Monday, September 12, 2016
The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) is one of my favorite Bond films. If I had a top 5 pre-Craig Bond films, this would be hovering right next to Goldfinger. It's peak Moore, when he's not just seemingly having a laugh in a tux, but he's funny as hell but still buyable in action sequences - of which this movie has some good ones. It has one of my favorite title sequences/ theme songs after Goldfinger with Carly Simon's "Nobody Does It Better", and the pre-title's opening is directly tied to character motivations later in the film (and it's a bad-ass ski-chase with the best ending to a ski chase on film!).
When I was in high school, I'd quit playing officially sanctioned sports about 3 games into the basketball season my sophomore year (that's a whole other story, but let's just say - that was my first experience in recognizing an adult had no idea what they were doing). I was kind of between activities at one point, and somehow heard about this thing where people were hitting each other with foam swords and shields - Society for Creative Anachronism. I briefly considered getting involved - I mean, who doesn't want to smack someone with a sword? - but then had a thought that maybe this was not going to be the thing I would do, even if it were fun. It sounded like something that would start off exciting and then devolve into nonsense.
Watching 90 minutes of the 2006 documentary film Darkon has not cleared up much of how that would have gone for me.
Darkon (2006) follows the better part of a year of an intricately designed and played Live Action Role-Playing game (aka: LARPing) and the lives of the folks who partake in the... activity? Lifestyle?
"Darkon" is the name of the fantasy continent inhabited by the players of the game. They keep a map of spaces broken out into hexes (a common sight to anyone who played table-top RPG's) and battle in real-space for those hexes with a set of seemingly well-agreed upon battle rules. Armies of folks representing nations (armies seeming between 15 and up to 75 people) whack at each other with foam covered weapons and an array of objects meant to represent everything from catapult missiles to wizard-cast "fireballs" or, more infamously, "lightning bolts".
The players take on characters - lots of Lords of Realms and whatnot. Magical beings. Wizards. If it showed up in a fantasy novel in the past 40 years, it's probably something someone is pretending to be.
Wednesday, September 7, 2016
On Labor Day, the El Rey Network was showing a Superman 4 movie marathon. I basically turned on the TV and left it on the El Rey Network all day and into the evening, doing other things, but watching a whole lotta Superman.
They started with Superman: The Movie, and then started a Superman reverse marathon, showing Superman's IV, III, II and then Superman: The Movie again. I watched Superman: The Movie from the point where young Clark throws the green crystal into the ice to the end, then watched all of Superman IV, then all of Superman III, then I went and moved around a bit, but came back to watch the part of Superman: The Movie I hadn't yet watched.
As I believe, like with the RoboCop franchise, watching the movies in reverse order means you end on a high note instead of trailing off into a lot of bad decision making and slashed budgets - this may be the ideal way to watch the movies once you're overly familiar with them.
There's not much new to write, and, frankly, I was doing other things - like writing up Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice - while watching Superman's IV and III. But it was a good palette cleanser, Superman wise.
Also, Superman IV is just terrible. All four movies have issues, sure, and Superman III is actually grating in parts (Richard's Lester and Pryor are a toxic combination), but it also has some small bits of genius, like the Bad Superman vs. Clark Kent fight. Superman IV has the one speech by Lois Lane to the ailing Clark Kent, and that's it. Before anyone thinks I can't bag on these movies - my friends, I absolutely can and will - because everything about Jon Cryer in Superman IV is some of the worst decision making ever put to celluloid, and Superman III is so troubled in it's conception, it makes my eyes hurt to think about the actual plot.
Still, you gotta like Christopher Reeve.
Monday, September 5, 2016
So, I was in no rush to ever see Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016).
In summer of 2013, despite the many positives of having a Man of Steel movie even existing, a stellar score by Hans Zimmer and Amy Adams cast as Lois Lane, I never cottoned to the movie, and, in fact, despite the fact my completionist self purchased a deeply discounted BluRay of the movie, it's never found it's way onto the platter for a spin.
