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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Re-watched Dark Sbadows (2012).

"The Bride of the Monster" is my favorite Ed Wood/MST3K episode.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

We've started watching MST3K movies we recorded quite a while ago to clear up room in our queue to record more Bonanza. Ever since we've been married, I have been unable to convince Tracy to watch any Ed Wood movies with me, but I've been able to sneak The Violent Years and Sinister Urge past her under the guise of MST3K.

Somewhere I saw or heard that Ed Wood looked at his movies in a way that caused him to see what they could have been, not what they were.

Holy cow, Philip, you're right! I was so sure that Imhotep was played by Zane I didn't even look it up. Vosloo and Zane do favor quite a bit, don't they? Especially now that Zane has taken to shaving his head (like Vosloo).

Tomb Raider section

LARA CROFT: TOMB RAIDER and LARA CROFT: THE CRADLE OF LIFE did not thrill me. I found Lara too much of a Mary Sue -- she can do anything, including fighting armed attackers on a bungee cord. (Which I found both implausible and silly looking. The thing about swinging is that the swinger follows a predictable parabolic arc, meaning multiple people shooting at her with automatic weapons, which was the case here, really have no excuse not to kill her. Just fire ahead of the swing on auto. The swinger can't alter speed or direction so it's a sure hit. But no, they all miss badly.)

She's also so rich that it wasn't plausible that she'd ever have to get good at anything. (They do, in fact, show her bungling a microwave dinner.) She has an observatory-level telescope in her mansion. She has luxury cars, luxury motorcycles, luxury everything. Must be nice. But after Bruce Wayne and James Bond, it's nothing new.

Also, I didn't watch these movies when they came out because A) I was not a gamer, and B) the only thing that every article about "Tomb Raider" the game had in common was the observation that Lara Croft had enormous cartoon jugs. Online art confirmed this. That seemed to be the point of the game, and I didn't want to see movies based on that.

And, true to my expectation, the costuming really emphasized Angelina Jolie's bustline, at least in the first movie. She was, in fact, about to bust out of every shirt she wore. I may be a red-blooded American male, but I do not enjoy objectification to this degree.

Also, Angelina Jolie was statuesque at the time, but unfortunately, has all the athletic ability of a statue. I didn't find much of her action-figure stuff very convincing. Nor did I find her running at any speed convincing. Nor did I find her lips convincing, which were puffed up to a size I found alarming.

I also found her two male support staffers -- both of which have names that could apply to either males or females, for some reason -- somewhat cliched. Hillary is the proper English butler who can wield a shotgun as well as a feather duster. Bryce is the computer genius who loves video games and has poor personal skills. You know who these guys are the instant you meet them, because you've seen them in lots of other movies.

Another cliche is the rich, sleek, effete, cultured bad guy who is a bad guy to avoid being bored. (And still affects being bored all the time.) But I was interested after all when I realized who was in that tuxedo: Ser Jorah from Game of Thrones, so young I almost didn't recognize him. That was fun to see.

Similarly, the second movie brought us Ciaran Hinds and Gerard Butler, also so young I didn't at first recognize them. Hinds was Caesar in Rome, The King Beyond the Wall in Game of Thrones, the captain of the titular ship in The Terror, and a supporting character in John Carter. Butler gained fame as King Leonidas in 300, and has had an action-movie career ever since. He uses his native Scottish accent here, which makes his voice suddenly match his face.

It was a pleasure seeing those familiar faces, and the second movie was marginally better than the first, with more of a James Bond vibe. Of course, the over-reliance on gimmicks reminded me why I stopped watching Bond movies during the Pierce Brosnan years (until Daniel Craig and the back-to-basics approach). In effect that's a wash, and I can't recommend either movie unless you just like looking at Angelina Jolie, which some men do.

TOMB RAIDER, however, is a different kettle of fish. I really liked Alicia Vikander as an action star. Not only is she attractive in a girl-next-door way (if you live in Sweden, that is), but as a dancer she is convincing in all of her set pieces, whether running, jumping, fighting or whatever.

Which is another element I liked: Nothing preposterous. It appears the filmmakers opted for practical effects instead of CGI everywhere possible, so the movie feels more realistic. (Although the B-17 sequence promped my wife to say, "That's not survivable." Maybe not, but it looked survivable.)

Also, there's no magic in this movie. The tomb they are raiding is supposed to be that of ancient Japanese sorceress named Himiko, whose release is supposed to destroy the world. As it happens, Himiko's release would likely end the world, but not for a supernatural reason. I will  leave that there. But I find practical, inescapable death much more terrifying than spooks and goblins, so it hit just right for me.

