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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CREED II: "Rocky" is probably my all-time favorite movie series (not including "franchise" series such as "Godzilla" or "James Bond"); I like "Rocky" better than "Star Trek," better than "Star Wars," better than "The Godfather." I also like movies such as Psycho, The Hustler and The Last Picture Show whose sequels span decades. Rocky, and now Creed, has me both angles covered. Creed is a continuation of the "Rocky" series, but it's also its own thing. I hope the Creed series continues as long as Rocky has. I've heard that Creed III is in the works but has been delayed due to, y'know, COVID.*

*Every time I use that phrase I owe ClarkKent_DC a nickel.

       I saw M back in the 70s. I was working on a KING KONG painting when M came on.

       "Oh, no, sub-titles!" I thought. But from the opening shot I couldn't take my eyes off the 17-in screen.  

       KING KONG had to wait.

The Baron said:

I recently picked up a copy of the 1931 Fritz Lang film, M. Without giving too much away, it features a young Peter Lorre as a serial killer who terrorizes a German town when he begins murdering small children. (That's not a spoiler, by the by, his identity as the killer is revealed to the audience very early in the picture.) The suspense in the picture derives from the massive manhunt as the police desperately try to uncover and capture him. The police crackdown disrupts the criminal element so much that the local syndicate launches their own hunt for the killer, and Lang makes good use of showing the comparison and contrast between the "legitimate" and "illegitimate" segments of society. This was apparently, Lang's first sound picture, but you'd never've known it, he uses sound very well.

Lorre is unbelievable in this picture. It occurred to me me while watching that I've more imitations of Lorre, than I have films with him in them. But this picture by itself would establish him as a top-level actor. You really believe in Lorre's character as someone capable of doing unspeakable things. There's next to know overt violence in the picture, but Lang uses suggestion so well that you shudder watching this film. The cover copy describes this picture as the seminal psychological thriller movie, and I can believe it.

The picture is in German with subtitles - I mention that only because I know a number of people that can deal with subtitles.

Also, there's at least three guys in this picture who sort of vaguely remind me of Kenneth MacDonald, the guy who was always playing the Three Stooges' crooked lawyer. Must've been a common look back then - I keep waiting for someone to say, "The estate of Uncle Ambrose Rose - and we thank you."

Anyway, I heartily recommend this picture - both as an "historical document", and as a very interesting movie to watch.

The Current War Director's Cut (2017)
The title makes it sound like a war movie. It's actually the story of the non-shooting war between Thomas Edison, George Westinghouse (with Nicola Tesla) over electric current. Benedict Cumberbatch plays Edison. The rest of the cast is made up of good actors, especially Michael Shannon as Westinghouse. The story is engaging, well-written and true. Nobody is perfect. Highly recommended.

I recently watched Ramen Heads, a food documentary about ramen in Japan. It focuses mostly one one chef who is considered to be the best ramen chef currently. It then explores a number of other chefs and locations. You also get a brief history, which I found very good. I really liked this one. It is subtitled for those who care about that sort of thing.

I also watched Coming 2 America, a lot f mixed reviews. I didn't think it was terrible, but I also didn't think it was...very funny. I want a lot more laughs in my comedies.

Grand Isle (2019), starring Nicolas Cage, Kadee Strickland, and Kelsey Grammer. Cage hires a young ex-sailor to fix his picket fence just before a hurricane hits. Grammer plays the police detective questioning the sailor afterward about a murder on the property. Terrible. This movie is just terrible.

Family Plot (1976) Hitchcock's final film. Having read mixed reviews, it was better than expected. Suspenseful as well as funny in spots.

Hitchcock hired John Willliams to write the score following the success of Jaws.

Family Plot was, believe it or not, the very first Alfred Hitchcock film I ever saw. I saw it in the theater (Cinema 4) with my friend Bob. I saw it before even seeing The Birds or Psycho on TV, but i saw it only that one time. I was already somewhat familiar with Hitchcock (by reputation) because Mad magazine had done a thing on him which I read in one of my brother's paperback reprints. I would love to see Family Plot again sometime. 

I've always loved Family Plot.

