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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It's interesting that the story, and a jungle adventure story, can still hit kids that way. 

I saw The Legend of Tarzan a couple of months ago. It's respectful of the character, looks good, and has nothing obviously wrong with it, but I thought it wasn't likely to restore the franchise's popularity. I have two ideas about what the problem was.

The first is its the script didn't give the actor playing Tarzan enough memorable moments. I hardly remember the actor's performance, which is not true of the villain, Jane and Samuel L. Jackson's character.

The second is it sticks too to the point. I like adventure movie plots to turn in surprising directions. This one is headed to where it's going from the start.(1) Also, according to the Chekhov's gun principle you shouldn't introduce something that's not going to be relevant later, but I think movies benefit from irrelevant bits. They add colour. The food in the dinner party scene in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom isn't important to the plot, but it's memorable.

(1) To be fair, Tarzan's conflict Mbonga is resolved in an unusual way, but that part of the plot is less important than the diamond part. Its resolution keeps the diamond plot front and centre.

To be honest, I found it interesting that a jungle adventure would hold my kid's (and obviously many others, considering the film's success) attention. All in all, I'm tempted to argue that the genre is dated, making it difficult to relate to. Both Tarzan and the Jungle Books were written at a time when the jungle was a much more mysterious and I dare say exciting place. Don't get me wrong, a jungle today remains both, but in a much more focused way. As opposed to an intrepid explorer seeking the unknown, you have scientists seeking to study what is known, and improve upon current knowledge. If something new is found, it was expected to be found to some degree. Tarzan is a period piece that has limited appeal to todays audience as a whole. The Jungle Book downplays this considerably. What's more is the broad storyline appeals to all ages. My younger daughter was watching a character that was, like herself, just a kid who happened to be able to talk to animals. My older daughter was watching a technically brilliant film that encouraged her intellect, while providing humor, excitement and well, just plain fun. I haven't seen Tarzan, but even if I did, I can't imagine both of my kids sitting through it, even if I walked away thinking it was the greatest film since Citizen Kane.

Incidentally,  the last Tarzan film I did actually see was Greystoke, the Legend of Tarzan, way back in 1984. 

Luke Blanchard said:

It's interesting that the story, and a jungle adventure story, can still hit kids that way. 

I saw The Legend of Tarzan a couple of months ago. It's respectful of the character, looks good, and has nothing obviously wrong with it, but I thought it wasn't likely to restore the franchise's popularity. I have two ideas about what the problem was.

The first is its the script didn't give the actor playing Tarzan enough memorable moments. I hardly remember the actor's performance, which is not true of the villain, Jane and Samuel L. Jackson's character.

The second is it sticks too to the point. I like adventure movie plots to turn in surprising directions. This one is headed to where it's going from the start.(1) Also, according to the Chekhov's gun principle you shouldn't introduce something that's not going to be relevant later, but I think movies benefit from irrelevant bits. They add colour. The food in the dinner party scene in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom isn't important to the plot, but it's memorable.

(1) To be fair, Tarzan's conflict Mbonga is resolved in an unusual way, but that part of the plot is less important than the diamond part. Its resolution keeps the diamond plot front and centre.

Yesterday I went to an independent small theater in Jacksonville to see Ran, an epic film, 2 hours & 45 minutes, directed by Akira Kurosawa and originally released in 1985.  The name of the film comes from a Chinese/Japanese word meaning chaos (but apparently has other meanings too) and is loosely inspired by Shakespeare's King Lear as well as by historical events in Japan.  The basic story is of an elderly warlord, Hidetora, who decides to divide his violently established kingdom among his three sons, with the eldest to be in charge and the others to support him, but retaining the title and prestige of Great Lord during the remainder of himself.  The eldest son, Taro, states that he is not worthy of to succeed to the throne, but is convinced to do so.  The youngest son, Saburo, openly decries what he considers a foolish move, angering the Great Lord who consequently banishes him from the kingdom.  Of course, as things turn out, Saburo was correct and chaos ensues, mainly instigated by the wife of Taro, Kaede, whose parents had been slaughtered by her father-in-law and has long and takes the opportunity to obtain her long-sought vengeance.  

I saw this with a friend who is a film buff as well as an adjunct professor with a PhD in communications from Reading University in England.  I found the film fascinating and had no trouble keeping up with the various plot twists, which were really no more intricate than actual historical events, but my friend found it too long and too complex and couldn't keep track of the characters -- but then I've known him to come to snap judgments before and later change his mind and I've never been awed by his PhD into believing I should bow to the weight of his greater education in critiquing a film.  I'm with the late, great Roger Ebert in giving Ran a thumbs up.

It's been a while since I've posted to this thread and I've watched quite a few movies since then. A few of them:

Black Mountain Side

A low budget indie horror flick. This suffers greatly from budget deficiencies and is somewhat derivative of some well known horror movies, but it also has a spark of what makes indie horror great.

