Celebrating the Unpopular Arts
 

There’s always time to check out some more modern movies!

Have I watched more movies that were released after my date of birth? You bet I have!

Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972). As we often see from Hammer, this is a pretty good horror movie that zips through the plot a bit too fast, which is too bad when you have Peter Cushing and especially Christopher Lee chewing up the scenery. Cushing plays the grandson of “Lawrence” van Helsing (why they changed his name is beyond me), who we see in a brief prologue (also, naturally, played by Cushing) killing Dracula (Lee) in Hyde Park, but dying in the attempt. He’s buried in a churchyard, where one of Dracula’s disciples places the master’s ashes, so a century later, in swingin’ 1972, another disciple (played with considerable scenery-chewing aplomb himself by Christophe Neame) can raise him from the dead and hunt down Cushing’s granddaughter, Jessica, played by Stephanie Beacham. It’s a fun idea – Dracula stalking young people who just want to be groovy, man – and it works pretty well, but it could easily be a bit longer. Once Neame raises Dracula, the plot kind of speeds through the vampire terrorizing people to get to the final confrontation with Cushing. I get that you want Cushing and Lee to square off, but Lee isn’t given too much to do (besides look creepy, which he’s good at) and even the final fight isn’t that long. It’s frustrating. Beacham does a decent enough job, and Neame is having a lot of fun, and Caroline Munro is there for a while to look sexy (which, of course, she’s very good at), and it’s a bit refreshing that the cop investigating the first murder doesn’t simply dismiss Cushing when he starts talking about vampires. It’s a nice, atmospheric movie, a bit bloodier than you might expect (well, not from Hammer, who didn’t shy away from that, but for the time period), and there’s just the tiniest bit of generation gap politics to make Lee a bit more interesting in this context. It’s not a great movie, but it’s fun for a lazy Saturday afternoon (which is when I watched it).

Farewell, My Lovely (1975). I’ve seen Mitchum as Marlowe in The Big Sleep (which is a different universe Marlowe than this one, as it takes place in the 1970s present instead of the 1940s, as this one does), and I saw Murder, My Sweet, the first version of this movie, and now I’ve seen this one! I’m not the biggest fan of Mitchum as Marlowe – I don’t think I’ve read a Marlowe book (I own The Big Sleep, but I can’t remember if I’ve read it), so I don’t know how Marlowe is supposed to be, but I know people at the time thought Mitchum was too old, but to me, it feels like he’s too much of a brute. I don’t know if Marlowe is supposed to be one, but Mitchum is a good tough guy (due to his physique, his less-than-attractive mug, and his not-great acting skills), and he doesn’t seem to fit in the role of a somewhat suave private investigator (again, I don’t know if Marlowe is supposed to be suave, but Mitchum tries to be occasionally, and he’s not great at it). It does mean that I can believe that he can take the several blows to the head he receives in this movie better than Dick Powell could in the original (seriously, that dude needed a CT scan), so there’s that. Anyway, this is a fun mystery, as Mitchum is hired by a big lug to find his girlfriend (Moose has been in prison for some time, and Velma has dropped off the map), and then he’s hired by another man to bodyguard him while the man pays a ransom, but that dude ends up dead, and Mitchum feels like he needs to find the murderer, which leads him to femme fatale Charlotte Rampling, who’s dazzling as usual. The man who hires Mitchum is played by John O’Leary, and unlike the Dick Powell version where they can’t come right out and say he’s gay, the character this time around is definitely gay, so yay, progress! (I mean, he’s still kind of stereotypical, so … yeah.) Anyway, once it becomes clear the two cases are connected in some way, the answer is kind of easy to figure out, but it’s still a nice, twisty plot, with a good amount of violence, some naked babes (yay, progress!), and Sylvester Stallone in a small role (check him out in the clip!) for which he had no lines (I don’t think) but for which he gets to hang out in bed with a naked lady (yay, progress!). Mitchum doesn’t have a ton of chemistry with Rampling, but it’s fine, as he’s trying to resist her anyway. It’s not a great movie, but it’s pretty good. If you’re a fan of noir (and who isn’t?!?!?), it’s a decent flick to check out.

