thewayne: (Default)
6/3 PotC Dead Men Tell No Tales
6/1 Wonder Woman

5/30 PotC (v)
5/10 Colossal
5/? Guardians of the Galaxy 2 x2
5/6 Guardians of the Galaxy (v)
5/1 The Zookeeper's Wife

4/30 Sleight
4/28 Their Finest
4/23 Paris, Je T'Aime (v)
4/22 Moana (v)
4/21 Pixels (v)
4/20 Tangled (v)
4/15 Ghost in the Shell
4/9 A United Kingdom (Fountain)
4/7 Going in Style
4/2 Mighty Morphing Power Rangers

So starting with the earliest....

Mighty Morphing Power Rangers was a lot of fun for what was, more or less, YA entertainment. It was pretty much as silly as the TV series as I recall, but they did a good job updating it for more modern times. I look forward to seeing what they do with future releases.

Going In Style: also lots of fun. A heist movie starring: old people! And they get caught! And they still pull it off! Very clever.

A United Kingdom probably didn't see wide release, we saw it in an art house theater. It's a true story about the creation of Botswana. The king, Seretse, is a student in London and falls in love with a white British girl, Ruth. Initially he reveals himself to just be a student, but things get complicated. He's destined to be the king and marry a local girl to solidify political alliances for the good of the country, etc., which is a British protectorate. Eventually Seretse and Ruth marry, against Ruth's parent's wishes, and move back to Africa. Seretse ends up exiled for five years and has to move back to London. Meanwhile, Churchill is running for Prime Minister again and promises that he'll rescind the exile if his party is elected. They are, and he doesn't: in fact, the exile is made permanent. It was a heck of a movie, definitely recommended. And it is a feel-good movie, all works out in the end: Ruth and Seretse are buried side-by-side on a hill overlooking the village where they lived most of their lives in Botswana.

Ghost in the Shell would have been an excellent movie if they hadn't cast ScarJo in the lead. Very good story, excellent visuals, but she brought absolutely nothing to the movie IMO. As much as her stunt sequences were wire work, any competently-trained actress, PREFERABLY ASIAN, could have done the job. And their oh-so-clever alteration of the story to justify casting a white woman in the role of The Major did nothing to justify casting a white woman in the role of The Major. It was a sa attempt to retcon her that did not work.

Tangled. I decided to start logging and talking about videos that I/we watch that I hadn't previously seen, and this is one. It is original Disney material based on a classic story, but honestly, it didn't do too much for me. Enjoyable, but not particularly memorable.

Pixels. More video. I saw this in the theater and enjoyed it. My wife had not seen it, and we were looking for something mindless. And trust me, this is pretty mindless. Still, it is fun, and as Adam Sandler movies go, it's better than most. But that's not saying it's a good movie, just that it's mindless fun.

Moana. Even more video. We saw it in the theater and quite liked it, I kinda wish we'd seen it at least once again on the big screen. I find it interesting that even on our dinky little 36" or whatever LCD in 720p (since our receiver blew up, that's the only resolution we get, and that's fine by me) that I appreciate subtleties in effects that I don't notice in the theater. Things like water reflections, or fire effects, knowing that these are fiendishly difficult for animators to get right. we also worked through the bonus features which were quite interesting.

Paris, Je T'Aime was the last of this block of videos. This took me by surprise because I didn't know what it was. It's actually a collection of VERY loosely-connected short films, typically about 5 minutes long. They're made by some VERY big names, and have some VERY big name stars in them. The vampire sequence was quite good, as was the blind guy sequence. Most of them were very good. It just took me some time to realize that it really was a short story collection. Still, recommended.

Their Finest is one of the best movies that I've seen this year. Seriously. It's about a group of people in World War II London who make propaganda films for the British government. I don't know exactly when it's set, but it's shortly after the rescue at Dunkirk, which is interesting because there's a Dunkirk movie about to come out. Anyway, they hear a story about two very young women who take their dad's fishing boat without permission and sail out on their own to sail across the channel and rescue soldiers, but the boat breaks down on the return and they have to get a tow. There's a lot more to the story than that, obviously, but it's just a tremendously entertaining story. I'd say it's light drama with a great cast, featuring the likes of Bill Nighey, who was prominently featured in Love Actually. He plays an older actor who is just constantly chewing up the scenery. This is definitely on my Must Purchase list.

Sleight was actually a mistake. I did not intend to see it, I had gone to the theater to see Zookeeper's Wife. I bought a ticket for Zookeeper's Wife. But I'd put away my reading glasses, so I asked the ticket clerk which theater, she said #1. So I go to #1. It was a full-service theater, so I order munchies and a drink, settle in, and the previews don't really seem appropriate for what I was going to see. And it was starting REALLY late. And then I realized it was the wrong film. I look at my watch and what I'd wanted to see had started a good 40 minutes earlier, so I was kinda screwed. So I watched something that I was kind of prejudiced against. It turned out more interesting than I thought. Technically, it's science fiction, but it's gang-related. Our hero is a sleight of hand street magician, really good at what he does. He can do coin tricks and levitation like you would not believe. He graduated high school and had a scholarship to university, but after he turned 18, his mother died unexpectedly, so he's taking care of his kid sister. So he does magic tricks during the day, picks up his sister at school, fixes her dinner, puts her to bed, then he goes out at night working for a crime boss and sells drugs. At first he's just driving around town, making deliveries and collecting cash. But then he gets in deeper and things go bad, jeopardizing the lives of himself and his sister. And this is where his magic tricks and the science fiction comes in, and I can say no more about it. Again, it's not bad, just not what I was interested in and not something that I would have sought out.

The Zookeeper's Wife. World War II movie based on a true story, set in the Warsaw Zoo, starting shortly before the German invasion of Poland. When Poland falls, the zoo comes under the purview of a former friend, the head of the Berlin Zoo, who is in close with the Reich who has their larger animals slaughtered as they can't afford to feed them when so many soldiers and civilians have to be fed. Then he starts an animal eugenics program to bring back a super race of animals to please Hitler. Meanwhile, the zookeeper is smuggling Jews out of the Warsaw Ghetto back in to the tunnels under the zoo, supplying them with fake paperwork, and out of the country. The wife is serving as a distraction to the Berlin zookeeper, much to her unhappiness. A very interesting and ugly story.

Guardians of the Galaxy. Whenever one of the Marvel superhero movies comes out, we try to watch the previous one as a refresher, so we popped this in the player and had a lot of fun. Like Moana, we dug in to the bonus material, which apparently we hadn't previously taken the time to do. It was nice seeing it again as there are a lot of good bits in this. But if you want to have a lot of fun, look up the YouTube channel How It Should Have Ended and see their treatment of this movie....

Guardians of the Galaxy 2. Lots of good stuff, it's definitely a character growth movie. Everybody gets some introspection time. LOTS of background story on the Ravagers, Peter Quill meets his god daddy, sisters get bonding moments and get to shoot lots of stuff. But honestly, I think I liked the first movie more. I'll watch them back to back when it comes out on DVD and we'll see if my opinion changes.

Colossal was a huge amount of fun, pun intended. A giant monster starts attacking Seoul, South Korea, for no obvious reason. It appears, attacks, then disappears. The summary in IMDB say: "Gloria is an out-of-work party girl forced to leave her life in New York City, and move back home. When reports surface that a giant creature is destroying Seoul, she gradually comes to the realization that she is somehow connected to this phenomenon." It's a strange little movie that is quite interesting. Excellent trailers are available all over the place.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Since a new Pirates movie was coming out, we re-watched the first one on DVD. And fundamentally, it's a fun movie. It has that amazing sword fight in the cave where people turn in to and back from skeletons while they move in and out of moonlight. It's impressive. But the subsequent movies? Meh.