But, you know, WB and DCE seemed aware of their problems with Man of Steel. It was a little hard to ignore when adults watching the movie started saying "holy @#$%. Did I just watch a movie where Superman was turning presumably occupied buildings into rubble and started his public career by snapping the neck of the bad-guy? Yeesh." So, despite the return of Zack "I don't understand characters or motivations" Snyder as director and the casting of Jessie "Two Modes of Nebbish" Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, I'd tried to withhold judgment until the reviews hit. And, mostly, the reviews were not kind on many levels. So, I'd stayed away.
But, ha ha ha. One of you (JimD) decided to just send me a copy of the BluRay in the mail. Over the course of two evenings, I watched the movie, trying not to open my computer or look at my phone when the movie got dull (which was more or less 90 of the 150 minutes). I tried to make note of what I liked and didn't like, but - I guess unsurprisingly - the movie offered little to enjoy that was not Amy Adams.
It's not the worst movie I've ever seen. for example - Suicide Squad was just a dumber movie. But BvS:DoJ felt positively adolescent in some ways, and had the storytelling instincts of a five year old relating the events of the day. But it has some interesting stuff in it, too, as far as DC Comics lore.
It's just not a terribly good movie.
Saturday, September 3, 2016
Back when I was 13 or so, Hollywood was doing pretty darn well. It was pretty common for middle-class folk to load the crew into the family truckster and go on down to the local mall or wherever and catch a movie at the cineplex. I saw Coming to America (1988) on opening weekend, and what I remember is: so did everyone else.
This movie was absolutely huge with me and my friends, but my parents watched it more than once (once it hit home video), and it still gets a lot of play on basic cable. In fact, we parked ourselves on the sofa after getting home from vacation and watched the movie just to give ourselves some decompression time.
At this point, the movie has grossed almost $130 million that Box Office Mojo knows about, which isn't bad for a movie that likely cost about $20 million to make.
In the manner of the best 1980's comedies - from Ghostbusters to Naked Gun, it's an imminently quotable movie, or seemed so at the time. At least it became that through repeated viewings. Not that surprising from a movie put together by Eddie Murphy and John Landis, I suppose.
I don't just think Coming to America is a funny movie (I think it's hilarious), I think it's a fantastically written and perfectly executed all-ages movie, from direction to performances to editing and music cues. And all that's a reminder of what a set of talents we had in Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, John Landis, John Amos, James Earl Jones, Madge Sinclair and Eriq La Salle and everyone else (Louie f'ing Anderson is in this!).
I also think it's really funny that Black Panther will need to really think think about about what it's doing for a script and abandon the original Black Panther trope of King T'Challa to the U.S. undercover as a student lest we end up with a suspiciously familiar story.
Maybe most remarkable is that the movie has such an overwhelmingly Black cast and then and now it's not discussed in terms of being a "Black" movie, and not because it was white-washed. I'd argue it's a movie that - while it has a lot of edges knocked off to reach an all-ages audience - makes no bones about being by and about Black people, and it's hard to say exactly why it was massively successful across the planet (the movie has a very large international box office). Maybe it's the fairy-tale nature of the story? Prince Hakeem and Semi's familiarity as protagonists? I dunno.
Anyway, what's to say? If you don't like this movie, you're a little dead inside.
Monday, August 29, 2016
The Alamo is an interesting place because they do show exploitation films, they do show controversial material, and at those special screenings, they usually have a host put a frame around what you're about to see. This movie was shown as part of the "Super Krime" series which also contained last week's Danger: Diabolik, but was the riskier showing, certainly. For pop-cultural anthropologists, there's a lot to chew on here from the casting to the racial issues to the pre-code genre-ambiguity and content and - for modern pop-culture which so often includes super-villains in the mix, Fu Manchu lays out the blueprint for so much of what would come afterwards.
By today's standards, your grandparents were racist as hell. Even if they were hip, bohemian folks - by the rules of what non-awful people consider decency and mannered public discourse, what you'd hear come out of Grandma and Grandpa's mouths was likely to get them the side-eye at Thanksgiving - but we're all a reflection of a time and a place. Attitudes change. Society, hopefully, advances. Insert your own election-related joke here.
