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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Ed Asner was a de facto "Good Guy" TV dad as well. Burton in one interview even suggests this was very much the point. They used stunt casting  to say, "your clean-cut TV image of America? Take a closer look at the pillars on which your society was built."

Jeff of Earth-J said:

Last week I mentioned the music; this week, the casting. I think that there was an effective disconnect concerning how many “good guy” TV dads were cast as Ben Cartwright, Mike Brady, John Walton, Lucas McCain.

12 YEARS A SLAVE: Inspired by watching Roots, Tracy wanted to see 12 years a slave. Neither one of us had seen it before. I wanted to wait until we finished Roots, but Tracy wanted to watch it now. 12 Years a Slave makes Roots look like Gone with the Wind.

"Ed Asner was a de facto 'Good Guy' TV dad as well."

Yes, I almost included him on my list as well. I would like to take this opportunity to comment on his excellent performance as a conflicted slave ship captain. By the time he got back from his first trip as a slaver, his experience had taken a heavy toll. the last we see of him, He was given his next assignment: tobacco to England, then to Africa for more slaves. We aren't shown whether or not he accepted.

And, of course, I left John Amos off the list of "good guy" TV dad's (although he certainly was one) because I was pointing out the cognitive disconnect between the casting and being a slave owner.

Another thing I forgot to mention is Lorne Green's overseer. When Green, Robert Reed and Linda Day George are discussing slaves and slavery, the overseer (having been an indentured servant for seven years himself), is the only one who truly understands their plight. I missed that plot point in 1977.

ROCKY BALBOA: When I was a kid, we had a very traditional Thanksgiving: "over the river and through the woods," all that jazz. After my grandmother died, we would alternate between my parents house, my sister's house, my brother's house. One year, we watched the first three Rocky movies (on video discs and a borrowed player), and it became a new tradition (binge watching before it was a thing). We folded in IV and V as they were released.

The original ending for Rocky V was to have had rocky die of a brain aneurism fighting Tommy Gunn in the street. I thought that ending would have made for a more moving rags-to-riches-to-rags story than the ending they chose, which still made for a good movie, not a great movie. Of course, at the time, I never expected the series to continue. Then, in 2006, Rocky Balboa signaled a new beginning for the franchise and I was glad Rocky hadn't died.

We re-watched Rocky Balboa last night and plan to re-watch Creed soon in anticipation of seeing Creed II in the theater.

A while back I bought a cheaply-priced DVD collection of the first Roots miniseries. Still haven't rewatched it. I remember Asner's character as a slave-catcher who chased Toby, not as a slave-trader. When I watched the movie Amazing Grace (2006) I learned that the song of the same name was based upon a poem by former slave-trader John Newton, which helped to inspire parliamentarians to abolish the British slave trade in 1807.

I don't think most indentured servants had horrible experiences. They were mainly paying for the sea-passage by working for a set period of time. I also don't think that the average slave-owner would hire a sympathetic overseer. Most movies show the slave-owner whipping people. Generally I think they were detached from that so they could feel good about themselves while the overseer administered the whippings.

The ending of Rocky V being changed might have resulted from test screenings and negative comments from audience members. It would make sense for Rocky Balboa to die in part V, since Mickey died in part III (along with at least one fighter) and Apollo Creed died in part IV. I think after the first two movies they were tying to point out how dangerous the sport was.

“I remember Asner's character as a slave-catcher who chased Toby, not as a slave-trader.”

He was a ship’s captain hired to captain a slaving vessel. By that role, I classify him as a “slaver.”

“I also don't think that the average slave-owner would hire a sympathetic overseer.”

I don’t think he was necessarily sympathetic per se, just that the overseer in Roots understood the slaves..

“Most movies show the slave-owner whipping people. Generally I think they were detached from that so they could feel good about themselves while the overseer administered the whippings.”

In Roots, the overseer didn’t whip Toby; he ordered a slave to do it. In 12 Years a Slave, the owner ordered the main character to whip another slave (and she wanted him to do it). When he didn’t whip her hard enough, the owner took over himself, and flayed the skin from her back.

“The ending of Rocky V being changed might have resulted from test screenings and negative comments from audience members.”

Could be. The DVD of Rocky Balboa has an alternate ending with s different result.

CREED: Watched this one last night for the second time. Saw it at the theater when it was out, and bought the Blueray/DVD but didn't watch it until last night. Good movie. Looking forward to Creed II.

