The Star Trek movies that I’ve seen have mostly been like the Star Trek episodes in one key respect: they each tell a complete story, in and of themselves. While there is a sense of ongoing continuity between them, they stand on their own without relying on previous installments. Indeed, I watched Star Trek IV long before seeing any of the others, and enjoyed and understood it without difficulty (though I plan on revisiting it to see it in its “proper place”).
Star Trek III: The Search For Spock, however, is a bit of an exception, in that it’s a direct follow-up to the previous film, The Wrath of Khan. It starts where that film leaves off, and while I’ll refrain from saying too much on that front for anybody who has managed to avoid both that film and spoilers thereof, the nature of the plot is obvious from the title. Spock has been lost, separated from the rest of the crew of the Enterprise, and they must embark on a quest to find him. Continue reading →
For today, I have another slew of short films to review. This time I’m tackling five of them at once, largely because a few of them are particularly short — though no less notable for that. There are two live-action comedies, two animated comedies, and one animated abstract piece. All but one are in black and white, and only one could truly be said to be a “talkie” — though one does have sound effects. Most are from the 1920s, but there’s one from 1913 and one from 1944.
Fatty Joins the Force
The Case of the Screaming Bishop
Reviews shall be in chronological order. Read through, there’s apt to be something that’ll catch your interest. Continue reading →
I approached the viewing of Black Beauty with a certain degree of guarded skepticism. Sure, this is based on a piece of classic literature, one that has been adapted to screen many times — this time by Caroline Thompson, who not only wrote the screenplay adapting Anna Sewell’s novel, but also made her directorial debut with the feature. If any source material should bolster the odds of a good film, it’s a classic novel. But classic novel or not, it’s still a horse movie. I like horses all right; my father currently has four of them, and while they can be a pain in the neck at times, they can also be nice to have around. But I’m unconvinced that Hollywood is capable of producing a horse movie that isn’t positively drenched in either saccharine sweetness or maudlin melodrama, or both.
Sitting down to watch the film, I realized I was in trouble the moment the horse started talking. Continue reading →
It’s the end of May, and it’s also the end of the work week for most people. Which is to say, it’s Friday, and it’s time for the News Bites. Disney and their subsidiaries are dominating the news this week, but there’s also a bit of action news from other quarters, including some shuffling on a couple of spies. So if you want to find out what’s going on, just keep reading. Continue reading →
Today, May 30th, is Stephen Tobolowsky’s birthday. He turns 62 this year, though he’s one of those people who looks like he was born at age 50, in that it’s hard to picture him looking younger. Now, it’s certainly possible that some of you reading this are asking who Stephen Tobolowsky is. You might think you don’t know him, but this is false. You know him. You just don’t know you know him. He’s that guy. You know, that guy. One of those many actors who is never quite the star of the film, but keeps showing up again and again in different movies, often in some memorable scene-stealing role that only lasts a few minutes. He was the helpless Sammy Jankis in Memento. He was the hateful Clayton Townley in Mississippi Burning. He played Werner Brandes in Sneakers. He was Ned “the Head” Ryerson in Groundhog Day. Since 1976, he’s been in 97 theatrical films, a handful of videos, and 117 television productions.
Yeah. He’s that guy. You know that guy.
And in 2005, his friend, cinematographer Robert Brinkman, decided that his directorial debut should be a documentary showing Stephen Tobolowsky preparing for his birthday party, hosting friends, and relating stories. Continue reading →
As a movie reviewer, there are few things more galling than to have to admit that, having watched a film, you didn’t entirely get it. That you could see something of merit there, but that it didn’t speak to you — and that at least part of the reason has to do with you as much as the film itself. This is particularly galling when it’s a film that has received some significant critical acclaim. In the case of the 1969 French-language film Z, that acclaim came in the form of a Best Foreign Language Film win and a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars.
