New year, new movies!
Bob, Cody, Tony, and Kim all watch far too many movies and TV shows, read too many books, meddle with the time-space continuum just too many times to be safe any longer, and conduct just one too many mad science experiments just for funzies.
Welcome to Short Takes! Allowing us to post shorter reviews to media we consume without having to make a video or write a lengthy take. As short and sweet as “No.” to whatever we feel like putting down. New or old, good or bad, this is the space to jot down on anything we watch. Thus, these are more like immediate thoughts rather than longer more thought into it pieces.
This should be updated just about daily as best we can, possibly multiple times a day, so keep it bookmarked and see what we’re up to.
Want more? December Short Takes! And here are short reviews for everything Bob watched from 2018 as well —> here.
It’s Christmas in January! Sure, I’m a little late but weirdly I watched all these this month! For further discussions of Christmas movies, be sure to check out our podcast on it here. Today’s reviews all by Bob
Jingle All The Way, 1996 “comedy”, written by Randy Kornfield, directed by Brian Levant. Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jake Lloyd, Sinbad, Rita Wilson, Phil Hartman. First time watch
I finally caught up this infamous awful flick – been happening a lot lately. It’s not as bad as I expected. Yes, it’s awful, don’t get me wrong but until the end with Aaaarrrnuld in a giant WORKING Turbo Man costume did it reach the heights I expected. Maybe I should have upped my lowered expectations? There is still plenty to gawk at, wondering how this made it to screen. Sinbad seizuring his lines across the film (apparently he made up most of his lines, flummoxing Arnold), Arnold punching out a reindeer, Phil Harman’s sleazy neighbor who I’m sure is a serial killer as well, and countless other oddities. Damn, this is the longest day in history as Arnold searches for a toy. You see, he waited to the last moment as he is a dad businessman in the 90s, meaning he works 80 hours a day and has lost connection with his son. He joins up with several Tim Allens, Chevy Chase, Robin Williams in this regard.
I still want someone to explain to me why a parade in Gary, Indiana has a working Turbo Man costume. NOW.
There’s a sequel with Larry the Cable Guy. Just come over here and kill me if I ever watch it.
Sint (Saint), 2010, horror-comedy; Written and directed by Dick Mass. 87 minutes. First time watch.
Killer Santas are a dime a dozen but only a few use Saint Nick himself (one of the others is right below this). In this new backstory for the film – Saint Nick and his Black Peters were murderous pirates, and were burned to death by the citizens of Amsterdam. When there is a full moon on December 5th, the dead pirates return to slaughter.
This Dutch horror film is a mixed bag. There are a plethora of great kills and awesome sequences; but for 87 minutes, there is a good deal of drag as the non-kill scenes are awfully shot and acted, stretching out the moments to one is yelling “just kill them already!” Our lead is a bland cheater as well. I loved the design of Santa and the monsters. They were simple zombies but were neither overdone nor just a quick appliance. Some of the sequences were fun, like him riding across the roofs as he is shot at by the police. It’s a worthy watch on Hulu.
Santa’s Slay, 2005; horror-comedy; written and directed by David Steiman; starring Bill Goldberg, Emilie DeRaven. 78 minutes.
Someone want to explain how they James Caan, Fran Dresher, Rebecca Gayhart, and Chris Kattan in the opening kill scene? They must have some dirt on each. And they get messily slaughtered! Fun!
That’s what this slasher is. Fun. Goldberg is Santa – here the only son of Satan, forced into 1000 years being good on Christmas after losing a bet with an angel. Those 1000 years are over, so Santa has a millenium of slaughter to catch up, focused into this small town for some reason (that reason is in the film). Never taking itself seriously and tongue firmly ripped from the cheek, it’s essentially an excuse for 78 minutes of Christmas and Hanukkah themed kills and one-liners. Goldberg is having the time of his life shredding the town and riding his Christmas Bison. There’s enough story to bring it all together but really exists just to have a balance to kills. The movie does look cheap and thrown together in a week, but fuck it. Worked for me.