Wonder Woman has to be one of the most talked about movies of the summer, not the least bit because of all of the little men-boys getting their feelings hurt over stupid things like Alamo Draft House having women-only showings. When some men complained, ADH had a second showing. Overall, I thought WW was a very good movie. It had some weak points, but all movies do. I think it could have stood another pass through the shooting script by an outsider to say "Wait a minute - what is this scene supposed to do?" It's entirely possible that scenes had to be cut for time which caused things to appear broken, and they'll look better when a director's cut is released. Some of the misdirection was a little too obvious, but that's OK. All in all, a lot of fun and I hope to see it again in the theater. Another one on my Will Buy list. I'm looking forward to seeing Ms. Godot in the future ensemble movies, I need to make time to see the Bats vs Supes movie if I ever buy a copy.

Pirates: Dead Men Tell No Tales. So as I said, I haven't been impressed by the Pirates movies that came after the first, they've been pretty much a waste of time for me, and I wasn't exactly chomping at the bit to see the new one. But I did actually enjoy it, much to my surprise. Which is not to say that it was an excellent story, it had plenty of weaknesses that could have been improved by tighter editing and inserting some explanations. But all in all, much better than the sequels that have come before.


All in all, a heavy quarter for seeing movies: 17 movies seen, including videos, 11 first-run.
thewayne: (Default)
We had a stragedy to see these two movies. Our theater shows new releases Thursday night, so we figured we'd go to the last showing of Pirates because everyone would be seeing Wonder Woman. But when we got there, the showing of WW was only about half-sold, so we went ahead and saw it.

And it was good. It had an overwhelmingly good score and it was mostly well-earned. I thought the story was pretty good. They nicely developed the origins of the Amazons, got her in to World War I. I thought there were a couple of continuity errors that I wish they had fixed, I don't know if they had problems between the shoot and edit, or what, but it was kind of jarring for me. Still, lots of fun. My wife commented on all of the names of women in the credits which was really cool.

There is no teaser of a future movie in the credits, so if you're desperate for the bathroom when the movie ends, go for it.


For Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, we watched the first Pirates movie on DVD Wednesday night as a prep to see the new one this weekend, and it was lots of fun, it's been ages since we've seen it. We saw the subsequent movies, and I have not been impressed and won't waste the time, space, and money owning them. I've also heard about the scores for the new Pirates movie on Rotten Tomatoes, and the studio complaints about Rotten Tomatoes, and I've seen the trailers, so I did not have high expectations. And I was surprised, it was much better than I was expecting. To me, they caught the light tone of the first movie along with the scary aspects and melded them well. We got back stories which made sense and nicely tied Salazar to Jack. It, too, had a couple of continuity problems that just didn't make sense. You'd think that when you're looking at 120-135 minutes that you'd be able to trim down some needlessly long sequences which would give you time to fix the problems. Which to me implies that they had script problems that no one caught and they had no choice but to release the movie with issues.

There is a teaser at the very end of PotC: DMTNT, but it is at the VERY end of the credits. I'm not sure which of the movies it refers to, it really didn't excite me. So there will be more Pirates as these movies make lots of bucks in Asia.


My wife had a major problem with Pirates: Dead Men -- they abused astronomy. This is a problem being married to a woman who has a PhD in astronomy. I have similar problems when people abuse what computers can do, but I think I might have a slightly higher willing suspension of disbelief when it comes to my field being abused on-screen than she does.
thewayne: (Default)
Books:
1/2 Miniatures: The Very Best Short Fiction of John Scalzi
1/5 Twenty-Sided Sorceress 1-3, Annie Bellet
2/11 Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, Helen Simonson

Movies:
1/06 Sing
1/07 Hidden Figures
1/25 The Founder
2/11 Resident Evil: Final Chapter
2/19 Lego Batman 3D
2/21 The Great Wall
3/07 Logan
3/27 Beauty and the Beast (2017)

I figured that if I could consistently do this quarterly that it would be a lot less work than trying to do everything early next year!

Miniatures.
This new release by Scalzi is a collection of some of his short work, in some cases, very short. Lots of fun stuff if you like Scalzi, including a multi-part work about going back in time to kill Hitler and what the repercussions would be. Fun stuff.

Twenty-Sided Sorceress, 1-3. This collection of three books: Justice Calling, A Murder of Crows, and Pack of Lies is a YA series about a woman living in a town of witches and werewolves who just happens to be a sorceress, a type of practitioner who is not trusted in the magic community. The reason for the mistrust is fairly simple: when a sorcerer/ess kills someone, they can suck their power and add it to their own (except for weres). Jade Crow is keeping a low profile, running a comic book/game store, when Bad Things Start To Happen. Most of it is because of her ex-boyfriend, a sorcerer who trains up neophytes then kills them to suck their power, decides it's time for her to die. She escaped before he thought she was ripe for the plucking. This was an impulse ebook buy and a lot of fun, though a tad Mary Sue-ish. The characters were decently-done, and you definitely don't want to mess with Jade when she has her mean on. When I can find a collection of the subsequent books I'll probably buy them, but I'm not going to actively seek them out. These three books set up the confrontation, but the battle with the ex won't be for another book or two at least.

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand. I don't normally read RomComs, though I do occasionally like them in the movies. Something about the description of this one intrigued me, so again, impulse buy. It's a contemporary setting in rural East Sussex about a retired English Army Major whose brother has an unexpected heart attack and dies. The Major has been alone for several years since his wife died, has never gotten along particularly well with his sister in law, and his son is a rather alien financier in The City. He's rather staid in his ways, and things come to a head with his brother's death. The Major's grandfather was a war hero in India and was awarded a pair of Churchill fowling pieces for service in rescuing the family of an Indian prince. The guns, as a matched set, are worth a very respectable amount of money. And his father, upon his death, gave each of the boys one of the shotguns, with the understanding that on the passing of one brother, the gun would be returned to the other. Alas, he didn't explicitly spell that out in the will. And the sister in law, and his son, know the guns are quite valuable and are trying to press the Major to sell his piece along with the other and split the proceeds. But that's just one story thread. The real 'Last Stand' is the Major slowly falling in love with a Pakistani woman who runs the town's shoppe. She is also a widow, and also a tremendous lover of books. Except for skin color and people talking, they are an ideal couple. The story of their relationship, and the difficulties in their getting together, is very well woven (IMO). What I found most interesting is that this is Helen Simonson's first published novel! Her second novel was released earlier this year and is not a continuation, which I'm both glad and not happy with. The book is in development as a movie, and I think it should be a lot of fun if they do a good job.


Sing. While it is a new year, I would class Sing as one of the better animated movies that I've seen in the last year. Excellent story, and amazing character acting. And it's sitting on the coffee table in front of me, I expect to watch it again soon.

Hidden Figures. What a movie! While there was no chance it would win the Oscar for Best Motion Picture, it certainly deserved the nomination. It tells the story of black women, mathematicians, working on the space program to launch the first American (man, of course) in to space and later the moon landings. Just an amazing movie. It definitely felt time-compressed, but lots of movies have to do that to cover the key points of the material and to get them in to one movie.