The Tenant (1976). After making Chinatown, Roman Polanski made this weird movie, which is … just weird. Polanski plays an office worker in Paris who finds a small apartment to rent. It’s empty because the previous tenant threw herself out of the window and through a glass roof below the apartment. She’s not dead yet, but she’s also not coming back. Polanski is a meek, fairly nice guy, and he’s immediately bullied by the concierge, played by Shelley Winters, and condescended to by the landlord, played by Melvyn Douglas. For some inexplicable reason, Polanski goes to the hospital to see the suicidal woman, who’s bandaged almost completely – one eye and her mouth are all that’s exposed. There he meets Isabelle Adjani (at 21, already an Oscar nominee!), the woman’s friend. The woman looks at them and screams, which freaks them both out. They leave together and begin a tepid romance, with Polanski pretending to be a acquaintance of the woman so he doesn’t have to explain that he’s in her apartment. Meanwhile, the landlord wants quiet, so when Polanski throws a housewarming party that gets a bit loud, Douglas isn’t happy. However, Polanski doesn’t really do much else to piss anyone off, yet everyone seems pissed off at him! He’s accused of being loud one night when he wasn’t even at home (he got drunk and slept at Adjani’s), he doesn’t want to throw a woman out of the building, which pisses off the imperious woman spearheading the campaign (she’s played by Jo Van Fleet, while the target of her ire is played by Lila Kedrova). He finds a tooth wrapped in cotton in a hole in his wall, and he keeps seeing people in the bathroom (the toilet is separate from his apartment, on the same floor but around a few corners, so he can see it across the courtyard) who stand there for hours doing nothing. Then things get really weird!

Polanski knows how to create tension, and the movie is very creepy and tense. He does some clever things with the camera work, and as things get worse for his character, the camera becomes more violently involved in the action. The problem with the movie is that it gets too weird, too quickly, and it’s unclear why Polanski is so susceptible to some of the things that happen to him. The neighbors and landlord and concierge are jerks, sure, but Polanski reacts strangely to them. Adjani is somewhat inert throughout (she’s French, so maybe that’s her natural state?), and she’s unconvincing as a love interest. (I think I first saw Adjani in Queen Margot, the wacky story of late 16th-century France from 1994, which isn’t all that good but which she tears through with amazing ferocity, so I know she’s capable of being animated, she’s just not here.) And, as with most weird stories, the “realistic” aspects get left behind with no explanation. Polanski has a job, after all, but that’s forgotten halfway through the movie. His friends are kind of jerks, but they’d probably notice if he wasn’t coming into the office anymore! Overall, this is a bit of a disappointment, despite Polanski really, really committing to the role (I don’t want to spoil a 50-year-old movie, but he really commits). It looks cool, and it’s interesting, but it’s also frustrating. It is funnier than you might expect, so that’s something!

The China Syndrome (1979). This came out a few weeks before the Three Mile Island incident, which gave it a huge boost at the box office and also made nuclear power proponents, who pooh-poohed it quite a lot when it came out, look a bit foolish. It’s a good thriller, but man, does it have some weird plot holes. First of all, Fonda, Douglas, and Lemmon are excellent, naturally, and Brimley is very good as the conflicted lower-level employee who wants to keep his job (Lemmon is brave to speak out, but he also probably has a bigger nest egg if he lost his job, while Brimley needs it more desperately and is therefore more conflicted). The story hums along, and it’s impressive how they’re able to make all the technical talk keep from bogging things down. The misogyny shown toward Fonda’s character is not too subtle, but it’s still not obnoxiously obvious, as what she experiences was really how it was back then, so people watching it then might not realize the condemnation of it in this movie (I mean, they should have, but who knows – Fonda would later have to make the sexism women experience in the workplace FAR more obvious in 9 to 5). But man, the plot holes as the tension ratchets up. First, the goons run Hector off the road and steal the stuff Lemmon was going to use to prove negligence at the plant. Why doesn’t Lemmon tell him he thinks he’s being tailed? Why doesn’t Hector drive faster when he realizes what’s happening? He’s driving a faster car, and he has a few seconds to speed up before the goons drive him off the road, so come on, Hector! But that’s not the most annoying part. When Lemmon and Fonda get into the control room and Fonda is planning to interview Lemmon, the nuclear execs say everything is fine and they can do it. Why do Fonda and Douglas believe them? Douglas, especially, sees conspiracies around every corner, and he just thinks the execs are going to give up? And I know they cut the feed when the SWAT team breaches the control room so Douglas can’t film it, but why did they think it wouldn’t get out – Fonda and Douglas witness the entire thing! I know they’re portraying him as a lunatic, but it seems to me that they would have to kill Fonda and Douglas as well, or they’ll just go outside and report what happened … which is exactly what they do. I mean, the lawsuit potential against the plant alone should make the execs think twice about their actions. I get that it’s the 1970s and events could be controlled a bit better because cameras weren’t ubiquitous, but the nuclear execs’ plan – spearheaded by Richard Herd, who later hilariously played George Costanza’s boss when he worked for the Yankees – seems extremely misguided and ill-conceived. Still, it’s always good to see a 40-year-old movie where, as today, money rules all. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose and all that. Sigh. Good movie, though.

