Watched all the same stuff other everyone else watched this week because it was easily available (The Suicide Squad, Val, Woodstock 99). Still haven't gotten around to watching Green Knight, not so much because I'm overly worried about Delta breaking through my vaccination and doing serious harm, but more because I recently quit my movie theater job after 15 years and now have a mental block about spending money to see a movie at the theater after all this time. Glad to be out of there for a number of reasons. The climaxes of both movies also get suitably crazy.While I can't work up enough desire to talk about all those other movies, fortunately I've had some time to fall into the comfort of a Sammo Hung double feature of Eureka's recently release of Millionaires' Express and their slightly older release of Eastern Condors. As much as I love the stuff Sammo did with Jackie Chan, these are probably my two favorite movies Sammo has made. The guy knows how to make an ensemble pic and he's had such a large stable of frequent collaborators that he's clearly somebody that people like working with.There's some stuff in the near future I'm looking forward to (Shang-Chi, and also Prisoners of the Ghostland got a September release date). Really though I'm just marking time until October since we get not only Scary Movie Month but hopefully Dune, Last Night in Soho, Jackass, The French Dispatch, The Last Duel, and finally (hopefully) Bond. Will Mike and Patrick break SMM protocol to do a Bondcast in October? A Bondcast that opens with them reading seven word reviews? Should my first week of SMM picks all co-star actors who have played James Bond? We'll find out in 2 months I guess.
Are you happy you quit your job, Ross? No offense, but all I hear from former movie theater workers (don't know how but I've ended up being friends with lots of them) is how happy they are to no longer work there.
Sorry to hear you left the theater, Ross, but I'm happy to hear you're glad to be gone. I know the next big thing is waiting for you.
J.M., I'll say that it's a move I wouldn't have made if I didn't think it was the best one for me or if it was going to put me in a financially precarious situation. I know I'm not the only person who has reassessed a lot of things in the past year and a half and I won't bore anybody with the details unless they have questions about the theater industry. I'll just say that one of the main reasons is that I've spent 20+ years now working jobs that involve long hours and mostly nights and weekends (and holidays) which is fine when you're younger but can especially be a strain when you're with someone who has a more regular weekday morning job. There's plenty of positive and negative things I could say about the theater industry itself, but yeah I'm pretty excited to move onto something else!
It sounds like you are ready to move on, Ross. Change does not happen until you take a step for it.
Hey all! Hope everyone's weekend is in a state of enjoyableness.So a while back I finally got around to watching the Woodstock documentary. Not the new one about '99, the original. And yeah, it's undeniably a masterpiece, a landmark and a classic. I loved it, I just let the almost four hour movie wash over me.I've been slowly going through the Criterion Godzilla collection, and may have just found a new favorite of the sequels. Godzilla vs. Hedorah (1971) is weird and quirky and I loved it. The story's about a sludge monster who feeds on pollution, and the only way to stop it is to stop polluting. Or have Godzilla punch it a lot, that works too. The story's weirdly augmented with animated interludes, musical sequences, and weird infographics and collages. It's a wild ride.I also revisited Pitch Black, which is a fun little Alien rip-off with Vin Diesel as the supporting character antihero you root for, and saw The Chronicles of Riddick for the first time. That movie is... something else. It's two hours of insane world-building, constructing a huge mythology with Diesel's character at the center of it. This is what I believe Patrick calls an ambitious failure, and I had a really good time with it.Dark Star, John Carpenter and Dan O'Bannon's student film that was expanded for a theatrical release, is a bit of a mess as a whole, but contains some interesting ideas and fun visuals to carry its 80 minute runtime. I especially like that the climax is a philosophical debate about solipsism with a sentient bomb.Willy's Wonderland is pleasingly crazy and Nic Cage is equal parts compelling and baffling as the silent lead. Ghost Rider is barely okay, and the sequel Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is pretty terrible.And on the non-movie front, (besides the Olympics) I've been rewatching A Bit of Fry & Laurie and That Mitchell and Webb Look, two excellent British sketch shows. Python obviously is my favorite sketch show ever, but these two are right behind it. Both have a healthy dose of meta comedy and self-referential humor.