Scissors (1991). I recorded this on TCM and liked it so much I'm getting the DVD. Sharon Stone, who is in 95% of the scenes, plays a character who isn't rough, tough or in charge, unlike her roles in Total Recall and Basic Instinct. She's damaged in a way we won't know until late in the movie. I'm a big fan of Steve Railsback*, who plays twin brothers who couldn't be more different. Ronny Cox, a reliable and talented character actor, plays her psychiatrist.

*I first saw Steve Railsback as Charlie Manson in the 1976 TV mini-series Helter Skelter, then in one of my favorite movies, The Stuntman (1980). I highly recommend The Stuntman to anyone who likes to have their expectations upended. I was delighted when it wasn't what it seemed. It's available on HBOmax.

Flypaper (2011)

This is the most whacked-out bank heist ever, with an all-star cast. It's truly wonderful. The description on IMDB doesn't do it justice.

Re-watched the 1997 epic Ultraman Zearth 2: Battle of the Supermen – Light & Shadow. Ultraman Zearth is Asahi Katsuto, who works for Mydo, a sort of combination Science Police/gas station, which has the usual wise old commander, goofy fat guy and cute young woman, as well as a clam-headed monster mascot.  Zearth is beaten early in the picture by Shadow, an evil Ultraman under the control of Lady Benzen Alien, who wants to enslave humanity.  Katsuto spends most of the picture regaining his confidence by learning to kick a volleyball out of a tree, with the support of his standard-issue kid pal.


Overall, it’s mildly amusing kiddie fare, with heaping helpings of borderline grotesque overacting and a couple of the kinds of scenes  one finds in Japanese pop culture that make you cringe and think “What were they thinking, putting that in a kidfilm?”

I saw Tom & Jerry.

I hated it.

I love the Tom & Jerry cartoon shorts -- that is, the old ones done by Joe Hanna and Bill Barbera for MGM. (The ones after that, not so much, not even the ones by Chuck Jones. But I digress.) The feature-length movie does capture their spirit, and the blend of 2D animation with live-action footage is competently done. The movie creates a world in which cartoon animals -- and not just Tom and Jerry -- co-exist with flesh-and-blood humans, and that's okay.

What irked me was the story this movie is hung on. Tom, Jerry and a young lady named Kayla come to New York to seek their fortune. Fine. Tom sets up in Central Park as a blind piano player seeking tips, and Jerry screws it up for him, as Jerry tends to do, and the chase is on. 

It so happens that there's a celebrity wedding happening in a few days at The Royal Gate, the most prestigious hotel in all of New York, an event on the level of royal nuptials, featuring society stars Preeta and Ben, who each bring along their pets, Tootles the cat and Spike the dog. The hotel is hiring temporary staffing for the occasion, and Kayla gets a job ... lying to the top applicant who has boatloads of experience in high-end hotels, stealing her resume and passing it off as her own. Kayla is assigned as an assistant to the events manager, Terrence, who is mortified to learn Jerry has taken residence; the scandal of having a mouse around would destroy The Royal Gate. Kayla recommends hiring Tom (he even gets a bellman's cap and a name tag), and hilarity ensues -- and by that I mean mayhem and destruction as Tom chases Jerry and Spike chases Tom all over the lobby, breaking the furniture and even the skylight..

An apoplectic Terrence complains to the hotel general manager that the wreckage in the lobby is, at heart, Kayla's fault, as she has failed in her mission. For his pains, he is fired and Kayla gets put in charge of the wedding. She makes a deal with Tom and Jerry to tour the city on the day of the wedding, but contrivances happen to put them there anyway, and more hilarity ensues -- and by that I mean more mayhem and destruction and even the breakup of Preeta and Ben.

A contrite Kayla moves to save the day, dispatching Tom and Jerry to catch Preeta before she gets to the airport and arranging a more modest wedding in Central Park.

We are supposed to relate to Kayla as a plucky girl who just needs a chance to shine, and not see her as a lying, conniving liar who cheated one person out of her rightful opportunity and got a longtime hotel employee fired, whose only qualification for anything is being a cute blonde.  For a movie to send that message in this day and age is reprehensible.

So no, I didn't like Tom & Jerry.

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