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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Jeff of Earth-J said:

CASTLE OF FU MANCHU (MST3K): I’ve said before that the source movies of MST3K send-ups should have some semblance of quality.... But the Castle of Fu Manchu has no semblance of quality whatsoever.

Director Jesus Franco has a kind of cult following. I think his fans see him as a director of auteur trash. I don't think I've ever seen one of his films.

I think the rap against Watchmen is that it's such a faithful reproduction of the comic book that it fails to be a very good movie. I haven't seen it since it first came out, and don't remember my own reaction. 

Richard Willis said:

Jeff of Earth-J said:

THE WATCHMEN: Inspired by the TV show, we re-watched the movie over the weekend. I think it’s one of the best comic book adaptations out there..

I'm always puzzled when people say that the Watchmen movie was bad.The only thing bad was the timing of its release and the failure of the advertising campaign.

I've always been predisposed to want movie and TV adaptations to be as close as possible to the book or comic book, based on the hope that viewers will discover the original work.. 

I just watched Carl Theodor Dreyer's silent film The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928), and it's really extraordinary. Renée Maria Falconetti gives one of the best performances I've ever seen, largely through her eyes. The film has a lot of extreme close-ups, with quick cuts, skewed angles and off-center framing, making it feel very modern. And in a sense, the film was a reaction to current events: Joan of Arc had only been named a saint eight years before, in 1920. The score that was shown with it on TCM, Richard Einhorn’s 1995 oratorio Voices of Light, was written explicitly for the film, and the libretto features words of both feminist and misogynist writers from medieval times. The score also features church bells rung in the village of Joan's birth.

This is well worth seeing if you get the chance.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

THE WATCHMEN: Inspired by the TV show, we re-watched the movie over the weekend. I think it’s one of the best comic book adaptations out there.

Richard Willis said:

I'm always puzzled when people say that the Watchmen movie was bad. The only thing bad was the timing of its release and the failure of the advertising campaign.

Captain Comics said:

I think the rap against Watchmen is that it's such a faithful reproduction of the comic book that it fails to be a very good movie. I haven't seen it since it first came out, and don't remember my own reaction. 

Richard Willis said:

I've always been predisposed to want movie and TV adaptations to be as close as possible to the book or comic book, based on the hope that viewers will discover the original work.. 

I think anyone inclined to discover the original work will do so whether or not the movie or TV adaptation is as close as possible to the book or comic book.

So the more important consideration for me, more and more, isn't "Is this a slavish reproduction of the comic book/book/play/original source?", but "Is it a good movie/TV show?"

The late William Goldman's books Adventures in the Screen Trade and Which Lie Did I Tell?: More Adventures in the Screen Trade -- which I highly recommend -- give plenty of insight into movie scriptwriting and filmmaking. One thing that is very clear: What works in one medium may or may not work in a different one, and you've got the let the movie play to its strengths.

In other words, as Cap said, "I think the rap against Watchmen is that it's such a faithful reproduction of the comic book that it fails to be a very good movie."

I re-watched Hitchcock's The 39 Steps recently. It's an interesting case, a mix of faithful copy of the book and wholly new stuff. The romance and the Mr Memory element were created for the movie, but the rest of the plot - someone is murdered in Hannay's apartment, he heads for Scotland hoping to clear himself, he's hunted there by the police and spies - is right out of it.

The 1959 version was a remake of Hitchcock's. The 1978 version restored the original setting, put in a different romance and an assassination plot, and changed the climax. In the book's Big Ben plays no role.

In the book the person murdered in Hannay's apartment is a man. Hitchcock made the victim a woman. The 1978 version restored his original sex but instead had him killed in a railway station. The sequence looks modelled on the death of Townsend in North by Northwest.

Does anyone else out there remember Ripping Yarns? I think "Winfrey's Last Case" was a parody of the 1978 version. The film has a text bit at the end explaining that thanks to Hannay "Britain gained valuable time to prepare for the Great War". In "Winfrey's Last Case" the characters talk of the Germans scheming to start the war a year early.

I recently had the opportunity to watch the film "Judge Priest" staring Will Rogers. My reason for watching this film stemmed from the fact that I had grown up with the understanding that, not only was Will Rogers the greatest American humorist to date, but that he was universally loved by all in that role. Indeed, everyone I personally knew, who had been old enough to recall Will Rogers, supported this view. Speaking for myself, the only knowledge I maintained of his comedic style consisted of having read a few quotes, wherein Rogers offered a disparate opinion of Congress. Granted, years have past since the last time I heard the man's name, much less of his reputation; but, seeing that the film was on TV prompted me to finally seek evidence of the opinions thrust upon me in my youth.

