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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Obviously I am falling behind.

Tracy!

Yesterday I watched the Bela Lugosi movie Invisible Ghost after Jeff called it to our attention. It is very well done. All of the actors performed well. The butler, as Jeff said, was treated with respect by everyone. He was giving instructions to the other employees and was treated with respect by his boss, also. Whenever he wanted to dodge a question he would change the subject. It cracked me up when one of the cops asked him where he was when one of the murders happened, he offered the cop coffee, which was enthusiastically accepted.

They had intended to copyright the film but forgot, so it’s in the public domain. Because everybody and his brother have duplicated DVDs and videotapes, most copies aren’t great. I’d be willing to bet that the one I watched on Amazon Prime was the cleanest version.

While I was on Amazon Prime for the Bela Lugosi movie, I decided to watch another movie that I had rented from them: Body Snatchers (1993). Jeff had called our attention to the three sequels to Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)*. I had only seen the 1956 and 1978 versions, which I own on DVD.

I rented the DVD of The Invasion (2007) from Netflix’s DVD.com, and enjoyed it. A DVD rental wasn’t available for Body Snatchers (1993), so I rented it from Prime. I loved it also. Loving all four versions, I’m adding DVDs of the 1993 and 2007 versions to my collection (new for $7 each on eBay).

*Fun fact: Richard Deacon, who went on to play Mel Cooley on The Dick Van Dyke Show, appears as a doctor in the framing sequence of the 1956 version. I had just watched him play a nefarious doctor in Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy.

Down by Law - a black and white movie from the mid-80s by Jim Jarmusch. Tom Waits and John Lurie are both framed for crimes and thrown in jail in Louisiana. They are soon joined by Roberto Benigni, an Italian tourist who has been jailed for manslaughter. The trio eventually make their escape and proceed to get lost in the swamp. Further adventure ensues. I liked this better than I thought I would, kind of a quiet little film

Reminiscence - This is Hugh Jackman's new flick. A sci-fi neo-noir I think you would call it. Hugh Jackman runs a company which allows people to re-live their favorite memories. Or in other cases allow people to find what they have lost. One such client catches Hugh Jackman's heart and this disappears. He tries to find her, as well a reliving all of his experiences with her. This gets into some class warfare intrigue of some such.

Honestly, I thought it was pretty damn boring, and couldn't wait for it to be over.

The Final Countdown - a modern day aircraft carrier patrolling the Pacific enters a time vortex and is transported to Pearl Harbor one day before the Japanese attack. There is no dithering about affecting the time line as the ships captain decides he is duty bound to utilize all the fire power at his command to make a preemptive strike against the Japanese fleet. 

I was reminded of the Star Trek episode "Tomorrow Is Yesterday" as the ship rescues a man and woman whose yacht has been sunk by Japanese Zeros. The crew unsuccessfully tries to hide the fact that they are from the future. The surprise ending was a bit predictable but a fun movie overall.

Richard, I am pleased you enjoyed Invisible Ghost as much as I did. I still need to check into the availability of those four "body snatcher" movies (meaning have Tracy do it for me), but our "to watch" pile is really growing. Last night we watched not one of "my" movies and not one of "Tracy's," but one of Bob's.

DONOVAN'S BRAIN: This 1953 movie was based on a book, but it's very much the movie equivalent of this story:

It stars Nancy Davis, and I only wish her co-star had been her future husband (although her actual co-star previously made a movie with her future husband's first wife). John Hamilton also has a small role, and when he came on screen, both Tracy and I shouted, "Perry White!" You'll have to ask Tracy or Bob why he recommended this movie to her specifically. 

Curt Siodmak wrote the novel "Donovam's Brain."

A quote from IMDB:

"Writer Curt Siodmak was also set to direct, but at the last minute he was replaced by Felix E. Feist." (didn't he fight the Justice League?)

Curt Siodmak was a prolific science fiction writer and screenwriter. I've read a couple of his novels.

He was actually a screenwriter in pre-WWII Germany before getting out.

He created The Wolf Man for Universal.

She told me she'd never seen it, and I thought it would be interesting to  see her and your reaction to it.  Plus you get a chance to see what Nancy's acting chops were like, if, like me, you've never seen Hellcats of the Navy, which you might've, for aught I know.

I hadn't watched it in a while, and when I saw the bit at the start with the monkey, I was like, "Oh, Christ Almighty, if there's vivisection in this, Tracy will shoot me!"
Also, I like how, at the end, Nancy's character is all, "Surely they'll let you off for your illegal, unholy experiments!"
I don't recall seeing Ayres before, but I thought he did a good job of playing a guy whose personality was being subsumed into someone else/'s.
I remember hearing a radio play of this troy when I was a kid


Jeff of Earth-J said:

Richard, I am pleased you enjoyed Invisible Ghost as much as I did. I still need to check into the availability of those four "body snatcher" movies (meaning have Tracy do it for me), but our "to watch" pile is really growing. Last night we watched not one of "my" movies and not one of "Tracy's," but one of Bob's.

