Touch of Evil

April 26, 2018

evil

 

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

Based on the novel Badge of Evil by Whit Masterson

The hunt for a murderer in a town on the border between Mexico and the US involving a doctor, his wife and a hard-boiled cop.

CoyoteRambles was visiting, and for once, we all had plenty of time together to hang out. So of course alcohol and movie watching zoomed to the top of our list.

Mr. Otter and I led with Leningrad Cowboys Go America, one of our favs that CoyoteRambles had never seen…and he picked this as the second movie of the evening. He is a huge fan of noir, and is also amazingly knowledgeable about movies. He stopped the movie a couple of times to tell us interesting things about this movie…including the fact that the first ten minutes or so are all one long shot. Which didn’t impress me til I saw it…the camera goes up to roof-top level, back down again and follows several people and cars around several blocks….pretty amazing!

This movie was a good noir pick; the outstanding thing was the lighting and cinematography; it was BEAUTIFUL. The story was good, with a lot of twists and turns. Janet Leigh as the woman caught up in the plot was good; it was a little weird seeing Charlton Heston in brownface as a Mexican doctor, but at least he didn’t try to talk with an accent…he actually was pretty good. And Orson Welles played the corrupt cop that’s all over everything in the investigation…and I don’t know if it was an overabundance of makeup or his age, but I seriously didn’t recognize him, even when I knew it was him.

Speaking of recognizing people, it was fun to see Dennis Weaver as a very young clueless hotel night manager, and both Marlene Dietrich and ZsaZsa Gabor in vampy bit parts. Very nice!

This was a good one to watch with friends and alcohol- the story was interesting enough to keep us going but nobody minded some comments or discussion during the movie as well. A solid pick from Coyote Rambles!

 

 

 


7 Days in Entebbe

March 20, 2018

entebbe

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

A ‘Inspired by True Events’ story about the hijackers who took a planeful of people (including a hundred Israeli citizens) to Uganda, and how the Israeli government sent special forces troops in to rescue them.

Mr. Otter and I went to see this; both of us, of course, were around when it happened, but considering that it was the month I graduated from high school, I wasn’t reading a lot of newspapers at the moment. But nobody at that time could miss hearing about it, it was a huge deal. And still is.

This movie…is not as good as we hoped it would be. I can’t speak for absolute historical accuracy, but they spent a lot of time trying to humanize the terrorists, which neither Mr. Otter nor I thought was either a good idea or very well done.

There was also a big plot thread with one of the soldiers and his girlfriend, who was pissed off that he wouldn’t be around to see her dance performance (really? Army guy is supposed to not follow orders to see your show?) and many cuts to the dance itself, which was an modernish thing that had us saying, Huh? Here is what Mr. Otter found out about it afterwards, because (good librarian that he is) he looked it up:

Mr. Otter: Apparently the first one is a piece about conformity among
the Haredim, which is supposed to somehow tie in to Israel’s tough
stance vis-avis the Palestinians. It’s a fairly famous piece, first
danced in 1990. The other piece is probably something about something,
too.

The second piece was during the credits, and was also a weird modern thing. And btw, this is not a reflection on the dancers, who were excellent; it just seemed out of place in a movie like this, especially with no explanation. I would have been happier with more politics and soldiering and less touchy-feely. I wonder if this stuff was put in specifically so that women would come to see an action movie?

This was okay, but not great. There was not enough tension, and the politics and public opinion were mostly told rather than shown…we were pretty nonplussed by the whole thing.


Ghostbusters II

March 1, 2018

ghost

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

The Ghostbusters are back! and this time they’re working with Sigourney Weaver to stop a centuries-old evil guy who wants to return to life…

OtherOtter and I were hanging out and decided to watch a movie, which of course meant trying to find something we both had not seen lately and wanted to watch…this one fit the bill nicely. She had not seen it and it has obviously been at least 16 years since I have, since there is no review of it.

And it was fun! it’s not as funny as the original, of course, but then nothing is. The Ghostbusters have fallen on hard times and disbelief, Sigourney Weaver has been married and divorced and has a child but no husband, and there is a bad guy wanting to be reincarnated into her kid. Hijinks ensue.

This was, of course, dated…and watching it with a 20something, there were many times I said, you’ve never heard of (reference they just made), have you? Sigh. But we enjoyed it.

Not top of the list, but good for an evenings amusement.


Black Panther

February 22, 2018

panth

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

A superhero fights the bad guy to save his country.

Seriously, that’s the basic plot…sounds pretty dull, doesn’t it?

But unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last year, you know how much more there is to this movie-not only an excellent addition (#18, I think) to the Marvel universe of movies, but the first big-budget high-profile superhero movie about a Black superhero and country.

The hype was astronomical, but the trailers looked damn good. Even Mr. Otter wanted to see this, so on a Monday holiday a few days after it opened, we sauntered down to our local Emporium des Movies at 9:30am, thinking we’d walk right into the 9:45 show.

Were we ever wrong. Not only that show, but the WHOLE DAY, was already sold out. So being retired, and Mr. Otter having Tuesdays off right now, we bought a ticket for the NEXT day, getting excellent seats, and went home and watched the second season of Preacher instead. And loved it.

But I digress.

So on Tuesday, there we were, Mr. Otter with his chai and me with ice cream, and the movie…was amazing. Beautifully filmed, gorgeous sets, costumes and special effects, good acting, good writing…pretty much what I expect from most Marvel movies, although this was better than most.