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs – Full review
Cocktail, 1988, Written by Heywood Gould (Boys from Brazil); directed by Roger Donaldson (Species); Starring Tom Cruise, Elizabeth Shue, Kelly Lynch, Bryan Brown; 104 minutes; seen a few times before – always with Rifftrax as was this watch; Reviewed by Bob
Cocktail has a twelve on Metacritic. Yup. I’m not sure if it’s THAT bad, but damn is this not a good movie. Cruise plays his probably most unlikable protagonist. Brash, loud, very pushy, and incredibly whiny it’s only Cruise’s charm that keeps him from being loathed. He’s just sleazy; seducing Elizabeth Shue then running off with a rich older woman and using her as a sugar mamma. Arguing with Paul Benedict’s financial teacher? Working at TGIFridays by choice? Sell me apps man! Might I note he and anti-charsimasmatic Bryan Brown are the worlds worst bartenders? Stop throwing that shit, and make my drink. Their bars are chaos, people coming from all over to make orders without any rhyme or reason. Sounds like we need a good bouncer – luckily co-star Kelly Lynch knows one. The direction is bland, point-and-shoot, failing to make the best of the beaches of Jamaica or making the various clubs look like places I would want to go. Blech. The Rifftrax is solid, I love hearing Mike’s disdain for everything. What an ugly film in every way.
Bonus points for the world’s worst tag line: When he pours, he reigns. That’s bad punning, friend.
The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part – Full review.
Green Book –Drama; Written from the true story by Nick Vallelonga, Brian Hayes Currie, & Peter Farrelly; Directed by Peter Farrelly; Starring Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardellini; 130 minutes, First time watch, Reviewd by Bob
Finally catching on the of the multiple-Oscar-nominees. It has five: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Original Screenplay, Editing. Let me lead with Green Book is good, really good; but I don’t think I dug it as much as most. Every particular aspect is expertly done, acting most of all. Viggo and Mahershala give the strong performances we’re used to from either of them. Viggo particularly as Tony, the brash, out-spoken Italian-American driver could have easily slid into a parody. Ali is more restrained as the dignified, refined Doctor Shirley. My issues come into the film is meant to be an easy enough crowd-pleaser take on deeper matters of racism and just how awful the south is (I think I’m supposed to say was, but anyone who’s been down there knows it’s still true; hell all of the country to be honest). It’s not especially challenging or tough.
This is well-trod ground, and particularly noting that this is Tony’s journey, not Ali’s. Look, another white man learns not to be racist by befriending a black man and seeing a sliver of what he has go through. It’s tailor made for white audiences to feel better about themselves. I wanted more of Dr. Shirley and what’s going on for him. There is the scene in the trailer of him yelling to Tony he doesn’t have a place in the world due to who he is. But outside of a few moments, that’s all. It’s a character moment that reveals there is more here to explore that is sadly left after that scene. Green Book should have been HIS story, rather than filtered through Tony. How about talking about use of the titulal book – given a throwaway line of exposition and one use to use the title.
Green Book is still well done. B+
Devils’ Due; horror; written by Lindsay Devlin; directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olphin and Tyle Gillett. 2014, 89 Minutes.
Abort this movie. F
Pledge- Full Review.
Serenity – Full Review.
Cold War, drama; Written and directed by Pawel Pawlikoski; starring Joanna Kulig, Thomasz Kot, 89 minutes; in Polish with English Subtitles first time watch; Review by Bob.
Nominated for three Academy Awards, Cold War is a beautiful tale of quiet desperation and longing. Filmed in crystal sharp black and white, every line on every face tells a story more than any any of the sparse dialog could. It’s no wonder Cold War received a nod for Cinematography. (the others are for Direction and Foreign Language) Told episodically, the film tracks the romance of Zula (Johanna Kulig) and Wiktor over 15 years and across Europe on both sides of the Iron Curtain.(Tomasz Kot). It’s unfortunate as they cannot keep a standard relationship, their own needs, responsibilities, and the realities of the life in communist Poland (and elsewhere) keep them from living the life they would desire. Though ach stare, song, kiss, and argument their love is apparent and simmering.
