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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Did you mean " TOP OF THE WORLD MA!" to the tune of a tommy gun?

I don't want to spoil the end of White Heat for The Baron.

JohnD said:

Did you mean " TOP OF THE WORLD MA!" to the tune of a tommy gun?
It's ok. Just don't say a word about "Yankee Doodle Dandy".



Jeff of Earth-J said:

"It's been a long while since I heard of it, but I finally watched 50 Years of James Bond -- The Supercut."

That sounds very cool. We'll watch it this weekend.

I keep forgetting to mention it, but we did watch this this past weekend... and loved it! You're right about the film-to-film transitions: sometimes it's really quite amazing how seemlessly they fir together. I suspect they fudged somewhat on the "five minute rule," but who cares? What a novel idea! I have always wanted to see a compilation of the the opening credits sequences. The only thing I have like it is a DVD of the trailers of all the Godzilla movies in order. When I was young, I sometimes found it difficult to follow the plot of James Bond movies, but oddly, I didn't have any problem "following" the Supercut at all. thanks for bringing it to me attention!

Hausu director Nobuhiko Obayashi has passed away.


PowerBook Pete, the Mad Mod said:

I've just seen the 1977 Japanese horror film HAUSU or "House." A Japanese schoolgirl is preparing for summer break when her widower father tells her he's about to remarry. Upset, she contacts her aunt and invites herself and six classmates to visit the aunt's home in the country. Soon after they arrive, one girl disappears, and the elderly aunt appears rejuvenated, even rising from her wheelchair. One by one, they continue to disappear or meet grisly ends. The special effects are oddly simplistic--some of it's even line animation. It gives the film an appearance similar to the drawings of a small child. The music is definitely of the '70s. I'd recommend this movie only as a curiosity. You can see a trailer here. It may be NSFW.

I watched a movie I haven't seen in I bet 30+ years, and that was Arthur. I loved this when I was a kid. Man, outside of John Gielgud, this movie sucks. The cast is just a bunch of annoying people, who I do not like, outside of John Gielgud. So, outside of John Gielgud, there is no reason to watch this one.

"Outside of John Gielgud, this movie sucks. Inside of John Gielgud, it's too dark to watch a movie."
-- Not Mark Twain

Actually, as a classically trained actor, Gielgud is equipped for screenings of all Academy-ratio movies. (For Cinemascope, you've got to go with Welles.)

We finally watched something that's just been lying around the house: Tower Heist.

It didn't come that well recommended by the one household member who had seen it, but the rest of it enjoyed it fine.

The tower in question is the most expensive, exclusive high-rise apartment/condo in New York. Ben Stiller is the building manager, and Alan Alda is the tenant in the penthouse. He's the kind of elite, arrogant, upper crust bastard Columbo would lock up; so much so that the first thing you see in the movie is an image of a $100 bill ... that actually is the floor of his private swimming pool on the roof.

Anyway, we find that in this movie, Alan Alda is Bernie Madoff -- a financier who swindled all his customers, which includes the building staff because Stiller invested their pension money with him.

Alda gets house arrest in the penthouse until his trial. A friendly FBI agent Tea Leoni, over drinks, tells Stiller the agency hasn't found Alda's secret stash of money -- guys like him always have a secret stash of money -- and Stiller realizes it must be in the penthouse. So he recruits a ragtag bunch of losers to go get their pension money back ... and, as they say, hilarity ensues.

We understood that, despite the DVD cover, it is not an Eddie Murphy movie; its a Ben Stiller movie. With expectations adjusted accordingly, enjoy.

We saw Second Act, which stars Jennifer Lopez as a longtime supermarket store manager who is denied a promotion - and on her birthday, yet. Her performance is not at issue; it's her lack of a college degree. 

On a whim, her BFF's son does her an unasked-for favor: He creates a fabulous, and bogus, online professional makeover, including a personal website, LinkedIn page and Facebook page, with her true name, not the nickname she's used since her teens. Said profile includes a bogus educational and career history -- Vassar, Harvard MBA, posts at Estee Lauder, the ability to speak Mandarin, etc., etc.

And he applies to jobs on her behalf.