Also, Lara loses most of her fights. They're usually one-on-one against a large thug (as opposed to Angelina Jolie fighting and killing as squad of large, trained men with automatic weapons, while on a bungee cord). In most action movies, the hero can take out a single man fairly easily (one karate chop and they obediently fall down), but Lara's fights are small-scale, brutish and difficult -- more wrestling than kung fu. And, as she is small and they are large, she usually loses. Which makes them much more terrifying. But I will point out one fight she wins, because she is put in the same headlock that beat her twice before and she finally figures out how to beat it.

I should also mention that Lara isn't rich at the start of the movie (she may be by the end), which eliminates all the wealth porn in the first two movies. Vikander-Lara doesn't attend upscale auctions like Jolie-Lara. She is, in fact, a bicycle messenger.

That last is why I can't recommend this movie. It's an origin story, and it's sloooooow. We spend way too much time with Lara as a bike messenger, which I guess is supposed to demonstrate her determination or resiliency or whatnot. All I know is that I wasn't there to watch a movie about a bike messenger, and it felt like a third of the movie.

Then there was an interminable boat ride to Himiko's island in Japan, where we could see the skipper falling for her, but she didn't reciprocate, or even seem to notice, so it was a long sequence that went nowhere. (The skipper is a Name, Daniel Wu of Into the Badlands, so perhaps this was set-up to make him a recurring character or romantic partner in future movies. But until those movies arrive, we don't need to see all this time with the two of them reading on a boat.)

But otherwise I can't complain about Tomb Raider, which has modern production values, a script without obvious plot holes and a magnetic leading lady. A sequel has been bandied about, but with COVID, all things are uncertain.

I remember being rather neutral about the first TOMB RAIDER film, neither liking nor hating it. It simply was!

I didn't find Angelina Jolie who at the time was considered one of Hollywood's sexiest actresses, being objectified as that was the image she wanted for herself. She was always a "wild child" who was never shy about her effect on men and this was before she "stole" Brad Pitt from Jennifer Aniston.

I recently saw SPOOKS RUN WILD (1941) primarily for Bela Lugosi in one of his "red herring" roles. This was a quickie Monogram film that starred the East Side Kids aka the Dead End Kids aka the Bowery Boys. I was never a fan of their style of comedy but respect their longevity. However for such a short film (75 minutes), it sure dragged! Plus it was dark and murky, not just in tone but in production value!

"'The Bride of the Monster' is my favorite Ed Wood/MST3K episode."

I liked that one, too. We tried watching it together a while ago, but she begged off an hour or so in, claiming she was tired and promising to finish it the next day. I reminded her but she refused. She liked "The Violent Years," though (at least the MST3K version). 

Captain Comics said:

Nor did I find her lips convincing, which were puffed up to a size I found alarming.

I saw the first Tomb Raider movie. Sounds like I would have liked the second one better. I enjoyed Alicia Vikander in Ex Machina (2014).

Unlike most women with puffy lips, Angelina comes by them naturally. In something we watched about her or her father (Jon Voight) we saw her baby picture. Same lips.

Last night we watched the MST3K version of "Atomic Brain." It's not the movie I thought it was, but I for one really enjoyed it. The best of the MST3Ks are movies that at least make a stab at being good (such as Ed Wood movies). That's why I generally pick '50s b&w over some '90s color movie cobbled together from some defunct TV show or another. It also helps when the movies are short and are supplemented by a short. I love the MST3K shorts... more than I do the movies, in most cases. 

THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY: My wife is a huge Danny Kaye fan (she and her father used to watch Danny Kaye movies when she was a little girl) but, prior to our marriage, I knew Danny Kaye primarily from his TV appearances and had never seen any of his movies. Yesterday, she got a wild hair to watch The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. I had read the short story in high school, but the only thing I knew about the movie is that James Thurber didn't care for it. After watching it, I can see why. That's not to say I didn't like it. Of all the Danny Kaye movies we have seen since we were married, this is my favorite. Two scenes in particular are sheer comedic brilliance. 

Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court was an anti-war story which ended in the castle being surrounded by so many rotting corpses that the people inside were dying of the resulting sicknesses. The Danny Kaye movie sorta left that out.

Yeah, I don't supposed Twain would have like that "adaptation" of his work any more than Thurber did of his,

ALICE'S RESTAURANT: One of the things I brought to our marriage from my bachelorhood was an annual listen to Alice's Restaurant on Thanksgiving Day. For the past 10 years we've been listening to it on our annual trek to Austin, but that trip was called off this year. Last year, thinking my wife may be sick of it, I tried to leave it at home, but she rebelled. This year, she surprised me with the movie (which I had never seen before) on DVD.

PLANES, TRAINS & AUTOMOBILES: This was also her choice for out Thanksgiving double-feature. I had never seen this one before, either.

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