Johanna Kulig’s beautifully sad pout commands the eye every moment she is on frame, your vision looking for her constantly. Her understated performance is one of the best of 2018. Grizzled Kot commands just as much as first her teacher, then her lover (this aspect is not treated in any creep factor).
The film is slight, there not much more I can say besides Cold War is fascinating and gorgeous, with a fantastic look and gripping performances.
The trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ImvkXgGVWw
The Mask, 1994, comedy/comic adaptation; written by Mike Werb; directed by Chuck Russell; seen a few times before, but first in a long time. Review by Bob
Before anything else – this movie is how I was aware of DVDs when they first came out. Sometime in the late 90s, my mom and I went to K-Mart. Being who I am, I would browse the electronics section while she shopped; look at the movies and games, play the demos, etc. As I come in, there is the clerk showing off this new technology on this giant set up, telling anyone who would pass about DVD. His big selling point were the chapter stops and “interactive menus”. Remember when the idea of not having the fast forward and rewind was amazing. He went on about bookmarking as well. In almost twenty years of DVD use, I don’t think I’ve ever used a bookmark. Have you?
So, The Mask; first watch in a long, long time. I remember liking the hell out of this as a pre/teen (it came out when I was 12) and it being a massive hit, spawning a cartoon and a sequel I still haven’t hated myself enough to see. Curious to see how it holds up now. The main draw then was the cartoony nature, using not-quite-prevelant yet CG to make Jim Carrey’s face bend in ways it normally couldn’t, no matter how rubber it already was. Also allowing the riding high Carrey to really go nuts. Coming in now at 36, I expected to be a little annoyed and think “this passed in 94?” along with some likely culturally not-cool-now jokes. But I still dug it. It’s not a great movie, but it’s still fun enough. The CG shows its age but holds for excellent work at the time; and you can see they were really using it the best effect they could then. The cartoon-based sequences are fun, often clever, and really get it work. I want to give major props to the make-up department for creating a full head prostetic that allowed that sort of facial movement for Carrey. Impressive to get that much under that much rubber (or whatever it was).
It’s actually slighter of a movie than I remember, the plot really just an excuse for The Mask to cause chaos with cartoony gags. Carrey does good work both as the loser Stanley Ipkis, relatible in the amount of shit he gets and as the manic Mask. Until this rewatch I thought the villain was Robert Davi. I was wrong. Cameron Diaz is alright, and Amy Yasback is wasted.
Still a fun ride, I can see why it’s a big hit of the 90s.
Lizzie, 2018, historical drama (of a tale linked to horror; whack whack x40); written by Bryce Kass; Directed by Craig William Mitchell; starring Chloe Sevigny, Kristen Stewart, Fiana Shaw, first time watch, Review by Bob.
Lizzie? more of snoozy. Dull melodrama based around Lizzie Borden and the moments that may have led up to the famous double axe-murder. Everyone looks bored. I was too. That’s all I got. D+
Tau, 2018, sci-fi, written by Noga Landau, directed by Federico D’Allessando; starring Maika Monroe, Ed Skrein, Gary Oldman; first time watch, review by Bob
I missed this Netflix original until now. Although other reviews havn’t been too kind (41 on Metacritic), I found a great deal to like, although it does overstay the 98 minute run-time about an hour in. The premise finds Ed Skrein kidnapping a series of people to perform puzzles for him to read people’s thoughts for some experiment he owes a shadowgroup of people. The reasons aren’t important – this film is about the connection between Maika Monroe and the AI named Tau, voiced by Gary Oldman. Does Ed Skrien never not play an antagonist? Deadpool, If Beale Street Could Talk, this, his character in Alita seems villainous in the trailer. He does have that look though, gotta use what ya got right? Ahem, anyway. Monroe is the latest victim, and after a moment only living participant on whatever the hell it is he’s trying. Too bad for him she’s not going to passively be an experiement. At escape attempts, she realizes the best way out is to connect with Tau. Thus begins the standard teaching humanity to a computer plot line, with the threat of imminent termination on everyone looming.
