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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With a lot of movies "based on a true story" (or in this case, "fo' real, fo' real sh*t") I don't worry too much about what the actual facts on the ground were, and just watch for the storytelling. Which in this case, seemed to borrow quite a bit from The Battle of Algiers, another super-tense, super uncomfortable movie with a lot of cross-cutting between different organizations and a purse loaded with C-4. I look at movies like this as jumping-off points -- things that can pique my curiosity in case I want to find out more.  

Used to be, movies that made the claim they were "based on a true story" tried harder to stick to the facts, and could do so without sacrificing their ability to be entertaining.

Today, it's more correct to call them "ripped from the headlines," which doesn't promise fealty to the truth.

Heck, even the TV remake of Dragnet (circa 2003-2005) changed the claim "The story you are about to see is true; the names have been changed to protect the innocent," to "The story you are about to see was inspired by actual events."

I liked the disclaimer from Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid: "Most of what follows is true..."

I don't know if I agree with that. I think all through the time I was growing up, there were plenty of movies "based on a true story" that weren't particularly beholden to the actual facts. (Some adhered to them more closely than others, of course.) I've never read "based on a truth story" as a promise to adhere to the truth -- just that the story I'm going to see was inspired by something that happened, but streamlined into a movie narrative, with composite characters, dead-ends trimmed off, etc.

I mean, Mazes and Monsters was supposedly based on a true story -- and even when I was a kid, I knew that was hooey. 


I have discovered the perfect conditions under which to watch Marvel movies: while trapped on a plane. That way I don’t have to pay for tickets, nor buy the DVD, nor spend the time when I could be doing other things. I watched four.

BLACK PANTHER: This one was a bit of a disappointment, but only because my expectations had been raised so high by positive word of mouth. I preferred the glimpse of Wakanda shown in the recent Avengers movie. I’ll concede it was important for other reasons, but other than that, it was no better or worse than any other super hero origin movie I have seen. It’s been two weeks since I saw it and already I remember almost nothing about it.

DOCTOR STRANGE: I entered this one, OTOH, with very low expectations and was pleasantly surprised. It was an origin story (of course), which I didn’t particularly need. Most often, I will watch the first movie in a series (Captain America, Iron Man and Thor, for example), but none of the others. What I should have done was skip the first one and start watch after the origin was out of the way. Ultimately, though, there was just too much Doctor Strange (in comparison to the aforementioned Avengers movie where there was just the right amount).

ANT-MAN: Another pleasant surprise. My favorite part was the cameo appearance by Garrett Morris (TV’s “original” Ant-Man).

DEADPOOL II: Like Guardians of the Galaxy, I don’t really consider this one a “Marvel movie” because I never read the comic.

Oh, yeah, flights are the perfect time to catch up on superhero movies I never got around to! I think that's how I saw Iron Man 3.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post, the Sundance-winning film about a teen girl sent to an evangelical "gay conversion" camp in the early 1990s, is surprisingly low-key, and includes some excellent performances. Chloë Grace Moretz is a girl who hits all the right notes. Only once did a line take me out of the character, and that wasn't really her fault. I'm certain the reference to Carrie was in the script before they cast the film.

(Moretz played Carrie in the third (!!!) adaptation of the Stephen King novel).

I watched the 1959 Inoshiro Honda film BATTLE IN OUTER SPACE the other day. Even for a 1950s SF-film, it's woefully short of characterization, being almost a pure excuse for the FX-wizardry of Eiji Tsurubaya.

The first film I saw with Chloë Grace Moretz was Let Me In, the English language remake of the Swedish film Let the Right One In. She played the young vampire. She managed to shine in this role at the age of 12. 

I haven't seen The Miseducation of Cameron Post, but every performance I've seen of hers was excellent.

JD DeLuzio said:

The Miseducation of Cameron Post, the Sundance-winning film about a teen girl sent to an evangelical "gay conversion" camp in the early 1990s, is surprisingly low-key, and includes some excellent performances. Chloë Grace Moretz is a girl who hits all the right notes. Only once did a line take me out of the character, and that wasn't really her fault. I'm certain the reference to Carrie was in the script before they cast the film.

(Moretz played Carrie in the third (!!!) adaptation of the Stephen King novel).

ClarkKent_DC said:

One must-see: Unbroken, the true story of Louis Zamperini, a real-life Captain America. This is a man who:

  • was a record-breaking high-school track star
  • competed in the 1936 Olympics
  • was a bombardier in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II
  • crash landed in the Pacific Ocean and spent six and a half weeks lost at sea with two crewmates in a rubber raft
  • was captured by the Japanese Navy and spent nearly two years as a prisoner of war

Any one of those stories would make a movie. Having all of those adventures is stunning and eye-opening and the movies is spellbinding. Don't miss it.

I saw a screener of the sequel, Unbroken: Path to Redemption, which hits theaters next weekend.*  After an opening montage of newspaper pages, photos and newsreels that covers what happens in Unbroken, we follow Louis Zamperini's post-war life and struggle to fit in stateside.

He's a war hero, but that and a dime will get you a cup of coffee. He's unemployable, because he doesn't have a college degree ... and he didn't graduate because he left school to go off to war. 

The Army sends him on a tour across the country to encourage people to buy war bonds -- the war is over, but the debt still needs to be retired -- and he's happy to have something to do. But he's got what we call today post-traumatic stress disorder, and drinks. A lot.

The Army major who recruited him for the tour, played by Bob Gunton of The Legion of "Hey, It's That Guy!" Character actors, sends Zamperini to Miami for a few weeks to get his mind right. While there, he meets a pretty girl, Cynthia Applewhite, and they quickly get married.

He gets the notion to compete in the upcoming 1948 Olympics, and Cynthia helps him train. But one day, he goes back to his old high school and races against the reigning school track star -- and badly twists and fractures his ankle. So that's that.

The drinking gets worse, as do his nightmares and his general frustration. Cynthia threatens to leave him -- and take their baby -- when he puts their savings into a get-rich quick scheme that really is a quest to find and murder "The Bird," the sadistic head guard at the POW camp he was trapped in for two years.

What saves him from this spiral of despair? The Billy Graham Crusade is in town, and Cynthia insists he attend. What he hears changes his life.

This sequel is made without the participation of pretty much anybody who made the first one: There is a different director, different actors play Louis Zamperini and his brother Pete, and it's from a different studio. This is more in line with one of those faith-based movies meant to evangelize as much as entertain. 

The way the movie conveys Louis Zamperini's nightmares is creative -- floating in the ocean, ducking into the water to escape being strafed by passing fighter planes, then lunging out of the water to avoid the sharks. And he is haunted by The Bird at various times. But overall, it's serviceable at best.

*How did I see it already? I know a guy.

We saw the original Unbroken movie and were blown away. If he wasn't a real guy no one would believe him as a fictional character. 

Louis Zamperini, having spent his formative years in Southern California, was chosen to be the Grand Marshal of the Tournament of Roses parade on January 1, 2015. Unfortunately, he passed away the previous July. He was not replaced. He was still honored. 

I've started watching The Fortune Cookie, a Billy Wilder movie starring Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau as a camaraman who gets injured at a football game and his shyster brother-in-low who convinces him to fake a graver injury and sue for damages. Early on, the first doctor who treats Lemmon is played by William Christopher, who would go on to play Father Mulcahey on MASH!

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