To begin, I caution, that this film is a product of the time it was made during. It can easily be compared to Song of the South in terms of the relative criticisms that can made. Admittedly, my first reaction was one of mild shock at this depiction of the post Civil War south. Upon reflection, I was equally surprised to recall that, at a much younger age, I would have watched this film without so much as a thought of it having been appropriate (After all, I did watch Song of the South on network TV as a child). Having steadied my thoughts, I began to focus on the film itself. 

The opening scene features the good judge reading a newspaper in court, while a bombastic prosecutor rails about the defendant, an African American that has been accused of stealing a chicken, being unfit for life in a civilized society. Granted, the prosecutor is being set up as the big bad; but, I can't help but feel that the Honorable Judge is setting the stage for a mistrial. In any case, while the prosecutor bellows on, Judge calls the defendant to the bench, whereupon Judge and defendant quickly deviate from discussing the charges to discussing fishing. The scene ends with both walking down the road with fishing poles in hand, continuing their conversation. At this point I'm questioning the whole "universally loved" aspect of Roger's reputation. Surely this depiction would have upset a significant number of folks then, if not now. But, I digress. The next scene deals with the Judge's nephew returning from law school and wooing the girl next door, with whom he has had some past history. The girl next door sends nephew packing; she already has a date. Enter the Judge's sister in law, mother of the nephew, who makes it plain that the girl next door is hardly Priest family material. At this point, I can see some of Will Rogers appeal as a humorist. Rogers uses form of Irish Diplomacy (that being, he tells his sister in law to go to hell in a way that has her looking forward to the trip) masterfully, presenting himself as a champion of the underdog (his nephew) and putting a bully in her place, even if she doesn't realize it. Meanwhile, the girl next door's date, who happens to be the local barber, turns out to be a cad. Rogers again displays comedic charm but scaring him off, hiding in the bushes and pretending to be an angry father, with a shotgun no less. Interestingly, the sister in law's opposition is borne of the fact that the girl's father is an unknown. Fast forward to the next day, where we find the Judge at the barber shop, as the cad barber makes light of his date. A quite stranger, to whom we have been introduced to briefly in another scene, promptly knocks the barber flat. The Judge rises in solidarity, leaving the barber shop with his shaving mug in hand. I can't help but think that the judge has witnessed an unprovoked assault, and he responds in this way? OK, I get it. The stranger was defending a young woman's honor. Times and attitudes sure have changed. Actions have consequences, and the stranger finds himself on the other side of fence when the cad and his buddies set up an ambush in the local saloon. In the process, the cad is stabbed, bloodied and bruised. This offence is not over looked, and the nephew receives his first client, defending the stranger in court. Of course, presiding over the case is the Honorable Judge Priest. All subtext aside, I was actually thrilled by the fact that the prosecutor, yes, the same one from the opening scene, demands that the judge recuse himself (Seriously?! This had to be demanded?!). After making a heartfelt, but considering the circumstances, frankly ridiculous speech, the good judge steps aside, naming his replacement (who openly offers his support to Judge Priest. Do these courtroom antics never cease?).

Spoiler alert....if you don't want to know the ending, turn back now!   

To make a long story short, the stranger is acquitted after the judge returns as a co-attorney, producing an unimpeachable character witness, the town preacher. As it turns out, the stranger served under the command of the preacher valiantly during the "great lost cause", more commonly known as the Civil War, or the War Between the States, depending on where you live. More over, the stranger turns out to be the girl next door's father; and, it is made known that he has supported his daughter secretly through out her life. All of this is revealed as a group of men literally play Dixie outside the open courthouse window.

Now, there's one important fact that is revealed during the film that I haven't mentioned. Will Rogers has portrayed his character in such a way that, again, I question his "universally loved" status. However, the folks I would associate with his opposition may have been swayed but this previously unrevealed fact. The good judge is not only a Confederate veteran, but also current supporter of the cause. In short, Rogers plays both ends of the spectrum, in a way that makes him truly appealing. Granted, I remain convinced that there are, or were, hardliners that realized what Rogers was doing, thereby rejecting Rogers outright; but clearly, Roger does exhibit an ability to reach a fairly wide audience. Although admittedly, I can't fully appreciate his work (yes, I am subject to modern sensibilities) I can't fully dismiss it. It has value.      

I wasn't previously aware of this movie, which I will seek out. Apparently, the prominent journalist Irvin S. Cobb also wrote a lot of fiction, including several stories featuring the character Judge Priest. John Ford directed this film and after Rogers' death directed the 1953 film The Sun Shines Bright, also featuring his home state of Kentucky and apparently combining three of his Judge Priest stories. It follows the lead of the other "lost cause" films that had become standard by that time, leading to the popularity of the book and film of Gone with the Wind. Unfortunately, there are still many people today who subscribe to this point of view.

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