I am not a paid or professional film historian or scholar, but I have an interest in the history of pop culture and the film industry as well as genre film and whatnot. A few years ago, I came across a picture of Myrna Loy playing the daughter of Boris Karloff in a film I'd never seen. The catch: they're both in yellowface as the nefarious Fu Manchu and his daughter.
A bit more digging told me that this movie was once a favorite, included in some circles as a premier classic horror film of sorts.
But you can't get access to a Fu Manchu film all that easily (and there are many), and it's something that doesn't screen all that often - a bit like the President's Day sequence in Holiday Inn (which they simply excise when they show it as it doesn't advance the plot, but it does feature a whole lotta your beloved Hollywood favorites in black face*). And, yeah, I saw the movie featured yellowface, and cast most of the Eastern hemisphere in a nasty light, so it made a bit of sense to me that the studio was in no big hurry to remind the world they had the film in the collection.
Sunday, August 21, 2016
No one is going to accuse The Swarm (1978) of being a great movie. Or, really, even a good movie. Or, you know, a movie.
It may be a bit odd the movie isn't that good as it it's directed by producer of disaster-porn Irwin Allen, but maybe he should have stuck to producing. The movie follows the logic of many-a-disaster movie, which people my age know mostly from Independence Day. Multiple storylines. Scientists trying to understand what's happening. Lots of people die. Lots of famous faces in roles big and small.
Our disaster here? BEES. Which, I really shouldn't make fun of, because this is the kind of shit that is, in fact, going to take humanity out. But... BEES. SWARMS OF KILLER BEES.
Our all-star cast is anchored by Michael Caine who plays The Scientist, or - more specifically - the bee scientist. Other honest-to-god big names include Katherine Ross as The Doctor, Richard Widmark as The General, Richard Chamberlain as The Other Scientist, Cameron Mitchell as The Pentagon Official, Olivia de Havilland as The Aging Beauty, Fred McMurray as deHavilland's SUITOR #1 and Ben Johnson as SUITOR #2. Jose Ferrer as the manager of a nuclear power plant. Patty Duke as a waitress. Slim Pickens as a sad city worker. And a clearly very deaf Henry Fonda shouting lines as YET ANOTHER SCIENTIST WHO DOES NOT KNOW THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD OR BASIC MEDICAL PROTOCOLS.
Wednesday, August 17, 2016
For years I've been aware there's a movie called Danger: Diabolik (1968), but I didn't know much about it. You'd see references to it in comics and hear film buffs mention, but details were scant. The movie is based on some Italian comics I've never actually seen in the wild, and of a genre that's never really managed to cross over the Atlantic and with which I've barely any awareness - a sort of super-criminal fantasy.
The Alamo Drafthouse Ritz is currently running a series their calling "Super Krime", which is a series about "super criminals", ranging from the silent era to the modern era, with some Bond tucked in there. If you're going to do a series about "super criminals", there's hardly a better fit than Danger Diabolik. The movie is entirely about a master thief and robber, a sort of dark-mirror Batman. He's a brilliant, quiet mastermind with a subterranean hide-away where he plans his heists and makes time with his Robin, who - in this case is a sexy blonde who knows how to wear go-go boots.
Sunday, August 7, 2016
As the lights came up, I turned and looked at my movie companion and heard myself say "that was the worst movie I've seen since Battlefield Earth". But, that was unfair. It's the worst movie I've seen since 1998's Godzilla, but the issues with the movie are maybe more akin to Battlefield Earth.
Now, I don't say that lightly, and I obviously don't include "bad movie" fodder like The Room, Birdemic and other grasp-longer-than-reach independent efforts. Rather, there's a special place in movie-going hell reserved for huge blockbuster movies with gigantic budgets for production and marketing that have been corporate committee'd to death.
I didn't show up at Suicide Squad wanting to dislike it. I'm a grown-assed adult, and if I don't want to see a movie, I won't. Heck, I could have skipped the movie with a refund before it rolled (and I thought about it after seeing the reviews). The movie was sold out and people would take the seats. I could have had a nice beer on the porch at the theater.
I am, of course, not a DC "hater" and am more than happy to discuss DC comics, associated media and lore at length. In short, don't make me embarrass you, kid, when you come at me to explain the movie.