2010 (1984). I was 13 when this came out, and I’m not sure if I saw it in the movie theater or when it first came out on VHS, because I know I saw it in the 1980s and loved it. I think I saw it before I saw 2001, but I’m pretty sure I saw it after I read both 2001 and 2010, because I loved me some Arthur C. Clarke back in the day (I mean, I still do, but he’s not writing new stuff, is he?). I mean, this isn’t as visionary as Kubrick’s movie, naturally, but Peter Hyams could make a good sci-fi movie (two of his previous four movies were Capricorn One – which I haven’t seen – and the wildly underrated Outland), and he did a nice job with this. As usual, a good cast helps, and Roy Scheider, John Lithgow, Bob Balaban, Elya Baskin, and Helen Mirren in her American film debut (her first movie was in 1967, so she wasn’t an ingenue, of course, but she had stayed in Britain until this movie) will make most movies better. This isn’t as weird as 2001, of course, but that’s because Clarke and Hyams had to explain 2001 at some point, and Kubrick could just be bizarre for the sake of being bizarre, while Hyams had to make sense of it all. It always bugged me that the Russians and Americans immediately disassociated with each other when their countries were on the verge of war just because they were ordered to – what were the governments of either country going to do to them, when they’re millions of miles out in space? I get patriotism, but that was dumb (yes, I know it was just so they could reconcile, but still). Anyway, good acting, interesting, philosophical story, pretty good special effects – this is just an enjoyable movie. Watch it again sometime!

Blue Steel (1990). Kathryn Bigelow knows how to make weird, tense thrillers, so this is a weird, tense thriller, but it’s also profoundly stupid in some crucial ways. Let’s see what those are!

1. During her first week on the job, Future Oscar Winner (see below!) Jamie Lee Curtis spots someone robbing a supermarket across the street from a bodega where she and her partner have stopped for some coffee. Does she go and bang on the door of the toilet, where her partner is, or does she try to take out the perp (a very overheated Tom Sizemore) by herself? I think you know the answer to that!

2. Once she shoots Sizemore, the stupidity really starts! Sizemore drops his gun, naturally, and Ron Silver, lying on the floor (where Sizemore told him – along with all the other patrons – to go), grabs it and hides it away. No one sees this. Jamie Lee shoots Sizemore several times, but she walks right past the gun as she goes to check on him instead of, I don’t know, securing it. Then, apparently nobody secures the scene, because Silver just walks away without anyone interviewing him, so much so that later, Jamie Lee doesn’t recognize that he was at the crime scene. Moreover, Jamie Lee gets in trouble because they can’t find the gun and think she shot an unarmed man, even though Sizemore was waving the gun around (the wussy cashier couldn’t confirm it was a gun, saying it may have been a knife, because the point is to get Jamie Lee in trouble, but they go about it in a stupid way).

3. Silver digs shooting people, apparently, and he likes romancing Jamie Lee (which, of course, is not stupid). But when he basically admits to shooting people to her, she arrests him … with no evidence, mind you, just his vague statements implying he did it. Richard Jenkins, as his lawyer, eats that for lunch.

4. Silver grabs Jamie Lee from behind and shoots poor Elizabeth Peña, who’s Jamie Lee’s best friend, then conks Jamie Lee over the head. When they go to arrest him, Jenkins asks if she ever saw his face, but she didn’t. She struggles for quite a bit before he conks her, and she never got a look at his face?