Another Earth, The Sound of My Voice, The East

Three films starring the great Brit Marling.  She is doing some really interesting work. I recommend all three. Novel spins on the subjects of a parallel earth, a mysterious cult, and an eco-terrorist group.

The Purge: Election Year

There is something about the premise of The Purge movies that always draws me in. And something about the movies themselves that pushes me back out.  This installment is a little more interesting in that it uses the premise as a backdrop for the current hot topic of income inequality. Elizabeth Mitchell doesn't get nearly enough to do here as she plays a Hilary type political contender going up against a Trumpian pseudo-fascist in an effort to put an end to the Purge.

A Most Violent Year

A gritty New York crime drama set in the early 80s that doesn't really live up to the title. Well done but not very compelling in terms of the actual story.  A good period piece though.

Green Room

Low budget exploitation film that draws inspiration from films like Hostel. This stars Patrick Stewart as a white supremacist militia type bad guy going up against some Pacific Northwest punk rockers and is probably a little better than most movies of this type.

10 Cloverfield Lane

A sort-of-sequel to Cloverfield I guess. Except I could watch this without getting motion sickness. It's one of those movies that takes place almost entirely on a single set and features only a few actors. This one is very well done and kept me guessing.

Hidden

From the makers of Stranger Things. Starts off with a premise similar to 10 Cloverfield Lane but goes in a more unexpected direction.  I don't want to give too much away but I enjoyed it.

The Visit

A creepy black comedy that really entertained me. Directed by M. Night Shyamalan. Yep, you heard me.

Last weekend, I watched Holy Hell on Netflix. It's a pretty nutso documentary about a cult leader who I can't figure out ever got any followers. But his followers were very very loyal until they found out that...well, that would be spoiling. This guy was obviously (IS obviously) a creeper from the beginning. This tells far more about the type of people who fall for guys like this than it does about the guy himself. That's what I found fascinating.

We have been interspersing Warner Brothers gangster movies with Universal Studios Frankenstein movies. So far we’ve watched Frankenstein, Bride of…, and Son of… We started our gangster binge with Edward G. Robinson flicks, starting with Little Giant. On Friday we watched Kid Galahad (with Edward G. Robinson and Humphry Bogart), and on Saturday we broke our pattern by watching Kid Galahad (with Elvis Presley and Charles Bronson)… two very different movies!

We finally saw Waking Life from 2001. A lot of people find it pretentious, and I understand that, but we really enjoyed it. The appearances by the couple from the "Before Sunrise" trilogy and Alex Jones (!!!) were pretty funny.

Yesterday I saw the Magnificent 7 reboot and really liked it. Denzel Washington is under-rated as an action star and an actor. He was the anchor of the film and outright cool! Chris Pratt was amusing, obnoxious, dangerous and heroic all at the same time! The rest of the cast were successful at giving their characters meanings and depth. Some iconic lines reappeared as well as the glorious 1960 theme! There was never a dull moment and the action sequences were, well, magnificent!

The only reservations I had were the timidity of the townspeople (No one had a gun!), the villain was 100% villainous with no charm or subtlety and Haley Bennett's "Widow" shows way too much cleavage, considering she's travelling with questionable men!

We caught Magnificent 7 at a drive-in last weekend. I liked it, for the most part, but I didn't think it held a candle to the original M7. (Or Seven Samurai, for that matter.) Of course, it being a drive-in, we wound up having some glitches in sound quality (our outdoor radio gave out right before the confrontation in the church, so we heard the rest through ambient sound from other speakers).

Then we saw Sausage Party (as part of a double feature) -- funny at parts, but I prefer my super-crude humor to be a little smarter than this was. 

Caught Sully, too, which I liked -- although I could've done without the heavy-handed Katie Couric dream sequence, and it bugged me a bit that whenever anyone represented "the people of New York" in one way or another, they were pretty much the New Yorkiest people ever. Which is what you get when you cast Michael Rappoport as a bartender, I suppose. There's one horrible moment of black humor I really appreciated, though -- at the beginning of one of Sully's brief imaginings of his plane crashing into a building in NYC, there was an electronic billboard he was looking at. The words on it flashed: "BECOME A PART...OF A NEW YORK TRADITION." That, coupled with the crash a few moments later, gave me chills. 

Oh, and I also just watched River of No Return, a western with Robert Mitchum and Marilyn Monroe, on Netflix. It's got some gorgeous vistas, and some nice whitewater rafting scenes, and of course Mitchum and Monroe are engaging. It's also really old-fashioned, both in racial and gender roles, so if you watch it, know that going in. 

Plus, it's got Rory Calhoun, standing on his hind legs as only he can!

Also, I saw the Blair Witch (meh), and I introduced my wife to Trick 'r Treat, which is, of course, awesome.

(The best Halloween double-feature would be the original Halloween and Trick 'r Treat.)

I would have walked out of Blair Witch Project if my wife hadn't insisted on staying. It didn't take me long to start rooting for the idiots on the screen to get killed. 

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