The Founder. Again, what a movie! But I also cannot blanket recommend this movie to just anyone. It's the story of Ray Kroc and the founding of McDonald's, though it might be more accurate to describe it as the theft of McDonald's. Kroc was a literal traveling salesman, selling milk shake mixers to drive-in restaurants. It wasn't exactly making him rich, then he receives a major order from two brothers running a little restaurant in California. He drives out there to see why they needed so many machines, and in a contrast to the slow and messy teen hangouts that he had been selling to, he sees a clean operation where people line up to order at a window and are handed a bag with their burger and fries. It blows his mind, and he talks the owners in to letting him franchise the operation. The dark side of this movie is that Ray is a pretty evil and conniving person, ultimately taking even the name from the founders. He was quite a slime ball, at least as shown in this movie, so it's hard to know how much is accurate and how much exaggeration or just pure fiction. I've been a fan of Michael Keaton for a long time, and he does an outstanding job of portraying Kroc.

Resident Evil: Final Chapter. Guilty pleasure movie. I've seen all of the Resident Evil movies and own the first couple, and just had to finish out the series. And it stays true to form: lots of zombie blasting, the evil Umbrella Corp., etc. A good wrap-up for the franchise. Basically a pretty decent shoot-'em-up, nothing terribly deep here. Basic popcorn movie with very good stuntwork and fight choreography.

Lego Batman 3D. Another guilty pleasure movie. I hadn't seen the previous The Lego Movie, but I had friends recommend it. And there was a certain silly vibe of this movie that really resonated with me. One evening while my wife and I were in Phoenix for the renaissance festival, we went to the movies. And in this case, the plural is accurate: she once again saw Star Wars: Rogue One, I saw Lego Batman. Lots of fun, pure silly. I absolutely loved the villains saying Pew! Pew! as they fired their blasters! AND as a bonus, I got a Lego Batman bag of Lego parts, which I haven't assembled yet. I think it's for the Bat Wing. Lots of good call-outs to the Adam West TV series and the previous live movies. And I expect I'll buy it, it'll be a good 'too sick to work' movie for watching when suffering from brain death and unable to sleep.

The Great Wall. Lots has gone on in the last few years with Caucasian actors appropriating Asian roles, but that's not really the case here. This is an original work with Caucasians in addition to Chinese casting. Yes, Matt Damon is a star, but he's not the only hero in this film and not remotely the best hero. The director, Zhang Yimou, denies the 'White Savior' trope, and I agree. The Washington Post critic says Damon is "heroic, but also clearly a foil for the superior principles and courage of his Chinese allies." It's a basic monster movie, but with some good twists. Lots of fun, I've seen it twice and will consider picking it up. It's not a giant monster movie, but the monsters are quite good. Amazing stunts and mass battle scenes. Right now it is one of four movies to make more than $100million in China while not making that much in the USA. While it made good money in Asia, it's considered a loss in the USA excluding the aftermarket of digital sales and broadcast.

Logan. Granted, I only saw eight movies in the first quarter of the year. This, hands-down, is perhaps the best of the bunch. For an X-Men movie, sort of, it's a fantastic story and does an excellent job of wrapping up Hugh Jackman's and Patrick Stewart's roles as Wolverine and Professor X. VERY gritty, VERY violent, it definitely earned its R rating. There's not much to say about the movie without giving too much away because it has a heck of a story. There's obviously a 'rescue seemingly innocent young child from bad guys' that's seen in the trailers, but it's so much more than that. If you're a fan of Jackman's and Stewart's X-Men movies, this is an absolute must-see. And as a bonus for me, it's initially set in El Paso, so a lot of the scenery was very familiar.

Beauty and the Beast (2017).
I was whelmed. It was a decent enough movie, and the visuals were stunning, but it just didn't grab me the way that I expected to be grabbed. As much as I love Emma Watson, she's not a singer: they autotuned some or all of her songs. The saving grace for me was the animation of the transformed household items and their voice-acting, but also Kevin Kline. You just can't go wrong with Kevin, and his song is truly touching. Plus, he can sing. After seeing him in Pirates of Penzance (the movie, sadly not the actual production), boy is he a great comic actor! Granted, his role in this movie doesn't have much in the way of comedy, but still, he excels. Still, I wanted more and the movie just didn't deliver, and I can't really put my finger on what didn't work for me.
thewayne: (Default)
Luc Besson, perhaps my favorite film maker (The Professional, La Femme Nikita, Fifth Element, Wasabi, etc.) since the passing of Kurosawa, has a new film coming out -- Valarian and the City of a Thousand Planets. Like Fifth Element, it's based on a French comic book, this one titled Valérian et Laureline, which ran from 1967 to 2010! In fact, Besson hired the illustrator, Jean-Claude Mézières for Fifth Element as a concept artist. Vallarian is a time agent from the 28th century, Laureline is a peasant girl from 11th century France who ends up as his partner.

The film opens in the States on July 21 and the UK on August 4. I am REALLY looking forward to this, Fifth Element is one of my favorite movies and is definitely on my Desert Island list, I suspect this one will also make that list as it looks visually stunning.

https://arstechnica.com/the-multiverse/2017/03/if-you-loved-the-fifth-element-theres-a-new-movie-to-make-you-rejoice/

thewayne: (Default)
Arrival
Central Intelligence
Florence Foster Jenkins
Hail, Caesar!
Moana
Race
Snowden
The Accountant
The Danish Girl
Where To Invade Next
Zootopia

In alphabetical order, not by preference.

Arrival was nice thinkie sci fi. We don’t have much thinkie in SF these days.

Central Intelligence was a nice fun romp, but also had some good character growth and ‘reflection on how far we’ve come’.

Florence Foster Jenkins: amazing cast, touching story about a woman driven by her desire to sing, but who absolutely cannot.

Hail, Caesar! I love me some Coen Brothers, and it’s great seeing George Clooney playing a bit of an idiot.

Moana. A bit of a departure for Disney, amazing songs and music. Nice not seeing ‘man saves the day’ and especially not seeing ‘white man saves the day’. And an Asian-Pacific cast!

Race. Jesse Owens was a pretty amazing person, and to do what he did in Nazi Berlin at the Olympics was amazing. I also love seeing, in film, places that I have been to and photographed.

Snowden. What a story. How many people have the guts to give up their life to expose something they see as wrong.

The Accountant. Heck of an action movie with an interesting story, compared to far too many action movies that you really have to stretch to find a story at all.

The Danish Girl. Amazing, beatiful, and sad film.

Where To Invade Next. Again, a thinkie movie. If other countries can do amazing things, and frequently for less money, then why can’t it be done in the USA?

Zootopia. While some of the plot elements were straight ‘rookie cop proving himself’, the specifics and the settings were so amazing that I can’t ding them for trope re-use.
thewayne: (Default)
10/19 Miss Peregrine
10/28 Inferno

11/01 Doctor Strange x2
11/08 The Accountant
11/17 Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them
11/26 Arrival

12/10 Allied
12/17 Rogue One x2
12/22 Moana
12/29 Passengers

Miss Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children had its interesting bits, but overall I was rather disappointed. And based on a Metacritic score of 57, apparently so were most critics. As a rule Tim Burton does some pretty amazing work, sadly, this was not one of them. A review on IMDB described it as Tim Burton’s X-Men, and that’s not a bad perspective. For a two hour movie, they had too much in it. I think they would have done better to make two movies with a smaller threat in the first leading to the bigger threat in the second, which would allow for much better establishment of the characters. But they didn’t ask me. It didn’t make enough domestically to cover costs, but it tripled that internationally, so I guess there’s a chance of a sequel.

Inferno. I had a mild interest in seeing this, but only mild. Like, is Zoolander 2 showing anywhere? But my wife wanted to see it, so we saw it. This time it wasn’t Da Vinci’s code, it was Dante’s death mask as the McGuffin. It did have some interesting plot elements, but I just wasn’t that in to it.