5. Jamie Lee and Clancy Brown, playing a good guy for once (a NYPD detective), follow Silver in the hopes he’ll lead them to the gun he used, which he buried in the park. Jamie Lee sees a person in the park, and because she just wants to kill Silver, not arrest him, she handcuffs Clancy to the steering wheel. Back-up is for losers, man! Of course, the person is not Silver, but a diversion, and Silver almost kills Clancy because Jamie Lee wanted to kill him so badly.

6. After Silver gets away, Jamie Lee and Clancy go back to her apartment to regroup … and have sex. Of course. I mean, it’s not only inappropriate, it’s stupid, as Silver is still out there. “Out there” in this case means “in Jamie Lee’s apartment,” where he causes some havoc. So stupid!

7. At the beginning of the final shootout (after Jamie Lee punches out a far larger cop with one punch), she somehow knows Silver is behind her even though they’re on a crowded subway platform. Is she telepathic?!?!?

Still, it’s a tense movie. Bigelow does some cool stuff with the camera to create good moods, and the low-level misogyny about Jamie Lee joining the police force (and, of course, the higher-level misogyny!) is handled pretty well, which add some nice twists to the standard movie cop narrative. The fact that Silver, early on, does not question her career choices is partly why she digs him so much, which is neat. Silver does a nice job turning into a crazy person, as the script doesn’t really explain it too much but he does a good job implying a lot. There’s a lot to like about the movie … but man, is it stupid sometimes. This was only Bigelow’s third movie, but you can tell how good she is at some things, which would become more obvious as her career went on. It’s not a terrible cop movie, in other words. More interesting than most, despite the dumbness!

2 Days in the Valley (1996). In the wake of Pulp Fiction, a lot of movies of its ilk got made, with shady characters doing nefarious things, but the characters themselves are largely “normal” in that they have regular lives when they’re not, you know, killing people; twisty plots that take unexpected turns; characters interacting in strange and not-too-obvious ways; and a bunch of different plotlines that may or may not intersect. These movies generally aren’t that good, but they’re watchable, mainly because good actors rushed to them after Tarantino resurrected Travolta’s career and gave Jackson a career-defining role, so they tend to be mildly entertaining. 2 Days in the Valley is notable, I suppose, for being Charlize Theron’s credited debut (she’s in the third Children of the Corn, but uncredited), so that’s something, plus she takes her top off, so that’s something else. A lot of good actors make a silly story work pretty well – James Spader and Danny Aiello break into Teri Hatcher’s house at the beginning and kill her ex-husband, who’s hanging around trying to get back together. He was supposedly banging Charlize Theron, but she’s Spader’s girlfriend, so it’s clear they were setting him up. Spader shoots Aiello so he can be blamed, but Aiello was wearing a vest, so he survives. Vice cops Eric Stoltz and Jeff Daniels happen to get to the murder scene first, but they don’t take over the case, even though Stoltz really wants to work in homicide. Greg Cruttwell plays an art dealer whose house gets broken into by Aiello, who’s trying to get out of town, and Aiello bonds with Glenne Headly, who plays Cruttwell’s assistant (and is the stealth MVP of the movie; Headly is often awesome, and it’s too bad she didn’t have a bigger career before her untimely death). Everyone does a pretty good job, and while there’s some dumb stuff (a really bad gay stereotype for a few seconds, with Michael Jai White really overselling it; Daniels’s character seemingly in a different, much darker movie), it’s a decent enough way to spend 100 minutes or so. Nothing to seek out, but if it’s on, it’s not terrible.

Hotel Artemis (2018). I love B-movies these days, because nobody makes them because the money in movies is too big, so we get things that really ought to be B-movies but somehow attract A-list talent. Such it is with this trashy movie, which takes place during a water riot in 2028 Los Angeles and revolves around a hotel downtown that is set up as a hospital for criminals. Jodie Foster runs it with her assistant, Dave Bautista, and one night, after a botched bank heist, Sterling K. Brown shows up with his wounded brother, Brian Tyree Henry. That’s TWO-TIME OSCAR WINNER Foster and OSCAR-NOMINATED Henry, mind you, and later, Oscar-nominated Jeff Goldblum shows up, plus the cast includes Sofia Boutella, Charlie Day, Jenny Slate, and Zachary Quinto. Anyway, Day is some kind of shady businessman who just wants to get out of town, Boutella is a very high-end assassin who got wounded on a job but has a secret agenda, and Quinto is trying to get his dad, Goldblum, to the hotel to be admitted, because Goldblum is the crime king of LA and he just happens to own the building. There’s a lot going on, in other words, and things get violent quickly. It’s kind of garbage, but it zips along nicely, and the actors sell it hard, and I can’t be mad at it, because it’s a B-movie. It’s not director Drew Pearce’s fault that we don’t make B-movies anymore! (As of now, this is his only feature film, but, I mean, he got it made and he got a terrific cast, so good for him!)

