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Offline stethacantus

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #16860 on: June 26, 2016, 10:00:44 PM »
How to Stuff a Wild Bikini ( 1965 )
Well, I'm done. That's it. No more of these infernal beach films for me. I am putting the entire set back on the shelf. Maybe some day in the future, if I have nothing else to watch, and I am completely high, I will get around to watching one of the others. But for the life of me, I can not understand how a generation actually liked these films enough for them to span an entire 12 film series. In fact, I am sure these movies are responsible for so many teenagers in the 60s turning to drugs. Because unless you are on LSD then there is no way to enjoy these.

So the film begins with Frankie on some Tahiti Navel base, because he was apparently drafted, but forwhatever reason, was not sent to Vietnam. And if you are in the Navy, they apparently let you lounge around all day long, making out with one of the beautiful native girls, instead of scrubbing a ship or something. Lets forget that thousands are fighting and dying in the war, Frankie has been sent to a resort to enjoy himself. With API banging out so many Beach Party films the same year, it was inevitable that they would need to split the cast up to work on the different pictures. That would explain why Frankie was basically written out of most of the movie, because he was most likely shooting Sergeant Deadhead at the same time. While cheating on Annette with a native girl, he worries that back at home Annette will cheat on him. So he goes to a native witch doctor ( Buster Keaton ) and asks him to use his magic to keep Annette faithful. The doctor agrees to help, by first creating a girl out of magic who will go down to the beach and be the object of desire for all the boys there. As long as they are all fawning over magic girl, none of them will be trying to get into Annette's pants. And just in case that fails, Buster also sent a magic pelican to the beach and stand near Annette ( For what reason is never made clear. It basically just stands in the background and inexplicably makes chimpanzee noises ). And that is it for Frankie for most of the movie. The witch doctor continues to keep tabs on Annette while Frankie's Tahiti girlfriend drops by for the updates.

If anyone's screen time should have been limited, then it should have been Annette Funicello. That year she was pregnant, and by the time this film was shot, she had a prominent baby bump. An attempt to hide it is made by having Annette overdressed in a coat. ( Yea, that's what you wear to a beach! ) But her outfits all reek of hiding a pregnancy,  so even though you never actually see the bump, you figure out what was going on.

A magic bikini shows up as a cartoon, walking around like it is a ghost. But instead of running away, the teenagers are thrilled and sing to it, during which the magic girl suddenly appears in it. Doesn't phase the kids at all. Not so magically, but appearing just as suddenly, was what I had hoped was Odd Job from Goldfinger ( 1964 ) coming to slaughter everyone with his hat. Instead it turned out to be Mickey Rooney wearing an identical outfit. Rooney plays an add man named Peachy Keane ( oh God ) who has come to the beach looking for a girl to be in his upcoming ad campaign. That campaign involves a girl in a bikini riding on the back of a motorcycle driven by a boy, both of which would look like the all American boy and girl next door. And for some reason they have to first win this couples motorcycle race. Peachy Kean thinks that magic girl is perfect for the campaign. But the only one she is compatible with turns out to be the idiot leader of the local biker gang.

Meanwhile Peachy Kean's assistant Ricky ( Dwayne Hickman a.k.a Dobie Gillis ) sees an obviously pregnant Annette sitting on the beach and falls for her. Throughout the film Annette keeps rebuffing Ricky by telling him she has a boyfriend, but finally agrees to go out with him when she reads a letter that Frankie wrote to one of his friends boasting how he has three native girls on the side. Ricky invites Annette to join him in the motorcycle race where they will be competing against magic girl and the idiot gang leader.

Ah, the motorcycle race. Finally something slightly entertaining is happening in the movie. Determined to win, the gang leader has Dick Dastardly style traps set up all over the race course, all of which he manages to drive into. But at least we get to watch an action sequence. Mind you, this race is only half as exciting as the motorcycle race in Your A Good Sport, Charlie Brown. The rest of the movie attempts to be a legitimate musical. Perhaps due to Mickey Rooney being in the cast. So you get a lot of musical numbers where the lyrics are plot exposition. And like the last movie, they are all instantly forgettable. Even The Kingsmen in their only film appearance sing something forgettable, opting to sing their B side song Give Her Lovin' instead of, say, Louie, Louie. Meanwhile the comedy in this movie is too painfully bad to instantly forget.