Doctor Strange I really enjoyed. First off, Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Steven Strange. For a young(ish) Dr. Strange, he was fantastic and I can’t think of anyone whom I’d rather see in the role. I never much read the comic and mostly only saw it when it crossed over with the titles that I did read. While this is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it doesn’t tightly integrate with the Avengers series of movies, though Thor has a wonderful short bit in the end credits, setting up Strange’s appearance in the forthcoming Thor movie. And I’m fine with that as Thor, as an Asgardian god/alien, also deals with a lot of mystical threats. And there was a brief shoutout to the most recent Captain America movie which I appreciated. But what I liked was the ‘reluctant acceptance of the mantel of power’ character growth that we saw in Strange. In the end, he’s earned his position as one of the mystical guardians of Earth and does so brilliantly. I’m definitely looking forward to future releases in this line, I’m only disappointed that things like this diminish the chance of more Cumberbatch/Freeman Sherlocks. I’m very glad for their success outside of Sherlock, but I’m sad that the likelihood of more is not high, nor is it likely to see much in the way of the two of them doing much work together in the future.

The Accountant was one of the better movies of the year as action movies go. Very interesting story, though parts were predictable. For my personal collection, I would rate this as one of my fav action movies, up there with the first Transporter movie (the second wasn’t too bad, but let’s leave it at that), the first Die Hard movie, and Fifth Element. I just hope they have the wisdom and courage to leave the movie be and don’t do The Accountant 2: More Accounting, or should it be Account Harder? I think the concept was quite original and I really don’t want to see more, I think the originality would be lost.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. In many ways I liked it a lot more than the Potter films, but it was necessary for those to come first to establish the universe. I haven’t read the book on which it is based, but that book is not a novel, it’s an encyclopedia. I liked the freshness of seeing magic established in the United States, absolutely loved the time setting. And the view of creatures never before seen in the movies was fantastic. But one thing REALLY bugged me. What I did not like was the boy who was the center point of the story. He clearly was badly abused, physically and emotionally, INCLUDING by one of the people put forth as a good guy! In the end, the kid is at the hand of the ‘good guys’, and there’s absolutely no sorrow over how his mistreatment literally turned him in to a monster. Considering Rowling’s involvement in the movie, I think this was a gross oversight that should have been given more time. I’m very curious to see what the future movies are like.

Arrival, definitely one of the better films of the year. Just how do you communicate with aliens who appear from outer space and are just sitting there, doing nothing? I suspect the military, NASA, and other agencies around the world have thought about this for a long time. Well, this is the film in which you see it all come together. A contemporary or near-future setting has a woman who is a professional linguist is coopted by the military to try to figure out how to talk to the aliens to find out just what it is they want before the entire world goes insane. Several alien ships have landed, no more than one in a country, and no one is having any luck talking to the aliens. I would have liked to have seen it in the theaters more than once as there’s a plot element or two that I’m undecided about, but it didn’t happen. I think the best way to sum up the movie is that it’s a science fiction movie where the sci fi part just sits there passively, doing almost nothing. It’s all about the humans.

Allied. A classic World War Two story: Canadian airman working on a British base conducting missions behind the lines, falls in love with a woman in the French resistance, exfiltrates her back to the UK and marries her. Then later, his superiors tell him that she may be a spy and he has to figure it out and possibly execute her. While it was not a fantastic movie, it was quite excellent. Good story, well-paced, great cinematography. When you get down to it, it was not a war movie, it was a movie about people during war time. A fine distinction, but I think a significant one. Anthropoid, on the other hand, was much more a war movie. Very good performances, and well worth seeing.

Rogue One was another film that just didn’t impress me too much. It took a long time to get me really involved in the movie, and that’s probably a lot of the reason for my disappointment. The story is Episode 3.9: it ends precisely when Episode 4: A New Hope, begins. I’m OK with that, it was a good prequel. And we got to see other worlds in the Star Wars universe, which was cool. This is also a bit of a gripe: have you noticed that most planets in the SWU seem to be mono-ecologies? We have the ice planet. The desert planet. The swamp planet. The forest moon. This doesn’t break from that. While it doesn’t make sense, I guess I can grudgingly accept it. But for me, characters needed a little more back story. As far as I know, they’re all fully fleshed-out in novelizations, but I stopped reading SW books probably 20 years ago, so I don’t know. Episode 7 was partly fan service and largely a rehash of Episode 4 and reintroduced core characters. I’m OK with that, and I really liked the main female character being given so much agency and power. But in this one, there was just too much missing from the lead woman. She needed some more screen time, showing what happened since bad things happened in her childhood, until the main plot starts rolling along. Maybe it would have been better as Episode 3.9 Parts 1 and 2. Considering the ending, I’m very curious how they’re going to do the announce sequel.

Moana was tremendous fun, and music written by Lyn Manuel Miranda of Hamilton fame?! (wife and I are huge Hamilton fans, not that we’ve gotten to see it yet) It was great seeing an all Pacific Islander movie where they don’t have to be saved by the Noble White Man. You could really feel Miranda’s influence on the songs, and I liked that. I meant to pick up a copy when I was in Las Cruces Tuesday but I forgot, I’ll get a copy next week. Which brings me to another point: we saw the movie just before Christmas, and the DVD is out in just over three months?! Anyway, great animation by Disney et al, amazing music, wonderful story, and in a remarkable break for Disney – neither of the lead girl’s parents are dead! Heartily recommended.

Passengers, another strong contender for my top sci fi movie of the year. Your basic ‘cold sleep ship, something goes wrong, someone is woken up, then things go REALLY wrong’. But the moral problem in the plot is quite something to think about! The ship is great, the effects are fantastic, lots of little details to see. The concept of a cruise ship in space that allows passengers to go EVA is a little boggling, but I’ll accept it. Great story and well worth your time to see. I think one thing that I really liked was that even though it was future-set sci fi, they didn’t break Einstein’s limit of the speed of light. The passengers were to be asleep for most the the ship’s 160 year journey to a distant star at a significant fraction of the speed of light, but not exceeding it. It was a ‘boost half way to accelerate, flip, boost to brake’ mode, and I liked that. You couldn’t set this story in an FTL ship.
thewayne: (Default)
7/02 Warcraft
7/06 Finding Dory
7/13 Secret Life of Pets
7/16 Ghostbusters (2016)
7/26 Star Trek Beyond
7/29 Phantom Boy

8/05 Cafe Life
8/18 Suicide Squad
8/19 Anthropoid
8/22 Kubo and the Two Strings

9/02 Florence Foster Jenkins
9/09 Blazing Saddles
9/10 Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
9/19 Sully
9/23 Magnificent Seven (2016)
9/29 Snowden

Here we see an uptick in my viewing with me getting to see more than one movie a week.

Warcraft. A semi-animated based on the Warcraft games that preceded the World of Warcraft computer game. I actually liked it, in fact I saw it twice, once with again with my wife (who also plays WoW) and bought a copy of the DVD as she started reading Warcraft/WoW fiction and fanfic after seeing the movie. One thing that was wonderful about the DVD was seeing the production footage of how they took live actors and, through green screen, animated them in to the movie. Very cool stuff.

Finding Dory. This deserves a *meh*. I can’t say that I was terribly impressed with it, though my wife quite liked it. Then again, as far as memory serves, I can’t say that I cared much for Finding Nemo.

Secret Life of Pets. Very fun, the personalities were quite vivid. As our pet is a 50 lb Standard Poodle named Dante, we really liked the head-banger poodle in the adverts for this. But personally, I think Zootopia totally dusted it for recent anthropomorphic animated movie.

