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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Andy Griffith played a killer very much like a twisted Andy Taylor in a movie.

Last week I saw Snowpiercer. I thought it was good, but I don't think it quite as good as some people made it out to be. I did think that Chris Evans was really good.

Also, Hustle and Flow. I'd never seen this before, and I liked it quite a bit. It follows a pimp in the Memphis area trying to launch his rap career.

Today I watched, A.C.O.D. A comedy starring Adam Scott who tries to get his divorced parents to show up to his brother's wedding. I thought it was really funny, with Richard Jenkins probably getting the best lines.

Just saw (on Netflix streaming) Mel Brooks: Make a Noise, an interview with a lot of clips and inside stories. Anyone who loves his movies should see it.

I caught a movie on the Spike channel that I somehow missed when it was in theaters: End of Watch. It stars Jake Gyllenhall and Michael Pena as a pair of LAPD patrol officers. Gyllenhall is taking a filmmaking class, so he carries a video camera with him everywhere, and there's lots of footage from that camera as well as the officers' bodycams and their vehicle camera incorporated into the film.

For nearly the first hour, the movie meanders about the day-to-day patrol stuff like a modern-day Adam-12, but it picks up steam when our two cops inadvertently uncover a human trafficking ring and also pop a cholo who was carrying drugs and guns in his SUV. This arouses the ire of the leaders of these criminal enterprises, who put a hit out on them. 

Curse of the Swamp Creature (1966.) As a kid this scared me witless. Now it's embarrasingly bad. John Agar (proving there was no film so awful that he'd say no to appearing in) is a mad scientist in the swamps of Texas trying to devolve people into fish like creatures, convinced that we'll somehow survive the bomb if we live underwater. He uses the "natives" of the swamp as his guinea pigs. They practice voodoo but it has absolutely nothing to do with the movie. The process kills them so he wraps their bodies in a white sheet, goes in his backyard, walks along a diving board, and tosses them into a swimming pool. Cut to stock footage of crocodiles snapping at a white sheet. An experiment on a volunteer almost works but a woman pulls the plug trying to save him, killing him since he was at a critical stage in the transformation. Agar furiously puts her in the machine. She turns into a swamp monster and is sent by Agar to kill for him. Agar's wife, who not surprisingly wants to get away from him, screams "Look at you! You were a pretty young girl! He's destroyed you!" The monster feels its hideous face (complete with ping pong balls as eyes), grabs Agar, and walks along the diving board, tossing him into the "pool" then falling off the board. Cut to more stock footage of crocs in a jungle snapping at something.

CK, I admire that you can use the word cholo correctly in a sentence. I never even heard the word until a few years ago. (There aren't many in Memphis.)

Speaking of Memphis, Travis, Hustle & Flow was filmed by Craig Brewer. who also made a lesser known Memphis film, The Poor & Hungry (filmed mostly in the P&H Cafe). I have seen neither film, but you can understand that being a newspaper editor in Memphis, I have copy edited a lot of words about them. Brewer also made Black Snake Moan, a movie set in, and partly filmed in, rural Tennessee (Stanton), with Christina Ricci and Sam Jackson. He also, weirdly, directed the remake of Footloose.

My wife and I stumbled on Let Me In the other night and got intrigued quickly enough to sit up and watch it. We thought it was really well done, and pretty disturbing. Interestingly, my wife saw it as sort of a girl power thing, whereas I came away thinking the little boy had been suckered into a sad and lonely life as, basically, a servant, by an emotional predator.

For those who haven't seen it, the film centers on a 12 year old boy (he looks younger) named Owen who is lonely at home and bullied at school. A new neighbor appears, who becomes his only (and probably first) friend, and there's a little pre-adolescent romance thrown in. (She offers to kiss him if he does something for her, which he clearly would like, although it's a little scary.)

I don't think I'm spoiling anything to reveal the neighbor girl is a 12-year-old vampire. (Well, she's actually much older. "I've been 12 for a very long time," she says.)

