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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WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS: A documentary about four vampires living in Wellington, New Zealand. It's a comedy, starring the guy from Flight of the Conchords who was in Legion, and the guy who directed Thor: Ragnarok. It's not LOL funny, because it's Kiwi humor -- low key and deadpan. Mildly amusing, and it's going to be turned into a series soon.

VIKING: We had no idea what this was going in, and turned it on because we like Vikings on the History Channel, and the lead in this movie will star in the sixth season of that show. Turns out it's the third-most-expensive Russian movie ever made ($20M) and really gorgeous. It's a loose adaptation of the story of Vladimir the Great, who united Novgorod and Kiev to form what is essentially Ukraine, and converted the whole magilla to Christianity. It kinda dragged at the end, and you kinda had to be familiar with what I said above to understand the last few scenes, which kinda whisked through all that. Nice battle scenes, though.

The inventor is happily married in the original novel. I've heard the film people wanted him to be a widower so they could include a romance plot and/or because single fatherhood elicited sympathy.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

“Of course it's an Ian Fleming movie! There's a cool car, and the heroine's name is ‘Truly Scrumptious.’ (I know. She's not in the original source novel. They did, however, offer the part to Julie Andrews)”

You know, it didn't even occur to me that "Truly Scruptious" is an "Ian Fleming" name until you mentioned it. So she's not in the source novel, eh? (The book I had must have been based on the movie, as I sispected.) So Julie Andrews turned down the role... too bad. I found out only recently (watching the Mary Poppins DVD extras)that she played Guinevere in Camelot for years on Broadway, yet wasn't offered the movie role.

I've watched several movies in the past couple weeks but haven't sat down long enough to comment on them:

  • Green Book
  • The Thomas Crown Affair (the original from 1968)
  • The Princess Diaries
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
  • Life of Pi
  • Coins for Christmas

Ooh! Ooh! When you want to talk about Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse, do it here: http://captaincomics.ning.com/forum/topics/spider-man-into-the-spid...

I've been DYING to talk about it!

ClarkKent_DC said:

I've watched several movies in the past couple weeks but haven't sat down long enough to comment on them:

  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Finally saw Avengers: Infinity War on Netflix. Fun, but I do have to wonder how much the big changes (especially the ones at the end) will stick. A Marvel universe without so many major players just screams "reboot!" to me.

I also watched Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, the interactive movie (also on Netflix). On my first pass I was unimpressed by the choices: nothing seemed to matter much, or if it did, the movie prompted you to go back and make the other of the two choices. But having read some guides to alternate endings I think I'll go back and experiment some more.

ClarkKent_DC said:

I've watched several movies in the past couple weeks but haven't sat down long enough to comment on them:

  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse



Wandering Sensei: Moderator Man said:

Ooh! Ooh! When you want to talk about Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse, do it here: http://captaincomics.ning.com/forum/topics/spider-man-into-the-spid...

I've been DYING to talk about it!

One at a time ... one at a time ... 

Back in the bad old days of the Jim Crow era, traveling through the South was risky, if not outright dangerous, for Black people. And it was often regularly humiliating. Establishments along the way that sold gasoline or food or water would routinely demand Black patrons conduct their business at the back entrance. Requests to use bathroom facilities were often refused outright. Few White-owned places consented to allow Black customers to dine in. Harassment from the police was common. And there were many parts of the country where there was a true risk of getting killed if you stopped there at night.

To help travelers navigate this minefield, an entrepreneur named Victor Hugo Green compiled The Negro Motorist Green Book, a guide to safe places one could stop in on -- hotels, motels, bed-and-breakfasts, or people's homes. 

Green Book, the movie, isn't about any of that. 

Well, it is, tangentially. It presents a road trip through the South in the 1960s with Frank Anthony "Tony Lip" Vallelonga as driver and Don Shirley as passenger. Tony Lip is the head bouncer at the Copacabana in New York, and the movie spends the first 20 minutes or so establishing him in his element. It also shows that he and his family hold a dim view of Black people: When two Black repairmen are at work in his home, his father, brothers, brother-in-law and uncle make a point of being there to "protect" his wife, and give him a lot of crap about not being there himself. And when his wife gives the two workers a drink of water, he throws the glasses away.

But one summer, Tony Lip finds himself at loose ends when the club is closed for two months for extensive renovations. But he gets a line on a gig; Capitol Records hires him to be the driver and bodyguard for Shirley, a concert pianist, on an eight-week tour through the Midwest and South. 

Shirley plainly in a higher social caste than the earthy Vallelonga -- or, he would be if his skin wasn't Black. He has an apartment above Carnegie Hall that looks like a wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, gfestooned with African sculptures, paintings, masks, and jewels. He interviews Vallelonga while wearing expensive robes and sitting on a throne.