Ghostbusters. This remake was very good. I really liked the casting and loved the all-woman team. I have a couple of problems with the story, I thought it was particularly weak that they turned the proton packs in to straight blasters, I always liked the ‘capture’ mentality of the original movie which was also the critical plot point of said original movie. But awesome film, I hope they make a sequel as I’d love to hear the poor little lost boys bitch again about their precious childhood memory being messed with.

Star Trek Beyond. Another *meh*. Hey, I have an idea! Let’s destroy the Enterprise! Yeah! Even though this technically wasn’t an Abrams film, I’m really not a fan of his reboot. I did think Anton Yeltsin’s performance as Chekov was quite interesting and good, it’s a shame that he died so tragically after the film was completed. While the action was fine as far as it goes, I thought the story was really weak.

Phantom Boy. This animated and subtitled (in English) film from France was very interesting. While I considered the animation kinda weak, the story was so good that I didn’t really care. A boy is in the hospital, apparently with a very bad cancer (we’re never told exactly what’s wrong with him) and he starts having out of body experiences. But when he does, he’s able to fly around the city and see and hear things that are actually happening. When a police detective is badly wounded and experiences a similar thing, the boy helps him along. The detective eventually recovers, and along with the phantom boy is able to stop a villain from taking over the city.

Cafe Life is a new film from Woody Allen. I haven’t seen anything from him in a long time and this looked interesting. I really like big band swing/jazz from the 1930s, and I enjoyed this film. It revolves around a New York Jew (big surprise) who goes to California to work for his uncle, a big-shot movie producer. Like most Woody movies, the plot goes all over the place and is sometimes kind of predictable. But overall, it was a fun couple of hours in the dark.

Suicide Squad. I put off seeing this for a long time because I don’t like superhero movies where the villain is the main character, as in most of the Batman movies. Then I started hearing more about this after its release and found out that while the focus is on the bad guys, they’re helping to stop what is more or less an alien invasion. It’s actually more of an Egyptian curse from millennia ago, but is there really much of a difference? Back in the ‘80s I read the Suicide Squad comic, so I was initially torn, and now I’m glad I saw it. Heck of an action film and surprisingly true to the comic, though with some modern touches like Harlequin.

Anthropoid. This is a film that deserved more promotion and recognition. I knew it was a World War 2 movie, but I wasn’t terribly interested in it until I found out that it was set in Prague. Having been there, I really wanted to see what it looked like idealized during the war. Fun fact – Czechoslovakia capitulated so early in the war that its capital was largely untouched. The only heavy damage that it suffered was when a bomber destined for Dresden got lost, saw a bend on the Elbe (which also runs through Dresden) and decided they were where they needed to go and dropped their load. Fortunately it didn’t ht the historic parts of the town, though people did die in the bombing. Anyway, the story is a group of Czech commandos who escaped before the capitulation re-infiltrate the country to assassinate a very important Nazi general who had the code name Anthropoid. Very good film, kinda heart-wrenching at times. Definitely deserved more prominence in my ever so humble opinion. I loved seeing Toby Jones in it, he’s better known as Dr. Zola, Hydra scientist, from the Captain America movies. The contrast of him going from near Nazi to Czech underground patriot was kind of amusing.

Kubo and the Two Strings. Very interesting animated movie from Laika Entertainment, who also did Corpse Bride, Box Trolls, and Paranorman. Wonderful animation, great story. And this was one where you needed to sit through the credits as they showed how they built a robot/puppet of one of the giant monsters that Kubo and company have to defeat, and it was really something. I found a very good deal on a Bluray/DVD edition at Best Buy a couple of weeks ago.

Florence Foster Jenkins was an amazing film, very funny. It’s a biographical movie set during World War 2 about a somewhat older widow and arts aficionado/supporter in New York who really wanted to sing opera, sadly she couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket. Amazing cast: Meryl Streep as Florence, Hugh Grant as her husband, and Simon Helberg (AKA Howard from Big Bang Theory) as her piano accompanist. Wonderful and touching film.

Blazing Saddles and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. I was in Phoenix when Gene Wilder died, and the Harkins chain decided to do a Wilder retrospective. I wish they had included Young Frankenstein, but getting to see these two on the big screen again was wonderful. Blazing Saddles is a film that I re-watch pretty much every year, such an amazing film.

Sully. Wow. Tom Hanks is such a great actor, especially when you look back at his early movies like Big. I caught Hanks on Graham Norton right after he’d finished production and he was still in the Sully haircut and grey hair. While the story of The Miracle on the Hudson is well-known, the little details are quite something.

Magnificent Seven. Another remake, in fact it’s a remake of a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai. It’s a decent enough movie, kinda cool putting Denzel Washington in the lead. Lots of interesting characters. But at the basic level, it’s just another cowboy shoot’em’up.

Snowden. The story of how Edward Snowden gained the notoriety is very well-known, this film by Oliver Stone, I think, did his story justice. I haven’t seen Citizenfour, the documentary that won an Academy award, but based on what I’ve learned over the years, this film feels like a pretty accurate telling of his story. I’d like to get the Bluray and see what additional material there is. Joseph Gordon-Levitt does a great job of playing Snowden, the cast also includes Zachary Quinto and Nicholas Cage in very interesting roles.
thewayne: (Default)
5/05 Captain America: Civil War
5/06 Jungle Book
5/08 Keanu
5/13 Money Monster
5/19 The Huntsman: Winter's War
5/22 Angry Birds

6/04 X-Men Apocalypse
6/20 The Nice Guys
6/24 Central Intelligence
6/26 Now You See Me 2
6/28 The Lobster

Again, not going to talk about all of them, or at least in any exhaustive detail. If I don't talk about a movie, my opinion is probably *meh*.

Captain America: it was interesting to see how they broke up the Avengers and what sides various people took. Again, loved seeing Berlin, though we did see the American Embassy and it was not the building seen in the film. Though I’m not a Spiderman fan, I really liked his intro and am looking forward to seeing how they treat him in this version of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) as I didn’t care for the other MCU. The other’s treatment of the Fantastic Four absolutely sucked. I don’t know how much involvement Whedon had in this, but I suspect he wrote the broad strokes for the future arc and I’m really looking forward to things like the Black Panther movie.

Jungle Book. Interesting, excellent CGI, and who can complain about voice acting by the likes of ScarJo and Edris Elba?

Keanu: as much as I loved the Key & Peele show on Comedy Central, this movie was more a novelty for me rather than a good movie. It had its highs, but it really had no repeat value for me, which was disappointing. I’d much rather watch a couple of hours of curated Best of K&P.

Money Monster. This was an interesting film. Take a TV personality like CNBC’s Jim Cramer and sneak in a guy who lost $40,000, all his money, on a “sure bet”. And the guy who lost everything has an explosives vest and a gun. And it’s during a live broadcast. The Cramer-like character starts looking in to “the sure bet” that he shilled and finds “goings on” behind the scenes, resulting in lots of people getting screwed. My wife and I really liked this movie, I thought they managed the tension well, and the acting by the likes of George Clooney, Julie Roberts, and it was directed by Jodi Foster! Pretty cool movie.

X-Men Apocalypse: Personally, in my ever so humble opinion, it could have benefited by not having been made. The Apocalypse character just didn’t do it for me, I’m really tired of Egyptian deities or aliens masked as Egyptian deities, just make them flat-out aliens, PLEASE. I don’t think it contributed anything to the Young X-Men franchise, but I could be wrong.

The Nice Guys. Testosterone-fueled romp. Some amusing stuff, some interesting plot devices, OK movie. Very limited repeat viewing value for me, as in I won’t bother buying a copy or looking for showings on satellite.

