, lol!). It wasn’t the greatest whodunit ever, especially since the audience knows very well who the bad guy is; he’s shown listening to tapes he made of the victims’ sexual encounters several times, so duh. The low-key but intense interaction between Sutherland and Fonda is good, and so is Roy Schieder as the pimp of all three murdered girls.

Not exciting, but a good psychological suspense movie.


The Guns of August

September 15, 2022

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From the book of the same name by Barbara Tuchman

It was time for the Saturday Night Zoom Movie, and Mr. Otter, CoyoteRambles and I were ready for our weekly shared flick! Mr. Otter (aka Historian on a Stick) chose this one.

This is a very good documentary about WWI, but mostly about the antecedents, the origins of the actual conflict, and the first month of the war. It’s narrated by Fritz Weaver, using contemporaneous photographs and footage. Tuchman’s book, which it was based on, won a Pulitzer Prize for literature in the year it was published (1962)

If you’re looking for an interesting and well-made introduction to WWI, this is it!


Quo Vadis

September 15, 2022

Internet Movie Database Movie Reviews

From the novel of the same name by Henryk Sienkiewicz.

A Roman general falls in love with a Christian slave and is eventually converted, all against the backdrop of Nero’s Rome.

I was traveling, as is my wont, and was listening to a great audiobook series from the Teaching Company about movies that take place in Ancient Rome and their historical accuracy; the presenter was a Classics professor, and he was funny and had a lot of interesting things to say, both about the movies and about the whole ‘Roman Spectacle’ genre of movies. This was one of the films he talked about; it started the whole genre in 1951.

I read the book many many years ago as a young Otter, and still remember that it was a thunderin’ good read…this movie? not as much, although it wasn’t bad…

Robert Taylor is the Roman commander, and it’s a toss-up whether he or a block of wood would be a more compelling hero…he’s very handsome, but rather stiff and unemotional. Deborah Kerr is beautiful and awesome as the Christian slave Lygia, but the cake is completely taken, eaten and owned by Peter Ustinov as Nero; not only is Ustinov an Otter Family Favorite Actor, but this role is campy and awful. Scenery is chewed with gusto.

This movie has huge sets, scenes with hundreds if not thousands of actors, chariot races, Rome burning, and lots of overacting. What’s not to like?

But read the book as well, it was great.


Grumpy Old Men

September 15, 2022

Internet Movie Database Movie Reviews

Two men in a small town who grew up together and have had a 50 year rivalry mostly expressed through invective and practical jokes both become interested in a widow who moves to town.

Our wonderful neighbor loves this movie and thinks it’s the funniest thing on Earth. She brought it over one night and we watched it and…well, we agreed to disagree.

It just wasn’t funny; mostly it was mean spirited, and these guys were pretty much annoying idiots. On top of that, they are both pursuing Ann-Margret, who is 16 years younger than Jack Lemmon and 21 younger than Walter Matthau, and looks even younger than that…it was kind of creepy. Not to mention the assumption that one of them will of course ‘win’ and she will be his. Was there nobody else in town interested in a beautiful and smart woman besides these two losers? Can she just not choose anyone and live her own life? Evidently not.

Not my cup of tea, thanks. You go ahead and enjoy it.

(And, after we had seen it and were nonplussed, and trying to find nice ways to tell our wonderful neighbor that no, this was not very funny at all…she said, oh, you need to see Grumpier Old Men, the sequel, that’s even funnier! Um, no, but thanks.)