CREED II: Not only a sequel to Creed, but to Rocky IV as well. There’s a lot in this movie. Plot-wise, it covers the similar ground of Rocky II, III and IV, but make no mistake: it’s no copycat. It’s one of the best in the series (and I’m referring to the series of eight, not the series of two). It also ties up a dangling plot thread from Rocky Balboa, but what the heck happened to “Little Marie” and Steps?

No other movie series is closer to me than the Rocky/Creed franchise, not Star Wars, not The Godfather, nothing. I think of the Star Trek and ST:TNG movies as two separate series, but not Rocky/Creed. Michael B. Jordan has reinvigorated the Rocky series as Daniel Craig reinvigorated James Bond. When I was a kid I used to hope Rocky would eventually go on to train a young fighter, and now he has done just that. I would love to see this series continue, but honestly, I don’t know where it could go from here.

ROOTS. Pt. 4: There are two scenes that stick out in my memory about Missy Anne. One is when she is telling Kizzy about the Baron who has fallen in love with her and Kizzy attempts to tell her about her great grandfather back in Africa: “I’m serious, Kizzy.” (The other scene will be in part five.) I remembered that Kizzy made it back to the plantation where her father was slave, but two years after his death; I forgot the revelation that he died of a broken heart when Mammy Belle was sold to a travelling slaver. The Rifleman (in reruns) is one of my favorite shows from childhood. Tracy, too, has fond memories of watching it with her father. Tracy made me fast forward over the scene in which Chuck Conners rapes Leslie Uggams.

“Inspired by watching Roots, Tracy wanted to see 12 Years a Slave. I wanted to wait until we finished Roots, but Tracy wanted to watch it now.”

“Well, we knew how that conversation was going to end. ;)”

Turnabout being fair play…


Inspired by reading Brief Answers to the Big Questions, I wanted to see The Theory of Everything. I’ve read Hawking’s books, but I knew next to nothing about his personal life other than that he was married and had three kids. (Turns out he’s twice divorced.) This movie has far less physics in it than I had expected or hoped. I found out later it was based on a book by his first ex-wife. Like The Whole Wide World, The Theory of Everything would nake a good “date movie” (in that both have something for the guys, something for the girls).

When I was a kid we watched The Rifleman (first run) along with the many other westerns at that time.

Connors played against type in the TV series Werewolf, which showed its 29 episodes over a ten-month period in 1987-88 on the Fox TV network, which was in its infancy. He played Janos Skorzeny, a sea-faring, eyepatch-wearing king of the werewolves. The character's name was an homage to the vampire in the original TV movie The Night Stalker. Connors played him to the hilt, chewing a lot of scenery. He only appeared in five episodes, unfortunately. The hero of the show was less interesting, stalking the originator of his werewolf bloodline, which at first is thought to be Connors’ character. The best episodes were the ones with Connors. The series was to be collected on a DVD box set. Unfortunately, there was a dispute regarding rights to two songs (I don’t remember any songs) which overlap dialog, preventing the planned DVD release.

I have no memory of that show whatsoever (but I was teaching back then and didn't have much time to watch television).

I remember it, and have hoped for DVDs for years. (I'd probably be disappointed if I ever actually saw it again. ) IIRC, it had an interesting spin on the first werewolves.

KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE: We enjoyed it almost as much as the first one.

THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER'S WAR: We enjoyed it more than the first movie in this franchise, Snow White and the Huntsman. The absence of Kristen Stewart was a huge plus, then you had the addition of two much more enjoyable actresses, Jessica Chastain and (especially) Emily Blunt. Chris Hemsworth was his usual fun self.

Charlize Theron returns as the evil queen Ravenna. Is it just me, or does she always play cold, emotionally stunted characters? Huntsman, Prometheus, Atomic Blonde, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Road ... she always plays an unlikable character. She may be sympathetic (Fury Road), or just cowardly (The Road), but rarely likable. I'm sure a quick check of would find a likable role, especially in her ingenue days. But off the top of my head I got nuttin'. My mental image of her is someone I would avoid at a party.

In the movie The Devil's Advocate (1997), Charlize Theron played the wife of the young lawyer who is sucked into a deal with the devil (the senior partner. She was slowly destroyed and was very sympathetic. I think that after she won an Oscar for Monster (2003), the roles she played leaned more towards evil. Her role (apparently a good person) in Reindeer Games (2000) was a gem. All of the performances in that one were great, IMO.

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