Central Intelligence: I really liked this movie! I would class it as one of the more fun movies of ‘16. Take today’s Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, put him back in his high school days as a very obese nerd. The only person who was ever kind to him was the high school track hero/homecoming king. And now The Rock is a CIA agent who needs The Hero’s help. I thought this was a tremendously fun film, and it was kind of aspirational. I should look for a used copy while I’m here in Phoenix.

Now You See Me 2. My wife had an objection: they recast the female lead. I found out that she was pregnant, which makes the recast a bit understandable. But the norm if a male lead from the first movie was unavailable would be they’d probably delay the project, so it’s probably a valid point. Anyway, the first movie was better, but the second movie still had a lot of good stuff in it and held to the basic concepts that we learned in the first. Interesting stuff. The second movie doesn’t really stand on its own, if you liked the first one I think there’s a decent chance you’ll like the second.

The Lobster. This is one weird-ass film. In this world, which seems a parallel to ours, if you’re not married by the time you’re a certain age, you’re taken to The Hotel with all the other single men and women in the area. You now have 45 days or you’re turned in to an animal. Your choice of animal. If you try to escape, well, one of the activities for the residents is hunting parties! If you’re caught, the penalty (if I recall correctly) is you’re transformed in to your animal. If you find someone at The Hotel with whom you hit it off, fine and dandy – you’re both safe, you get married, and you’re set up with a nice flat in the city and can continue your life. If not: animal-time for you! I thought it was going to be a strange comedy, and it was surprisingly rather dark and didn’t have nearly as much humor as I would have liked. We had a group of six and we all left asking “What did we just see?” I don’t think anyone had a particularly good answer to that. I have no plans of buying a copy of this, though I might watch it again in a few years if I’m given the opportunity to see if the passage of time has changed my opinion of it. VERY low on the scale if I were to rate all of the movies from best to worst. It wasn’t a bad movie, per se, it was just very strange, and not in a good way.
thewayne: (Default)
I don’t know how I did it, but I almost saw a movie a week! It looks like my film total for the year, which is to say ‘seen in theater’, not counting seen on TV or DVD, regardless of whether it was new to me or not, was 51!

So here’s the beginning of the list. Since I only saw one film in April, I’m including it in this initial post.

1/17 Carol
1/20 Hateful Eight
1/30 Spotlight

2/05 Hail, Caesar!
2/07 Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
2/12 Deadpool
2/13 The Danish Girl
2/19 Race
2/26 Zoolander 2
2/28 Kung Fu Panda 3

3/04 Zootopia
3/06 Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
3/18 London Has Fallen

4/28 Where To Invade Next

Carol was an interesting movie, it was a lesbian love story set in the 1950s in New York City. My only complaint is technical. The filmmaker shot it on Super 16mm film, it’s the same overall width as standard 16mm, but it only has sprockets on one side instead of both, giving a slightly larger image. The problem is that when transferred to digital projection and shown on super hi-res systems, it just doesn’t look good. Had it been shown on an actual film projector on a smaller screen, I think it would have looked much better. Be that as it may, it was an excellent and touching film.

Hateful Eight. Tarantino's latest film, and I wasn’t terribly impressed, personally I think the two Kill Bill movies are his best work. I really wish they’d left the intermission in, the break would have been appreciated.

Spotlight is about the newspaper investigative reporting team who broke the silence about the Boston Catholic Church pedophilia problem. Amazing film, totally deserving every award that it got.

Hail, Caesar! Lots of fun! It is always great when Clooney gets to clown around and play a bit of an idiot. Sometimes movies about movies are pulled off well, and I’d say this one hit the mark. There are so many wonderful slices, such as the sailor dance number, that are tremendous fun. And Clooney trying to understand Communism and Socialism. I really enjoyed this.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. A silly movie, decent enough for mindless entertainment and eating popcorn. I would consider buying it if I stumbled upon a copy for $5 or less, but I wouldn’t go out of my way looking for it. I definitely like women kicking ass, and this movie certainly delivered on that score. Knock Buffy back a couple of hundred years and you’re in business.

Deadpool. Ryan Reynolds redeems himself for the horrible Green Lantern movie. It’s quite a departure from the normal DC and Marvel fare that we’ve had over the last decade, a very foul-mouthed alleged superhero. He definitely has heroic motivations, but he’s also more than a bit of a jerk. He’s Wolverine without a filter. It’ll be interesting to see how they develop him in future movies and in team-up movies.

The Danish Girl. Wow. What a film! While I’ve always liked pre-war pieces in European cities, I appreciate them more now that I’ve gotten to spend a little time in Berlin, Dresden, and Prague. That aside, it’s the story of a painter who realizes that his identity is not that of a man, and he wants to be a woman. Set in the 1920s, it tells the story of one of the first identifiable recipients of gender reassignment surgery. Very touching and sensual movie. Eddie Redmayne plays Lili Elbe, the main character, and does an amazing job.

Race. Another film that makes me happy that I got to go to Berlin! A biopic of Jesse Owens, the Olympic athlete who ran the socks off Hitler’s best at the 1934 Olympic Games in Berlin. And I got to see that actual stadium and get some external photos of it! There’s interesting stories of Owens and the Games, the saddest thing is that Owens said that Hitler was actually very nice to him in private, and that President Roosevelt never publicly received him.

Zoolander 2. This is a guilty pleasure film. I loved the first movie, it’s just pure silly fun. The second one is no better, it’s just mindless entertainment. There’s really not much to say about it except Sting plays a fairly major role.

Kung Fu Panda 3. Not much to say about this one either. It’s yet another KFP film, fine in its own right, and I don’t remember much of anything about it.

Zootopia. Very cool animated film, for me I think it had one of the more complex and well-integrated plots of most anthropomorphic movies that I’ve seen in quite a while. I very much enjoyed it and saw it in the theater perhaps three times.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. A new Tina Fey movie where she goes to Afghanistan to become an actual field news reporter and learns that it’s a lot different than working in a studio and that there’s a moral dimension that she did not previously appreciate. I thought it was a better movie than the reviews gave it credit for, but it’s also possible that I’m an easy sell.

London Has Fallen. This was ‘taking one for the team’. My wife saw the first one, Olympus Has Fallen, which I have not, and she wanted to see this one. Terrorists want revenge on the U.S. President and manage to totally screw over London in an attempt to kidnap and murder him on prime time television. But they didn’t count on the tenacity of one agent! Needless to say good guys win, bad guys snuff it. What a surprise.

Where To Invade Next. This is sort of a travelogue by the rather controversial liberal film maker Michael Moore with an interesting premise. He goes to a country, finds something that they do amazingly well, and explores it. He then asks them where they got the inspiration for this thing, and invariably, the idea came from the United States. For example, in France, elementary school lunches are restaurant-quality. And we’re talking quality restaurants. The food is actually good. The students sit in small groups, they interact, they develop good manners, they’re exposed to lots of different foods and none of it is junk. And the cost per student per meal is less than what they spend in the USA on school lunch programs. In one of the northern European countries, it might be Finland, they have a law that their parliament can consist of no less than 40% and no more than 55% of either gender, so women have very good representation in the law-making process. I would SO LOVE to see that become a requirement in the USA! It’ll never happen, but I can fantasize. He talked to cops in Portugal about their decriminalizing drugs and their increased treatment programs. Etc, etc. I saw Moore on Real Time With Bill Maher after the film was released, and he said that while all these countries had some amazing things about them, none of them were perfect and they all had problems. He also said that he’ll continue living in the USA.
thewayne: (Cyranose)
Very sad! She was returning to LA from London and about an hour out suffered cardiac arrest. CPR was performed, she was rushed to the hospital was was reported to be in stable condition. Apparently that report was optimistic and she passed away this morning.