At first Vallelonga refuses the job, but relents. He meets the other two guys in Shirley's band, who are traveling in a separate car, and is given half the total pay up front, with the remainder to be paid upon completion of the tour. This he doesn't like; he wanted to be paid in weekly installments, but the record execs say it's incentive for him to make sure Shirley gets to and plays at all the stops on the way. They also give him a copy of the Green Book.

What transpires after that is a high-toned version of The Odd Couple. Shirley is erudite, cultured and highly moral, and Tony Lip is a knuckle-dragging goombah with more street smarts than book knowledge. The movie is crafted to show them learning from each other. Disdainful at the pathetic prose Tony Lip pens in letters home to his wife, Shirley dictates florid love notes. Vallelonga has his eyes opened to how brutal White people can be against Black people, especially after he gets Shirley out of a scrape and Shirley pointedly asks him if the episode would have developed any differently in Tony Lip's neighborhood.

The movie's been written off as a reverse Driving Miss Daisy, but I think it has somewhat more merit than that. And Don Shirley's family has fiercely denounced it; it was written by Tony Lip's son, and it shows. Shirley's family resents the degree to which Tony Lip comes off as a Great White Savior, and they are justified. 

For my part, I really, really REALLY wish the movie had another title. I'd love to see a movie about The Negro Motorist Green Book, and this ain't it.

Well, the next movie after Infinity War is the Spider-Man sequel, so it seems safe to say he'll be back. Also Dr. Strange and Black Panther and the Guardians, since they all have movies in the works. They can't ALL be flashbacks!

Mark Sullivan (Vertiginous Mod) said:

Finally saw Avengers: Infinity War on Netflix. Fun, but I do have to wonder how much the big changes (especially the ones at the end) will stick. A Marvel universe without so many major players just screams "reboot!" to me.

I also watched Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, the interactive movie (also on Netflix). On my first pass I was unimpressed by the choices: nothing seemed to matter much, or if it did, the movie prompted you to go back and make the other of the two choices. But having read some guides to alternate endings I think I'll go back and experiment some more.

"It was the only way."  --Dr. Stephen Strange

Captain Comics said:

Well, the next movie after Infinity War is the Spider-Man sequel, so it seems safe to say he'll be back. Also Dr. Strange and Black Panther and the Guardians, since they all have movies in the works. They can't ALL be flashbacks!

Mark Sullivan (Vertiginous Mod) said:

Finally saw Avengers: Infinity War on Netflix. Fun, but I do have to wonder how much the big changes (especially the ones at the end) will stick. A Marvel universe without so many major players just screams "reboot!" to me.

I also watched Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, the interactive movie (also on Netflix). On my first pass I was unimpressed by the choices: nothing seemed to matter much, or if it did, the movie prompted you to go back and make the other of the two choices. But having read some guides to alternate endings I think I'll go back and experiment some more.

The Thomas Crown Affair (the original from 1968) opens with Jack Weston of The Legion of "Hey! It's That Guy!" Character Actors being hired to do a job. He enters a room and is facing a bank of spotlights, so he can't see the mysterious man offering him $50,000 to be the wheelman in a heist. The deal is struck, and the man tosses Weston a manila envelope full of cash, with some extra to buy the vehicle, specifying that it must be a Ford station wagon, with the wood paneling on the sides. (It was 1968, after all.)

Soon after, we see the heist, at a bank in Boston. The crew, which also includes Yaphet Kotto, swiftly enters the bank, takes control of the basement, and makes off with several sacks of money with $$ printed on the sides.

This is intercut with scenes of the mastermind, Thomas Crown, played by Steve McQueen, busy at work. Crown is a multimillionaire financier, making deals, selling stuff and living the good life, although he is haunted -- he's a widower. It's not clear how long it's been since his wife passed on, but he's still hurting.

Anyway, the bank sends Vicki Anderson, played by Faye Dunaway, to investigate the theft. Anderson has a financial incentive as well: She gets 10 percent of the missing $2,660,527.62 if she recovers it. She soon discerns that Crown is behind it -- it was never clear to me how -- and lets him know that she knows. He feigns ignorance, but is attracted to her, and they begin a flirtation that turns into a dalliance that turns into an affair.

Then Crown stages another burglary at a bank. This is a test of Anderson's loyalty; will she turn him in, or run away with him? She's torn, and doesn't know what she will do, up to and even after the last minute.

I saw the remake of The Thomas Crown Affair when it was in theaters, but hadn't watched the original until now. One big difference is that in the original, Crown is a bank robber -- or, rather, the mastermind of a bank robbery, because he doesn't get his hands dirty and isn't present at either heist. 

McQueen is excellent as Crown, full of roguish charm. And he wears fabulously expensive tailored three-piece suits. He makes James Bond look like a bum from Skid Row.

Dunaway is cooly elegant; as she begins her romance, it's clearly a game to her. There's a seduction scene where the two of them are playing chess, and it is heavy with unspoken meaning -- longing glances, wet lips, him fumbling with the castle, her fingering the bishop ... she puts him in check, and he quits the game, bringing her in for a long, passionate kiss, much like what they were doing in life.