Soon, she's up for an executive's post at a high-end cosmetics company, and she doesn't end the movie in the first 10 minutes by telling the truth; that would be too simple. And the longer she doesn't tell the truth, the deeper she gets into this world. 

She forms a connection with the boss's daughter, played by our old friend Vanessa Hudgens, and learns -- let me tread carefully not to drop a spoiler -- that they have a deeper bond.

It was an okay movie, predictable in many ways, but with a few twists to keep it interesting.

Watched Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, which was on my List of Famous Movies I Have Yet to See.

I entered the movie with the mistaken impression that it was a Frank Capra movie. That's not anybody's fault but my own, as Mr. Deeds Goes to Town and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington ARE Frank Capra movies, and since I've only seen one of them (Smith), I got the three similarly-named movies confused in my brain.

I also entered this movie with a couple of true impressions.

One is that Cary Grant, famous as a leading man in dramas and romances, was also one heck of a comic actor. And I loved his performances in movies like Arsenic and Old Lace and Bringing Up Baby.

The other is that Myrna Loy is also a terrific comic actor, as evidenced by the Thin Man series, and she co-stars in this movie.

I was all settled in for some delightful 1930s screwball-style comedy and ... was sadly disappointed.

Maybe Frank Capra should have directed this movie -- he probably would have done more with this premise, and gotten more out of his sterling cast. But as it is, Grant's performance was pretty subdued, Loy was more scenery than performer and the plot was perfunctory.

Maybe my disappointment is rooted in my misapprehension of what it was going to be, but I found it dreary and predictable. And it's famous!

I also re-watched Rio Bravo. I didn't know when I turned it on, though, that I had seen it before. Hey, there are a lot of movies with "Rio" in the title! But I surely must have, as this movie seems to be What a Western Should Be in my brain. It's like my blueprint for Westerns. I must have been very young when I first watched it, to have internalized it that way.

Things in this movie that I associate with all Westerns:

  • John Wayne (or similar)
  • "The Kid," a youngster already good with a gun who looks to the hard-bitten but noble Wayne character as a mentor
  • A fallen man seeking redemption
  • A saloon gal with a heart of gold
  • A Walter Brennan-like character who speaks, as Blazing Saddles would have it, in authentic Western gibberish.

This movie has all of those things, because this movie is where I obviously first learned about all of those things. It also has the advantage of Walter Brennan playing the Walter Brennan-like character, and John Wayne playing the John Wayne-like character.

So, since it's an archetype in my head, I don't have a lot of observations. LIke a mountain, it is what it is. But there were few surprises for me. For example:

  • The two best actors in the movie were Dean Martin and Angie Dickinson. Knock me over with a feather.
  • The two worst actors were John Wayne and Ricky Nelson. Wayne can act, but he didn't even try in this one. I gather Nelson's "Kid" was supposed to be laconic, but Nelson plays him as furniture. In scenes with Wayne or the more formidable actors, it's easy to forget he's there.

One thing that didn't surprise me: There's singing. Hey, it's a movie with Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson! Of course there's singing!

Doesn't mean I have to like it, though. I've never been fond of musicals, because when people start singing and dancing in places where people don't normally sing and dance, it takes me out of the movie. Plus, I find show tunes boring and have no appreciation for musical-style group dancing. I don't like it any better when a group of hard-bitten Western characters under siege by the bad guys abruptly start whiling away the time with a little spontaneous harmony.

Finally, I have two questions this movie raised in my mind:

  • Why is it titled Rio Bravo? It was probably mentioned at some point, but I must have missed it. Is that the name of the town? (Which would be weird, since "rio" means "river".)
  • Did Walter Brennan really have a limp, or did he just fake it here? And in To Have and Have Not? And on The Real McCoys? And, and, and ...
Interesting that you would defend Wayne as being able to act. I agree, he can. But, he' s not a great actor. He was a a great charactor actor. He could play the cowboy or the soldier, but beyond that, not so much. On the occasion he ventured away from these roles, he maintained the same persona. I find many of so called "greats" suffered from the same limits, most notably Humphrey Bogart. Either the cynical good guy or the cowardly villian, every role in between was simply a variation on these two themes.

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