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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Over the Christmas weekend, we watched a not-all-that-old holiday favorite: This Christmas. It's a comedy-drama with an ensemble cast led by the ever-divine Loretta Devine, who in this story is the matriarch of a sprawling brood of six children in Los Angeles. Ma'Dere is excited because for the first time in four years, all of them will be home for the holiday.

This is the kind of story where everyone has a secret and they all come out. Some secrets are more compelling than others, of course. Ma'Dere's secret is that she's shacking up with longtime boyfriend Joe Black (Delroy Lindo), who obligingly pretends to move out during the Christmas stretch so her children won't know. Most of them do, but they pretend not to know for the sake of the ones who truly don't know.

One who doesn't know is eldest son Quentin (Idris Elba), an itinerant jazz saxophone player, at the moment on the run from two legbreakers in Chicago who want to take the $25,000 he owes them out of his hide.

Middle son Claude is in the Marines. His secret is his holiday leave was denied, so he's AWOL. Plus, he's newly married. Plus, she's White. And her secret, which Claude doesn't even know, is that she's pregnant.

Youngest son Michael, whom everyone calls "Baby," wants to be a singer, but keeps it secret because he knows Ma'Dere will flip out, and see him as following in the footsteps of that rat of a husband who ran out on her. Bad enough Quentin's gone all the time; two sons as traveling musicians would be too much for her to bear.

Youngest daughter Melanie is a perpetual college student; she has a penchant for changing her major when she changes boyfriends. Latest boyfriend Devan (Keith Robinson), a pre-law student, comes along.

Middle daughter Kelli (Sharon Leal) went off to college and then law school, and now is an attorney in New York and hasn't looked back. During the visit, she meets Gerald (Mekhi Phifer) and has a one-night stand, which turns into a two-night stand, which turns into "Come visit me in New York, why don't you?" 

Eldest daughter Lisa (Regina King) is resentful of Kelli; she feels stuck that she didn't go off to college. Lisa stayed and helped Ma'Dere run the family business, and got married and had two kids. Unfortunately, husband Malcolm is pressuring her to talk the family into selling the family business and the family house, so he can plow his and his wife's share into his business. Malcolm is also cheating on Lisa; he even has the nerve to go back home to be with his mistress during the holiday!

As for the family house, it is, as they say, practically another character in the story. It is SO big, it can not only accommodate all these kids, spouses, paramours and grandchildren, even the two legbreakers from Chicago get to stay there! Of course, neither they nor Quentin tell anybody how they know each other, but Joe Black figures it out, and comes to Quentin's rescue.

It's an entertaining ride, although there are a few too many people in it. I've seen complaints that the youngest daughter could have been left out entirely without affecting anything. Also, it is dubious that the churchgoing Ma'Dere is living in sin -- and with one of the deacons! Scandalous! 

That's a lot of secrets!

It's a House of Secrets.

Another film I saw a while back but haven't remarked upon ...

A long time ago, I read an interview with Frank Miller. He said there's a kind of movie that never makes sense to him. It's the movie with a stolid leading man, somebody like Willem DaFoe, who gets preyed upon by a femme fatale, somebody like Madonna, who entices him and seduces him and leads him astray and into a web of deceit and intrigue. The thing is, in this kind of movie, the guy's wife is beautiful and glamorous, somebody like Michelle Pfeiffer. For Miller, it doesn't work; if the guy's married to Michelle Pfeiffer, why would he even break a sweat over Madonna?

That's the thought I had when I saw I Think I Love My Wife. It was written by Louis CK, long before we all found out what a creep he is, and stars Chris Rock. He's the stolid family man, in some nondescript job at some financial services company. Kerry Washington is the femme fatale who blows into his life. She's the ex-girlfriend of one of his buddies from college, and after she's ruined that poor schmoe's life, she gets her hooks into Chris Rock.

You know how it goes -- she comes by the office just to say hi, and then they're having lunch together, and he's always thinking about her ... somehow, he finds himself traveling from New York to Washington, D.C. to help her get something back from one of her ex-boyfriends, when he's supposed to be at the office making a big presentation to important prospective clients from Japan -- !

After that blows up, his boss, played by the always excellent Edward Herrmann, calls him on the carpet. He doesn't yell; he just brings Rock into the conference room and has him sit behind this massive, long conference table. Then he asks Rock for a quarter. He puts the quarter on the table and tells him, "This represents the money you bring into the firm." Then he points out the table: "This represents the value of the firm." 

Then he tells him, "Nobody ever lost a woman chasing after money. But they have lost money chasing after a woman." So Chris Rock goes home with his tail between his legs, but still more things happen before he gets his mind right.

The problem with this story, however, is that Chris Rock is married to Gina Torres. 

Now, I love Kerry Washington as much as the next guy. But if I was married to the fabulousness that is Gina Torres, I wouldn't give Kerry Washington the first thought, let alone a second. So this movie didn't work for me. 



Jeff of Earth-J said:

Well, be sure to let us know what you think of it here if you do.