Btw, I'm just about to watch The Aristocats, which is the subject of Disniversity's next episode. If anyone's in need of a good podcast to listen to (after they've listened to FTM of course), Disniversity is pretty great. In it Empire Magazine's Ben Travis and animation expert Sam Summers dissect the classic Disney animations one film at a time. They go pretty deep into not just the films but their historical and cultural context, and talk about the animators and animation techniques. They're 16 episodes in and new eps come out once every two weeks. Big recommend.
Problem with that theme is that eventually they'll run out of Disney animated flicks to talk about... unless they spinoff into Don Bluth films, the early Tim Burton work, etc. Thanks for the recommendation, I could use a new movie-centric podcast in my mix. :-)
I had no idea what to make of The Chronicles of Riddick when I saw it in the theater but it has grown on me a bit since then (recently did a franchise rewatch streaming the movies with a friend of mine). Are you going to watch Riddick next?
Blank Check podcast are doing commentaries for the whole franchise, so I watched Chronicles ahead of the commentary releasing in a couple of weeks. Gonna watch Riddick at some point ahead of its commentary.
I have never heard of A Bit Of Fry & Laurie. I'm sure it would be right up my alley being a big fan of Black Adder and everything Stephen Fry. Thanks for the recommendation!
Two weeks' worth. Here we go!ROADRUNNER: A FILM ABOUT ANTHONY BOURDAIN (2021, theater) is a documentary that will eventually make it to CNN and/or HBO Max (both co-produced it), but I'm glad I caught it in a theater because the amount of timed-for-laughs profanity will be lost when it's bleeped for basic cable airing (CNN only). I've never seen an episode of any of Anthony Bourdain's TV shows, so most of the info in the doc was new to me. Hate to say this, but if it wasn't for his suicide (which consumes the final 20-25 minutes) this would have been a typical 'look at this eccentric guy making it big' showbiz doc. Bourdain's fans will probably dig it.Disney's JUNGLE CRUISE (2021, IMAX) works best when Emily Blunt is the focus of a scene of story thread. Blunt's charm and energy towers over her male co-stars, including brother Jesse Plemmons and German bad guy Jack Whitehall (both fine but constantly overwhelmed by the CG-heavy scenery), and seems comfortable knowing she's boarded a "Fitzcarraldo"-remake-meets-"Pirates of the Caribbean"-mishmash for dummies. Edgar Ramirez and Paul Giamatti light up some fire in the cashing-a-paycheck supporting cast. This being a star vehicle tailor-made for Dwayne Johnson, though, his Frank Wolff character and background are constantly dragged front-and-center into the spotlight to the film's detriment. Just because his performance is self-aware ('Who brings a submarine to the Amazon?') doesn't mean Johnson's charisma and knack for selling some awful puns ('This people will cut your head. We're HEADED there.' :-P) can overcome how ridiculously goofy things get. "Jungle Cruise" is fine, but it's not the next "Pirates"-sized franchise starter Disney was hoping for.M. Night Shyamalan's OLD (2021, theaters) manages to keep many balls up in the air for two thirds of its running time, despite some ridiculously shallow character development for the handful of folks trapped in a beach rapidly aging. Casting against type (Gael García Bernal and Vicky Krieps have a strange, awkward chemistry that works), methodical camera movements/editing or leaning on an actor's strengths (nobody plays self-centered asshole better than Rufus Sewell) keeps "Old" intriguing... until the final third, when Shyamalan spills the behind-the-curtain secrets and saps the metaphorical power of his own narrative. 