In the final reel Frankie returns on screen to tell the witch doctor that his tour of duty is up, and he wants to be magically transported back to his home beach. There is a final gag here,  a suprise cameo which I will not spoil. But Frankie materializes right next to Annette, and the movie ends. And with that I remove the foul disc from my machine vowing never to watch either film again in their entirety. ( I could always fast forward to the Buster Keaton scenes, if I ever find the need to see them again. )

Which brings us to the main reason I watched this movie in the first place. Unlike in the previous film, Buster is not given any opportunity to inject his physical humor. He basically spends the entire movie stirring a cauldron reading the lines given to him. What a sad waste of his talents. There is at least one good moment in the film. The opening credits were done with animated clay by Art Clokey, who had previously animated The Gumby Show and Davey and Goliath.

The Karate Kid, Part II ( 1986 )
It is always nice to see a sequel that is a completely different story than the first movie. The Karate Kid. Part II resist having Macchio train for yet another tournament ad following basically the same plot as the previous film. Instead, Macchio follows his teacher Miyagi, who is going back to his home village in Okinawa, Japan to visit his dying father. Miyagi had left his village decades earlier to avoid having a duel to the death with his best friend. But now fifty years later, Miyagi's friend is now his rival, and still insists on having the duel. Now rich and powerful, his friend insists on the duel, or he will have the village bulldozed and the land sold to the neighboring army base. It is a decent enough story, although a hurricane that suddenly shows up out of nowhere just minutes before the duel is to take place, causing Miyagi and his rival to become friends again as they save the villagers, is a bit hard to swallow. While the long build up to a fight with Miyagi leads to nothing, there is at leas one evil Karate student who ends up fighting Macchio for the film's climax. The fight is a bit more choreographed than in the previous films, and it has a nice touch where Ralph tries once again to give his opponent the winning blow via a crane style stance and kick, only for his opponent to easily block the kick and knock Ralph on his ass. The fight was nowhere as good as the ones choreographed in Asian films, but very decent for an American film in the 80s.

The Man on the Flying Trapeze ( 1935 )
I am not really sure what the title has to do with the movie. The song The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze was written in 1867, inspired by the 28 year old acrobat Julies Leotard who not only invented the trapeze, but a garment he called the Maillot, which after his death in 1870 became known as a leotard. ( No, he didn't die falling off a trapeze. Smallpox did him in. ) In the song, a young British man tells the sad tale of his sweetheart falling in love with Leotard when she saw his circus act, and ended up following the circus as a groupie. The song ends a year later with  the circus returning, and the girl featured on a poster as part of Leotard's trapeze act. The song continued to circulate through music halls after Leotard's death, with various lyrics crediting the latest star trapeze artist. It eventually made it's way to the United States and Vaudeville. Then for some reason in 1934 the song became very popular. A number of recording artist released their version of the song. The author William Saroyan turned the song into a short story which became his first success. In Hollywood the song appeared in many films, most notably the Dick Powell feature Twenty Million Sweethearts, but also in a scene in It Happened One Night. It was also prominent in the short features, most notably the Popeye cartoon The Man on the Flying Trapeze and the Our Gang short Mike Fright. The WC Fields film was released a good year after the song hit it's peak in popularity. There is no trapeze, no circus, and no acrobats in this movie. The closest it even comes to the song is there are wrestlers wearing leotards.

Once again WC Fields plays the mild mannered henpecked husband. And it once again follows the same formula of success practically dropping in Field's lap at the end of the film. But I guess that formula was the fantasy audiences wanted to see during the Great Depression. Once again not much of a plot, but ample opportunity for Fields to do his comedy routines. It was also an early film for three time Academy Award winner Walter Brennan who would win his first Oscar a year later. Here he has a small role as a burglar. And guess who else was in the movie? Our old friend Tor Johnson!!!!! Here he had an uncredited role as one of the wrestlers.


Offline Pak-Man

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #16861 on: June 26, 2016, 10:44:23 PM »
Saw Finding Dory over the weekend. As Pixar sequels go, I'd put it up there with the Toy Stories.


Offline Charles Castle

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #16862 on: June 30, 2016, 12:02:21 AM »
There's something wintery about the anti-Western. Altman felt it in McCabe and Mrs. Miller, Sydney Pollack felt it in Jeremiah Johnson, and you get it full-bore in Sergio Corbucci's The Great Silence (1968), a film that razes the Western to the ground and sows salt in the soil.