For decades I've read DC comics, watched TV shows - good and bad - read non-fiction histories of the characters and industries. And, in this era I just want for DC to make a movie that isn't a trainwreck, and - while I've not seen BvS - that doesn't seem to be happening.
I have no doubt the folks who've already branded themselves as DC movie fans (and as carriers of true fandom for these characters) will like the movie as it follows a certain line of thinking that has so far appealed to that audience and basic issues with story and structure didn't deter them with Man of Steel, and from what I've heard about BvS, even more so. It is in no way short of wanting to be hip and edgy like an Ed Hardy shirt or vape booth at the mall.
It's a movie that does not know the rule of "show, don't tell" - it doesn't trust the audience to follow a story, delivering character and action in literal bullet points. Mostly, though, the film is presented in such a way that the errors and issues were so large and as consistent as gunfire throughout the movie, that it's impossible to stay with the movie rather than just cataloging the issues as they pop up, one after another.
At almost every single thing this movie attempts, it misses in big and small ways, with the unsurprising exception of the Will Smith as Deadshot storyline (Big Willie carries too much clout in Hollywood to not come out of this still intact, and the charm I'd nearly forgotten the man has on screen fills in a lot of gaps that the movie leaves there for virtually every other character). Whether it's the much derided musical accompaniment, the nonsensical story bits left in place after the editors were done, the odd choice of villain and scope of the mission, or why everything in the movie felt like it needed to be doodled upon from the frame of the film to Margot Robbie's face to Will Smith's collar.
This movie is a @#$%ing mess. And, no, it's not even really a "fun" or "enjoyable" mess at that. Maybe "a distracting two hours where you'll ask yourself a lot of questions about why they made a lot of decisions the way they did." That kind of mess.
Thursday, August 4, 2016
After two great movies in a row, the third installment of the Thin Man series, Another Thin Man (1939) feels like a project that just didn't gel as well as it could have.
I recently completed reading The Return of the Thin Man, which is less a book and more the lost story-treatments and scripts that Dashiell Hammett worked on during his tenure in Hollywood and some editorial/ historical notes about what was going on with Hammett in relation to the work. Frankly, you're probably better off just watching the two movies it covers - After the Thin Man and Another Thin Man, but completionists will find the book worth checking out.
The gist of the notes about this third movie indicate that not only was Hammett sort of done with Nick and Nora before he even started work on the movie, the credited screenwriters, Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett - who had worked with Hammett on the two prior films - were also ready to call it a day.
All in all, the film does work. Let's not call it a troubled film. But the alchemy that caught everyone's attention in the original that semi-carried over to the sequel, is fizzling a smidge by this installment.
Tuesday, August 2, 2016
In the 1990's, for reasons that involve a lot of co-option of black culture by suburban white kids, and waffling between irony, genuine appreciation and I think a sincere love for the score - young white America somehow became invested in the 1971 film that was considered one of the best films to come out of the blaxploitation movement, Shaft.
Context free, a lot of us cracker kids watched I'm Gonna Git You, Sucka on VHS or HBO, maybe understanding that this was riffing on movies of a prior era, but I hadn't seen them, nor had my peers. I think the closest I got to taking in any blaxploitation film until the early 90's was tuning into Super Fly one night as a kid in middle school, believing from the title that it was a superhero movie I'd somehow missed. If anything, I got a clue as to what the spoof movie had been on about via reruns of TV shows that lifted from blaxploitation, but I confess to being mostly ignorant of the genre until maybe 1992 or when I got to college.
Kids hipper to a wider variety of music than what I listened to picked up pop-culture references as 80's and 90's hip-hop name-dropped and sampled from 70's actioners and that bled over to other genres of dance music. The curious kids picked up some of those movies to rent and saw a lot of stuff I didn't catch until others got me to take a look or I heard about it word of mouth (the internet was just Star Trek fan pages and lo-fi porn then, you see). Other kids who had gotten into soul and funk music tracked down Isaac Hayes and wanted to actually see Shaft. I do know that by the time I left high school, I was at least aware of who Hayes was, but that was about it. Had maybe heard of Shaft, but this was also an era in which your local Blockbuster likely didn't carry movies that were older than 7 or 8 years from the theater.