'It's fine'... until it's not. :-(Caught HEATHERS (1989, HULU) for a Discord watch-along with the Facebook Jury Room 4.0 crowd. I'm more in awe that the filmmakers (director Michael Lehman, screenwriter Daniel Water, producer Denise Di Novi, etc.) were able to get this made in the 80's than its entertainment value. Even without Columbine and school shootings being as common as they are now (read that last line again! :'(), it was a tough sell to pitch a high school movie about killing fellow students for being phony a-holes. Christian Slater and Winona Ryder make a cute couple, even though I genuinely prefer to believe J.D. is Veronica's Tyler Durning, pulling the violent shit she's uncapable of bringing herself to do. And despite 'Very' not becoming a pop culture staple among youngsters, "Heather" ranks high among the most quotable high school films ever made. R.I.P. Glenn 'Otto' Shadix, the MTV videogames you condemned became true a few years after your sermon. :-PAlso for Discord/Facebook/Jury Room 4.0, saw Rob Bowman's REIGN OF FIRE (2002, Amazon Prime) for the first time. Fucking hated every single minute of it, even the mean-as-fuck CG dragon. Zero fun to be had here, with Bale, McConaughey, baby-faced "300" man and a bunch of dirty extras talking nonsense in thick accents for 20-25 mins. in-between quick, flashy dragon attacks. Makes Bowman's "Elektra" seem fast-paced! :-O Pass.
I haven't watched Old, but having read through the graphic novel Old is based on I'm kind of baffled by what I've read about the last act of the movie. The GN hints that there are other people involved somehow, but ultimately the book gets across the point it's trying to convey and nobody makes it off the beach. Nothing about the nature of the beach is explained or the people who might be observing it because it's not really important. If Shyamalan didn't think that was going to work for audiences I'm not sure why he wanted to adapt this story in the first place. It seems like it loses a whole lot by trying to bring things to a resolution.
@Ross, that's what hollywood does, isn't it? They try to explain everything because they can't trust the viewers to just go with it. And to be fair, the viewers never really gave the impression that they could
Continued from above.David Lowery's THE GREEN KNIGHT (2021, theater) is a perfect mixture of his mainstream (Disney's 2016 remake of "Pete's Dragon") and indie credits ("A Ghost Story") with A24's mission statement. An stylized adaptation of "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight," I was genuinely lost for most of the narrative. Myth-making fantasy, surrealism and romance (courtesy of Alicia Vikander in a thankless but pivotal role) collide as Dev Patel's titular character is consumed in his pursuit of a human (?) monster. Alas, the final 20 minutes come together to form a wordless portrayal of a man ruined by ambition that is POWERFUL STUFF. Big 'meh' to most of "Green Knight," but worth sitting through for a powerful ending that lifts it way above what came before it.JOE BELL (2021, theater) means well, and a stacked cast (Mark Wahlberg, Connie Britton, Gary Sinise, etc.) delivers fine performances. But this 'inspired by true events' tale of a redneck father walking through America to make amends for ignoring the bullying that led to his gay son's death plays it too safe, not to mention it threads over familiar territory. Reid Miller has a couple of enjoyable moments as the ghost of Jadin teasing father Joe on the road. 'It's fine,' but also unremarkable.SNAKE EYES: G.I. JOE ORIGINS (2021, AMC Dolby Cinema) starts off as a well-made but super generic ninja/action/revenge flick, one with top-tier talent (Henry Golding, "The Raid's" Iko Uwais) at the expense of bloodless 'PG-13' mayhem. Then a Cobra logo shows up in a weapons case. Then the Baroness (Úrsula Corberó) shows up to neuter the threat of main bad guy Kenta (Takehiro Hira). Then Scarlett (Samara Weaving) shows up to beat-up Cobra henchmen in a hotel bathroom, because Blake Snyder wrote a screenwriting book. "Snake Eyes" eventually remembers the conflict between its titular character and would-be ninja clan leader Tommy (Andrew Koji), and gives Haruka Abe and