Bloodshot (2020). Ok, so this is a garbage movie for the most part, but it’s enjoyable trash, which is nice, and – hear me out – some things in it are pretty good. I guess the big twist is part of the comics, but I’ve never read a Bloodshot comic, so the fact that at the beginning, when Vin Diesel kills a terrorist and then spends time with his wife and then gets captured by an evil dude who then kills his wife is not real was a fun twist, because the movie takes its time getting to that point, and it works. Plus, Guy Pearce is in this, and Guy Pearce is just one of those actors who shows up in bad movies and just makes them better just by having more fun knowing he’s in a bad movie than, say, Diesel, who seems to think everything he makes it Citizen Kane. Diesel is a bad, bad actor, of course, but making him a super-soldier isn’t the worst use of his talents (plus, Diesel was 52/53 when this was made, but everyone pretends he’s 20 years younger, so his wife, played by Talulah Riley, was about 35 during filming and nobody cares, plus they pretend he could still be in an elite Marine unit and nobody thinks it’s strange). The CGI is a bit wonky in places, but it’s still not a terrible B-list action movie. Nothing to make plans to see, but not bad if you’re lazing around on the weekend with nothing to do.

Everything Everywhere All At Once (2022). We watched this with my parents, and even though I warned them it was weird, they were still a bit unprepared for it. My mom didn’t really “get” it, while my dad couldn’t follow what was going on because everyone spoke fast and he couldn’t keep up with the closed captioning because he wasn’t wearing his glasses (which, you know, is on him). To be fair, three of the five leads speak in heavily accented English and they do talk fast, but come on, sir! Anyway, this is dazzling even when I’m not seeing it in the theater (I had heard that there’s a divide in opinions between those who see it in the theater and those who watch at home), and I think it deserved all the awards it won (I’m not completely positive about Jamie Lee – I’m glad she won, but I forgot that her role isn’t quite as big as I remembered). Some things still bug me – how can Yeoh access, it seems, more than one consciousness at a time, for instance – but it does hold together nicely, it’s very funny, and as I noted when I first wrote about it, it really earns the overly sentimental ending. The effects are amazing, and the actors are superb. All of them have to play slightly different versions of themselves, and they do amazing work. Ke Huy Quan, especially, is really good at shifting his body language just slightly to show the different versions of himself he’s playing (he’s a lead actor, but I’m glad they got him nominated as a Supporting Actor, as Fraser was always going to win Best Actor and it would have been a shame if Quan went home empty-handed), and Hong’s switch to English and the shock it engenders among his family because they thought he only spoke Cantonese is terrific, especially given that we in the audience know Hong can speak English. Even Tallie Medel, in a relatively minor role, shows us why Stephanie Hsu is a bit full of shit with her nihilistic viewpoint, because she and Medel are so good as a couple. It’s almost a perfect movie to see if you’re a comic book reader, because it’s not a superhero movie (well, not one with established characters) and the idea of a multiverse is not something comic book readers would have any issue with, which I’m sure some “squares” who don’t read comics had a problem with as they watched this movie. Comic book readers are just like, “Yeah, sure, no problem.” Anyway, it’s a wonderful movie, and you should all see it. It’s not too often I think a movie deserved all the Oscars it won, and while I didn’t see all the movies this was up against, the awards it did win – Original Screenplay, Directing, Picture, Lead Actress, Supporting Actress, Supporting Actor – seem deserved (although I might have given Supporting Actress to Hsu, who was also nominated). It’s neat.

