Saw a Takashi Miike picture called The Great Yokai War. "Yokai" is a Japanese term for monsters from folklore, as opposed to the more familiar kaiju. It's a kids' picture, about a young boy from Tokyo sent out to live in the countryside with his older sister and his intermittently senile grandfather. When a vengeful spirit appears, the boy gets caught up in a war between warring groups of yokai and must find his courage to become the "Kirin Rider", the hero who will set everything to rights. It's not a bad picture - nothing deep, but an amusing story. Some of the yokai are really trippy, Japanese folklore can get pretty "out there", apparently.

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I finally saw Last Tango in Paris. I felt the same way I did with Pulp Fiction: I didn't see it when it was out, and seeing it all these years later, I didn't get what the big deal was.

Superman IV: The Quest for Peace. Another movie I've seen only in bits and pieces. This time around, I saw the second half, up to the end. Superman III left such a bad taste in my mouth I couldn't bring myself to go see it when it was out, and its own poor reputation did not help.

Watching it, I was appalled by how bad the special effects were. Even considering it was made in (*gulp*) 1987, the effects -- especially the green screen -- were markedly worse than they were in the first Christopher Reeve Superman.

Those movies weren't bad because of bad special effects. They were bad because they were bad movies.

Since last Sunday, Action Lad and I have watched:

Inside Out

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Parts I & II

Jurassic Park

Annie (2014)

If you don't mind Pixar shamelessly tugging at your heartstrings -- I don't -- Inside Out is the best Pixar movie in ages.

Recent views:

Mad Max: Fury Road:

Basically a remake of the Road Warrior although it seems to fall in continuity after Thunderdome. Tom Hardy makes for an awesome Max. This movie is just one big dumb chase/stunt scene but it's extremely efficient and very well done.

The Gunman:

The people behind Taken find another great middle aged actor and convince you that he is a superhuman killing machine.  Nothing special but it kept me engaged. I wouldn't be surprised if this leads to a lot more action roles for Sean Penn.

There've been a lot of movies I've seen without noting them here. Among them:

  • Bandidas. A Western starring Penelope Cruz as a farmer's daughter and Salma Hayek as a cultured banker's daughter in 19th Century Mexico up against robber baron Dwight Yoakam -- yes, that Dwight Yoakam, the country singer. Yoakam is a New York banker buying up all the land from poor farmers (at one peso each!), so Cruz and Hayek go an rob the banks, with help from earnest detective Steve Yahn. Good, (mostly) clean fun.  (The moment where they entice Yahn to join their cause is rather steamy ... )
  • The LEGO Movie. Everything IS awesome!
  • Big Hero 6. Enjoyable enough, but no great shakes. I did read one blistering review from a Christian publication that said it seemed like it was a collection of tropes cobbled from every hit animated movie in the past 20 years, so there's that.
  • Salt. Angelina Jolie is a CIA analyst who gets fingered as a sleeper Russian spy, and goes on the run to clear her name. Lots of twists and turns in the story, including the mystery of whether she really is a sleeper Russian spy or not, and where her loyalties lie.
  • Takers. A cool heist movie featuring Idris Elba, Michael Ealy and Chris Brown as just three of a crew of crackerjack bank robbers. One of their number, rap star T.I., gets released from prison after five years (he got caught after a job went bad) offering a new gig that has to happen in a week. Ealy doesn't feel right about it, but they do it anyway -- and things go bad before they go worse before the double-crosses kick in. Matt Dillon is an LAPD detective on their trail.
  • Jackie Brown. I didn't see this one when it was out, but it worked for me. Pam Grier is a burned-out flight attendant for an el cheapo airline who makes ends meet by smuggling for gunrunner Samuel L. Jackson, who is busy stealing every scene in sight. Grier gets caught by the LAPD and the ATF, and -- with the help of smitten bail bondsman Robert Forster -- cooks up a scheme to get the feds, the cops, and Jackson off her back AND abscond with his money, too.

Jason Marconnet (Pint sized mod) said:

I saw Birdman yesterday. I really liked it. It was well filmed and quite funny. I can't remember another time I've seen an entire film's cast have such terrific chemisty as this one.

Richard Willis said:

I just saw it. A very good movie. Whatever you expect you get the unexpected.

Travis Herrick (Modular Mod) said:

Hmm, I saw Birdman a couple of days ago, and I was pretty underwhelmed after all of the hype surrounding it. It was good, but man, no where near all the praise it got.

Detective 445 said:

I agree. I thought it was pretty over rated. And I really like a couple of the director's other films. I think Birdman won so many awards because it was aimed directly at the type of people who vote on those awards. Namely, old white dudes who have worked in the film industry and are worried that they might be has-beens.

We saw Birdman* and fell in the second camp -- the flights of fancy just left us confused because they seemed so out of place, and the stunt casting of Michael Keaton as the almost washed-up actor who once led a superhero franchise, and Ed Norton as the douchebag method actor, works if you know their off-screen reputations, which some of us did not.

* Boyhood was our first choice, but it wasn't available yet.

Certainly anyone who went in to see Birdman expecting an action movie would be disappointed, but I enjoyed it as a psychological drama with surreal and comedic aspects, but to each their own.  I saw Jurassic World on June 14, which struck me as a sort of roller coaster ride of a movie. Fun, but entirely lacking in substance.  Cardboard characters and clichés abounded, and no genuine surprises.  It's making mega-bucks but it's not a movie I'd ever want to see again.

Fred W. Hill said:

Certainly anyone who went in to see Birdman expecting an action movie would be disappointed, but I enjoyed it as a psychological drama with surreal and comedic aspects, but to each their own. 

Sure, although none of us were expecting that. The backstage drama was fine, and the comedy was fine, but the surreal stuff struck us as weird and unearned and out of place.

I really enjoyed Birdman, although I went into it knowing absolutely nothing about it. I knew it wouldn't be a super-hero action movie, otherwise all of the comic book sites would have been talking about it about a year ahead of time. I liked it for what it was, and I really like how it can be interpreted in so many ways.

Today I watched Foxcatcher. Anybody else see this yet? I had no idea it was based on a true story until it started, and man, was this ever a chilling story. It's the kind that sticks with you for long after it's over. I haven't been able to keep myself from stopping and researching the real story occasionally throughout the day.

I'm with you on Last Tango. I saw it an art house a decade or so after it had come out, and thought, "so what?" Evidently it broke some rules that don't exist any more.

Pulp Fiction reminded me of every comic book that is told out of order (which is just about all of them these days). The non-linear jump-cutting that had critics hyperventilating was old hat to comics fans. I did think some of the performances were entertaining, and the "gimp" scene was so out of left field that it bears mention as a serious WTF moment.

ClarkKent_DC said:

I finally saw Last Tango in Paris. I felt the same way I did with Pulp Fiction: I didn't see it when it was out, and seeing it all these years later, I didn't get what the big deal was.

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