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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One time Tracy and I went to Blockbuster with the intention of renting Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much. We asked the clerk if they carried it, and she suggested, "We have The Man Who Knew Too Little."

Yeah, thanks... that's close enough.

For years now we've used that as a catch phrase for whenever we can't find exactly what we're looking for.

A while back we saw Diana Ross Live in Central Park, a documentary about the concerts she gave there in 1983. "Concerts" because, unfortunately, on the designated day, July 21, there was a massive rain storm full of thunder and lightning. 30 minutes in, she called it off, afraid someone might get electrocuted. Ross declared she'd do the concert the next day, and lo and behold, she did.

The movie shows most of the aborted concert and the fuller reprise. On the plus side, it puts the event in the context of the time, showing news coverage of the big stories of the year. On the minus side, it also had interviews with every one of Diana Ross's children, each gushing about how wonderful and fabulous and outstanding she is. 

The full concert, amazingly, took place on a clear, sunny day. Kudos to New York City's parks department, which somehow cleaned up the site within 24 hours and made sure it wasn't a field of mud. 

Ross performed alone on a bare stage, with the orchestra out of sight underneath. She did only one number, "Maniac," with a dancer, famed choreographer Michael Peters. Otherwise, it's all her, commanding the crowd with sheer stage presence.

Ha, Jeff, that's hilarious! And CK, I love the electric performances that get captured in concert films -- sounds worth checking out (and maybe fast-forwarding a little through the interviews). 

I started watching The Glass Key last night, with Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake... and halfway through it, I started thinking, "Hey, isn't this my favorite movie?" And yeah, it pretty much is.

Rob Staeger (Grodd Mod) said:

I started watching The Glass Key last night, with Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake... and halfway through it, I started thinking, "Hey, isn't this my favorite movie?" And yeah, it pretty much is.

Somehow I haven't seen The Glass Key. I looked it up on IMDB, which helpfully told me it's on TCM this Tuesday, as part of a Brian Donlevy film festival, including his first appearance as Professor Quatermass.

Yeah, I think it was TCM's previous screening that's been sitting on my Tivo for months. But I went through and set a bunch of TCM movies to record the other day, saw The Glass Key was coming up again, and decided I really should get to it!

Last night we saw Pavarotti, a documentary from Ron Howard about the life and loves of Luciano Pavarotti, the superstar tenor. Howard pulls together footage of Pavarotti from various sources, augmented with interviews from his wife, daughters, and a couple of his mistresses -- one of whom became his second wife after news broke about a tryst they had in Jamaica. 

I found the movie informative, but reviewers at NPR ("Pavarotti Documentary Misses All the Right Notes") and The Washington Post ("Even Opera Lovers Should Grit Their Teeth and Watch This Mediocre Pavarotti Film") were underwhelmed.

Although the movie covers Pavarotti's trajectory from humble teacher who sang on the side to fledgling tenor to opera singer to celebrity to international megastar, both critics think it failed to dig very deeply into how he went wrong. He definitely put fame and riches above his art, but the movie doesn't condemn him for that, although it seems the opera community would.

Watched The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean for the first time, and the style of the movie instantly transported me back to the early '70s, when a certain experimental style was in vogue. I can't really explain it, but as soon as the movie began I thought "this was made in the early '70s" and IMDb told me I was right. Maybe it was just Paul Newman's hair, or all the perennials (Ned Beatty, Matt Clark, etc.).

It was basically a cartoon, but I like cartoons, so I mildly enjoyed this eccentric, implausible story. It had a lot of "Isn't that ...?" moments aside from the perennials, like Anthony Perkins, Stacy Keach, Ava Gardner, Tab Hunter and probably some more I'm forgetting. This was Victoria Principal's debut, so young she was almost unrecognizable (aside from being heart-stoppingly pretty).

In one scene, Grizzly Adams makes a brief apperance, apparently for the sole purpose of adding a bear to the cast. I noticed right away that the camera was avoiding his face, or vice versa, which made me pay attention. My attention was rewarded when I was able to see his face briefly through a stagecoach window -- and it was John Huston, the director. (You'll remember him as the incestuous father in Chinatown.)

I don't have much else to say. It was a movie from its time, when a lot of great, eccentric movies were being made. (And a lot of not-so-great eccentric movies were made.) As a child of that era, I'm glad I finally saw it.

I've become much more interested on '70's movies (especially early '70's movies) as an adult than I ever was as a kid. Maybe it's just nostalgia, but they DO have a vibe that's unmistakable and makes even bad movies at least interestingly bad.

I'm trying to catch up on older, famous movies I missed via TCM, and this one just happened to come up. But yeah, there's a vibe from that time that was unique.

I'm always happy to see 70s-era movies show up on TCM, too -- it's a decade that didn't seem like "classics" when I was in my early cinephile days, but now they not only show me some great storytelling -- particularly as the New Hollywood crowd started to break the rules -- but also show me what the world was like when I was just a kid. That's great to be reminded of...and can happen in both good movies and bad. 

I'm starting to see more films from the 1980s show up on TCM, too. We recently recorded Lifeforce, a movie about space vampires I only knew about from an article in Heavy Metal back when I was a kid. Looking forward to finally seeing it! If it's any good, I'll be astonished.

I remember seeing Lifeforce in a theater (in Muncie, IN) with some buddies of mine. In particular, I remember -- in those pre-internet-spoilers days -- our sudden realization that we were watching "Vampires from Outer Space." We couldn't stop laughing.

Inspired by Kelvin’s mention of Diana Ross Live in Central Park, I thought Lady Sings the Blues would be a good one for Tracy and I to watch together as my next effort to indoctrinate her into jazz music, but she had no interest.

“For years now we've used that as a catch phrase for whenever we can't find exactly what we're looking for.”

Watching “All Good Things” (the final episode of ST:TNG) the other night put me in the mood to watch Slaughterhouse Five. Tracy expressed an interest in reading the book a couple of years ago, but never got around to it. She didn’t want to see the movie before reading the book, but I thought the movie might put her in the mood to read the book, so I asked her to check if it was available on NetFlix. She replied, “They’ve got Slaughterhouse Rulez.”

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