Fast X (2023). This is big, loud, and dumb, but I can’t help loving these stupid movies, even though they are running on fumes just a bit (GET IT?!?!?!?). They’re still suffering from “Paul Walker Is Dead” Syndrome, as Diesel doesn’t have much chemistry with Ludacris and Gisbon, which Walker had in spades. Plus, Walker’s absence means Jordana Brewster often gets sidelined, and nobody puts Jordana Brewster in the corner!!!! It would be nice if they could figure out a tasteful way for Brian to be dead in the movies, because then they could stop making references to Brian but never showing him, even at the family barbecue that begins the movie. Plus, Walker made it less Diesel’s show, which it has become, and Diesel, as I noted above, is not the greatest actor (although he sells his final line of the movie hard, and it works), so his parts are often too inert. Apparently this has been stretched into a three-part finale (it was originally two), and I’m sure I’ll see both of them, but I’m not sure how they’re going to get three movies out of this. It’s both overstuffed and a bit empty, and it’s a shame. Louis Leterrier, who’s not as good a director as Justin Lin, begins the movie far too slowly (after a loud flashback to Fast Five, still the best movie in the series), with everyone – including Rita Moreno in a worthless role as Diesel’s grandmother – spouting about family, which, yes, I know that’s the theme of the movies, but in this one, it feels like they’re just going through the motions because they’re contractually obligated to mention “family” one hundred times before anything blows up. Once the action starts, things pick up a bit, but it still feels disjointed, because Diesel and the team – Sung Kang, Ludacris, Gibson, and Nathalie Emmanuel (sporting a super-fierce short haircut) – aren’t together for most of the movie, and the team looks a bit bored (maybe they’ll have more to do in the second – and third, sigh – parts). Helen Mirren is apparently Dom’s best friend now, as she shows up to encourage him at some point, but again, she’s wasted like Moreno is (and it’s unclear why she’s so buddy-buddy with Dom when he almost killed both her sons – I can buy they’re reluctant allies, but she’s like his mom now). Michelle Rodriguez also doesn’t get to do much until the end, but that’s fine with me as I still don’t like Rodriguez (and I still can’t put my finger on why). What saves the movie (besides two cameos that are awesome) is Jason Momoa, who is having the motherfucking time of his life as the villain, the son of the drug lord the team took down in the aforementioned Fast Five (hence the beginning, when they slide Momoa into the action of that movie – they don’t put him in actual scenes, just film things from a different viewpoint and splice them into the already-filmed movie). He’s out for revenge against Dom and the gang, but he doesn’t want to kill them, he wants them to suffer, and he has a blast doing it. At one point, he paints the nails of one of his henchman … whom he’s already killed and put in a lawn chair. It’s weird, but Momoa kills it in the scene, so it works. His wardrobe is on point, as well. I can deal with some of the dull parts and the fact that everyone is living with “Game of Thrones Teleportation Rules” as they zip around the world seemingly instantaneously and the disappearance of Scott Eastwood about 40 minutes into the movie (not that he’s that important, but he was helping the team, and his car blew up, and he got out safely, and then he never shows up again, as you can see below!) and some sketchy CGI (a lot of the stunts are fun, as usual, but occasionally the graphics don’t look great) because of my fondness for the utter stupidity of the series, Momoa enjoying the heck out of it all, and some of the cool ancillary characters. Diesel, though … man, I wish that dude could act just a bit better. Come on, man! I can’t say I recommend this movie – I liked it, but recognize its many faults – but it doesn’t really matter, because you’re only seeing this because you’re super-invested in the series, and then you’re seeing it no matter what I say! But if you’re wondering about it, I just have to say that Furious 7 – the final one with Walker – really would have been a perfect place to put the whole thing to bed. Money talks too loudly, I guess!

I know it hasn’t been too long since I posted a movie review thing, but I’ve had some time to watch a bunch of them recently, so that’s what you get! Let me know how wildly off I am in my opinions in the comments!

17 Comments

  1. Eric van Schaik

    I’ve seen some of these.
    The China Syndrome a few times on tv. Decent movie.

    I own 2010 (and 2001 too of course). It’s been a while since I’ve watched it. Thanks for reminding me to watch it again soon.

    I saw Everything Everywhere All At Once at our flight to Brasil. I was tired so it didn’t grab me. I’ll have to see it again when it gets on tv.
    (other movies we saw during our flights were Minions Rise of Gru, Mortal Kombat, Top Gun Maverick (too predictable imo), the latest Suicide Squad and King Kong vs Godzilla. Yes, I didn’t want to think too much during flight. 😉

    1. Greg Burgas

      Man, that’s a long flight! I’ve only seen The Suicide Squad. It was pretty good. I’ll get around to King Kong vs. Godzilla and Top Gun Maverick!