It was reported that her footage for Star Wars Episode 8 was complete, I anticipate some hurried rewrites and reshoots and a big explosion at a rebel base.

I was going to say that it's been a rough year for celebrities with the passing of David Bowie et al, but the reality that every year is a rough year for celebrities. We lose a lot of them every year, and it is sad. I just saw Carrie on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, she was talking about her new book which excerpted her diaries that she kept during the filming of the first Star Wars movies. She was 19.

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/12/27/507109015/carrie-fisher-actress-beloved-for-playing-princess-leia-dies-at-60
thewayne: (Cyranose)
I didn't see it during its original run in 1974 as I was all of 12 years old or so, and my parents weren't huge movie goers, but I have managed to see it on big screens on a couple of occasions. And tonight was great. They were showing a double-feature of BS and Willy Wonka, so clearly some sort of Gene Wilder tribute. This particular theater chain, Harkins, is a reliable source of foreign and art house films. I remember seeing Akira Kurosawa's Dreams at it when it was first released. I also got to see The Big Lebowski a few years ago at one of their theaters, that was quite a treat.

Blazing Saddles is such an amazing movie with so many wonderful stories behind it, it was a genuine treat to see it again on a big screen. It was sad that the house wasn't packed, but I guess that's to be expected for a 40 year old movie that isn't something like Casablanca. It did an amazing job of ridiculing many forms of racism, and there is no way a film like this could ever be made today.

But we don't need a film like this to be made today: we have Blazing Saddles, and its message is perfectly clear.
thewayne: (Cyranose)
This is really crazy. You notice how even biographical movies about real people always include a disclaimer like "This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to any person living or dead is purely coincidental". Well, it's because of the man who murdered Rasputin.

MGM made a movie about said murder about Rasputin starring the three Barrymores, two brothers and a sister, in the lead roles of Rasputin, his killer, and the killer's wife. They changed the name of the killer. But then MGM screwed up, got sued by the killer's wife, and lost the case.

It's an interesting read, and not very long.

http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2016/08/26/the_bizarre_true_story_behind_the_this_is_a_work_of_fiction_disclaimer.html
thewayne: (Cyranose)
First up, a movie written by an artificial intelligence. It's only 10 minutes long, but it's pretty interesting. An article on Ars Technica pointed me in this direction. These people set up an AI and fed it a few hundred movie scripts that they found on the internet, received some prompts from a film competition, and turned it loose.

Unfortunately I can't embed this video. A word of warning: it not only auto-plays, it starts a second video after it's done.


From Slashdot, "Creepy British startup Score Assured has brought the power of "big data" to plumb new depths. In order to rent from landlords who use their services, potential renters are "...required to grant it full access to your Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and/or Instagram profiles. From there, Tenant Assured scrapes your site activity, including entire conversation threads and private messages; runs it through natural language processing and other analytic software; and finally, spits out a report that catalogs everything from your personality to your 'financial stress level.'" This "stress level" is a deep dive to (allegedly) determine whether the potential renter will pay their bills using vague indicators like "online retail social logins and frequency of social logins used for leisure activities." To make it worse, the company turns over to the landlords' indicators that the landlords aren't legally allowed to consider (age, race, pregnancy status), counting on the landlords to "do the right thing." As if this isn't abusive enough, the candidates are not allowed to see nor challenge their report, unlike with credit reports. Landlords first, employers next...and then? As the co-founder says, "People will give up their privacy to get something they want" and, evidently, that includes a place to live and a job.

In late May, an apartment building in Salt Lake City told tenants living in the complex to "like" its Facebook page or they will be in breach of their lease."


So, if the UK Parliament doesn't put in some decent privacy laws, you've got a big problem there if this company and concept continues to exist. I think I would definitely be in favor of someone like Anonymous doxxing this company's board of directors.
thewayne: (Cyranose)
This year in movies, 35 seen (excluding DVD and TV), is a bit higher than 2014's 32 and below '13s 43. This year is already over 20, so that 43 seems achievable. In cases where I've seen a new release multiple times, I count it as one movie.

12/27 Star Wars 7

11/28 Mockingjay 2
11/14 Spectre

10/23 Bridge of Spies
10/16 Goosebumps
10/11 The Martian
10/3 Hotel Transylvania 2

9/20 Pawn Sacrifice
9/5 Transporter Refueled

8/28 Fantastic Four
8/22 Hitman: Agent 47
8/21 American Ultra
8/15 Man from UNCLE
8/1 Mr. Holmes

7/31 Pixels
7/18 Ant Man
7/9 Inside Out
7/7 Get Hard
7/7 The Wedding Ringer
7/7 A Woman Walks Home Alone At Night
7/4 Minions

6/21 Shaun the Sheep
6/13 Spy
6/7 Tomorrowland

5/23 Mad Max: Fury Road
5/2 Avengers: Age Of Ultron

4/18 The Woman in Gold
4/2 Home
3/14 Chappie

2/22 Jupiter Ascending
2/20 Kingsman
2/6 Seventh Son

1/15 The Interview
1/10 The Imagination Game
1/3 Night at the Museum 3

Again, I'm not going to talk about all of them.

Night at the Museum 3 was sad in light of the death of Robin Williams. It was a good one for one of his final movies and was quite fun. I was not familiar with Rebel Wilson prior to this film and am looking forward to seeing her in other roles.

It was a good year for spy movies with Spy, The Interview, Kingsman, Bridge of Spies, Man from UNCE, and Spectre. And I have the first three in my collection, eventually I'm sure I'll get a copy of Spectre, but for some reason the more recent Bond movies, i.e. Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig, just don't have much of a repeat value for me. I'm still miffed that Timothy Dalton didn't get a third movie – his second one had such a terrible and horrible story that no one could have made a good movie out of it – but he seems to be having a lot of fun with his current projects, such as Penny Dreadful, getting to play a Sir Richard Burton (the explorer Burton, not the actor) clone. In my opinion License To Kill is the absolute worst James Bond movie: much worse than George Lazenby's or Octopussy or A View To A Kill.

Spy was such a wonderful turn-it-on-its-head spy movie. I really liked Melissa McCarthy in her buddy cop movie The Heat (2013), but I loved her in this one and am really looking forward to Ghostbusters. The Interview was really wild: I loved the concept before North Korea got pissed, and the madder they got the more I had to see it. I didn't get to see the Christmas Day premiere, but I was amazed when the local theater showed it a few weeks later and I saw it. It is, by no means, a great film – but it is a huge amount of fun. I bought the DVD when it came out, and they were giving away free t-shirts! So I was quite happy to get a The Interview tee. Kingsman was also a bit of turn-it-on-its-head film, and I also quite liked it. It was an amazingly over the top spoof of the Bond movies. However, it was also a VERY radical departure from the graphic novel that it was based on. I picked it up and was very surprised to see the GN was much more main-stream Bond than what the movie was. It was OK, but I doubt that I'll be keeping the GN. I also imagine there would be a considerable cognitive dissonance shock if I'd been a huge fan of the GN before the movie came out.

We also particularly enjoyed Bridge of Spies and the Man From UNCLE, having just been to Berlin. Even though UNCLE was not filmed in Berlin, when we went to the Checkpoint Charlie museum we could feel the movie's realism. And in the case of Bridge of Spies, we drove across that actual bridge! That was pretty cool.

American Ultra and Hitman are also technically spy movies. Ultra was very interesting: sort of Bill & Ted Excellent Spy Adventure. A stoner doesn't know that he's a deeply programmed master spy and killer. Hitman was not bad, not great. I understand it's much better than the first Hitman movie. I have to add that I have not played the computer game, so I have no idea how faithful it is to the move.