The movie is set in Utah somewhere during the period thought of as the Old West. I can't pinpoint it any closer than that, because the movie is strangely anachronistic. Utah is a territory in the film--Utah became a state in 1896--but our hero, Silence, carries a broomhandle Mauser rather than the stock guns of Western gunfighters. The broomhandle Mauser was first manufactured in Germany in 1896. So there's a disconnect. Further, the events of the film are based in part on the Mountain Meadow Massacre of 1857. As with most other Westerns, I prefer to think of this film as an abstraction of history, but this one seems even more anachronistic than most. Silence's gun of choice also Europeanizes the film, which may have been its intent.

In any event, our hero, Silence, played by Jean-Louis Trintignant without any dialogue, falls in with a group of "outlaws" who are being hunted by bounty killers. And by "outlaws", I mean Mormons, though the movie never uses the word. The bounty killers are led by Klaus Kinski's Loco, who'd rather bring 'em in dead than alive. It's a pretty stock set-up. What happens at the end of the movie is NOT stock.

Sergio Corbucci's spaghetti westerns are all laced with with a Marxist point of view, and this one is no different, though it's more pessimistic than most. This movie is a critique of the Western's notions of heroism, when in Corbucci's worldview, the West was settled at gunpoint by genocidal murderers. This, at least, has some basis in history, and it may be why the rest of the movie is so ahistorical as a means of softening the blow. The heroic gunfighter prevailing against all odds, Corbucci seems to be saying, is bullshit.

As if to emphasize the point, the landscapes in this movie are bleak snowscapes. We first see Silence on his horse struggling through snowbanks, which eventually unhorse him. This is a kind of fimbulwinter for the West, a prelude to the twilight of the gods. It's the end of the world. The movie it most reminds me of is Hideo Gosha's Goyokin, which indulges in the same motifs of bare trees, snow, and crows. The symbolism is the same in both movies.

The silence of our main character, and his European-ness, are presumably both representative of Europe at the time the film was made. America was indulging in massacres anew in Vietnam in the name of its ideal of democracy, and Europe didn't have a voice in the matter. I could see Corbucci making the same film again in the 2000s.
You know, if the space man puma thing turns out to be the correct religion, I for one will be very surprised.


Offline Charles Castle

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #16863 on: June 30, 2016, 12:13:01 AM »
Three Days of the Condor (directed by Sydney Pollack) was made in 1975, right after the first oil shocks and in the aftermath of Watergate. At the time, its conspiracy theory was thought to be ridiculously far-fetched, indistinguishable from other strains of lefty paranoia. From a vantage point in 2016, it's a movie that seems unusually prescient, with its secret plans to invade the middle east and its shadowy intelligence shenanigans. That parts of the film are set in the World Trade Center underline this with a dread that the filmmakers could never have foreseen.

Three Days of the Condor is a slick paranoia thriller not much different from others of similar ilk. The early-mid 1970s was the heyday of films like The Conversation, The Parallax View, and The President's Analyst (a slight digression: we're living in a future imagined by The President's Analyst, too, in which the shadow cabinet behind everything is the phone company). The plot here, finds CIA analyst Robert Redford--codenamed "Condor"--going out for lunch only to discover that his entire office has been gunned down in his short absence. He calls it in to his controllers, only to find himself the target of assassination attempts. Clearly, the enemy is "The Company" itself. He mulls over the intelligence his office has gathered--particularly his own work--looking for clues as to what has marked him for death. Meanwhile, he falls in with a photographer who he kidnaps in order to use her car. They develop a relationship as she discovers that he's not crazy and that he's not paranoid enough. Soon enough, Condor uncovers a plot to invade the middle east on the behalf of petroleum interests, and traces the assassins back to the source...

At a very basic level, Three Days of the Condor is an excuse to put movie stars on screen. Robert Redford and Faye Dunaway were both at the peak of their respective stardoms, so pairing them in a big, prestige Hitchcockian adventure must have seemed like a license to print money. Director Sydney Pollack, too, was at the height of his career as a go-to director for turning middlebrow entertainment into highbrow product. This was the fourth of seven movies that Pollack made with Redford, and it's arguably the most commercial of them even if it wasn't the biggest hit. It's the film from their output that hews most closely to a still-viable commercial genre. Graham Greene would have called this film an "entertainment." And so it is. But like Greene's own "entertainments," this is a film that smuggles politics into its warp and woof.