The movie is kind of dated, what with the split screens that they don't do any more. And the heist crew, to ensure that they do exactly what they are supposed to do at the exact moment they are supposed to do it, don't synchronize their watches: they go to designated telephone booths -- with pay phones with dials! -- and call that number that tells you the time! "At the tone, the time will be 3 o'clock, and 10 seconds. *beep* At the tone, the time will be, 3 o'clock, and 20 seconds. *beep*" Poor Yaphet Kotto goes to his designated phone booth and finds an "OUT OF ORDER" sign posted on the pay phone! And every nearby booth is occupied! That's something that definitely would not happen in modern movie.

And it's a little goofy how they get a lead that definitively puts them on Crown's trail: An ad in the newspaper that reads "BE A FINK!" offering a $25,000 reward for information on the bank robbery. Jack Weston's wife sees the ad and drops a dime on him right away.

Overall, I like the remake better, but think the original had better actors as the leads. Too bad Faye Dunaway and Steve McQueen couldn't have starred in the remake. 



PowerBook Pete, the Mad Mod said:

NEPTUNE'S DAUGHTER (1949). Esther Williams and Ricardo Montalban with Red Skelton and Betty Garrett and Keenan Wynn. Betty mistakes Red for Ricardo and causes problems with her sister, Esther. This movie introduced the song "Baby, It's Cold Outside," and seeing it performed in context shows the recent hubbub about it to be a lot of hooey. The song is performed twice, back-to-back, first with Ricardo trying to get Esther to stay a little longer and then with Betty trying to get Red to stay. Esther is quite in control and barely takes one sip of the "dreaded" drink. Red misses the drink provided altogether. Yes, there are water ballet sequences; it is an Esther Williams film, after all. There's also a polo match where Red has to fill in for Ricardo. Mel Blanc and Xavier Cugat also appear. It's a fun little movie. Oh, and Joi Lansing appears uncredited as a swimsuit model.

One more thing: the song won the 1950 Oscar for Best Original Song.

I want to thank you, Tim, for bringing this movie to my attention. Tracy and I watched it over the weekend and it is just as you describe... just delightful. And, yes, it does prove that the recent hubbub surreounding "Baby, It's Cold Outside" is a lot of hooey.

The Princess Diaries is a light-as-air confection starring Anne Hathaway in her debut role as Mia Thermopolis, the princess of the title. As the story begins, Mia is 15 going on 16, a shy, awkward teenager who is decidedly not in with the in crowd at her high school. She lives in San Francisco in an old, converted firehouse with her mother and her cat. Mom is long divorced from her father, who has recently died.

Mia's father's death occasions a visit from her grandmother, with whom Mia has a distant and poor relationship. Her grandmother is the elegant and regal Clarisse Renaldi, played by the elegant and regal Julie Andrews. Grandma drops bombshell news: Dear old Dad was the crown prince of Genovia, a flyspeck European principality bordering Greece, and Mia is the heir to the throne.

Mom says she was waiting until Mia turned 18 to tell her. As it is, Mia has to choose if she will accept the throne now or let it fall to a rival baron. She has a few days to decide, with a public announcement of her choice, one way or another, at the Genovia Independence Ball. 

In the meantime, Mia gets lessons in how to be a princess from her grandmother, finds herself accepted by the in crowd at school, finds that the in crowd doesn't really accept her, and finds that her true friends remain true even after she's blown them off in the pursuit of popularity.

The movie is an amiable waste of time. Anne Hathaway is winsome and charming as the ugly duckling turned into a swan, under the tutelage of Julie Andrews, who is a delight. Hector Elizondo is Joe, the Queen's head of security, driver and love interest, although that is played very subtly.

One nice touch on the DVD: For the deleted scenes, director Garry Marshall explains where the scene falls in the story and after each clip, explains why it was cut. Most were just to tighten up the running time, but a couple had more interesting reasons. One was a scene with the leader of the mean girls -- there are always mean girls in these kinds of movies -- getting caught lying. The scene was cut because it didn't offer enough of a payoff for her treachery. 

Another scene that was cut explained something that didn't seem to make sense: Late in the film, Mia apologizes to her best friend's brother by sending him a cheese pizza with "SORRY" spelled out in M&M candies. The deleted scene has Mia and the guy sharing a pizza in a park -- with Garry Marshall himself as the pizza baker! It was there that they guy mentions liking M&Ms on pizza. 

Marshall says he cut the scene because Mia and the guy seemed to be getting close; he clearly has a crush on her, and she seems receptive. Leaving the scene in, he said, would have made Mia look mean when she blows him off to hang with the popular kids; without it, she just seemed careless and forgetful, not malicious. Marshall said it was worth it to protect the character, even if it meant cutting his own cameo!

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