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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What with all the Oscar hype, I saw The King's Speech a few weeks ago. Normally, I wouldn't have been interested -- the so-called problems of aristocrats don't concern me, and I feel they have enough money to overcome them -- but this was a really engaging story. I could well appreciate, as I did with Helen Mirren's The Queen, how the weight of duty can be a rather crushing burden, indeed. Particularly here, as the King in this story became one because his brother, who was supposed to have the job, was too much of a wastrel and a scoundrel to care about it -- and with the threat of Nazi Germany on the rise, the nation needed a man of sterner stuff. And, what with his stuttering problem, he didn't feel very king-like.

 

This weekend, I saw The Adjustment Bureau. It was a fine little movie that somehow didn't make the splash it could have, even with a heavy hitter like Matt Damon in the lead. It was an interesting mix of suspense thriller, science-fiction brain teaser and romance.

 

Damon plays an up-and-coming politician whose candidacy for Senate is derailed when photos of an old indiscretion come to light. Nothing illegal or sinister, just embarrassing. He meets the love of his life, Emily Blunt, an up-and-coming dancer, but fate conspires to keep them apart. Fate is represented by stiff men in gray Brooks Brothers suits and fedoras, who seemingly have paranormal powers -- they can take shortcuts around town by opening doors that place them blocks or even miles away -- and keep consulting ledgers about a "plan." Whose plan? "The Chairman," that's who ... 

 

Matt is determined to fight for Emily, even when all is arrayed against them. It's really, really engaging, and well-done.

 

 

The other night, Raid at Entebbe was on, and I found myself drawn in.

 

We were just talking about that situation the other day, after a conversation about the attempt to rescue the American hostages from the embassy in Tehran, and how that was totally FUBAR. I was coming home from a camping trip when the news broke about it, and listened rapturously to the radio as all the sorry, sorry details of how that went down were reported. I remember that like it happened this morning. 

 

It occurred to me that that was just three years after the Entebbe raid, which went like clockwork -- or seemed to, when you've got Hollywood scriptwriters telling the tale. (And there was a weird moment when there's a mention of Munich, which would have been only four years before that.)

 

There were not one, but two movies about it. Victory at Entebbe was on ABC, as I recall, while Raid on Entebbe was on NBC, but was initially meant for theatrical release. After all, it had an all-star cast: Charles Bronson, Peter Finch, Jack Warden, Martin Balsam, Sylvia Sidney, Robert Loggia, Stephen Macht, John Saxon, Allan Arbus, a young James Woods, and Yaphet Kotto as Idi Amin. Raid on Entebbe is the better of the two. 

 

www.salon.com/entertainment/movies/our_picks/index.html?story=/ent/...

 

Anyone heard of a movie called "Super"? Salon's review describes it as a superhero movie made for and about people with mental illness.

 

Although it has well-known actors (Ellen Page, Liv Tyler, Kevin Bacon), it might not come to your local chain multiplex. It's being released without a rating because of extreme violence that is too graphic for an R rating. Its only Nashville booking is at the Belcourt, an independent art house.

I just watched You're in the Army Now, with Jimmy Durante, Phil Silvers, and Jane Wyman. It's odd, to me, seeing Silvers play Ted Healy to Durante's stooge.
30 Is A Dangerous Age, Cynthia