Redford has long been an icon of the left and his career as both a movie star and an indie film impresario reflect a commitment to progressivism. Lately, that impulse has led him into didacticism. He was better at this during the more liberally minded 1970s, when he remembered to throw in some red meat for the groundlings. In this case, you have a film that echoes the zeitgeist. Nixon was well-known for maintaining "enemies" lists and for siccing the FBI on his opposition. The CIA was beginning to have a reputation for imperialist meddling after toppling the government of Chile (having toppled the government of Iran two decades earlier). Oil was becoming the resource triggering international politics. All of this is folded into the plot of Three Days of The Condor. The idea that there were elements of the shadow government that were determined to invade the Middle East in order to secure a hegemony over the oil there was thought preposterous at the time, but in retrospect seems entirely reasonable. Inevitable, even.

I wish this was a better movie, though, which is something I've thought while watching some of this film's inheritors, too (particularly Syriana). Pollack was never as good as his success at the box office and at awards ceremonies would suggest--some of the prestige and lustre from his movie stars clung to him undeserved. Three Days of the Condor is particularly flat-footed. Has there ever been a more cinematically indifferent assassination attempt than the one in this film where Condor's superior tries to lure him to his death? I suspect not. The film's nadir is the sex scene between Redford and Faye Dunaway, which is so coy and so respectable that it seems almost anachronistic. I mean, Jesus Fictional Christ! It was the 1970s! You had license to do whatever you wanted and THAT was all you could come up with? In Pollack's defense, Redford and Dunaway have zero on-screen chemistry, but that's no excuse. This is a scene that could have been made for television. But then, the movie as a whole lacks an instinct for the jugular.

This is a film where it's political shrewdness isn't matched by the art of the film's making. It's maddening, because you can see the outlines of a much better film in there somewhere.
You know, if the space man puma thing turns out to be the correct religion, I for one will be very surprised.


Offline Charles Castle

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #16864 on: June 30, 2016, 12:33:09 AM »
One of the things that's really started to bother me about some horror movies is the way that they function as Christian propaganda. This is most prevalent in vampire movies, but it's not exclusive to them. The Exorcist, for one example, is one of the most cunning pieces of Catholic propaganda ever filmed. This is, of course, the nature of the beast. Most horror movies postulate a supernatural universe, so it's almost inevitable that they would turn to conventional religion as a counterweight to the forces of darkness. There is, however, a smaller subset of movies in which religion itself represents the forces of darkness. Movies about the horrors of The Inquisition, for example, or movies about sinister priests. It's a rare movie that tries to have it both ways. Such a movie is Black Death (2010, directed by Christopher Smith), in which the forces of the Church and the forces of secularism are two sides of the same rotten coin.

As the title suggests, Black Death is set in the plague year of 1348. It concerns itself with Osmund, a monk, who urges Averill, the woman he loves, to escape to the countryside. He intends to follow her, if he can, and when he prays for guidance, a cadre of holy warriors show up at his monastery seeking a guide to a village where the plague is unknown. There is a necromancer there, their leader, Ulrich, says, and his men are bound to root this evil out. This is the sign that Osmund is looking for, and he hies out with Ulrich's band of soldiers across a landscape ravaged by pestilence. On the way, he tries to fulfill his rendezvous with Averill, only to find evidence that she is dead. They find the village by and by, and the stories are true: the pestilence has not touched it. The village seems welcoming, but Ulrich notes that the church has seen no use for a very long time, and he finds evidence of a previous expedition. The leaders of the village are Hob and Langiva, and they know exactly why Ulrich's men have come, and soon, they trap them. Langiva, in particular, is the necromancer they've been seeking, and she holds the village in her thrall. They will be permitted to live, they are told, if they renounce god and the Church. It ends badly for everyone...

Here's the thing about Langiva: the movie sets her up as a villain, in opposition to the principled determination of Ulrich and Osmund, but she has a genuine beef with Christianity. For a while, the movie suggests that she really is in league with the forces of darkness--or at the very least with the forces of Paganism, which in a Christian-themed movie is more or less the same thing. For the period that the movie suggests all of this, it seems like Black Death is a rougher version of The Wicker Man, and it seems hellbent on the same kind of denouement. Of course, the truth is that Hob and Langiva are atheists, and the whole necromancy business is a bunch of parlor tricks to keep their followers in line. This flips the script on our holy warriors, who now appear to be a pack of howling fanatics, but the movie doesn't settle for that. Instead, it casts Hob and Langiva as the same kinds of cynical manipulators as the Church. I'd say that the movie was trying to have it both ways, but the ending is suggestive. Langiva escapes the eventual destruction of the village, and Osmund has become obsessed with her because of the way she deceives him during the course of the movie. He becomes an instrument of The Inquisition, and he sees Langiva in the face of every woman. In the film's very last scenes the movie reveals that its true monster was lurking in the eyes of its ostensible "hero."

