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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This movie is just pure fun. I own it, but I don't think I've watched it in probably ten years. I need to remedy that.

Captain Comics said:

Just scratched Zombieland off my to-do list, a movie that's about to have a sequel (somehow). 

I watched Shazam this evening. I loved it! It was absolutely fun, and the perfect representation of a boy who suddenly has the powers granted by a mysterious wizard. I really liked the way he granted his powers to his brothers and sisters, and the lessons he learned were perfect for an origin story.

  • Sivana was the perfect representation of evil from a young age into adulthood.
  • I loved it when Freddy carried the bullies by the underwear at the end.
  • The girl who played Debra was perfect.
  • I thought the Shazam actor did a great job of a boy in a man's body (which makes much more sense to me than the schizo "boy and wise man" duplicity that made the character unnecessarily confusing, IMO).
  • I also liked how the kid could be pure of heart while still being a criminal at the beginning. It shows that sometimes good kids can act out in ways they don't understand when they are so hardened from their lot with life. As a teacher for 18 years, I can assure you that this is much of the reason that there are so many kids with behavioral issues in the world today. I'm so happy to see it addressed in such a positive way instead of the "bad kid is always wrong in the heart" way of the world.
  • The way the foster parents meant so well and were so kind-hearted was so beautifully shown.

I know a bunch of people probably complained about this, but haters gonna hate.

*I might add that my one nitpick with the movie has nothing to do with the story, the acting, or the writing. It's the fact that someone in production saw Spider-Man Homecoming's closing credits, which was a Ramones song played over notebook-scribbled pictures, and thought, "Hey, that's cool! Let's COPY THAT EXACTLY."

That's just plain embarrassing. And there's no "it came out too late for them to change it" excuse, either.

Another note on Shazam!: John Glover has now played the father of Lex Luthor and the father of Sivana.

And the role was essentially identical. Do all supervillains have cruel, rich masters of the universe fathers?

PowerBook Pete, the Mad Mod said:

Another note on Shazam!: John Glover has now played the father of Lex Luthor and the father of Sivana.

We saw Toy Story 4. We didn't race right out to see it because Toy Story 3 was billed as the final chapter, but there legitimately was one more story to tell with these characters, and they told it well.

Toy Story 4 quickly recaps how all the toys have passed from Andy's loving care to a new kid, Bonnie, and This movie focuses directly on Woody, and his feelings of uselessness. He is the oldest toy in the bunch, but he is no longer the leader and isn't Bonnie's favorite. 

Woody takes it upon himself to sneak into Bonnie's backpack on her orientation day for kindergarten, against everyone's protests, because he believe Bonnie needs a toy with her. While at day care, a bratty kid throws Bonnie craft supplies into a wastebasket. Woody tosses them back onto the table, and Bonnie fashions a toy doll from a spork, a pipe cleaner, mismatched googly eyes, putty, glue, and a popsicle stick. She dubs her creation "Forky." 

Like the other toys, Forky comes to life when the humans aren't looking. How? Don't ask; there's no answer. However, Forky doesn't think of himself as a toy. Snce his origins were a wastebasket, he thinks of himself as trash ... and at every opportunity, he tries to jump back into a trash can. 

Bonnie's family goes on a road trip before kindergarten begins and Forky, after dozens of attempts to escape, finally succeeds, jumping out of the window of the moving RV. Woody goes after him. 

On the way back to where the RV is parked for the night, Woody and Forky come across an antique store, where he sees the accessories that go with Bo Peep and her three sheep. Bo was Woody's love interest in the first and second Toy Story movies but wasn't given much to do; she wasn't even in the third one.

They make up for it here. In this movie, Bo's an action figure! Moreover, she's a rōnin -- she doesn't belong to a child and is quite happy about it. 

Like all Toy Story movies, this one is a rescue mission. Initially, it's to save Forky, but the antique store proves to be a house of horrors for him and Woody, lorded over by Gabby Gabby, a pull-string doll from the 1950s, like Woody. She has several ventriloquist dummies as very creepy minions to do her bidding. Woody's attempt to save Forky fails, and he makes a major sacrifice to get out of Gabby Gabby's clutches. Bo and her team have to save Woody, and they all have to race against time to get back to the RV before Bonnie's family goes back home.

Toy Story 4 is a worthy wrap-up to the saga. 

