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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A few weeks back, I saw 17 Again, starring Zac Efron as a man who wishes his life had taken a different turn. As the movie begins, he's on top of the world: He's the captain of the high school basketball team, it's the night of the big game, there's a college scout in attendance just itching to hand him a full-ride scholarship ... but his girlfriend gives him the news that she's knocked up.

He runs out of the big game, goes to his girlfriend and pledges his undying love and to do the right thing and marry her, which, while nominally noble, seals him to a horrible fate ...

... he grows up to become Matthew Perry.

Almost as bad, he's apparently spent the past 20 years whining that he never went to college, thus causing that undying love to curdle. His now-wife is fed up with him and is divorcing him, and he's alienated from his teenage daughter and younger son. One day, while he visits them at the high school, he is looking at the trophy case -- something he apparently does quite often -- and a kindly janitor with a twinkle in his eye strikes up a conversation and then vanishes. Later, he encounters the janitor about to jump off a bridge -- they don't even try to pretend they stole this bit straight out of It's a Wonderful Life --- but falls into the water himself. And when he makes his soggy way home, he learns he's been turned back into Zac Efron.

From there, with the help of his best friend -- back in high school, he was the waterboy; now he's an Internet millionaire rich enough that he never had to bother with growing up -- our guy Zac tries to win his wife over anew and reconnect with son and daughter.

This was the first time I'd seen Zac Efron outside of a song-and-dance role (the High School Musical movies, and the Hairspray remake), and I noticed something I hadn't before: He can't act. But that doesn't sink the movie. It was an amiable time-waster, nothing more.
Saw "Whistling in the Dark" on TCM. A Red Skelton comedy where he plays a radio detective who's kidnapped by bad guys (Conrad Veidt in the lead) and held in a mansion. Not a great movie in any way, but check out the 1941 technology...

Red has to escape, AND warn a man on a plane that he's going to be killed ON THE PLANE. He can't make a phone call because Veidt has ripped out the phone. BUT...there's a radio. And by opening the radio up and attaching the frayed ends of the telephone wire to certain parts of the radio, he's able to call the switchboard operator! By touching the wires to other parts, he can hear her through the radio, but not talk to her. Anyway, by this means, he's able to convince the operator to call the airfield, and pass a message to the cockpit of the DC-3. The pilots see nothing wrong with passing a radio call to a passenger. A stewardess brings the murder target a pair of headphones, so he can get the message. BUT a crook on board sneaks in back and cuts one of the wires. No communication gets through, the guy's still in trouble, Red's still trapped.

So he has the operator patch him into his radio station and demands to go on the air live -- because he figures that maybe someone on the airplane has a portable radio! And he's right - a kid turns on the radio and hears the warning and the murder target is saved, and the police hear the broadcast and rescue Red.

It's more complicated than this, of course, because it's a comedy mystery, but -- how about that 1941 analog technology, folks? How about those low-flying airlines where you can bring your own entertainment?

In a way, it was like watching a "Star Trek" episode with technobabble - except for the pretend part.
I saw Devil's Backbone last night. It's a great ghost story by Guillermo del Toro. It wasn't particularly scary except for one or two moments. It was generally creepy thoughtout. It was a really well told story.
Last night we watched My Boyfriend's Back, a cheesy early '90s comedy about a non-popular* kid who dies saving the girl he loves (but who has never given him the time of day) from a robber, only to come back as a zombie and try to get back to life as normal and win the girl's heart, all while facing prejudice from the townfolks for being a zombie. It was a pretty silly movie that took itself even less seriously than such a premise would suggest, and starred almost no one of any consequence (although it did feature performances from Matthew Fox, Phillip (no Seymour at that time) Hoffman, and Matthew McConnaughey (sp?) as the jock rival and two of his sycophantic followers, respectively).

We got it 'cause Jen had fond memories of seeing it on cable back inna day, and wanted to see if it held up. Surprisingly, it mostly did for her. It was not a brilliant movie by ANY means, and I wouldn't exactly recommend it, but I don't regret the 85 minutes I committed to watching it, either, so...take that as you will.

* - He was never really established as a stereotypical geek, nerd, or outcast. He just kinda...was an average kid who just wasn't popular.
A busy weekend for me; I saw FOUR movies at the cinema.

First up was Toy Story and Toy Story 2 in 3-D, currently in limited release. They were well worth seeing again, and the 3-D made them extra special. My favorite bits still hold up; for Toy Story, it's the Bucket o' Soldiers, and for Toy Story 2, its the scene in the Barbie aisle at Al's Toy Barn. You just know the Barbie section of the store would be a non-stop party!

Third was Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, in IMAX 3-D. It's well worth it to spring for that version if its available. I had to get over the fact that this movie concocts its own plot and isn't rendered in the style of the original children's story, which simply has a granddad telling his family a tall tale over breakfast.

Here, we are introduced to a budding kid scientist whose inventions backfire -- some because they are stupid and poorly conceived, like ratbirds, and some because they are brilliant, but misapplied, like "hair unbalder," a REALLY fast-acting hair growth spray.

As an adult, he invents a device that turns food into water. He lives in a fishing village whose main industry, sardine canning, has totally failed, and his device is used to stimulate the depressed local economy ... until things go very, very wrong.

There's more, but go see it. It's amusing, its charming and its brilliantly rendered. It's also a little too long in the same way Transformers was -- that is, when the story kicks into gear and they have to defeat the antagonist and there's always a setback to be overcome and then they overcome it and then there's another setback, and another, and another, and yet still another ... well, that kind of thing can be tiresome when you string too many such moments in a row, and it happened here. But it's still good.

And finally, today, Good Hair, a documentary by Chris Rock into the mysteries of Black women's hair. Entertaining, informative, thought-provoking and fun.
I saw three movies this weekend.
Assassination of a High School President. I didn't know much about this one before seeing it. A friend recommended to me. It's the story of a high school reporter who does a story on the class president and ends up uncovering a larger scheme. Actually, a smart movie with many humorous moments. Bruce Willis in one of his better recent roles as the principal.

Brothers Bloom. I enjoyed this one a lot too. Very whimsical for a con movie but the cast was great and the story was good.

X-men Origins: Wolverine. I had seen this one before but wanted to give it another try. This had it's moments but overall I feel it's mediocre at best.
Jason Marconnet (Lime_Coke) said:
Saw Zombieland today. It's a lot of fun.

Just saw it tonight. Yep, it's a blast.
How much gore is there in Zombieland? I am debating on seeing it, but I don't care for a lot of gore. To give a standard, I liked the remake of Dawn Of The Dead.
I haven't seen the remake of DotD. There's a fair amount of gore in Zombieland, but I can't imagine it's more than DotD -- it didn't strike me as gratuitous, and the camera doesn't tend to linger. Certainly there wasn't as much gore as something like Dead Alive.

Plus, humor has a way of defusing gore (at least for me), and there's plenty of that. A spoonful of sugar to make the entrails go down.
Rob Staeger said:
Certainly there wasn't as much gore as something like Dead Alive.

So less gore than the goriest movie ever. Got it. :P
How could it be otherwise? :)
Thanks, Rob. I probably will wait for the DVD, but it sounds like something I will enjoy.

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