While the film does follow the plot point just as one would expect, one can guess every line before it comes, there are various aspects to create something worth watching – mainly casting Oldman to voice the computer. Just as Kevin Spacey did as GERTIE in Moon, Oldman is able to imbue both roboticness and just enough emotion within his voicing, making Tau into an actual character. Maika is a good enough lead in interacting almost only against robots and Skrien. Skrien doesn’t have a lot to him though, feels a bit of a sleepwalk. The effects are pretty solid too.
Tau is good enough for a watch on a lazy afternoon, far from groundbreaking but not distractedly familiar. C
January 20th.- JEEZ… has it really been a week? Damn, sorry to miss a week of short reviews. There have been a bunch of regular ones though! Check out Bob’s take on Replicas. Bob and Cody take on Glass. and Kim’s recap of the first episode of A Discovery of Witches.
Jennifer’s Body. 2009, written by Diablo Cody; Directed by Karyn Kusama; Starring Amanda Seyfried, Megan Fox, Adam Brody, 102 minutes. Review by Bob.
Before watching yesterday with my wife, I for sure thought I had seen Jennifer’s Body when it first came out to vile reviews and sneers ten years ago. While not a great movie, it doesn’t deserve the hate heaped upon it back then. No surprise for it though; Megan Fox is an easy target (I still don’t think shes a good actress but she was a good pick for this role), and Diablo Cody/Juno backlash was hitting hard. It was also marketed as more as a direct comedy. It is a comedy for sure in many of the situations, but the focus is more on the changes the leads – Amanda Seyfriend as “Needy” (our narrator too) and Megan Fox as the titular Jennifer, possessed by a demon and killing her way though the school – at this point in their lives. Lifelong friends, their focuses are now in different places and their lives are drifting apart. When this happens to all of us, it can seem your friend is now a demon-possessed succubus and not the person you’ve known forever. It’s a solid idea, even if it doesn’t completely pan out. Jennifer’s Body is a film that is one draft away from something really good, the ideas are there but not fleshed out, still a bit loose.
Director Karyn Kusama does good work with what she has in the script, in performances and look. I particualy love the look as Jennifer approaches a boy in a park on a foggy night. In white dress I was reminded of various gothic horrors or Lucy stalking in various Dracula films. In a sheer coincidence, we were going to see Destroyer, Kusama’s new film but Allison wasn’t feeling well so we stayed in and decided to watch Jennifer’s Body not even remembering the same director.
I give Jennifer’s Body a C+
It Stains the Sand Red, 2017, written by Colin Minihan & Stewart Ortiz. Directed by Colin Minihan. 92 minutes. Review by Bob; first time watch
Oh Bowie, I love this movie. Yes, zombie movies made on the cheap are a dime a dozen. Everyone and their mom has made a zombie movie (even I have, no you can’t see it). When one comes along with a new take and a solid backbone of a premise and a fanastic look, its something to seek out. I’ve heard of this movie for a while, but finally seeing due to our friends Thom and Langley of the Bonus Material Podcast (find them on iTunes or click here) interviewing the cinematographer Clayton Moore on an older episode.
The basic premise is the zombies rise as a woman and man are trying to get to an airport in the middle of the desert for drug reasons. An accident leads them stranded on the side of the road when a single zombie shows up. After the man gets eaten, she decides to hoof it to the airport herself. Trouble is, shes dressed like a movie-stripper (high boots, leopard print pants and studded leather bra), has one bottle of water, and a lot of cocaine. And she is perused by that one zombie, always about five feet behind her. Of course, there is more to that, but I won’t spoil the changes the story goes through as she makes her way to the airport. That doe sound like a humorous set up, but I note while there some comedy with the situation, this isn’t a comedy. Ultimately, this is her journey to self-redemption (helped along with flashbacks) and struggle to survive. Starting as an annoying character, she soon grows on us. So does the zombie, whom she names Smalls. Small’s make up is damned good – and it should be if we’re going to spend a film with him.