I met John Glover at the recent East Coast Comicon, and if you ever have the chance to talk to him, do it. He's an absolute delight. At one point a woman stopped by saying her mom wanted to make sure she said hi, since she's a big fan. He got her to skype her mom, and talked to her from the con floor. "Hi, Debbie, your daughter wanted me to say hi... Wait, are you in a car? Pull over, pull over...!"

(She actually had pulled over before she'd answered, but we all had a great laugh about it.)

PowerBook Pete, the Mad Mod said:

Another note on Shazam!: John Glover has now played the father of Lex Luthor and the father of Sivana.

John Glover has been in tons of things, often as a heavy. He was the go-to voice actor to play The Riddler in Batman: The Animated Series. I didn’t realize this, but he played Jason Woodrue in the infamous movie Batman and Robin.

I have been rewatching Law & Order: Criminal Intent. In later episodes, John Glover played the very creepy mentor to Vincent D'Onofrio’s Robert Goren. I highly recommend Law & Order: Criminal Intent to anyone who likes a very smart police procedural with great characters.

THE GLENN MILLER STORY: Whenever the topic of jazz music comes up in our household (frequently these days as we’re re-watching ST:TNG when Riker plays trombone), Tracy feels obligated to tell me how much she hates it. I don’t think she’s listened to much, though, and there are as many different kinds of jazz as there are rock and roll. I decided to introduce her to the music that introduced me to jazz, Glenn Miller, by way of the classic Jimmy Stewart movie. (She loves Jimmy Stewart.)

She liked the movie (except for the end*) and said she liked the music, too. The next day we listen to “In the Digital Mood” while we were out and about, and she said she liked it. I don’t know where I’ll go next… not Miles Davis, certainly, but maybe The Benny Goodman Story.

*SPOILERS for Easy Rider and Electra Glide in Blue. I was under instructions to pick a movie in which no one is shot while riding a motorcycle at the end. Well, that didn’t happen to Glenn Miller, but I was still in trouble.

Speaking of endings with dead characters:
spoiler photo spoiler.gif
At the end of American Graffiti (1973), we are told in a graphic that John (Paul Le Mat) was killed by a drunk driver and that Terry (Charles Martin Smith) went missing in action in Vietnam. In the theater one viewer let out a loud audible sob.

In the sequel More American Graffiti (1979), Terry is a warrant officer (a specialized officer rank higher than sergeants) flying helicopters. He reports to a sergeant, who harasses him. Terry then fakes his own death and deserts. This not only spoils his character, but means he is rattling around in a war zone with no passport and no reasonable way of ever getting home. I love the first movie.

Guh. I'm really glad I never saw the second movie now.

Richard Willis said:

Speaking of endings with dead characters:
spoiler photo spoiler.gif
At the end of American Graffiti (1973), we are told in a graphic that John (Paul Le Mat) was killed by a drunk driver and that Terry (Charles Martin Smith) went missing in action in Vietnam. In the theater one viewer let out a loud audible sob.

In the sequel More American Graffiti (1979), Terry is a warrant officer (a specialized officer rank higher than sergeants) flying helicopters. He reports to a sergeant, who harasses him. Terry then fakes his own death and deserts. This not only spoils his character, but means he is rattling around in a war zone with no passport and no reasonable way of ever getting home. I love the first movie.

I saw two great movies that I had never put a second thought to before:

Clerks: At the time this came out, I was working in a gas station/quickie mart. Yes, some of it really rang true (the weirdos), but what really entertained me was the dialogue between the two main characters. This is a great slice of life movie about the slacker generation. The best thing about it is that it owns the slacker of the whole thing. Plus, knowing now that the Gen X crowd really did come out on top, it makes it all the sweeter.

Crooklyn: This is the sweetest movie ever made that I was really unaware of until a coworker suggested it to me. It's a Spike Lee movie about a family in Brooklyn in 1973. For the first half, it's about the family as a whole. A teacher mother who raises her four boys and one girl, and her jazz musician husband. The second half focuses on the girl of the family as she goes to visit her cousin for the summer and her letters back home. It is a really wonderful movie about a family at the time doing their best, and Lee does a really great job making it very optimistic. It makes the viewer want to go back to that time and place and take up residence. Wonderful, wonderful movie.

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