Get Hard, The Wedding Ringer, A Woman Walks Home Alone At Night, and Shaun the Sheep were all movies that I saw flying to/from the USA and Berlin. I wasn't really interested in seeing Get Hard and Wedding Ringer when they were in the theater, but they were a lot funnier than I'd expected. A Woman Walks Home Alone At Night was very interesting. Not a great film, but still quite interesting. It is an Iranian vampire movie. I shall repeat that. An Iranian vampire movie. Filmed in Iran. It was an interesting slice of life of rural, industrial (oil production) Iran. Lots of drugs and disco. It was great getting to see Shaun the Sheep a few weeks before it released in the USA. I love Aardman animations and it was lovely to see a feature-length film with such a nice story. I was busting a gut laughing to it while listening through headphones that my wife finally had to watch it, she also loved it.

Minions we did not see on the plane: we saw it in Berlin. In German. And loved it. Look at it: the minions speak gibberish, and anyone else's dialog you can figure out from context and actions. I saw it again in the theaters when we got home and it was pretty much exactly what I thought was going on.

Also, if you ever find yourself in Berlin, make an effort to go to the Astor Theater. Superlatives escape me when it comes to describing this place, it's just so freakin' amazing. I so want to go back to it. Germans are interesting people when it comes to lip-sync: they are utter perfectionists and their voice actors do perfect matches for the lip movements of whoever it is that they're dubbing. Even though they're totally off-screen, they're treated like so many Americans treat the actual screen stars. I think that's pretty cool.

Star Wars 7? Not particularly impressed. Goosebumps? Lots of fun. Mockingjay? Good conclusion to the series and a very good book read. The Martian? Excellent, also a good book read. Hotel Transylvania? Surprisingly fun, I bought the first movie on DVD on my way home from El Paso where I saw it. Transporter? Waste of time. Stick with the first two and ignore the third, though I expect I'll be buying the TV series that I did not know existed. Fantastic Four? Garbage, but I liked it more than the first two. Apparently it was made to let the studio keep the license, but was not intended for release. Mr. Holmes – excellent movie. It deserves awards. Great take on a fictional hero at the end of his life, and also sad knowing that we won't have Sir Ian for too much longer.

And I think I'll leave it at that.
thewayne: (Cyranose)
I've had a hankering to watch the original Mel Brook The Producers recently, and I was surprised to find that I don't own a copy. We had been planning on signing up for Netflix anyway, as my wife is a fan of Daredevil, and there's lots of obscure movies that I'd love to watch without having to buy them.

Well, I guess I'm going to have to buy it.

They did not have the 1968 The Producers. The only Mel Brooks that they had was To Be Or Not To Be, which I have on DVD.

They did not have Robot and Frank.

They did not have A Beautiful Mind.

They did not have The Gods Must Be Crazy.

But they did have Steven Chow's first big movie, God of Cookery. So I guess that's something, I'm just not certain what.

I'm very disappointed. I guess my video library will continue to grow.

In all fairness, Amazon Prime also did not have the 1968 Producers, I'll have to check it for the others.
thewayne: (Cyranose)
A co-worker lent me a DVD, it's a New Zealand documentary following a group of four vampires that live together. Sort of a Big Brother thing (I guess, can't say I ever watched it). Anyway, pretty amusing. And since it's a vampire flick, LOTS of blood. And werewolves, apparently there's all sorts of supernatural critters down in Wellington.

I have no idea if it's available on Netflix or anything else like that.
thewayne: (Cyranose)
Said list includes Zoolander, the Austin Powers series (rumors about #4 have been heard), the Wayne's World pair, Incredible Burt Wonderstone, Doc Savage: Man of Bronze, etc.

My wife has been sucked in to the Fast and Furious franchise.
thewayne: (Cyranose)
Another really big movie from the Wachowskis, this one is also an original story by them. The movie's release was pushed many months, it was supposed to come out in early/mid '14 and was pushed to this month to get more special effects done. In the USA it got slammed by the critics and hasn't done too well in the box office here, though the theater we were in this afternoon had a pretty good crowd. Apparently it is doing much better in Europe.

This movie is quite a spectacular, but the plot and the dialog is a little muddy. The story is well-structured and visually the movie is fantastic, though I found some of the abilities of the aliens a little strange. I read in a blog that they did something quite interesting: they recorded the entire musical score of the movie before they started production. Apparently they also did this for Cloud Atlas, though I haven't seen that yet (it's sitting in the 'Watch At Some Point' pile).

What it boils down to is that I wasn't expecting much out of this movie. The previews looked like it was overly ambitious, and perhaps it is. But it's not a bad movie, it has lots of good stuff in it and lots of very good special effects. So I can say it's worth seeing, but I'd wait for a matinee or discount theater. Can't say that I'm buying this when it comes out on DVD, but I might.
thewayne: (Cyranose)
My wife and I went and saw Kingsman on Friday night. Excellent movie. It's based on a comic book series, and it's a series that I want to buy. The basic premise is a private spy organization fighting nastiness around the world.

We really enjoyed it. Nicely developed story, great training montage/time compression, and the gadgets were great. I especially liked the genre self-referential, but I won't spoil it. Excellent action sequences, and also some occasional very graphic violence: we're talking actual head explodey.

Definitely fun, one that I'll buy when it comes out on DVD.


Wing Chun is a classic Chinese Kung Fu period piece from 1994 starring Michelle Yeoh and Donnie Yen. This is a tremendously fun movie that I got on Laserdisc 15something years ago. Michelle is Wing Chun, a young woman working in a tofu shop who is also uncharacteristically a Kung Fu master. The fact that a woman is a Kung Fu master is a recurring theme throughout the movie and the subject of, in my opinion, one of the best martial arts fights that I've seen: the "smash the block of tofu" fight. It is absolutely awesome. The story complicates with the women running the tofu shop bringing in a very young widow, mistaken childhood identity. and a bandit gang.

It was very interesting seeing it again last night. It's been a long time since I watched my Laserdisc version and I bought the DVD off Amazon to simplify my collection, last night I watched the DVD for the first time. Most of the details on the case were in Chinese, the back cover blurb was English. So I assumed Chinese language with English subtitles. The movie starts, I'm reading the subtitles, then I realize that not only is the audio track English, but what they're saying doesn't match the subtitles! This was really weird because I had four movies running through my brain: the one that I was watching, the subtitles that I remembered, the subtitles that I was reading, and the audio that I was hearing. Very surreal.

Between the audio and subtitles, I think the subtitles were more accurate. I should pop it in again and see if I can turn off the English audio and turn it back to the Chinese.

Anyway, Wing Chun is an excellent movie. To be honest, it's not a great movie, but it's huge amounts of fun with some fantastic fight sequences. HIGHLY recommended, but you probably won't be able to find it locally without a special order.
thewayne: (Cyranose)
This just released this weekend, it's an animated film from Lucasfilm produced by Georgie boy himself. The director said the story is based on Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream and also on the movie Labyrinth, featuring a girl going in to enemy territory to rescue a sibling.

It was pretty good. The thing that the trailer didn't show, and I think I've only seen one, is that there's a lot of musical numbers in it. I'm talking animated characters doing song and dance numbers to rock music. I'm not sure how recent some of the music is as I didn't recognize it, but I did recognize an instrumental version of The Doors' When You're Strange, there's Elvis, Queen, and obviously Electric Light Orchestra's title song.

Lots of fun, definitely recommended.

[edit to add] And it has a left-handed swordsman in it! I didn't notice if he was consistently a lefty, but still....

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