  2. conrad1970

    Only seen 2010 from that list, it was a great movie and far better than 2001.
    Been meaning to watch Everything Everywhere All At Once but still not got around to it yet.
    I really hate the Fast franchise though, some movies are just too stupid to sit through.
    I mean come on, you have to draw a line somewhere right?

    1. Greg Burgas

      The problem with the F & F franchise is that it wasn’t that stupid in the beginning, and that’s when it hooks ya! 🙂 And even when it’s at its dumbest, everyone except Diesel seems to be in on the joke, and that goes a long way with me. I can deal with dumb if everyone – or even some of the actors – accept that it’s dumb!

      1. conrad1970

        Diesel’s acting skills are truly atrocious, the only decent thing he’s done is the voice for The Iron Giant. Now that was a great animated movie.

  3. tomfitz1

    Burgas: I’ve seen 2010 (in the theaters), 2 Days in the Valley (vhs), and Bloodshot.

    Would like to see Everything everywhere all at once soon.

    Got bored with the Fast and the Furious franchise after the second film.

    Haven’t seen the rest of your list, but did watch Ant-Man and the wasp: Quantumania and Shazam! Fury of the Gods. Fun to watch.

    John Wick: Chapter 4 is next.

    1. Greg Burgas

      F & F is many things, but boring … that’s a new one! 🙂

      I’m burned out on superhero movies, so I’ll see those eventually, but I’m in no hurry. And I’ll probably have to carve out some time to see all the John Wick movies in a short amount of time. Although I still think they probably should have stopped after the first one (the next two are fun, but go a bit too far into the mythology of the world).

  4. I really enjoyed Two Days in the Valley. Light but fun.
    I saw Ratatouille recently and while it’s a fun film, it’s funnier after seeing Everything Everywhere All at Once.
    I’ll be blogging about the second Shazam movie soon but I think it’s an improvement on the first.

  5. Peter

    Robert Mitchum not having great acting skills? Blasphemy! I mean, Mitcham would probably be the first person to agree and downplay his own skills, but I think he was one of the finest actors of his generation. Haven’t seen him in The Big Sleep, though.

    I have only seen Two Days in the Valley (ok, not great but not horrible, and with some good over the top performances) and EEAaO. I did really like Everything Everywhere, but I feel like it got a bit overhyped by Oscars time. It was cool to see a non-comic book Multiverse movie and there were a ton of visually creative and witty gags, but it just felt like it was too overstuffed and with a somewhat simplistic message to be Oscar-caliber at the Picture level. Ke Huy Quan and Yeoh were awesome, though, and Hsu and Curtis were very good (though the latter was not Oscar-caliber either in my opinion). Curious if you saw/had thoughts on Banshees of Inisherin, which I thought was just wonderful entertainment and still truly thought-provoking, to the point that I was just thinking about it again this afternoon.

    1. Mitchum worked for me in Big Sleep. Marlowe (in answer to the OP question) isn’t suave in the books and he has a sense of world-weariness that comes across in Marlowe’s performance. He’d probably agree with Chandler’s line that “it’s never funny a man should be killed but it can be funny he’s killed for so little.”
      He’s also good in a similar role in TV’s “One Shoe Makes it Murder.”

    2. Greg Burgas

      I haven’t seen a ton of Mitchum movies, but maybe I should just say I don’t think he has great range (although maybe he does!). He’s very good at the version of Marlowe he’s playing here, but that seems to be his wheelhouse, and I know the few times I’ve seen him outside of that, he just looks uncomfortable. But that’s just me!

      I haven’t seen Banshees of Inisherin yet, but I will!

  6. I can’t speak to EEAAO on video, but I did love it in the cinema. And yeah, most people I know IRL who hated it or were confused by it saw it at home. I was on a plane to France this month and saw a couple of people watching it. I wonder how they liked it. https://www.rogerogreen.com/2023/02/15/everything-everywhere-all-at-once/

    And re: Peter’s observation about EEAAO being overhyped, the hype for a movie will affect my viewing experience. “THAT film was nominated?” “THIS film won?”

