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Black Widow

25 Jul, 2021

In one word: meh. They did this character wrong with how sub-par this movie was. It was never able to figure out if it was supposed to her funny, dramatic, emotional, action packed. It was Charlie's Angels (the Drew Barrymore version), devoid of any joy, heart, or style. In fact, just watch Charlie's Angels instead. Both have ridiculous explosion scenes, but at least the angels knew that they were ridiculous and made it fun for everyone.

Luca

24 Jul, 2021

Think "Splash" meets "Breaking Away," or "Call Me By Your Name," gets a dash of "Little Mermaid" and a lot less problematic story line and abuse of stone fruits.

 

Pixar hits another home run in Luca. Enrico Cassarossa, who brought us the charming short "La Luna," revisits the theme of youthful adventure and discovery. The character style and Mediterranean carry through with the same sense of adventure, wonder, and finding your place is a universe.

 

The movie works on so many levels. It's a travelogue of fantastic settings and charming villages. It's character driven. It's an underdog movie. It's about friendship and relationships. It's about food and family. It's about how you can't trust cats!

Mulan (2020)

29 Jun, 2021

I know the pun is worn, but this was truly two dimensional compared to the animated version. What could have been a passable wire-fu movie for tween girls suffered greatly by the shadow cast by its source material. Scenes from the original Mulan are recontextualized and incorporated along with themes from the original music, woven into it's score. Each time, it is jarring reminder of the warmth, humor, and joy that completely missing. You constantly are being challenged by this adaption, "why not just stop this and watch the real Mulan?"

In a confusing attempt to be more serious, this Mulan imagines a world where some people are able to harness their natural power, their chi. Such men are celebrated warriors. Powerful women are shunned as witches. Obviously, Mulan has the gift to be a great warrior but needs a convoluted plot to force her to hide as a man. The fight scenes never rise beyond mediocre, the acting never goes beyond stiff, and the wigs are always distracting.

In an obvious trope, masculine Mulan sheds her armor to ride back into battle and the simple transformation also imbues her with amazing makeup, a flawless nude lip, and the most amazing beach waves anyone could ask for. (Maybe she is a witch!) But otherwise the makeup, costumes, and prosthetics are pretty lack luster.

The main reason to endure this movie is to see the amazing settings created in China and New Zealand. Put the movie on mute and just watch it as a travelogue.

Ball of Fire

28 Jun, 2021

Screwball romcom queen Stanwyck plays a fast talking mobster's girl opposite of bookish language professor Gary Cooper. Like all romcoms, you know how it will end but have a great time along the way. Played with loads of charm and dated references, this is Christmas in Conneticut – same plot but a different setting. Well worth a viewing.

The Maltese Falcon

26 Jun, 2021

One of these classics that I failed to connect with. You can see where this is these original source that many other derive – but after seeing all the children this has spawned, the original failed to surprise. The movie is stylish, slick, and full of action, great directing, and solid acting. But, you don't really care about anyone. I would rather watch Casablanca again.

The Island at the Top of the World

13 Jun, 2021

While the poster promises adventure beyond imagination, the fact that the movie exists is the most it seems to deliver. In a long vein of colonial-splotation movies such as SHE and Journey to the Center of the Earth, this movie is a pale ride along companion. Some of the sets and the blimp offer some excitement, but it fails to deliver of the exotic promise of forgotten lands and bold adventures. No one scene or person stands out. There is a reason why 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is still around and this has been forgotten.

Cruella

12 Jun, 2021

To call this a prequel or an origin story is overly generous and unnecessary. I liked it as a stand alone movie that is more like an alternative universe and perspective than anything. The movie is ludicrous and delicious to watch. It careens around plot lines and characters the way Cruella drives. The double dose of devilish Emmas is a scene chewing extravaganza of looks and lines, all style and no messy need for substance. Where Devil Wears Parada tries to give us redemption, this movie is best when you just enjoy a good old girl fight and some well chilled revenge.

Greyfriars Bobby

13 May, 2021

All the charm that a Disney movie could muster. It is a small movie that doesn't challenge or distract with much of a plot. The charismatic canine carries the whole film and the people wisely play in the background, giving full screen time to his wags, puppy eyes, and happy little barks. Built to tug at obvious heart strings and sympathies; this movie is full of charm as it is simple.

Treasure Planet

08 May, 2021

If Disney's Atlantis and Bluth's Titan A.E. had a deformed, inbred child, and then it was kidnapped by skeksis, who drained the child's life-force with the Dark Crystal – it would be this movie. There is no reason for this movie exist, other than Disney's desperation in the early 2000s to find some success with the young male audience who had aged out of Pixar. Just go watch Treasure Island instead.