The film was directed by Greek-born director Costa-Gravas, and is a thinly-veiled satirical attack on the military dictatorship of his native Greece and how they handled — and orchestrated — the assassination of a left-wing political figure in 1963. Costa-Gravas makes no bones about the point he’s making in the film. Continue reading →
There are a lot of different kinds of actors when it comes to getting into character, but there are two kinds that are particularly notable. Some actors are capable of completely submersing themselves into a variety of roles, bringing each character to life as their own individual creation, allowing the audience to forget that they’re watching Daniel Day-Lewis, for example. Other actors may be just as entertaining but their personal presence dominates any role they take, such that the audience is always watching Jack Nicholson as a character rather than just watching a character. Johnny Depp occupies a weird little overlap between those two groups. While some of his characters are similar to each other, they are often very different from each other; Sam from Benny and Joon is not Ichabod Crane from Sleepy Hollow, who isn’t Captain Jack Sparrow. And yet, at the same time, they are all unmistakeably Johnny Depp characters; it’s impossible to picture anybody else playing those roles quite the same way.
As a movie blogger, I’m mildly embarrassed that here it is, almost June, and I’ve yet to make it to the movie theatre to watch a new release this year. It’s been a little bit of a rough year, with the broken tooth disrupting me for a while, and fixing the broken tooth disrupting my finances for a while (multiple trips to Salem add up to a lot of gas money and a drop in free spending). But I’ll admit that part of it is also that there just haven’t been a lot of “Must see on big screen” movies for me so far this year. I plan on making it to Man of Steel by hook or by crook, but that’ll probably be the first. Not because I’m super-excited about it (I’m more optimistic than I was, with the last few promos, but I’m still a bit leery about it). But just because I know the internet will explode with discussion about it once it’s out, and I’d rather be part of that discussion than covering my ears and going “La la la”.
But even though I haven’t taken advantage of it so far this year, I do appreciate the theatre selection I have in Eugene/Springfield. And as I was pondering it the other night, I got to wondering what it was like for the rest of you who are regular movie goers. I’ve written before about this curiosity, and discovered that it looks like New England is awful for movie-goers, but I’d like to hear from you. What’s your theatre situation?Continue reading →
One of the many spy spoofs to come out of the 1960s was Get Smart; unlike most of the other spoofs, however, it wasn’t a movie, but a television series. Created by none other than Mel Brooks, the series starred Don Adams as Maxwell Smart, secret agent 86 of CONTROL. It was highly successful, running from 1965 to 1970. After it ended its initial run, it continued to air in syndication, and periodic attempts have been made to revive it, most recently in 2008 with Steve Carell in the title role. Prior to that was a short-lived sequel series in the 1990s starring Andy Dick, but the less said about that the better (though it did at least have the good grace to include Don Adams in a supporting role). But before even that were two films based on the series: one theatrical, 1980′s The Nude Bomb, and one that was made for TV, 1989′s Get Smart, Again!
Having been born nearly a decade after the show ended, I was of course unable to watch it during its initial run. But like many children of the 80s, I grew up with Nickelodeon and their Nick at Nite programming line-up. Get Smart was the first non-animated show I remember really getting into; I even got some of my friends into it, and I can only imagine how perplexed the teachers at our middle school must have been by a bunch of sixth-graders spouting off Maxwell Smart’s catchphrases. But it wasn’t until I was an adult that the internet gave me the opportunity to learn about the two movies from the 1980s, let alone to watch them. I caught The Nude Bomb four years ago, and this week I finally got to see Get Smart, Again!. While I have yet to see the Carell version, I can now at least say I’ve seen all of the Don Adams Get Smart shows and films. Continue reading →
It’s another Friday morning, and that means another edition of the News Bites. Last week was a bit on the light side. This week, not so much. There’s a bit of Pixar, some Marvel Comics movie news, news of TV series and a TV special, and of course, yet more remake discussion. There’s also some rumor-mongering about Star Wars and James Bond, and a double dose of Keanu Reeves news. Because apparently there’s no such thing as too much Keanu.