Eri Ishida strong female roles to kick ass and look cool doing it. But this pesky G.I. Joe franchise keeps threatening to derail the whole thing, from the opening flashback to young Snake's trauma to the post-credit recruitment scene straight out of a lower-tier "X-Men"/"Avengers" ripoff. Not worth the bus ride/gas money to the theater, let alone matinee ticket price. :-( PETER RABBIT 2: THE RUNAWAY (2021, theater) is a family-friendly movie sequel where the likable human leads (Rose Byrne and Domhnall Gleeson) are (a) content to play second fiddle to talking CG rabbits and (b) have to deal with sudden fame bringing a literary shark (David Oyelowo, who's clearly having a blast) that wants to take Bea's "Peter Rabbit" books mainstream. But its mostly Peter (James Corden) falling with a gang of city thieves trying to turn him against his kind. CGI mayhem ensues, but the 'PG' type that can poke gentile fun at Hollywood excess tropes while indulging in them. 'It's fine'... again?!Last but not least, Werner Herzog's FITZCARRALDO (1982, TCM) is the "Titanic" of international indie movies. Klaus Kinski's facial gestures and his white suit stand out as much as Claudia Cardinale's enthusiasm, the handful of stick-in-the-mud model shots (ouch!) and its notorious singular feat of lifting a giant boat across a mountain in the middle of the Amazon river. But there's so much about "Fitzcarraldo" that is lost in trying to describe it. Just seek it out and watch it (all 168 minutes of it) to understand why "Disney's Jungle Cruise" is just the latest in a long list of films paying homage to its 'willing to sacrifice anything for the movie' ambition. Highly recommended.
Fitzcarraldo is so good. I almost wish Jungle Cruise (which I haven't seen yet) becomes a franchise because I love movies about jungle exploration. Although I'm almost certain this will end up being a monkey's paw situation.The documentary made about the production of Fitzcarraldo is excellent too. Burden Of Dreams.I enjoyed the first Peter Rabbit more than apparently everybody, so I'm kind of looking forward to the new one.
Suicide Squad (viewing 1: XD Theater viewing 2 underway: home).(First Up: if you're gonna watch, i say skip my review for now as i dont wanna impart any bias to the experience). With the exception of Bond, i think this may be the flick i was most stoked to see this year. Im a Gunn fanboy for sure and went in with very high expectations. In the end i realllly liked but didnt love the flick. I go with a B to probably B+. Im gonna avoid deep dive comments or spoilers for now and say that i liked what he did with the characters, the violence and character deaths, the opening, and the finale. What i felt needed improvements were: pacing and a more compelling story flow. I love Robbie as Harley and feel like each outing we get glimpses of how good she can be...the same holds here...theres an extended scene with her and a baddie that brings the flick to a halt (in not a good way) BUT ends with a really cool character choice for her. In the end i really dig a lot of what Gunn did and said and that this doesnt feel like a cookie cutter flick. By all means i recommend it.Val (Amazon): Been looking forward to this one for a while. Val did a ton of random videotaping of his life and that footage makes for a really cool walk thru his earlier works. I supposed i would have liked more thoughts and storys from those films but you can only squeeze so much into a single doc. I think the doc spends too much time with current day Val. I think its very important to spend some time with him and acknowledge his challenging medical situation but maybe not as much as they did. Still it did give insights, small as they may be,into financial shit gone awry. (Also i had no idea he did convention circuits). This ones a no brainer for fans of him and his great movies. Check it out. Annnd maybe some day i can hope for feature length documentaries on Top Secret and Real Genius...anyone got Bouzerau's phone number?