As a good, sorta-hip white kid of the 1990's, I caught Shaft at some point during film school. I don't remember if it was before or after a unit on blaxploitation as a genre and my first exposure to Pam Grier (something a young man never forgets).
The funny thing is - watching it this last weekend, I didn't really remember Shaft all that well. Once the one guy gets tossed out the window, I couldn't really piece together what the plot had been, just snippets here and there. So, I was pleasantly surprised to find out - Shaft is actually a strong private detective story in a classic pulp-crime style (deeply appealing to this viewer), with a fascinating protagonist who is literally not playing by anyone else's rules - if'n you should ever want to see what that actually looks like, you with your anti-heroes.
And, of course, Shaft is a Black superhero who cuts through white culture through the sheer power of not giving a good goddamn.
Monday, August 1, 2016
It's never quite been the same since the first Sharknado movie appeared on TV like a bolt out of the blue. Yes, it was absurd, it starred sharks, it featured actors whose careers had seemingly jumped the... shark. In those weird years where the SyFy network decided it was all about post-Corman D-level movies with C to Z-list actors, and movie after movie about man vs. monster was released into the wilds of basic cable - those movies - which never took themselves seriously - also usually came with a reduced sense of humor and never quite, exactly, seeing how absurd they could get.
And then came Sharknado.
Sunday, July 31, 2016
This is my fourth Bourne movie, and with about 9 years between The Bourne Ultimatum and Jason Bourne (2016), a lot has changed in the world and in movies. You'd be hard pressed not to find an action movie not taking something from Paul Greengrass's energetic direction and tracking camera shots. It's something I'm maybe too aware of when I watch something like Captain America: Civil War, when they go in for some "authenticity", or at least a particular feel to the action in the Lagos scenes - that "we're on an espionage mission, so the camera needs to be shakey" look to the proceedings comes right out of these movies.
But as a character in film, Bourne was always a bit flat, a bit two dimensional. He was the hero who was complex not by what he did, necessarily, but by virtue of the background given him. Then he proceeded to act like a fairly standard-issue guy-in-a-white-hat action hero. Matt Damon did a lot to make the character likable, and when you're one guy against the CIA, there's a lot to root for.
The first three films contained the plot of what might have been in a single film if the Bourne movies weren't mostly about the extended action sequences. Really, The Bourne Ultimatum is impossible to understand unless you've seen the first two, and it's really the third act of a story about Jason Bourne recovering himself from a bunch of shady dudes who got him to volunteer for a CIA program that made him a superhuman, but messed badly with his personality and splintered his mind.
I don't think the third movie, no matter how many Joan Allens in turtlenecks it may contain, is actually a great movie. It's a necessary concluding chapter with more impressive stunts than prior films. And speaking of Joan Allen, my feeling was that Pam Landy's part was more pivotal in making you care that any of this was happening at all than anyone realized. Without a Pam Landy, you've got a bunch of people just operating in a moral neutral zone where it's all about government folks playing CYA and a guy who's a bit of a cypher trying to not die. That's not really a story, per se.
I was unsure what to expect with a fourth installment, especially one arriving late. I had no idea what story they might concoct to see Jason Bourne back in action after escaping. But, like Batman comics of late, it seems there's no part of Bourne's origin that we don't need to explore more, and so it's back to the origins of Treadstone,
It's been years since I watched Super Troopers (2001).
Thanks to my incessant theater-going between 1994-2002, I caught this one during it's theatrical release and was able to say "I saw this before it became a hit via home video and cable". Thus, my hipster credential or whatever.
Going back is never easy. The comedies I enjoyed from my teens through my early twenties reflect much more of the sense of humor of a young man who can happily sit through, say, one of Adam Sandler's earlier works. Which I did. Heck, in my teens, I saw a Pauly Shore movie in the theater. This is sacrilege for a 90's Austinite, but I find Dazed and Confused nigh unwatchable these days.
