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December 10, 2022 at 12:10 am #1205186088
No Time to Die (2021) ***This review contains spoilers!***
It was not bad enough this movie strains one’s patience by reforming James Bond of his characteristically promiscuous, womanizing ways, turning him into a dour, heartbroken hermit with sad puppy dog eyes — it also kills him off — period! Maybe the filmmakers were tired, and maybe Daniel Craig was tired of playing Bond (or just too tired-looking to play him anymore), and maybe the audience is just tired of the whole damn franchise, I do not know what in hell was their tired asinine reason for killing a fun, long-lived, death-defying character like James Bond, who in the past always escaped extermination including such amusing attempts as when Goldfinger aimed an industrial laser beam at Bond’s crotch. And if they try to bring the character back alive and well in the next installment, well, there’s only one appropriate fan response to such a cheap trick, which I feel is best expressed by paraphrasing the words of Annie Wilkes (played by Kathy Bates) in the movie Misery:
“This isn’t what happened last time! Have you all got amnesia? They just cheated us! This isn’t fair! HE DIDN’T GET OFF THE COCK-A-DOODIE ISLAND WHEN THE BRITISH NAVY BLEW IT UP!”December 11, 2022 at 1:28 am #1205187390
The Killing (1956)
Whenever I feel discouraged by watching too many dissatisfying movies, it works to refresh one’s palate and restore one’s faith with something by Stanley Kubrick (for me, one of the best film directors ever). Problem is, there are thousands and thousands of dismal movies, but so few Kubrick movies — he directed only 13 feature-length films (this is his third). The Killing is further proof that Kubrick was a master of multiple genres, in this case, the grittiest, hardest-boiled type of film noir (obviously an influence on the work of Quentin Tarantino). This is definitely a film of “faces” — the casting is excellent. And a great deal of the film’s success is due to the dialogue by Jim Thompson, a supreme writer of tough-guy and femme-fatale and ordinary-people talk that manages to be caustic, poetic (in its economy), and hilarious at the same time. I was feeling blue, and this tawdry low-budget thriller brightened my day immeasurably. The new 4K version looks incredible. HIGHLY RECOMMENDEDDecember 15, 2022 at 10:59 pm #1205197179
The Northman (2022)
Elements of the plot may remind you of bits and pieces of Shakespeare (e.g., Hamlet; Macbeth), but without Shakespeare’s sublime poetry, alas. Also of dubious distinction in marking the first time I have ever been disappointed by Anya Taylor-Joy’s performance. At worst, the film may remind you of something like Conan the Barbarian or its lesser imitators, but at best, the film is breathtakingly beautiful — a real treat for the eye and ear.December 18, 2022 at 1:34 am #1205199548
The Final Countdown (1980)
How cool would it be if this film’s theme song had been “The Final Countdown” by Europe, but that song was not released until 1986. (If I could turn back time, that’s one of the things I would fix!) If you like watching fighter jets take off and land, and the mechanics of a naval aircraft carrier, along with some sailor eye candy, this film is for you. The movie explores the possibility or rather the impossibility of going back in time to change the course of history, like an episode of The Time Tunnel or The Twilight Zone. The surrealistic editing, photography and special effects of the time travel / storm at sea scenes are worth a look.December 20, 2022 at 7:23 pm #1205203444
Second time I’m trying to get through Black Adam. I like the Rock but he can’t save this.
The Sunne in Splendour.