Dudley Moore starred, co-wrote, and composed and conducted the music in this 1968 film.
  1. It's Captain Peacock, without a mustache.
  2. Rupert Street's birthday is the same as my mother's.
  3. So that's one of the "Seven Little Foys"?
  4. It's Hyacinth Bucket! ("It's Bookay!")
  5. Woo, nice neighbor. Suzy Kendall is quite attractive. She's no Felicity Kendal, though.
  6. Suzy and Dudley married around the time this movie was made.
  7. Valentino, Fairbanks, and Novarro homages.
  8. Product placement? The Nescafe logo is center-screen.
  9. Movellans in the dance club!
  10. Nice kilts! "Clan girls"?
  11. Suzy's dance is a sight to see.
  12. The jester costume almost looks like a Yellow Lantern uniform.
  13. Patricia Routledge says "daddy" here almost exactly as she does in "Keeping Up Appearances."
  14. I haven't seen that many coffee cups even in a Starbucks. "Let's go out and get a cup of coffee." Ha!
  15. Guiness product placement now.
  16. This looks like a scene from "Bedazzled."
  17. The Joe Friday/Dashiell Hammett PI is hilarious, almost Clouseau-like.
  18. Oscar looks like Stubby Kaye from "Roger Rabbit."
I just watched The Living Dead, a 1936 film starring Boris Karloff as a man wrongly sent to the electric chair and Edmund "Santa Claus" Gwynne as the scientist who brings him back to life. I am now convinced that Jeremy Irons is constantly doing a Karloff impression.
Got a couple of library DVDs this weekend. First up was Black Swan, which my wife & I both enjoyed very much. It was much more a horror film than we were expecting--at one point in the documentary Aronofsky calls it a "wereswan" movie--which delighted me, and Jeanine was OK with it too. Jacob's Ladder is a psychological thriller that came out in 1990. Must have been recently reissued on DVD, otherwise I doubt the library would have bought it. I'd never seen it, and was glad I got the chance now. It could be accused of not entirely playing fair with the audience, in that you can't really tell what's real vs. dreams, hallucinations, and fantasies. Lots of shocks and suspense just the same, and the final scene renders the entire movie a dream sequence (possibly).

I finally got a chance to watch Burton/Depp's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  I was kinda dreading it, since Willy Wonka ... is an old favorite of mine.

No worries.  Honestly, if you're going to do a twisted fairy tale, having Burton direct it is a complete no-brainer.  And Depp is gloriously OTT -- a completely different take on the character from Wilder's that doesn't diminish either by comparison.  (After the fact, I was reminded that there was a lot of contemporaneous chatter about Depp "doing" Michael Jackson.  I can see how the comparison gets made -- Depp's Wonka is a creepily skewed man-child -- but I don't actually see it.  I never once watched Depp and thought he was "doing" anybody.)

I have read the Dahl story, but not in 30 years (at least), so I couldn't tell when Charlie was deliberately referencing Willy Wonka, and when it was just drawing on the same source material.  I did notice (with a smile) that the Oompa Loompas were using Dahl's own lyrics.



Doctor Hmmm? said:

I finally got a chance to watch Burton/Depp's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  I was kinda dreading it, since Willy Wonka ... is an old favorite of mine.

No worries.  Honestly, if you're going to do a twisted fairy tale, having Burton direct it is a complete no-brainer.  And Depp is gloriously OTT -- a completely different take on the character from Wilder's that doesn't diminish either by comparison.  (After the fact, I was reminded that there was a lot of contemporaneous chatter about Depp "doing" Michael Jackson.  I can see how the comparison gets made -- Depp's Wonka is a creepily skewed man-child -- but I don't actually see it.  I never once watched Depp and thought he was "doing" anybody.)


Johnny Depp claimed that he was "doing" Vogue editor Anna Wintour, not Michael Jackson. I felt that, for someone who wasn't doing Michael Jackson, he totally nailed him.

I watched a few movies this weekend.

Saturday I saw Let Me In. It's a vampire movie that's a remake of the Swedish film, Let the Right One In. I prefer the original. Thought the remake was well but the original just seem to hit the right notes. The new one seemed to be a rushed version of the original.

 

Sunday afternoon I watched At Close Range. This is from 1986 starring Sean Penn and Christopher Walken as true life father and son criminals. This was quite good with powerhouse perfomances by both leads. This seems to be underrated so if you're  a fan of either actor, this is worth checking out.

 

Later Sunday afternoon I saw Source Code. This didn't look great from the previews but turns out is a decent sci-fi film. It reminded me a lot of an up-to-date Quantum Leap. The director also directed a little seen sci-fi film called Moon, that should be seen. Source Code was not particularly original but presented in such a way were it felt original. Jake Gylenhall does a good job carrying the film.

Did Let Me In keep the pool scene...that was CREEEEEEEPY.

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