As Thom and Langley had the cinematographer on their podcast, let me say this movie looks great. It uses the vast emptiness of the desert to fullest command to get into the mindset of the woman and the sheer hardship of her goal.
It Stains the Sand Red slipped under many radars, including mine for a long time. Let it blip on yours and check it out.
I give it an : A
Catwoman, 2004, written by 27 people. Really, directed by Pitof. Starring Halle Berry, Benjamin Bratt, Sharon Stone, Francis Conroy. 104 minutes. Reviewed by Bob First time watch.
Anyone who knows me knows I love bad movies. This one has been on my to-watch shelf for a long time. Holy shit this is awful as I’ve heard. So I loved every awful minute of it. It’s all wrong in the best of ways.I’m convinced everyone involved is an alien doppleganger from the humans in the credits as nothing matches what truly exists in real life. Awful performances from people who can do so much better. The editing through a blender, cutting every damned second. The CGI Cityscapes and establishing shots because real life helicopter shots don’t exist. Alex Bornstein’s horndog character. The over-saturated color scheme (they do know this started out a Burton Batman spin-off right?)
THE BASKETBALL SCENE.
THE BASKETBALL SCENE.
Rating wise – film making is a full failure in every way. As entertainment, it’s brilliant.
If Beale Street Could Talk- Full review here.
Mountain, 2018, Nature Documentary. Written by Robert Macfarlane and Jennifer Peedom. Directed by Jennifer Peedom. 74 minutes. Review by Bob. First time watch.
It’s a good year for Alex Honnold. He has his own fantastic documentary in Free Solo, but is also the very first person seen in this documentary. I can’t pretend to know if its footage from the famous climb documented, but same clothes and a very high-up free solo. It may just be. Being the first, one of the few people, seen directly in a documentary on mountains on the whole – not just El Capitan – reminds me to see Free Solo again. Unlike that documentary about him and his craft, Mountain is more of a travelogue of the looming monstrosities off in the distance on a clear day here in Seattle. (The words “mountain’s out” mean “clear day” up here, referring to Mount Rainier). It’s narrative-less although it does have narration. Willem Dafoe reads passages from Robert Macfarlane’s “Mountains of the Mind.”
Nature is the star. Peedom and her crew film incredibly beautiful and breathtaking sweeping shots of mountains all over the world. From the snow-capped Himalayas to an up-close look at an eruption’s lava to sliding down luscious green hillsides, any and all mountains are explored. There’s little else to say except take 74 minutes to become entranced by the magnificence. Streaming on Netflix might not be as astounding as a large screen, but damn was still pretty.
The Pink Panther, 1963, Comedy Narrative, written by Maurice Richlin and Blake Edwards; Directed by Blake Edwards. 1h55min. Review by Bob
This was a first time watch for me. I’ve seen, and love A Shot in the Dark, but have not seen any other Pink Panther film, whether from this series or the Steve Martin remakes. Fixing that, starting at the beginning. And… I didn’t really like it. Maybe my expectations were too high, knowing how funny A Shot in the Dark is, or how amazing Peter Sellers is just about everything. I knew going in Sellers’s iconic Inspector Clouseau is a supporting character with the focus instead on David Niven’s The Phantom. It is easy to see why Clouseau became the focus after the first film as Seller’s character is the high point in his tripping, bumbling French policeman. Everyone else, eh. For a comedy, it drags with only a handful of the farce-like sequences that would to be expected, the best of which is an exchanging bedrooms bit. Except those all move so slowly, I just wanted to watch a Marx brothers caper instead. Outside of the Sellers, the best portion is the opening credits, featuring the cartoon Pink Panther fucking with the credits. I’ll be watching the rest of the series soon, and will update. I hope they hold up.
National Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon 1, 1993, Written by Gene Quintano & Don Holley, directed by Gene Quintano. –seen before, a few times, but this is the first time in about a decade. Review by Bob
Tim Fuckin’ Curry. Tim Curry as a henchman to William Shatner’s villain. Facing off against Sam Jackson and Emilio Estevez? Holy shit, that’s a lot of scenery chewing. Tim’s scenes are enough to make the movie notable, even if the rest doesn’t always work. Even if you’ve forgotten this parody of Lethal Weapon and other cop movies, you’ll likely remember one portion of Tim’s part. Vilderness gurl cooookies! Go watch at least that scene. It’s the most memorable and the first scene. It is all down hill from there, but it’s a fun journey.
Tim Curry with an insane accent as he’s best at! On the whole, Loaded Weapon 1is a mixed bag of a parody flick. As Lethal Weapon is already just about satire to start with, its a bit hard to take on directly (see also Scary Movie to Scream). The standard cop movie tropes are given their due, and there is humor in many of the sequences with clever gags. I particularly love “we’re being followed” with the followers being literally in the back seat. It’s hard to point out other particular moments as describing comedy moments is like telling someone your dream. Out of context, it doesn’t work. There’s some good verbal humor, all the sight gags and slapstick one expects from outright parody.
It doesn’t quite work when, as many parody movies often to, it directly references other pop culture in the “hey, know this thing!” of the [blank] Movies of the 2000s. But that’s the way movies like this, everything is thrown at the wall and if enough sticks, it’s worth it. Loaded Weapon 1 is mostly worth it, but I fully admit many of the jokes have been over used both in this movie and parodied to death elsehwere (the also featuring Samuel L. Jackson fifteen years later covered much of the same ground, Brooklyn 99 is a very smart cop satire). Many of the references are very dated which shows signs of weakness – unlike Airplane which works just fine no matter when with only a handful that don’t update – most direclty referencing work on their own.
Oh, Lin Shaye has two lines. Fuck yeah Horror Gramma. (Robert Shaye is around too, that’s New Line for ya).
The Smurfs, 2011. Written by committe and or monkeys. Directed by an idiot with a camera. Starring People Who Should Know Better.
Fuck this movie. No, Bob. I won’t leave it just as that, as tempting as it is. Fuck it. I love shitty movies, its often a joy to watch crap – but there is a special hell for lowest-common-denominator kiddie cash grabs. Like The Love Guru in December’s Short Takes, I watched this in filling in movies from How Did This Get Made? I missed before. And sometimes I just hate myself.
Anywhoo (fuck off I’m not doing Smurf puns), this was so much pain. I don’t think I’ve ever said “oh fuck off” this many times after a particular awful line. It’s obvious how little the majority of people involved cared. There was some joy from me for seeing how little effort was present. From the half-baked script with throwing the word Smurf in places instead of actual jokes, to the distracting awful CG creations for the Smurfs themselves and Azrael, Gargamel’s cat. Jayma Mays staring off the into the distance with barely covered distain. Those voicing the Smurfs giving one and dones. Dammit Johnathan Winters, did you need a paycheck that bad? Why must the two movies be your last credits? SEE, THIS is why we need a new good project for Angela Lansbury so her last movies aren’t The Grinch and Mary Poppins Returns. What’s with John Oliver in two of the shit fests I’ve watched in the last two months? Neil Patrick Harris having deader eyes than the litany of Tom Hankes in Polar Express and his constant lampshading of the inanity of the Smurfs and the plot. I wonder if they just filmed him going off on camera. Likely these call outs to why the Smurfs are named what they are and the repeated inanity of the song was written in based upon she sheer number of times they reference it. The expected rap scene. The awful celebrity cameos. The pop-culture references. The continue references to the same fuckin’ jokes.
