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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"Midnight in Paris," the latest from Woody Allen. Best movie I've seen this year. It offers a rebuke to "golden age thinking": the belief that past decades were better -- or more glamorous and exciting -- than the present.

 

If you could go back in time, as the Owen Wilson character does in this movie, you'd find that people in earlier eras were dissatisfied with their time. People in the 1920s regarded the 1890s as the golden age. People in the 1890s wished they could have lived in the Renaissance. And so on, until the dawn of time. It's a good lesson to keep in mind, when we get too nostalgic for some idealized "good old days."

Watched 13 Assassins last night. It's the newest film by Takashi Miike. Miike is a director I've heard a lot about but have never seen any of his films. This film was new and I had seen a trailer for it so it was fresh in my mind when I added it to my netflix queue.

 

Overall I liked it. There was a lot of set up and the final battle went on too long. But the story was pretty good and the characters were all interesting. Miike has a good way with the camera. All the scenery was interesting and he has a good way of structuring a story.

 What I also liked was the film looked at what it means to be a samurai and the dilemas it creates.
Finally saw Super 8. I liked it more than I expected. It sucked you in from the beginning and didn't let go.
Just watched Secretariat. It's the true story of the last horse to win the triple crown. It was actually a very good movie. And even though we know the horse wins it's still suspensful during the race scenes. The film does have strong performances by Diane Lane and John Malkovich.
...I saw CARS 2 ( plus a Toy Story short ) , flat...on a Tuesday night in Berkeley , California , on one of its main drags with , quite literally , NO ONE in the ( 55-seat or so ) 'plex's screen with me  !!!!!!!!!!!
I just watched The Parent Trap again -- that is, the remake starring Lindsay Lohan, back when she was a cute tweener who still had lots of potential and a wonderful career ahead of her. It isn't exactly "turn off your brain and watch" movie, although it's wildly implausible. But it's fun and Lindsay, in the dual role, is quite charming and sweet.

Lately...

 

DRACULA

DRACULA'S DAUGHTER

SON OF DRACULA

HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN

ABBOTT & COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN

FRANKENSTEIN

BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN

SON OF FRANKENSTEIN

YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN

HIGH ANXIETY

YOU'LL FIND OUT

HORROR OF DRACULA

THE BRIDES OF DRACULA

DRACULA PRINCE OF DARKNESS

 

Yep, it's one of those kinda months...

In last 24 hours, I've watched "Dracula, Prince of Darkness," "Dracula Has Risen from the Grave" and "Dracula A.D. 1972." Yes, it's been a Chris Lee/Hammer Films sort of weekend.

 

Also Sam Raimi's funny/scary "Drag Me to Hell."

A couple weeks ago, I saw The Italian Job -- the original, starring Michael Caine. I like the remake with Mark Wahlberg, a bit better, but that's owing to the differences between '60s movies and Y2K movies; the later ones are a bit more action-packed. 

 

The original Italian Job is a fine movie in its own right; it begins with some guy getting run off the road in the Alps in Italy. Later, we see Caine, as Charlie Croker, being released from prison. The widow of the man killed in the crash contacts him; he's a great criminal mastermind with a plan for a fabulous heist, and wants Charlie to carry it out. He didn't do it himself because the Mafia doesn't want it to happen, which is why they ran him off the road. Charlie accepts the mission, gets financial backing from a Mr. Bridger, puts together a crew, and goes to work. 

 

The plan is to steal a shipment of gold bars from Turin, and accomplish the getaway by bollixing up the traffic control system, save for a clear path out of town for a contingent of Mini Coopers that are hauling the swag. All goes well until the gold is loaded on a tour bus and makes its way out of the country on a winding road through the Swiss Alps ... an unfortunate skid puts our gang in a real cliffhanger ending.

 

Where I liked the remake was that it gives you two heists, not just one. It opens with the theft of gold bars in Venice, and the getaway is nearly successful, but then one of the crew double-crosses the rest. The rest of the movie, set in Los Angeles, is about the rest of the crew stealing the gold from the double-crosser. This half retains the conceit of using Mini Coopers and hacking into the traffic control system to engineer the getaway.

 

Not that I'm saying the original is bad -- far from it! Just that it drags a bit with the let-put-the-crew-together stuff, and for all that, you don't really get to know any characters save for the backer, Mr. Bridger, and the leader, Charlie Croker, so the whole movie really rests on Michael Caine's charm. Since it is Michael Caine, however, that's more than enough for most movies.

I agree with you CK. I saw the original Italian Job a while back and had about the same opinion of it as you.

Saw Sucker Punch the other night. The visuals are pretty great and from that perspective I wish I had seen it in the theater. However the story was mostly thrown together and at times didn't make a whole lot of sense.

 

Sucker Punch is the newest film from Director Zach Snyder (Watchmen, 300). It's about a girl who goes to a mental institution. She and the other girls try to escape. Apparently the main character is a great dancer and when everyone watches they are mesmorized. This gives the other girls the opportunity to steal what they need for the escape. While the main character dances her mind wonders to various fantasy lands where we see her and the girls take what they need to escape. It's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest meets Alice in Wonderland. Yet not as good as either of those.

I recall a profile of Mark Wahlberg in Men's Health magazine a while back that mentioned there was supposed to be a sequel to his version of the story, The Brazilian Job. I don't know whatever came of that.

 

As for the original, Wikipedia says they came up with four endings but the producer didn't like any of them, which is why they did what they did -- a cliffhanger that leaves you wondering "How the heck do they get out of this?" and sets up a sequel. Too bad they didn't do that movie, either.

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