Super Troopers 2001 was the brainchild of and investment in comedy troupe Broken Lizard, and was marketed as such, which was weird, because I don't think anyone had ever heard of Broken Lizard in most major markets. They hadn't had a show on MTV or Comedy Central or anything that I recall.
The movie uses the set-up of making the Broken Lizard guys highway patrol officers in upstate Vermont, not known for having a whole bevy of issues, and so the cops spend their days entertaining themselves with comedy sketches along the roadway and trading insults with city cops from the local small town. Really, especially in the first 45 minutes of the movie, that's where the movie works best and is genuinely funny (to me, anyway). And that's the part everyone remembers.
Tuesday, July 26, 2016
No big secret to anyone with whom I talk Star Trek, but I hated Star Trek: Into Darkness. That's not a term I use lightly. Generally, I "didn't like" a movie, it "wasn't aimed at me", "wasn't my cup of tea" or I might have believed "it sucked". But, nope, I hated Into Darkness.
The movie, which could and should have been about the launch of the Enterprise and establishing the universe around the characters set up in the first movie (which, in many ways, was a glorified version of Space Camp), didn't just feel like a betrayal to the spirit and (pardon the pun) enterprise of the Star Trek universe I've enjoyed as both an avid enthusiast and sometimes occasional fan, depending on which incarnation of Trek we're discussing. Into Darkness felt like it was picking the bones of a better, much-loved franchise to tell a lousy story and try to steal some of the gravitas along the way rather than creating anything of its own or lending anything new and not doing anything compelling with what bit of novelty it did contain.
With this third installment, Paramount does a yeoman's job of righting the ship and getting it back on course. I won't try to oversell the movie - it's far from a perfect film (but name the Citizen Kane of Star Trek movies, I dare you), but for the first time in three movies, it feels like Trek. And, man, that is actually terribly important. Not only does this installment understand the universe of Trek better than its forebears, it does that thing of spiffying it up and adds some new bits along the way.
I hadn't actually planned to see the movie. The first trailer I saw alongside The Force Awakens was so cringe-inducing and tone deaf (and, as it turns out, a bad representation of the actual film), that I just laughed it off and decided I'd get back to Star Trek at some other point with some other relaunch after the public wrote off this series for good.
The Star Trek reboot, in my opinion, was a failure.
Saturday, July 23, 2016
Tickets are already purchased for Jason Bourne for next Sunday, and so it was time to wrap up the original trilogy here at home. Eventually I'll make time for the Jeremy Renner Bourne movie, but... anyway.
The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) wraps up the storyline started in the first movie, answering the questions of "who is Jason Bourne?" and gives Pam Landy a conclusion to her arc as the non-compromised CIA agent trying to do right within the agency.
It has some incredible car chases and whatnot, and I highly recommend it if you've seen the first two and want more of same, but it's not like it's an incredible story on its own. It does feature Albert Finney and David Strathairn with about 30 seconds of Scott Glenn.
Some forms of comedy just don't work for me, and it's safe to say that I'm not a huge fan of Red Skelton. I know the guy was huge in his day, but whatever he's up to always feels a bit like he's opted for the obvious, crowd-pleasing, least offensive choice. If we were active today he'd be on a sitcom with an improbably good looking wife who would always be putting her hands on her hips and saying, "Oh, Red!"
I watched the movie for two reasons. (1) It took place in Texas in the 1950's, and I wanted to see what Hollywood thought Texas was like in 1951. (2) Ann Miller is in a smaller role in the movie as a girl with showbiz dreams and also ready to marry the first idiot who comes along.
The marquee names are Red Skelton and Esther Williams, the bathing beauty famous for her aquatic acrobatics and perfect make-up at 10 feet below sea-level. Which is an odd fit for the deserty Texas where the action occurs.
Look, I basically wanted to see what numbers they'd give Ann Miller, which was one song and dance number you can already find on YouTube. The rest of the movie, including an effects sequence with Esther Williams superimposed "swimming" around a bar as Howard Keel thinks about how much he's in love with her, is barely memorable.
There's an element or two that requires the movie take place in Texas, but 90% of the movie takes place anywhere but the titular carnival.
So. You got that going for you.