Let’s go back to the naming thing, which gets a shrug. I’m convinced they are given the name by Papa Smurf and forced to follow it. Isn’t it awful to be given a trait people dislike then get mad at them for having the trait? Hey you! We declare you Flatulent Smurf. … dammit Flatulent Smurf why you farting all the time? (he meekly states Papa makes him eat nothing but bran flakes). How is it reinforced? I can see evil taskmaster Papa Smurf weighing down parts of Clumsy’s clothing so he flails about. As he gets used to it, Papa moves them around so Clumsy. WILL BE CLUMSY. Say, at least we didn’t have the standard “You say I’m clumsy but I’m really -=other thing=-” plot. Hell it might have, I zoned out hard core towards the end of the ONE HOUR 46 MINUTES run time. If that IS the plot of another Smurfs movie, don’t tell me. I don’t want to know. One more note on Papa being evil – at the beginning when the portal opens that takes them to NYC, there is no way he doesn’t know that won’t just kill them, but he chooses to let go and get sucked up. He CHOOSES DEATH for six Smurfs. Dude, no thanks.
If there is ONE good thing about this thing, it’s Hank Azaria. While Mays and Harris may have pulled back, he leans into the stupid going all in as Gargamel. So many years of voicing cartoon characters will do that to you. At least he’s having fun. And Frank Welker I love you.
But I hate this movie.
Pirates of Penzance, 1983, Written and Directed by Wilford Leach based upon the Gilbert & Sullivan opera.
Fuck yeah I love this movie.(fuck yeah on a G rated film. oh no!) Back on the podcast about Christmas movies, Kim said she loved old school musicals made on obvious sound-stages. (listen here). No, this isn’t a Christmas movie, but it is so obviously a sound-stage. This creates such a great look to the film. Based upon the 1982 Broadway update, it uses the stage production very literally, we often feel we’re watching a stage version of the comic-opera. It’s a brilliant choice. Not only does it allow us to see an altered Broadway show, it pushes the focus where it should be – on the actors and the songs. Attempting to go big, breaking down the walls, can lose that focus. In addition, it builds the performers, allowing them to be just as big, and often deliciously hammy, as would be on stage. (Compare the Hairspray film from 2006. Good movie, but so low energy compared to the stage version).
Wanna talk ham? Kevin Kline. Kevin Kline kills it. His Pirate King still tosses the energy to the backrow, never mind the walls of Shepperton Studios surrounding him. His vocal inflections combined with a psychical performance with a rubber face steal the show. On physical – the constables! The lead constable with his gangling limbs thrown through eh air as he dances through Tarantula Taruntula with wild abandon is hilarious. Angela Lansbury is Angela Lansbury, damn I love her. The only real downside is Rex Smith as the protagonist, he’s overshadowed by everyone one else around him. Hard to blame him. I can’t believe this is Linda Ronstadt’s only film role. (No song about Mr Plow, sorry “Simpsons” fans).
Tonight’s viewing was my second viewing of one of my wife’s favorite childhood movies. Coming in for the first time six years ago. I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t expect such a hilarious film. Between the dialog and the whimsical book and score from Gilbert and Sullivan, the story and film is wonderfully irrelevant with both word play and physical gags. I thought “opera. okay ready for a slog” and was wowed. Check it out, you will be too!
How to Talk to Girls at Parties, 2018. Written by Phillipa Gossett & John Cameron Mitchell from the Neil Gaiman short story. Directed by John Cameron Mitchell.
Review by Bob
Sigh. I love so many people involved with this film. My favorite author, Neil Gaiman short story! John Cameron Mitchell of Hedwig and the Angry Inch (you’ve not seen it? GO NOW RENT WATCH LOVE DOWNLOAD THE SOUNDTRACK LISTEN TO FOREVER). Nicole Kidman punked up? Ruth Wilson, looking like a lost extra from a Stanley Kubrick film? (Hey, both Mrs. Coulter’s from His Dark Materials adaptations – Kidman from the movie, Wilson from the up-coming BBC take). Elle Fanning!
But this is weird, but not the good weird. You guys know I love when movies get weird. But this is the type of weird where one wonders from set “what the hell is going on?” The story find a trio of English punks in 1977 who come across a hundred tourist aliens and our lead meets a disenchanted alien played by Elle Fanning. Coming of age built into alien experiences life of Earth time of movie.