Black Death is a grim movie. It's not a self-aware movie, as such. It's deadly serious about its agenda, which makes watching it a bit of a slog sometimes. There is no comedy relief. No real manifestation of joy or happiness. There's violence, sure, but mostly there's death and pestilence. It's a movie with scenes designed to push buttons, too. Pagans of every strip will find something at which to bristle, though mostly the context of the "Paganism" presented in the film. The scenes where Langiva attempts to coerce Osmund and Ulrich to renounce their faith are bound to make a Christian viewer squirm, just as Osmund's depredations at the end are bound to be an affront to a secular viewer. It's significant that this is the film's final word, I think, because it's emphatic.

The movie has good actors. Eddie Redmayne is Osmund and he goes from innocence through grief and into madness quite effectively. The light of madness is there in Redmayne's eye from the get go, but it does double duty as religious fervor. Sean Bean's Ulrich is a darker version of Ned Stark, a man of principle overburdened with the task at hand, though one with the strength of his convictions and a willingness to follow them to the ends of the Earth. The movie is stolen from all involved by Carice van Houten, though, whose Langiva is sexy and ambiguous and steely. She's obviously the smartest person in the room wherever she goes.

As a production, this is another depiction of Medieval Europe that wallows in blood, mud, and filth. Black Death presents the Middle Ages as an apocalyptic landscape, and its story as a kind of revision of Heart of Darkness filtered through Witchfinder General. It's a monochrome movie, for the most part, which only serves to highlight Carice van Houten's presence when she appears wearing a red dress. It's crude symbolism, but it works. It's also surprisingly sunlit, though it's that cold sunlight of Northern Europe that makes everything under it look bleak and foreboding. The locations in Germany are picturesque and highlight why Europeans make a lot of these movies and Americans make so few: they've got the "look" of the film just lying around the countryside. Director Christopher Smith ports the visual invention of his other movies (notably Severance) into this one and it makes for some striking set-pieces. I'm liking Smith's filmography more and more as he continues to make films. I wish that this had made it into theaters here, but I understand why it didn't. This is a film that probably couldn't even be made in America, given the religious climate of the current zeitgeist. More's the pity.
You know, if the space man puma thing turns out to be the correct religion, I for one will be very surprised.


Offline Edward J Grug III

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #16865 on: June 30, 2016, 07:06:11 PM »
Spoiler warning for 1937's Nothing Sacred, which I screened at our weekly movie night with friends last night:

This was a good argument for only screening movies I have already seen.

On paper, it should be a real winner, Ben Hecht wrote a lot of my favourite movies, it has a good cast and we enjoy screwball comedies, but the film feels half baked.

To be fair, we had a good time watching most of the film, but so much of it feels underdeveloped. It opens with the ‘punchline’ of a story, but unlike the beginning of The Palm Beach Story, it doesn’t feel like the story was all that fun or interesting - Just that it happened. (Possibly this is a saving grace though, as I suspect the story would have been pretty awful to watch with modern eyes)

Things that basically should work are just glossed over, not really justified in terms of the writing – Like the bringing of the doctor to New York, while it could be logically explained, it just happens. The young boy with the squirrel just happens. So many wasted opportunities for funny scenes, and the kind of great dialogue you would expect from a screwball comedy.

Even the dialogue that does happen is often lacking the wit you would expect – I remember a specific moment of disappointment when the reported argues with his boss and his boss just yells ‘Shut up!’ A weak comeback to say the least.

Yet, the first three quarters of the films is still fun. Even if not perfectly crafted, you can’t fault a comedy that is fun and keeps you laughing. Carol Lombard is winning in the lead role and impossible to not enjoy. Where the film really lost us was the ending.