One of the things I really liked about it is that it let visual cues, mood and acting carry important bits of information, instead of the script. As I've mentioned elsewhere, I really notice it when a comic book writer or movie director has the courage to eschew expository dialogue -- it's more fun to guess, and besides, monologuing is tedious.

In this case, you have to guess at some information, none of which is necessary to enjoy the movie.

Take the boy's mother. Her head is always cropped out of every scene she's in, so you never know what she looks like. In her first scene she's shown pouring and drinking wine before eating dinner (and we never see her eat), and later scenes have her so deeply asleep the boy cannot wake her. An alcoholic? Probably. But you're not hit over the head with it, and instead you watch scenes with her looking for clues (which makes her role as "distant mother" more interesting). And, yes, she is a distant mother -- the head-cropping thing alone is a big visual clue that she isn't much of a factor in the boy's life. (We also never see the divorced father, who only enters the movie as a voice on the phone.) Interestingly, the mother appears to be big into religion, but apparently not one that has a problem with wine. But it was a factor in the divorce, as a throwaway line by the father indicates.

The "family" also appears to have very little money. It's never explicitly stated, but I don't think the apartment complex they live in is a very nice one. Again, you have to work this out on your own.

There's a great scene where the boy observes the chief bully that has been tormenting him being bullied by his older brother. Instantly the audience understands that kid, without needing to say anything more.

The vampire is accompanied by an older man that everyone assumes is her father. He's not. One scene, where the boy sees a photograph of the older man as a younger person -- about Owen's age -- his relationship with Abby (the vampire) snaps into focus for both the audience and Owen.

The movie is full of bits like that, and the directing is slow, confident and arresting. It keeps building and building, but without a sense of urgency, which makes it all the more impossible to turn off.

Really remarkable, and we enjoyed it. It's apparently a very close remake of a Scandinavian movie, Let the Right One In, which itself was based on a novel.

Oh, and I should mention, as you've probably guessed, the title has a double meaning.

Let Me In is a terrific movie. Chloë Grace Moretz was really twelve when she played the vampire Abby, the same year she appeared as Hit-Girl in Kick Ass. She has since appeared in Hugo , Dark Shadows, the Carrie remake and various other movies. She’s always very effective.

I just saw the Dark Shadows remake for five dollars at Walmart today.

I saw Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle the other day and liked it more than I thought I would. It basically had the same plot as the first Tom Cruise Mission: Impossible movie: They're chasing all over the world to find the McGuffin, a pair of rings that have a list of all the government agents. But it was fun, mostly because it essentially presented the Angels as superheroes! 

They always were more of less, if you consider guys like Batman or Daredevil superheroes.

I've been behind on movie watching lately. But have been attempting to catch up. Here's a rundown over the past month or so.

Gone Girl- Two Thumbs up. I can usually predict what's going to happen, not this time!

Hunger Games: MockingJay part 1- Pretty good. Wish they would just tell the whole story instead of splitting it up.

Interstellar- Pretty long but very engaging and entertaining flick.

The Family- Mildly entertaining mobster comedy with Robert Deniro

3 Days to Kill- Incomprehensible Kevin Costner flick. Pretty bad

Edge of Tomorrow- I liked this one a lot. Very entertaining and fun.

The Hobbit Desolation of Smaug- this was my second viewing. I like it.

X-men Days of Future Past- Another second viewing. I enjoyed it more the second time around. Wish it had more quicksilver.

Amazing Spider-man 2- Better the second time around.

Guardians of the Galaxy- Better everytime I watch it. I thought it was good and still think so, but not the best Marvel movie every. However it has a high re-watchable factor and is fun every time. I've seen it four times.

The Book Thief- Bittersweet tale about a young girl in Germany during WWII. It's very good.

Lego Movie- second viewing. Very fun and clever. Picked up on some things I missed the first time.

I've seen both Let Me In and Let the Right One In, and I preferred the Swedish version. I even found myself easily following some of the dialogue without reading the subtitles.

Today, I saw Misery for the first time. Annie reminded me of a couple of people I know. Chilling.

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