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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Yesterday I saw CITY BENEATH THE SEA, a 1971 TV movie/pilot by Irwin Allen which was practically a follow-up to Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. I can excuse bad special effects but I can't excuse bad acting and a bad story. Too many soap opera tropes and men wearing pants and women wearing miniskirts!

An interesting bit was that they had someone who could breathe underwater, years before Man from Atlantis!

Re-watched Godzilla (1954).  The first and still the best.

I loved this movie. It was an absolute joy. 

Richard Willis said:

Just watched How to Talk to Girls at Parties (2017), based upon Neil Gaiman's story of the same name. The title has nothing to do with the story, which is actually about an alien visit and the punk scene in Croydon, England, in the late 70s. Very different and entertaining.

THE INVISIBLE MAN'S REVENGE (1944): Jon Hall plays Robert Grffin, a man who was betrayed and left to die in Africa by his partners who has swindled his share of their earnings. He meets up with scientist (John Carradine) who makes him invisible and hets set about obtaining his revenge. Not a bad entry in the series, moving from whimsy to fantasy to menace to horror.

We enjoyed Tenet. It has a lot of stunning action sequences. What I didn't find was much connection with the characters. They're good actors, but the chemistry was off. The best performances were Michael Caine, in a cameo, and Kenneth Branagh, as the villain. As I wrote elsewhere, it's James Bond meets La Jetée (or, if you prefer, 12 Monkeys), but it's neither as charming as the former nor as intelligent as the latter.

We saw it at a semi-legendary drive-in that has taken to pairing recent release (in this case, a new release) with classics from the drive-in era. It was paired with Them! which holds up nicely on the big screen. They even played cartoons beforehand, and the children's playground near the concessions (the second screen played more family-oriented fare) had all the old-time fun, dangerous equipment.

This weekend was a good weekend for movies.

Not that they were all good movies. But they all had something worth thinking about.

First up was the psychological horror/slasher movie The Witch Who Came from the Sea. I’d bought this during the Arrow video sale, having never even heard of it before. Oof. A tough one to come into cold, but if I’d known what it was about, I’d probably have never seen it at all. (Trigger warning: child abuse.) Molly (played by the Diary of Anne Frank’s Millie Perkins, deliberately against type) is a waitress at a seaside bar and an aunt to two young boys – but she fantasizes about killing men, gruesomely. And soon we see that her fantasies have become reality… and she’s been blacking out. This all ties in to flashbacks of Molly being molested by her father, which her memory has blocked out; in the present, she adores him. (Her sister, the mom of her nephews, tries to remind her that he was a monster, but she’s having none of it.) It’s really off-putting, full of casual sexism and really uncomfortable flashbacks: midway through, Kathy had had enough, and we watched something else for a while. I finished watching it that night, and right about the midway point where we stopped, it starts to pivot… it gets more directed, and moves inexorably to a haunting, sad climax. There are a few things I liked about this movie – aside from the final scene, there’s a tattoo artist named Jack Dracula, who gives a fantastic, over-the-top performance as he works on Molly – but for the most part, I can’t recommend this one. If you watch it, watch it alone.

Saturday night was a palate-cleanser: the Netflix original Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga. It’s a broad comedy starring Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams as Lars and Sigrit as two aspiring Icelandic musicians, and is similar to other will Ferrell competition comedies. It’s a little sweeter, though – there are a lot of actual Eurovision contestants involved, and it treats them kindly. It’s a light and funny advertisement for the contest, where even the bad guys (well, aside from one murderer) are mostly just warm-hearted, misunderstood people. Two moments I really liked: at one point, Lars is being strangled by someone who doesn’t want him to win. As Lars struggles, he’s buoyed by the murder attempt: “You really think I have a chance?” he chokes out, excitedly. And then there’s a small moment, where Sigrit is entering the green room to await the scoring. She’s despondent from her performance, and the fight she just had with Ferrell. One of the other contestants lifts a phone to film her, and the Swedish contestant, actual Eurovision star John Lundvik, gently moves the phone down, giving her privacy. It’s just one shot, but it really moved me. It’s a small bit of kindness that exemplifies the gentle heart of the film.

And then last night, we saw the best of the bunch: How Sweet It Is, a 1968 romantic comedy starring Debbie Reynolds and James Garner. This movie ain’t perfect – its depiction of hippies and the counterculture is on the square side of far-out, and you can definitely expect a few French and Italian stereotypes along the way. But man, Debbie Reynolds is a comic powerhouse. She’s so damn funny, whether she’s eavesdropping on her husband (Garner) have a heart-to-heart with their son, nursing a wicked hangover, or trying not to be noticed in a bikini she put on in a fit of pique. Garner’s great too, but this is really Reynolds’s show.

Basically, the plot is, photographer Garner and son are following a student tour of Europe for a magazine assignment, while Reynolds has arranged a villa on the Riviera for them when the tour’s over. But the villa rental was a scam, and Reynolds instead shows up at the home of a handsome French attorney, known for his wolfish ways….who invites her to stay nonetheless. Passes get made, and rebuffed, but secretly appreciated. Comedy ensues. It’s not the most sophisticated comedy – it ends up in a crowded fight scene in an Italian brothel – but it’s a ton of fun. Plus, it’s produced by Garry Marshall, so there are cameos from Penny Marshall and a elementary-school-age Erin Moran.

How Sweet It Is sounds good. I had to fact-check an "elementary school-age Erin Moran" (I thought she was elementary school-age" in 1974), but it turns out she was born in 1960. I had completely forgotten she died in 2017. :( 

I originally wrote 4-year-old, but at the time of filming she was probably 6 or 7. (I've gone back and corrected the year; How Sweet It Is was released in '68.)

I saw the 1974 Murder on the Orient Express, the third version I've seen. I didn't like Albert Finney's Poirot. He lacked the charm and energy of the character. He played him so stiff that he seemed physically impaired.

It was another all-star cast with Sean Connery, Anthony Perkins, Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman (but no Bogart reference!!!), Vanessa Redgrave, Jacqueline Bissett and Michael York who gave very little exposition!

ABBOTT & COSTELLO MEET THE INVISIBLE MAN (1951): The Invisible Man this time is a boxer falsely accused of murder. Bud and Lou are private detectives who set out to prove his innocence. They go undercover as a boxer (Lou) and his manager (Bud). The boxer injects himself with the serum, and Bud & Lou are on a time-limit to find the real killer before the serum drives him insane. There is a tie directly to the original movie.

Second best A&C meet a Monster movie!

Jeff of Earth-J said:

ABBOTT & COSTELLO MEET THE INVISIBLE MAN (1951): The Invisible Man this time is a boxer falsely accused of murder. Bud and Lou are private detectives who set out to prove his innocence. They go undercover as a boxer (Lou) and his manager (Bud). The boxer injects himself with the serum, and Bud & Lou are on a time-limit to find the real killer before the serum drives him insane. There is a tie directly to the original movie.

Just rewatched one of my favorite movies, Into the Night  (1985). At one point Jeff Goldblum enters a large house to find that a crazy self-styled secret agent (David Bowie!) has murdered everyone. In every room of the large home a TV is tuned to Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.

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