  7. Jeff Nettleton

    First American movie? Excalibur, Fiendish Plot of Dr Fu Manchu, and Caligula don’t count? Those were produced by American companies. I’ll grant you that Fu Manchu wasn’t seen by many and Caligula was restricted; but, Excalibur did quite well. If you mean shot in America, I will grant you that.

    Hyams knew how to do “lived in” science fiction.

    I saw Blue Steel in the theater and wished I had kept my money. I went because it was Jamie Lee Curtiss; but, I was mostly bored or underwhelmed by it. Haven’t watched since; so, I don’t know if I would react the same, so many years later. I do know that I have never been a fan of the Bigelow movies I have seen, though I haven’t seen many.

    I’ve never actually watched China Syndrome; but, in the wake of the 3 Mile Island disaster, I saw so many clips and parodies (SNL did a great one, with Dan Akroyd’s Jimmy Carter) that I felt like I had.

    I have Dracula AD 1972 on a disc with several Hammer films. It was one of the better later ones. I first watched it about 10 years ago, or so, and spent half the time trying to recall where I had seen Christopher Neame. Finally looked it up and it was the British tv mini-series Edward The King (Edward the VII, on PBS), playing young Kaiser Wilhelm II.

    1. Greg Burgas

      I’m just going by info on IMDb, sir – I just assumed those others were made by British companies in some way (I know Caligula was made by an American, but I assumed it was through a British company somehow). So sorry! 🙂

  8. Admittedly, I watch so many movies I can barely remember any of them, but here’s what I think I recall:

    Farewell My Lovely was grittier than I expected. Still need to track down Mitchum’s Big Sleep.

    Hotel Artemis: Great cast, didn’t care for the story/execution.

    Bloodshot: Surprisingly, I kinda liked this one. Needed a post-credit scene with Ninjak, though.

    Everything Everywhere: Saw it in the theater and again on Blu-Ray, and it’s great, but not the best movie ever. The movie is kind of exhausting– in a good way, but it’s a lot to take in. Love Ke Huy Quan in it, and he deserved the Oscar.

    I have not seen any Fast or Furious movies, except the Hobbs & Shaw spin-off. One day I’ll get to them.

    Recently I’ve been watching the Star Trek movies. Made it through Part V: Final Frontier, so far, which is the one everyone hates, but as is my wont, I liked it a lot!

    As for recent comic book stuff: Everyone has been complaining about Ant-Man 3 for months, but I liked it fine. It’s like reading an Annual from 1991– it’s really not advancing the characters, but it’s a fun waste of time. However, I’m glad I watched it before I saw Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3, because that one is great. Colorful, imaginative, sweet, exciting, makes you feel like it has real stakes and a point of view.

    I did not care for Shazam 2 at all. It does not suffer from the Geoff Johnsian tonal whiplash that put me off the first one, but it also has no reason to exist. Flavorless. Weirdly, everything that’s “wrong” with Ant-Man 3 is wrong here too, and yet one was more enjoyable to me than the other.

    I also binged the entire Y the Last Man series before Disney/Hulu threw it into a black hole, never to be seen again. I wasn’t into it at first– I wish these post-apocalypse shows would stop spending their entire first episodes pre-apocalypse– but it grew on me a little as it went. I do like how Yorick is just a charming idiot, and the show picks up when Dr. Mann arrives. I never actually read the comic, so I don’t know how it compares, but maybe I will do that sooner rather than later!

  9. Greg: I wondered why you hadn’t mentioned Banshees of Inisherin yet, but you added you haven’t seen it.
    When you do, you’ll realise it’s a superior film to EEAAO which I liked but couldn’t understand the mass Oscar recognition. All four B of I leads deserved gongs but as at least one would need to be put into ‘supporting actor’ (Gleeson or Keoghan) I knew someone would miss out. As it transpired, all missed out, IIRC.
    Every so often a film turns up at the Oscars gaining inexplicable mass acclaim/ nominations/ eventual wins. Forrest Gump & Titanic spring to mind; maybe I’m being harsh.
    As for F & F, think I’ve seen just two, including Hobbs & Shaw, so my knowledge is pretty much zero. Don’t ask which is the other: I’ve Fast (*b’doom tish*) run out of hands, is an 11th in the franchise confirmed yet?
    I’m with other Peter & ersie: if I haven’t seen a film yet that’s already hyped to the gills, it’ll raise my critical hackles. That’s the case with Gump and many more although I did see Titanic on cinema release.

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