Friday, December 22, 2017

Star Wars Watch: The Last Jedi

If I tend to do extra-sized posts for big, monumental movies that fit into the Venn Diagram of the kinds of movies which I'll cover these days - one of the things I liked quite a bit about Star Wars: The Last Jedi is that there's so much to talk about.  And, as happened with Blade Runner 2049 and a few other movies of late, I entered with zero expectations and found myself so fully immersed for the film's runtime, I know I didn't catch it all.  I am glad to say that this movie bears a second viewing, something I was ready to do at the very moment I finished my Tuesday night screening.

Like a lot of folks, I was pleased when the reviews came out and pulled a mid 90th percentile on RottenTomatoes. And, when the movie then pulled a 50-something percent in audience reviews on RT, I said to Max, "well, this probably means I'm going to love it."*  After all, you can kind of count on people with overly strong reactions to be the most vocal and actually take to the internets to voice their opinions (this is why Yelp! reviews are nearly useless).

And the movie is both a very, very conservative Star Wars movie and something that knows the series cannot just be retreads of the original trilogy in perpetuity.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Remembering Audrey Totter on her 100th Birthday

Several years ago I was out visiting San Francisco and JeniferS showed me a noir she knew I'd never seen, starring Richard Basehart, Cyd Charise and an actor she adored but with whom I was unfamiliar, Audrey Totter.  The movie was Tension, and it was all kinds of terrific.  But, yes, Jenifer was right, Audrey Totter was absolutely phenomenal in that movie, stealing focus in every scene.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Christmas Watch: Love Actually (2003)

People, sometimes a movie is so not aimed at you, all you can do is accept that fact, sit back, and just try to figure it out from an anthropological context.

I'm not going to try to claim Love Actually (2003) is a bad movie, but I will say that it is a movie that I didn't understand.  Credit where it's due - 14 years on, it's a bonafide modern holiday favorite with a fanbase large enough that for a decade after the film's release, studios kept trying to replicate what worked here for New Years, Valentine's Day, and maybe Mother's Day (I don't know.  I wasn't paying attention.).  And my good pal, SimonUK, talks about this movie quite a bit.  He frikkin' loves this movie.  He is, of course, English, and I think the cultural cues I was missing make much more sense to him.  Apparently the race to see who has the #1 Christmas song in England every year is a real thing (which, I know... weird).

Even I knew that this was a movie about a lot of people falling in love, facing the challenges of love, and defining love as something other than romantic or sexual.  What this means is that over the course of what I think was a 90-minute movie, about ten different stories played out as loosely tied vignettes.  Some of them better than others.  Some of them sweet and simple and some making me raise my hand and waiting to be called upon as I had so many questions.

Of the movie's run-time, I enjoyed the back 1/3rd of the movie, but found the first third grating and the middle third baffling and sometimes tedious.  I will say, the movie really did stick the landing in a way that nothing prior had suggested was coming.  I went from not-cracking-a-smile and checking my phone to actively engaged and actual laughing out loud.  I'm not sure I've ever had this experience before with a movie, where nothing changed about how I felt about what I was seeing previously by what I was now seeing - but I felt the quality of the movie quadrupled in just a scene or two and roughly maintained that level through to the end.

Happy Birthday to JimD

JimD holds aloft his magic sword
Happy birthday, Jim.  May Castle Greyskull give you the POWER

Sunday, December 17, 2017

"A Christmas Story Live!" Hot Takes

On the evening of 12/17/2017, Fox broadcast a sorta-live version of what's apparently a real Broadway musical, a - if I'm being honest - not terribly great musical.

And there is nothing like checking in with twitter to get the voices of America, and despair.

There were a lot of pleased, happy tweets.  A lot of criticism, just and otherwise.  But I grabbed a few samples to share with you.  They will tell you all you need to know about The Greatest Country on Earth and what people think is a pretty good idea to just shout into the internet void.