A few things I watched:The Bridge At Remagen (1969) is a forgotten WW2 film that was received poorly after being released at the height of anti-Vietnam sentiment in the US. But it's actually quite good. They were able to use a whole town in Czechoslovakia that was due to be demolished anyways, so there are some brilliant battle scenes where they are leveling whole buildings. They got their hands on loads of tanks/jeeps/planes/trains/etc for filming. It'a a rather cynical war movie, where the 2 leads (US guy trying to take the bridge, and German guy trying to blow it up) care more about saving their own men than sacrificing them in the war effort which was coming to a close anyways, the winner being all but decided.Sounder (1972) is another forgotten movie which was nominated for best picture, best actor and best actress. It's mostly just a heart warming tale of a family and their love for one another. Kind of like "A Straight Story", a simple plot is all that's needed. Unfortunately, the transfer on Tubi looks like it was ripped from VHS. Perhaps other rental options are better.No Sudden Move (2021) was pretty fantastic I thought. There's some stuff which will divide audiences (this movie throws you in and doesn't spell everything out), but I'm just happy to have a director at the top of his game trying some new things.
I forgot to mention, Sounder is about a depression era African-American family, and was filmed on location in Louisiana. I'm tempted to buy the DVD. There doesn't appear to be a bluray release.
Sounder was a novel that I read for elementary school, and I have watched parts of it on Turner Classic Movies. I believe it was one of the first films with a black cast to get multiple Oscar nominations.
SILENT RUNNING (1972) A weird movie that can't decide if Bruce Dern's save-the-trees-at-any-cost character is the hero or villain. That doesn't matter, though, because we're all here for Douglas Trumbull's visual effects, which are just gorgeous. JUNGLE CRUISE (2021) This was... good? The action scenes felt a little small and claustrophobic. I kept wanting them to go bigger, and they never did. But on the plus side, it's a delight to have such a throwback to classic Disney, and there were quite a few big laughs. JAWS 2 (1978) Here's a serious case of sequel-itis. Despite everything that happened in the first movie, we're reset back to no one believing Chief Brody when he says there's a shark. It's mostly a slog, but some of the shark action is fun, especially a shark vs. helicopter fight. Although it only lasts a minute, that scene is more thrilling than any Sharknado or Sharktopus or whatever. JAWS 3-D (1983) An incoherent mess. The only enjoyment you can get from this is the absurdity of it all, like how Sea World has this huge underwater tunnel network below it, as if it's the clone planet Kamino or something. Deep Blue Sea is the better version of this, and I don't like Deep Blue Sea all that much. HEATHERS (1988) So... many... quotable... lines... JOLT (2021) Yet another Hollywood movie where mental illness becomes a superpower, in this case anger issues turning the main character into a unbeatable fighter. Just gross. Beyond that, the crime/revenge plot was all over the place. Kate Beckinsale and Stanley Tucci are doing what they can, but there's just no movie to be had here.
My movie experience this week consisted of a couple of trips to the Mahoning Drive-In. Last Sunday the 1950s versions of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and War of the Worlds were shown. I have watched Body Snatchers multiple times, but I do not think I had ever seen War of the Worlds in its entirety. I was surprised by how bleak it became toward the conclusion. A terrific film all around. I was also there on Tuesday for a screening of H. G. Lewis' 1970 flick The Wizard of Gore. I enjoyed it more than I expected to. Although a little red in appearance- a common color change as film prints age- the print was in great shape for an exploitation film of that era. Afterward, I hung out with the Exhumed Films crowd that always comes to the Mahoning. Where I am dog sitting I have access to several streaming services, including HBO Max and Netflix. With the Olympics over, I will be getting around to watching some movies. The Rudy Ray Moore biopic with Eddie Murphy definitely is on my list.
Jungle Cruise (XD): Its not great but i enjoyed it more than i thought i would. Very much a lesser pastiche of flicks like Raiders of the Lost Ark, Mummy, and Pirates of the Caribbean. I typically like Dwayne Johnsons humor in flicks and this one is no exception. The real star is Emily Blunt, she's a great hero to take this cgi-fest adventure with. In the end i think its a "fine" family flick..my wife and kid liked it alot. It would benefit from maybe loosing 20m and maybe investing a little more in the villains.