I prefer my roses whiteDecember 28, 2022 at 3:31 am #1205211575
Cate Blanchett delivers an iconic performance or at least some memorable “mad scenes” and deserves to be nominated for an Oscar for the title role of this film but as for actually winning, it is questionable whether the Academy (or moviegoers) could ever really “love” the performance/character, who is exposed as a monster engaging in truly monstrous behavior. The film captures the rarefied microclimate of the classical music business and is definitely one of the more interesting movies from this year. I have not seen his previous films, but here writer/director Todd Field reveals an aptitude for the psychological thriller genre.December 29, 2022 at 11:34 pm #1205213684
The War of the Worlds (1953)
Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, which describes my approach to this movie, always expecting to like it but never do. On the one hand, the Technicolor cinematography and the special effects are wonderful, spectacular even; on the other hand, the romantic subplot annoys the hell out of me. Even among the usually dependable Edith Head’s costumes are a few misses, like the peasant blouse/dress the female lead wears to the square dance (insert eye roll here). Most of all, I despise the sanctimonious religious tone the filmmakers added to H.G. Wells’ masterpiece of alien invasion. (I think Spielberg made a similar mistake in making his own 2005 version all about the sanctity of the family unit.) The new 4K version looks the best and most beautiful it ever has for home video, and I know I will keep watching it probably forever, always regretting what a great movie this almost was.January 7, 2023 at 10:24 am #1205225502
reviewing all the Christmas movies I know)January 10, 2023 at 11:23 pm #1205234357
Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022)
A better title might have been “Everything Everywhere All Too Much,” but worthy of Oscar nominations especially for cinematography, sound, and editing. Special effects too, although I am betting Avatar: The Way of Water has that award in the bag. Some of the costumes are gorgeous. Glad to see gay characters too, which presumably means no kowtowing to the repressive, antigay censors in China, unless they were simply edited out of the film there.January 22, 2023 at 3:33 pm #1205258024
British movies of the Sixties are still a “thing” even today. The screenplay is also very Sixties British by Harold Pinter, who was and never will be mistaken for Little Mary Sunshine, delivering a literary melodrama about marital infidelity. I still think the best and most thrilling collaboration between Pinter and director Joseph Losey is The Servant (1963), but they also worked together on this film, both starring Dirk Bogarde and both having a “darkest of comedies” vibe, with themes about class warfare and sexual ambiguity giving both films a sharp edginess. This film marks the feature film debut of Michael York, and Delphine Seyrig (miscast as the “College Provost’s Daughter,” but nevertheless compelling in the role), practically steals the entire movie in one scene.January 25, 2023 at 12:05 am #1205265732
I still think Michael Curtiz’s best movie is Mildred Pierce, but there is a lot to love about Casablanca, which is a real popular and critically adored classic with exotic Hollywood-constructed Paris and Casablanca streets, although things like Rick saying “Here’s looking at you, kid,” four times is a tad corny. Still, I always love movies about WWII, for one thing, and here’s a movie made during WWII, and it’s often very funny, and that final scene (the beginning of a beautiful friendship) is indisputably iconic. The new 4K version looks pristine and gorgeous.January 26, 2023 at 12:41 am #1205268050
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974)
There were a lot of crime movies in the 1970s set in New York City, so many they must comprise their own genre, and so many of them attaining classic status and still watched today. This thriller/comedy, which was remade in 2009, depicts the hijacking of a Manhattan subway train, with the hijackers threatening to kill the hostages unless a one-million-dollar ransom is paid (apparently, one million dollars used to be a lot of money). The location shooting is very effective and engaging (you can practically smell the subway), although the exaggerated “New Yawk” stereotypes and politically incorrect humor may grate on some viewers. New 4K re-release is a joy to watch.January 27, 2023 at 12:47 am #1205270019
The Running Man (1987)
You would think there would be more movies satirizing TV like this campy ’80s classic, which warned us about mass media being used to spread propaganda and lies by the U.S. government, which in the movie has become authoritarian and repressive and religious, much like today’s actual Republican Party is, seeking to inure the population to violence and to accept being manipulated. The Running Man features a number of cartoonish villains wearing fabulous costumes, but like a fairytale, years of totalitarian brainwashing by a fascist government get wiped away over the course of a single night (in real life, cultists get invested in the lies they’re told), but we all know that political brainwashing takes years of repeating lies, much like Fox News and its gutter competitors and Hate Radio all do today. I found the romantic “I hate you, I love you” subplot tedious, too. On the other hand, some of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s wisecracks actually made me laugh out loud, which is better than usual. Love the Harold Faltermeyer soundtrack too. The movie is smarter than it looks, probably because it was adapted from a story written by Stephen King (under a pseudonym). This is a hugely enjoyable dystopian action thriller, and the new 4K version is gorgeous in its own glittery, Spandex ’80s way, and the special effects really pop out. Highly Recommended!January 29, 2023 at 7:43 pm #1205274171
Just watched ep 3 of The Last of Us. Might be the best I’ve ever seen on television. So underplayed, so moving, so subtly sublime.
The Sunne in Splendour.
I prefer my roses whiteFebruary 4, 2023 at 6:28 pm #1205284366
The Banshees of Inisherin (2022)
Colin Farrell deserves the Oscar for this performance, by far his best work ever. And McDonagh has gifted us another bitingly witty comedy/drama. HIGHLY RECOMMENDEDNot now
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