Zeppelin

21 Apr, 2021

Did you like Logan's Run? Do you like lighter than air ships? Than this movie shouldn't disappoint – but it does. The areal shots and zeppelin model are the real stars. The plot is slow ands the payoff non existent. This war thriller moves at the speed or well, a zeppelin.

Whiskey Galore!

20 Apr, 2021

Billed as a charmingly comedy of Scottish mischief, it was more of a sleepy time capsule. I am not sure that I would seek its out, but it tickles the spot fo nostalgia and being almost offensively out of date. You don't get enough of the island background to make it a decent travel piece either.

Escape to Athena

15 Apr, 2021

Rodger Moore and motorcycle chases through exotic locals! This movie was riding on the coattails of the Bond Francise but falls off early. They literally through everything into it, often to its own detriment. Is is a screw ball comedy with Elliot Gould giving you his best MASH schtick? Is it classy with David Niven as a British gentleman? No, Rodger More can't be the British gentleman because he is playing the worst accented Austrian sympathy nazi. Through in Sonny Bono because, why not, and Telly Salvalas as some sort of red hot Grecian lover / freedom fighter. I mean, this movies everywhere except to a point. Then you have to watch Salvas do some sort of dance at then end. Why?

Radioactive

14 Apr, 2021

Unwatchable. I was really disappointed. A movie about a chemist, a physicist, and a personal hero. The movie was ham fisted, trying to create drama where none needed to be. It tried to connect the work about understanding the nature of mature to terrifying radiation treatments scenes from the 50s and atomic bombs – giving an morality tale where none made sense. Radium isn't a moral agent, only the people who applied the knowledge. The movie was clumsy, made little sense, had terrible pacing. Amazon Studio's failed to deliver.

Over the Moon

12 Apr, 2021

Was it well animated? No.

Was it derivative: Yes.

Was the music non-sensical, not related to the plot, and looked like a bad virtual pop idol: yes.

Did I enjoy myself? ABSOLUTELY! This movie clocks in as a third rate Coco, with an homage to family and honoring the loved ones who have passed on, and an incredible journal by a child to a magic realm. But even at a third rate copy, D+ Coco is still fun. Watch with low expectations and be ready for moon cakes.

The Jigsaw Man

03 Apr, 2021

The 80s in the UK were not kind. This movie boast A-list stars, but comes in as a D-List James Bond. It is neither glamorous or gritty. It was just silly, and not in a good way. If you need to watch Michael Caine as a spy, watch The Ipcress File instead.

Moon Spinners

14 Mar, 2021

Why does this movie exist? Part The Darn Cat meets Pollyanna; none of it matters. Hayley Mills fails to deliver any of her normal infectious charm. The whole movie was a boring teen drama that moves through the motions with no reason. I was originally looking for something in the background while I was knitting and "spinners" seemed harmless enough. I would have rather just have listened to white noise.

Then We Danced

11 Mar, 2021

I cannot recommend the movie enough. It is achingly true for anyone who remembers their first love and the stupidity and excitement of it all. It is set in the beautiful, depressing, and impoverished capital of Georgia; where toxic masculinity and social obligations choke down the characters world. The lead's effervesce and anger are the only possible rebuttal to his whole situation.

Stage Mom

10 Mar, 2021

If you want a feel good puff piece with a heart of gold, then this is your ticket. It is story that never offends, or shocks. You know where it is going from the moment it starts, and you are just along to enjoy the trip. Everyone is all charm and charisma and leaves you feeling like a nice visit from Mabel at the grocery store.

Prom

10 Mar, 2021

If I had any advice to offer, don't. I couldn't make it past the first 30 minutes. You would think a scene chewing musical that makes fun of Indiana would be right my alley; but, three songs in and I was logging off. There was just nothing joyful or fun. It felt as much fun as a Nancy Reagan anti-drug rally.

Mary Queen of Scots (2013)

24 Jan, 2021

IN preparation for Burn's Night, I watched this bilingual movie about the Queen of France, Scotland, and England; based on novel by an Austrian and bankrolled by the Swiss. The movie was just as confusing. It positions itself as a historical docu-drama; but quickly takes you into a beautiful, haunting, and claustrophobic nightmare. The flashback and dream sequences quickly undo the linear narrative and twist the structure into a classic tragedy, where the inevitable outcome is always looming eve closer. The main actress is enthralling, the scenery and costumes are gorgeous, the camera work swings wildly from Merchant Ivory to Evil Dead. It has all the elements of a European art film. Expect to leave impressed and depressed.

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