Well I finally saw Blade Runner 2049 and I have to say that I did enjoy it quite a bit. The original was a game changer and has become iconic over the years and it's a tall order to replicate something like that. But I thought 2049, if judged on its own merits, was a solid film. It paid tribute to the original without being overly derivative and it had some depth to it that made it more than just another big budget sci-fi spectacle. I'm dubious about the central plot point, which I won't spoil here, but it wasn't so far-fetched that it took me out of the movie. Overall I'd say 2049 was as effective as Prometheus, which is another latter day Ridley Scott sequel that I really liked.

Thanks for letting us know!

So, you're the person that liked Prometheus! ;)
 
Detective 445 said:



Jeff of Earth-J said:

Well, be sure to let us know what you think of it here if you do.


Well I finally saw Blade Runner 2049 and I have to say that I did enjoy it quite a bit. The original was a game changer and has become iconic over the years and it's a tall order to replicate something like that. But I thought 2049, if judged on its own merits, was a solid film. It paid tribute to the original without being overly derivative and it had some depth to it that made it more than just another big budget sci-fi spectacle. I'm dubious about the central plot point, which I won't spoil here, but it wasn't so far-fetched that it took me out of the movie. Overall I'd say 2049 was as effective as Prometheus, which is another latter day Ridley Scott sequel that I really liked.

We saw Downsizing over the holiday break. Watching the promos -- where Matt Damon undergoes a process to shrink him to the size of an action figure -- my son and I were intrigued, because we shared the same thought: What could possibly go wrong?

What went wrong? The movie itself.

There's a halfway decent movie in the first two-thirds of this film ... but then there's that final third.

Initially, it seems to be a modern, adult take on Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, with a feeling of the wonder of a new world. But there's an awareness of the problems and difficulties of this program to shrink people, and it's pointed out that not everybody thinks it's so wonderful. I really, really wish the movie had explored that further.

It seemed to when it got into the second third of the story, when you find out how the other half lives. Just putting in that there is an "other half" -- which you never see in, say, Star Trek -- was a bold move. But again, that isn't explored deeply enough before the movie takes a huge detour to Norway for a hippie-dippie environmentalist we've-got-to-save-the-planet message that has nothing to do with anything.

We found Downsizing a frustrating disappointment.

Watched Punisher: War Zone, which I skipped in the theater, and saw it while scrolling through one of the streaming services. Short review: Eh.

I might have enjoyed it more back in the day, as it's a little dated in its depiction of gun fights. There's a real '90s vibe to it that, having seen the modern Punisher, is uncomfortably obvious.

I usually like Ray Stevenson, who was quite enjoyable in Rome and, while not given a lot to do, has been a pretty good Volstagg. I'm not sure what he was doing here, but he was so subdued as to suck all the energy out of any scene he's in. And since he's in most of them, it made for a dull movie.

Also: Accents. Bad. There were New York Italian-Americans (of course) and Russian mobsters. I recognized most of the actors, who are neither Italian nor Russian, and the accents were so exaggerated as to be distracting. Maybe that's a '90s thing, too.

And I try to mentally put aside an actor's previous roles when I see him or her in a new one, but the actor playing Micro was Newman from Seinfeld. (He was also the traitorous programmer in Jurassic Park, which was very Newman-esque). That actor, Wayne Knight, is so inextricably linked to Newman in my head that his every word and action prompted a "Hello, Newman" in my head. Hard to take him seriously in a dramatic role.

One thing that also damaged this movie for me: It was the origin story of Jigsaw, just as the recent Netflix series was. Micro's lair was even visually similar to the one in the Jon Bernthal show, so similar it might have been a deliberate effort by Netflix to replicate it. So it was impossible not to compare the two, and the Netflix show, of course, was far, far superior.

So, as I said: "Eh."

"So, you're the person that liked Prometheus! ;)"

Tracy and I loved Prometheus! The sequel was disappointing... so much so that the final chapter of a planned trilogy was scrapped. :(

I finally watched Dog Day Afternoon, one of those classic 70s films I missed first time around due to my age. Has there ever been an era like the 70s for hard-to-classify-but-brilliant films with edginess that doesn't feel forced?

I loved Blade Runner 2049.  A friend of mine said that if you liked the original Blade Runner, then you would like the sequel. If you didn't, then you wouldn't. In my unofficial poll, that does seem to hold true. 


Detective 445 said:



Jeff of Earth-J said:

Well, be sure to let us know what you think of it here if you do.


Well I finally saw Blade Runner 2049 and I have to say that I did enjoy it quite a bit. The original was a game changer and has become iconic over the years and it's a tall order to replicate something like that. But I thought 2049, if judged on its own merits, was a solid film. It paid tribute to the original without being overly derivative and it had some depth to it that made it more than just another big budget sci-fi spectacle. I'm dubious about the central plot point, which I won't spoil here, but it wasn't so far-fetched that it took me out of the movie. Overall I'd say 2049 was as effective as Prometheus, which is another latter day Ridley Scott sequel that I really liked.

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