T’Challa (the eponymous Black Panther) has recently inherited both the name/powers of this superhero, and the rule of the kingdom of Wakanda, from his father. Wakanda (which is somewhere in central Africa) is a super-technologically advanced country that also is sitting on the world’s supply of Vibranium, which is not only the hardest metal in the world (Captain America’s shield is made of it) but also incredibly valuable. This is one of the plot lines, since nobody else in the world (except for a select few) knows that Wakanda is anything but a backwater third-world country. The other is the contention between T’Challa and someone from his past, Erik Killmonger (The Bad Guy), and all kinds of issues about freedom and responsibility are raised. This was so well done that there is a big faction who object to how the movie played out and are on Killmonger’s side. That’s some seriously good writing, folks.

But the best thing was having a movie written by and starring Black actors that was so intelligent, had such great characters (especially the three women) and a really well-thought-out plot. (With no major plot holes that I could see…and that’s really rare for a superhero movie, even a good one.) What a game-changer. At least I hope it will be, and from now on superhero movies will have a whole lot more variety and inclusiveness.

Here is a great article by an African-American writer that talks about some of the racial issues and attitudes that were part of the impact of, and discussion sparked by, this movie, including the number of people who were rooting for the ‘bad guy’. This article has SPOILERS, which I am trying really hard to avoid in this review.

Basically, this movie was very, very good; run, don’t walk, to the theater and see it.


Alan Partridge

February 15, 2018

alan

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

Alan Partridge is an inept, self-aggrandizing DJ in a small-town radio station, and a new company buys out the station…shenanigans!!

Steve Coogan is an Otter Family Favorite Actor, and one day when I was looking around for a movie to take to the Red Cross while I did apheresis, Mr. Otter handed this to me. Perfect, I said, and took it.

And it was good for a long period spent unmoving with needles in both my arms, I have to say. Funny, easy to follow, not complicated but interesting enough to keep my attention. Coogan was great as the smarmy self-involved idiot, and Colm Meaney (who I will always think of as the asshole guy from Con Air) was also in it, and was very good.

This is one of those movies where everything just keeps getting more and more crazy and out of hand, and it builds nicely. Worth seeing, if not funniest movie ever.


Cars

February 1, 2018

A Disney dot Pixar Film

Internet Movie Database
CinemaSins          Movie Reviews

Race car Lightning McQueen (get it?) has to get to California to win the big race, but gets stuck in a tiny town in the Southwest, and of course it’s full of eccentric characters and he falls in love and learns about life.

Music Mike knows this guy who could get us into Disneyland for free, so of course we were all over that. We went in the middle of the week in January, so as to avoid crowds, and since neither of us had ever been to California Adventure, we decided to do that (we had to choose one place or the other.) A chunk of CA is about the Cars movie, and more is getting changed over; it’s a HUGE deal with little kids, especially little boys, as I know from working on a children’s desk in a library since forever.

The thing is, I had never seen the Cars movie (nor, of course, any of the sequels or the million videos or cartoons or books or any of the other spinoffs.) So when we walked through Radiator Springs downtown, and there was Luigi’s tire shop with the tower of tires, and the traffic-cone motel, and Fran’s V-8 Diner, and the awesome spinning ride that was a bunch of tractors with Tow Mater’s voiceovers, and the big car race ride, and the neon at night, I didn’t get ANY of it.

But the neon was great, and the big ride (and some of the little ones) was really fun.

So when I got home from that trip, I checked the Cars movie out of the library and watched it. I told Music Mike, and mentioned to Mr. Otter, that I thought Mr. Otter and I had watched it way back when…but it’s not in my reviews, and neither of us really remembered it, so obviously we didn’t.

And (getting back to the review) I have to say, it was really fun. The animation was good; not as spectacular as today’s movies, but damn good. The story was pretty predictable, but told with wit and charm. And it didn’t hurt that most of the story takes place in my favorite place ever, the Southwest.

The voice actors were good, although I didn’t recognize any of them (including Serious Honeys Paul Newman and Michael Keaton). There were plenty of in-jokes and asides for the grownups to be entertained, and it never got boring.

And I sat through the credits and laughed hysterically…they’re almost the best part of the movie.

A fun time. Didn’t make me want to go out and see the sequels, but I sure enjoyed it…and now I appreciate what I saw at Disneyland even more.


The Phantom Thread

January 23, 2018

phantom

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

A high-end fashion designer in 1950s London meets a girl, and things proceed from there…

I am not one to go to a movie based on an actor that happens to be in said movie. That’s something Mr. Otter often does, but I am plot-driven; I am happy when an actor I like is in a movie I want to see, but I have to be interested in the story, or I don’t bother to see it.

Except in the case of Daniel Day-Lewis. I would go see him read a laundry list, and be happy to pay my (whatever ungodly amount they’re charging for movies now) for it.

He is a Serious Honey. What’s more, he is, in my opinion, one of the very best, if not THE best, actor on the Big Screen right now…and I have heard rumors that he’s retiring after this movie. More power to him for having a life, but damn I’m going to miss him.

Even in a slow, strange, beautiful movie like this, he is riveting.

And it was slow. And beautiful. And very character-driven. And not much happened, although the end made us both sit up and say, What?…but it worked. I don’t know if I’d go see it again unless I was in desperate need for eye-candy, but it was good.

And aside from also saying that if you are interested in fashion or costume design, you will have even more reason to enjoy this movie, I will say no more. Discover it on your own, like it or hate it, Day-Lewis is definitely worth watching. As are many of the cast, but who sees them when he’s on the screen?

Thank you, Daniel. But I certainly hope I’m wrong and this is not your last movie.