What was kind of funny was that i gave up on the movie, thinking it had about ten minutes of denouement left to work through and I'd catch it later. So I turned it back on this evening and it had literally 30 seconds left to go. I guess that tells you how much I felt invested in the movie.
Friday, July 22, 2016
I wasn't feeling well on Wednesday night. Allergies, I think.
Anyway, by the time Jamie turned around to see what I was watching, I was 15 minutes into Ghostbusters (1984), which I'd been curious to re-watch since catching the 2016 remake.
There's not much to say other than that I was paying a lot of attention to Harold Ramis in particular this go-round, partially because of how different his take on the mad scientist character was than Kate McKinnon's Holtzmann.
It's interesting to consider that Ramis is credited as a co-writer, and that he also has a writer credit on Animal House, Meatballs, Caddyshack and Stripes, all of which feature a sort of devil-may-care, wise-cracking protagonist(s) always played by other people, such as Bill Murray or Chevy Chase. When he did appear, Ramis himself took a back seat as the quiet, brainier/ more sensitive guy with a lower-key sense of interaction, clearly aware of where his sweet spot really was as a performer. Fans of the movie aren't surprised to hear Egon Spengler's side remarks, or his "Your mother!" as one of the laugh out loud moments of the movie, but, man, Egon is a really, really funny character.
It was funny, I was watching that scene after the Ghostbusters catch Slimer where Bill Murray seems to be pulling the prices out of thin air, and I had the thought "where did they come up with those prices?" when Jamie said "hold it". So I paused the DVR and backed it up, and though I have seen Ghostbusters no fewer than 25 times, I had never noticed - when Murray is rattling off the prices for proton pack charging, etc... Spengler is actually indicating the prices to him with his fingers. It's fully in shot, but I'd never seen it before. You probably have, but I had not.
It's not like people don't appreciate Ramis as performer, writer and director, but it may be that a lot of what I've attributed to Bill Murray in some of those earlier pictures was a collaborative effort in a way maybe I didn't give enough credit where it was due. We all know the early drafts of the Ghostbusters scripts were envisioned very differently as Dan Aykroyd/ John Belushi weirdo movies, and it may be that Ramis' touch for the absurd in the mundane mixed with Aykroyd's wild ideas and with all the performances put together is where we wound up with the Ghostbusters we think of when we're not thinking of Kristen Wiig and friends.
Here's to Ramis. That guy was all right.
Friday, July 15, 2016
As Jason Bourne is headed soon for theaters, I'm catching up with the three Matt Damon starring Bourne films, and may watch the one with Jeremy Renner (thereby becoming the one person who has seen the one starring Jeremy Renner).
I didn't actually remember much about the plot to The Bourne Supremacy (2004), only moments from the film. It's the one where he fights a dude with a rolled up magazine, his girlfriend takes a headshot, a massive car chase in Moscow... stuff like that. And, of course, Joan Allen.
But it turns out that the story picks up very, very well from the first movie, both the threads from Treadstone and Jason Bourne's evolution as a character, culminating in a heartbreaking scene in the final minutes of the movie that tell you how much this programmed assassin has managed to restore of his humanity.
Thursday, July 14, 2016
I haven't written much about Ghostbusters (2016) up to this point for a few reasons.
I wasn't entirely certain how good the remake would actually be, for one, and so I was watching the trailers with cautious optimism as I quite like all four of the main cast members. And, while I was aware of the Ghost-Bro nonsense, social media kind of went from having it well in hand to the story being about how we were all going to support this movie and protect it from a few neckbeards online, and somehow that, in and of itself, took on a life of its own that got kind of... I dunno. It had taken on a life of its own.
Like many of you, I saw Ghostbusters in the theater as a kid. My mom took Jason and me one sunny day around opening weekend to a matinee, and the theater was totally packed. And like a lot of you, I grew up loving the 1984 movie (and, to a lesser extent, the 1989 sequel). I was never really pulling for a Ghostbusters 3 with the original cast as the last thing I wanted was a third installment that was anything less than the first movie, and I think the sequel proved that the original was a bit of lightning in a bottle. You could try to get it back, but asking guys twenty years on to do the same again?
So, a reboot it was going to be.