Isle of Dogs

February 1, 2019
isle

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Because dogs are coming down with several dangerous and communicable-to-humans diseases, the mayer of Megasaki, a large town in Japan, decrees that all dogs will be taken from the city and dumped on Trash Island to live or die…including his own son’s beloved pet.

This was a strange and wonderful animated movie. The voice actors include a wide array of talent- Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bob Balaban, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Scarlett Johansson, Harvey Keitel, F. Murray Abraham, Yoko Ono, Tilda Swinton, Liev Schreiber and Anjelica Huston were the names I knew, plus a host of Japanese actors. The voice talent was amazing; they really brought the animated dogs to life.

There are so many amusing and interesting things happening that it’s hard to describe how much fun this film is to watch; the story has great twists and turns. I mean, basically it’s about a boy determined to save his dog, and also about the abuse of power, and also has wierd science experiments, and is also a journey story, and has a lot of hilarious digs at cats.

This is not a typical Pixar-like kids movie; the stop-motion animation is extremely well done, but it gives this film its own look and feel, and the story and characters are wacky and interesting.

Well worth seeing!


Get Out

October 19, 2018

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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

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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.


Venom

October 19, 2018

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An alien comes to earth and takes over Tom Hardy.

This was actually pretty good; I read some buzz on the interwebs ahead of time, and it was awful…and then I found out that Lady Gaga’s fans were badmouthing this movie before it even came out because A Star Is Born came out the same day, and they didn’t want the competition…sigh.

But yes, this was good. Venom is in the Spider-man universe, although there are lots of crossovers, and since Venom is a symbiote, the possibilities are endless.

I really like Tom Hardy, Revenant and Inception notwithstanding–oh god, and he was Bane too, wasn’t he?–and he was perfect for this role…not so superhero-y, but fun to watch, and a good mix of jerk and nice guy. The repartee between him and Venom was good too, and well done.

I liked this enough to be looking forward to the next entry in the series!

Warning: there is one teaser trailer in the middle of the credits. Don’t bother waiting til the end, that is not a teaser, it’s a trailer for the Spider-man multi-universe animated movie coming out in December…which they ALREADY showed a trailer for before this movie. Not cool, Marvel. Not cool at all. This otter does not like being beaten over the head with promotional propaganda.


The Ugly American

September 21, 2018

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From the novel of the same name by William Lederer and Eugene Burdick.

Mr. Otter brought this home, and we watched it. He had read the book, which I hadn’t, and I knew nothing about it except the current usage of the phrase, which is Americans going to other countries and behaving like complete assholes.

So this is about a fictitious Southeast Asian country named Sarkan, that has a northern half that has become Communist, and they and the Chinese are trying to take over the rest of the country…sound familiar? Yup, it’s Vietnam; I figured that out after about ten minutes, it’s really obvious. Brando is the new ambassador, sent there to make sure the new road through the country that the Americans are building (“Freedom Road”) goes through, after some sabotage halts construction.

Brando’s character has a close Sarkanese friend who is being led astray by those darn Communists, so that’s a huge plot point with much political talk, and he is also friends with two Americans who run a hospital for children that is much needed and appreciated.

Eventually it all goes pear-shaped, mostly due to misunderstandings and the machinations of those doggone Communists, and the Americans have to leave. Not really a spoiler, it’s obvious where the plot is going.

This was pretty heavy-handed, but since it was made in 1963 about current political events, that’s not surprising. I was surprised, though, when I was talking to Mr. Otter a few days later- he used the phrase Ugly American, and I said, I assume that movie is where the phrase came from, but Brando wasn’t what the phrase means now, he really appreciated the country, tried to follow the customs and respect the people, but was misinformed.

Mr. Otter said no, the eponymous Ugly American was the American doctor, who the local people considered to be ugly although they loved him anyway. Huh? Really, said Mr. Otter, I read the book, it was him.

O-kaaaay. So there you have it.

If you like heavy-handed political drama, or seeing history from the contemporaneous point of view, this is your movie. But be warned, Brando is already in mumble-mode in 1963, it was sometimes very hard to understand him.


The Professionals

September 21, 2018

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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!

 


Anything Goes

September 21, 2018

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Two song-and-dance men on a sea cruise rehearsing a new show with two women, plus gangsters. Hijinks ensue.

This is a pretty badly done remake of a sparking and wonderful Cole Porter musical. Not only did P G Wodehouse co-write it, but Sidney Sheldon, he of Sexy Potboiler Thriller fame, had some kind of hand in it…and the script is just awful, even for a 50s musical.

Plus extra songs were added in, which OF COURSE don’t stand up to the original brilliance of Cole Porter.

Bing Crosby and a VERY young-looking Donald O’Connor (but he always looked young, come to think of it) are mugging their way through this thing, trying to be upbeat and doing what they can to keep up the pace; a woman named Zizi Jeanmaire (and who did very little else in her career) and Mitzi Gaynor are the female leads.

There are a few good moments, but you have to sit through a lot of bad ones to get to them. Give this one a pass.