As mentioned with Ruth Wilson, I both loved the alien’s costume choices being straight form a Kubrick flick, but also feels like just going nuts.
The main issue is it’s never quite sure on tone and where it’s going at any particular part. Mitchell is usually a steady director, but he has chosen to film and edit in a very obnoxious matter. It just doesn’t feel natural, instead forced overly done.
Escape Room – Reviewed by Bob, Tony, Kim, and Cody here.
Hell’s Kitty – Reviewed by Kim and Cody here.
Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich, 2018. Written by S. Craig Zahler, from characters created by Charles Band & Kenneth Hall. Directed by Sonny Laguna & Tommy Wiklund
Review by Bob
It’s weird to have a Puppet Master film be pretty damned good on it’s own, not as fun cheapie shlock cinema. That’s not to say Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich is a great, award winning film. It’s not. But for those wanting a fun, well-made gorefest with awesome puppetry will be for a good time. I was. (I realize I’m kinda slagging on the original series in this review – I admit I do really enjoy them, but they are not quality movies)
With more of a budget and a decent script, the reboot of the beloved (to some) Full Moon series no longer looks cheap and made over a weekend. The best result of this quality bump are the puppets and the gore. I think they’re mostly still physical, with some CG touch-ups but I could be wrong. But they look damned good, moving smoothly and in the same shot as what they are attacking, instead of oddly composited in. Part of me does miss the stuttery stop-motion but I can always go back to the other films. The best kills of the series are found here. Buckets of blood in the couple of dozen bodies.
I had a great time with the reboot of the Puppet Master series. My only real issues is cutting off the climax with a “To Be Continued…” and the holocaust tie ins seems a little tone-deaf.
For what it is, I give it a B.
Holmes & Watson, 2018; written by Etan Cohen based upon the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle characters; directed by Etan Cohen. Starring Will Ferrell and John C Reilly, Ralph Fiennes
Review by Bob
So I start the year with what is noted to be one of the worst of last year. Roll out my ones, anyone? Start low so everything else this year can be better, perhaps?
In the week since Holmes & Watson was released, it has already gained notoriety for a level of badness unexpected for Ferrell and Reilly. After the hilarious hits of Talladega Nights and Step-Brothers, there had to be something that works here?
Almost. So, Holmes & Watson isn’t as excruciatingly bad as I expected it to be. Oh Bowie, it’s bad, don’t get me wrong, but it was more of a shrug eh than head desking.
There are some good ideas for gags here. Watson being dumbed down, completely fooled by a simple costume, Watson’s intense desire for Queen Victoria, Mycroft Holme’s club having a sidekick room with some weirdos in it. All these and some others had potential, but the delivery isn’t there. I can see John and Will trying, but for some reason Will has a godawful accent that flattens any sort of joke he attempts. Whether he chose said accent or it was forced by the director I don’t know, but either way it was a bad choice. Instead, most of the jokes just land with a dull thud. There is too much reliance of referencing future things that is so oddy worded to get to the joke it’s awkward. Thus, ideas without good enough writing to get them there. Cohen previously wrote Idiocracy and Tropic Thunder, so he has ability. Just not here.
There is a feeling with better direction, we might have a decently funny movie. As it stands, everyone is wasted. I never felt more sorry for Kelly MacDonald. She is so uncomfortable and out of place. She’s a great actress (see this year’s Puzzle) but she’s not known for comedy. This may be why. Rebecca Hall doesn’t fair better. and poor poor Lauren Lipkas, forced to make broad mugging faces for most of her screen time.
Earlier I mentioned Watson being dumbed down. That’s only partially true. His, and Holmes, intellignce levels depend from scene to scene. Sometimes, they are the brilliant characters from the stories. Othertimes, dumb as bricks. All to suit the story and “joke” needs.
Holmes & Watson is a comedic misfire. A handful of minor laughs, and ideas that could have paid off are not worth the time to watch. A waste of all the comic talent involved. Hell, I’m leaving it to now to mention Ralph Fiennes is in it for about 3 lines and two scenes. How?
I give it an : F