DONOVAN'S BRAIN: This 1953 movie was based on a book, but it's very much the movie equivalent of this story:

It stars Nancy Davis, and I only wish her co-star had been her future husband (although her actual co-star previously made a movie with her future husband's first wife). John Hamilton also has a small role, and when he came on screen, both Tracy and I shouted, "Perry White!" You'll have to ask Tracy or Bob why he recommended this movie to her specifically. 

It was a fun movie to watch! The doctor is definitely not going to walk. 

I watched Smart Money (1931). There are a few interesting things about this movie. Edward G. Robinson plays a barber whose main occupation is running illegal gambling tables. When he signed on for this movie he didn't want it to be very violent, following his movie Little Caesar. His assistant and friend is played by James Cagney and this is the only movie in which they both appeared. By the time Smart Money was ready to be released, Cagney had become a hot property following his breakout performance in The Public Enemy (also 1931). Because of his new stardom, the movie poster was redone to feature both Robinson's and Cagney's names and pictures. Last but not least, Boris Karloff has a small part as an ornery gambler. This is just before he hit the big time in Frankenstein (yes, also1931).

I just saw Reminiscence (2021).

One word: WOW!

I saw Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings* and have some thoughts, but first let me throw up one of these:

  • As I've said a time or two before, I believe movies are movies and comics are comics, so Iget why this version of the Shang-Chi story doesn't include a lot of what's in Master of Kung Fu. I've got the original run and have read it many times over, so I fully recognize there's a lot in there that's problematic -- and not just the Fu Manchu/Yellow Peril stuff. But the movie just takes the barest germ of the concept -- son of Chinese warlord bent on world domination rebels -- and spins a wholly new tale. Fine as far as it goes and enjoyable in its own right, but I would have liked to have seen a movie of the stuff in the comics series that got us all excited, the James Bond-esque stuff with MI-6 and spycraft and "the games of deceit and death."
  • But there's a lof of baggage with that, too: Black Jack Tarr's way of calling Shang-Chi "Chinaman," Leiko Wu as the femme fatale, the whole notion of Shang-Chi essentially turning his back on his Chinese heritage in favor of British imperialists.
  • About all they did use from the Doug Moench/Paul Gulacy series was Razorfist ... and they were smart enough to give him a retractable blade, and only on his right arm.
  • One thing I did like: Shang-Chi's mother was Chinese. In the comics origin story, we are told his mother is a an American, and white, an editorial call made by Stan Lee himself on the ground that it made Shang-Chi "relatable." This makes absolutely no sense to me. It never made Shang-Chi more "relatable" to me (but then, I suppose someone like me wasn't the target of that concern). And anyway, we saw Shang-Chi's mother exactly once -- in the final issue of the original run. So if Shang-Chi's mother being a white American was important to the story, why did we go 10 whole years without seeing her?
  • In the movie, Shang-Chi's mother WAS an important part of the story, a being even more powerful than his father. That was cool, when they first met, playing their introductory battle as a seduction -- and dear old (future) dad got his butt kicked, but good.
  • Simu Liu was fine as Shang-Chi, but, as ever, Awkwafina stole the show as his best friend Katy.
  • Best friend, not "love interest." Very good.
  • A real surprise seeing Wong here, moonlighting from the Doctor Strange movies.
  • The fight on the bus! Straight out of Jackie Chan!
  • Speaking of Awkwafina, she provided a "Scenes I Always Wanted to See." It was the moment when Katy and Shang-Chi had to escape from the hordes of assassins in Macao, and the only way out was to run across the rickety scaffolding conveniently placed along one side of the high-rise building ... and she was too scared to do it! Of course she would be! Any civilian would be! 'Of course, Shang-Chi talked her into it -- I mean, the hordes of assassins would have killed them right then and there -- but I liked that bit of reality because what immediately followed was Shang-Chi and the hordes of assassins battling on that rickety scaffolding 30 stories in the air. 
  • Another surprise: Trevor Slattery, the actor who posed as The Mandarin!
  • It seemed he was here just so the filmmakers could apologize through him for how they bollixed up using The Mandarin in the Marvel Cinematic Universe back in Iron Man 3. Not just him, but Wenwu also complained about it.
  • Trevor's explanation of how Planet of the Apes inspired him to become an actor was wonderfully loopy. 
  • Everyone's reaction to hearing him tell that story was wonderful, period.
  • Another welcome surprise: Michelle Yeoh!
  • And dragons!
  • Which proved to be too much of a good thing. As I also often say, most movies I see could stand to be a half-hour shorter, and this one certainly qualifies.
  • Also speaking of Awkwafina: She had a nice story arc as an overeducated slacker who rises to the occasion and becomes a hero. But it was also a good move on the movie's part to acknowledge, and for Katy to say, that she became a master archer with all of one day's training.
  • It wouldn't be a Marvel movie if there wasn't a mid-credits scene setting up another Marvel movie, would it?

* Couldn't find a thread for it, and didn't want to start one; it seems we've fallen off the habit of doing distinct threads for the big superhero movies.

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