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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She was fun.  I enjoyed this one way more than I expected to.  Not a great movie, but an enjoyable popcorn timewaster.

Captain Comics said:

I've fallen out of love with Jack Black, and I'm familiar enough with Kevin Hart's schtick to know what to expect (and that I'll probably like it). How was Karen Gillan? I'm only familiar with her work in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Nebula, although I hear she was in Doctor Who.

doc photo said:

Watched Jumanji:Welcome to the Jungle over the weekend. It was much better and funnier than I expected. The Rock is especially good playing a young teen boy trapped in the body of the hero within a video game.

We saw Won't You Be My Neighbor? the documentary about Fred Rogers of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. It was a joy, especially in these times, to see a film about a genuinely good man.

Rogers was ordained as a Presbyterian minister, but decided early on that his path was not to graduate from seminary and become a pastor at a church. He saw that there was a great potential in television to reach people ... and most of it was being wasted on shows full of violence, cheap humor, and frenetic action. So he created his own show, in his own way. 

I confess, I didn't watch Mister Rogers' Neighborhood a whole lot; it wasn't like Sesame Street, with the entertaining Muppets who reached kids and adults alike with their humor. But that's okay; it wasn't about trying to entertain the adults while the kids watched. It was about reaching kids directly, with a clear demarcation between the world in which Rogers welcomed them and the Land of Make Believe -- the documentary notes that Rogers never appeared there.

This isn't a warts-and-all documentary, largely because there aren't a whole lot of warts. It does gloss over Rogers' childhood and his life before he started the show, although it does not that he was teased as a kid for being fat. Consequently, he stayed fit as an adult, particularly enjoying swimming. He maintained his weight at 143 pounds, and the movie tells why that number was significant to him.

The movie shows how the longer Rogers went on with it, the more rigid he was about doing things his way, particularly during his second run on the show. He suspended the show and turned to doing a specials for adults, traveling the country and interviewing people about the things he found interesting. But he went back to Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, in part in reaction to things like G.I. Joe and other animated shows featuring superheroes; he found their violent content offensive and bad for children. (The movie uses animation to show Rogers starting off being full of childlike wonder like the character Daniel Striped Tiger; by the end, he had become akin to the inflexible, pompous King Friday XIII.)

About the worst thing the movie says about Rogers is that one of the cast members, Francois Clemmons, who played Officer Clemmons, was gay. Clemmons is interviewed and he said Rogers was unconcerned about that. But when word got to the TV station that Clemmons was seen going to gay bars, Rogers told him he couldn't keep his job if he continued because sponsors would flee. Clemmons married a young woman as a beard, but the marriage didn't last. Clemmons still held Rogers in high regard, as he was always personally warm toward him. There is more than one moment when Rogers washes Clemmons' feet, just as Jesus did.

There is a striking contrast between Rogers' gentleness and the cacophonous world outside. The show debuted February 19, 1968 -- right in the middle of the Tet Offensive in Vietnam, when the news was full of images of American troops fighting the war. Late in his life, some idiot commentator on Fox News complained that Mister Rogers Neighborhood ruined kids by telling them they are special and thus making them feel entitled, going so far as to call Fred Rogers an "evil, evil man." Even worse, after Rogers died, the Westboro Baptist Church protested at his funeral.

It's safe to say that Fred Rogers' kindness will be remembered long after that pettiness and ugliness is forgotten. 

Fred Rogers was a great man and the documentary is well worth seeing.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor was so refreshing.  He was human, with human foibles, but he was a genuinely sincere and nice man.  That is so refreshing when, time and again, we find out that people we once looked up to were really monsters.


While watching the Lost in Space season three episode “Condemned of Space” recently, my wife reminded me that she was out of town when I watched season one’s “War of the Robots.” We have seen Forbidden Planet together, but she had never seen Robby’s second movie, The Invisible Boy. I had it on VHS, so we decided to make a double feature of it (with “War of the Robots”). Unfortunately, my VHS was defective, so we ordered a DVD “two-fer” along with Forbidden Planet (which was okay, because my copy of that was on VHS as well).

The DVD had lots of extras, including an episode of The Thin Man featuring Robby the Robot. So we ended up watching The Invisible Boy supplemented by “Robot Client” and “War of the Robots.”

We caught up on some we'd missed:

Darjeeling Limited (2007) (and the weird short film with Natalie Portman that acts as a sort of prologue, made two years earlier)

Fruitvale Station (2013): Powerful, extremely well-acted, plays with the facts but so does every other film "based on a true story."

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