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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You can even pick it up in a pretty sweet collection.

Although I've read a lot of King, I've never read the Dark Tower series. The movie takes mythology (according to a friend who has read'em) spread over multiple books and shoves it into one movie. They then give it structure by making a child character the hero and forcing into the most stereotypical "YA Adventure" plot imaginable. The result is both chaotic and clichéd at once. Idris Elba does a decent job, but he's been placed into a co-star role in what should, arguably, be his character's movie.

Captain Comics said:

The Dark Tower is getting really vicious reviews. I was not inclined to see it anyway, as I gave up on the book midway through. Was it that bad?

What, me again?

The movie adaptation of Daniel Clowes's Wilson is no Ghost World, but it's a lot better than the general response would indicate. And whereas I felt for the paper version of the character, I could kind of get behind the live-action version.

We just watched The Founder, the based on a true story of how milkshake machine salesman Ray Kroc encountered Maurice and Dick McDonald, who had a burger stand in San Bernadino, persuaded them to franchise the operation, built McDonald's restaurants into a national success -- and then screwed the brothers over and airbrushed them out of the McDonald's story.

It's just jawdropping.

Starring Michael Keaton as Ray Kroc, who is a glib, ambitious salesman who, in finding McDonald's, found the product that he could sell to the masses after multiple failed ventures. John Carroll Lynch is Maurice McDonald and Nick Offerman is Dick McDonald, who just wanted to make their one restaurant the best it could be. They were gunshy about franchising after a few failed attempts on their own. 

The movie doesn't make Ray Kroc out to be a monster until the final third; the McDonald's brothers were presented as control freaks who wanted to take it slow, who rejected any and every idea to do things differently, and who had to have the last word on everything -- as Kroc agreed to in their contract, which they never failed to remind him. But a frustrated Kroc met a business executive by chance who gave him an idea to grow the business in a way that fell outside the contract terms and didn't require the McDonald brothers' say so. And then Kroc got to the point where he didn't care what the contract said. The one-sided fight to get out of the deal was brutal.

Four stars, and definite Oscar-caliber material. The (former) youngster in the house said it's The Social Network for the 1950s -- but worse in how the true business founder got screwed over.

Over the weekend, we went to an outdoor showing of The LEGO Batman Movie. We missed it in theaters.

I had a rollicking good time. My wife enjoyed it, but I was laughing a mile a minute at all the Easter eggs and shout-outs to ALL of the cinematic and TV versions of Batman, going all the way back to the 1940s black-and-white serials! 

And there was depth to the story too, as it took on the notions of Batman being a lonely loner who pushes people away, Batman making Gotham a magnet for crime, and the "Bruce Wayne is a daytime mask for The Batman" nonsense. Like this exchange between Robin and Batman:

"Wow! Batman lives in Bruce Wayne's basement?"

"No. Bruce Wayne lives in Batman's attic."

By story's end, Batman learns just how wrong that is.

Great stuff! Two thumbs up!

We just watched 52 Pick-Up (1986) starring Roy Scheider and Ann-Margret, directed by John Frankenheimer and written by Elmore Leonard. They have to deal with a trio of blackmailing murderers. It's a blast.

Just watched They Live By Night, a 1949 Nicholas Ray movie about a getaway driver that goes on the run with his girlfriend , starring Farley Granger and Cathy O'Donnell. I think I might have read about it in the back of an issue of Kill or Be Killed, but I might be confusing it with another movie.  Good stuff, though.

Somehow, I'd never watched the Alice's Restaurant film before. A friend was up for ComiCon, and we ended up doing a late-night double feature of this and Magic Trip, which I have seen, but he hadn't. AR features great performances and a good, if rambling, story. It depicts the late 60s counter-culture, neither glorifying nor vilifying it. Arlo Gurthrie plays himself, as do the judge and police chief involved in the case. Reportedly, the chief said that if someone was going to make him look foolish in a movie, he might as well do it himself.

The small army of characters means that many are not well-developed, and the degree of fidelity (if any) to real events is anybody's guess.

I always recommend Magic Trip, of course, the 2011 documentary about the Merry Pranksters' 1964 cross-country road trip, that draws heavily from the footage they took and which sat largely unwatched for decades.

My wife and I listen to Alice's Restaurant (the song) every Thanksgiving while driving to our friends', but I've never seen the film, either. Do you recommend it? (I'm not asking whether or not it's any good, but whether or not I should see it.)

Yes on both counts.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

My wife and I listen to Alice's Restaurant (the song) every Thanksgiving while driving to our friends', but I've never seen the film, either. Do you recommend it? (I'm not asking whether or not it's any good, but whether or not I should see it.)

I liked Alice's Restaurant, too -- a rambling shaggy dog story, but a fun journey to take (and a time capsule to view).

A few years ago, I was on vacation up in Massachusetts and we visited the church in the "Alice's Restaurant" song; it's now a venue that hosts live music (single-artist concerts and open-mic hootenannies -- we went to one of these and had a great time). There's a framed clipping of the newspaper article about the littering at the center of "Alice's Restaurant" in the lobby.

On a similar note, I started watching Montery Pop yesterday, which I'd recorded from TCM. I've seen Woodstock a number of times, but never this movie, filmed around the same time. About five minutes in, I discovered something weird about myself: I have a lot more patience and sympathy with East-coast hippies than West-coast hippies.

I just watched it tonight (it's on Netflix) and I completely agree: it's a stunner. In a sense it's fair for Kroc to call himself "The Founder," since he was responsible for the explosive growth in McDonald's franchises. Without him, McDonald's might have remained a single burger stand in San Bernardino. But it's ironic that it was the McDonald brothers who had the vision to revolutionize the delivery of fast food, and another adviser who figured out the real estate scheme that simultaneously made Kroc's franchising business a sucess while cutting out the brothers. Kroc wasn't an idea man, just a relentless salesman. If the story at the end is true, he was also in epic denial about the role of the McDonald brothers--which may explain why he screwed them out of the money his handshake deal should have earned for them.

ClarkKent_DC said:

We just watched The Founder, the based on a true story of how milkshake machine salesman Ray Kroc encountered Maurice and Dick McDonald, who had a burger stand in San Bernadino, persuaded them to franchise the operation, built McDonald's restaurants into a national success -- and then screwed the brothers over and airbrushed them out of the McDonald's story.

It's just jawdropping.

Starring Michael Keaton as Ray Kroc, who is a glib, ambitious salesman who, in finding 

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