Suddenly, with no rhyme or reason, our leading male decides the only way to fake pneumonia is for him and Lombard to get into a fist fight? And for him to punch her in the jaw and knock her out? And the two characters have grown to hate each other, based on trust issues, and instead of either resolving it, or going their separate ways, he tells her he will marry her and treat her like shit? And then the film closes with a scene of them on their honeymoon and him telling her that nobody had really liked her anyway? (Cut to the doctor with them again for some reason and too drunk to know he is on a boat)

Looking at the production history, suddenly it makes sense. Ben Hecht fought with the producer and walked off the project. What he did write was written ‘in two weeks on a train.’ That explains why it feels like a first draft. Others were brought in to write the end of the film, which explains the sharp turn in tone.

Frankly, the direction feels odd too. I’m not too familiar with Wellman – I’ve seen Wings and Public Enemy – but he doesn’t seem well suited to comedy, especially screwball comedy. Several scenes are staged very oddly, obscuring the actors during conversation, in way that feels like it is meant to be a joke, but is more strange and distracting than funny.

There’s a fantastically odd (and morbid) premise under the film that didn’t have a chance to be fully formed. The film was later remade with Martin and Lewis, with Lewis in the Lombard role. I have to imagine the ending is stronger, though I can’t stand Martin and Lewis, so I’ll never know.
FINE


Online Johnny Unusual

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #16866 on: July 01, 2016, 05:52:52 AM »
The Illusionist

The Edward Norton one, not the animated one.  It's no surprise that the Prestige walked all over this one.  It's perfectly alright but very predictable and the logic of the magic tricks is pretty weak when you can plainly see it is all CGI.  At that point you are like "oh, no I can't even be brought to care how he did it because it was all done with fakey-looking effects."


Offline Pak-Man

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #16867 on: July 03, 2016, 06:58:51 PM »
Checked out Independence Day: Resurgence.

If you're one of the many who found ID4 to be a fun, if slightly cheesy, experience, go for it! There's no dip in quality. It nails the tone of the first movie and hits the right notes. There's probably a little more suspension of disbelief required for this one, but not enough to ruin it.

If you can't stand the first one, this one isn't gonna change your mind.


Offline Russoguru

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #16868 on: July 03, 2016, 09:56:32 PM »
ID4 Resurgence... and I'm hating myself already for saying this, but Resurgence really needed some cheese factor. It felt like it lacked the heart and soul that made the original a good disaster movie.


Offline stethacantus

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #16869 on: July 03, 2016, 11:11:32 PM »
The Karate Kid, Part III ( 1989 )
While I had never seen any of the Karate Kid movies before, I was well aware of most of the first movies plot because it was so often references in other media over the years. Thanks to Peter Cetera's music video for The Glory of Love which aired all the time in 1986 ( for a while it was on Friday Night Videos every week ) I knew that the second Karate Kid film took place in Japan, and that Elisabeth Shue was no longer the Karate Kid's girlfriend because the clips shown in the video had him falling in love with a Japanese girl. But I had no clue what the third Karate Kid film was about. For some reason the promotion for that film was so low key that I do not recall seeing any clips on Entertainment Tonight, and promotional music videos on Friday Night Videos, or ever seeing a trailer for the movie anywhere. Usually the lack of promotion means the studio realized it had a turd on it's hands, and wanted it in the theaters before any film critic had a chance to warn anyone. Actually, the third installment was not bad. The plot may have been a little dumb, but it was okay. It was basically the plot I would have expected in the second movie, where the Karate Kid ends up in a tournament defending his title, and faces off against another one of Kreese's students. The dumb part is the complicated plan Kreese comes up with to get him into the tournament, which relied on the Karate Kid and Mr. Miyagi having a falling out, which they did despite being business partners in a bonsai tree store. It also relies on the Karate Kid making one bonehead mistake after another, which he does. Still, for what was basically a retread of the first movie, it was entertaining enough.



The Phantom ( 2009 )
For those of you unfamiliar with the Phantom comic strips, the character is considered the first superhero, created by cartoonist Lee Falk in 1936, two years before the first Superman comic was published. The Phantom had no powers, but rather fought his battles with guns and other weapons. The gimmick was that the first Phantom trained his son to replace him, which he did when his father was killed by an enemy. From that point on every Phantom passed their title on to their eldest son whenever they were killed or too old to continue fighting crime. And since they all wore the same costume, it appeared that The Phantom was indestructible and immortal.

I got this thinking it was a movie. Turns out it was a two part miniseries, or a four hour SyFy movie broken up into two parts. Either was, it was a pilot for a Phantom television series that SyFy never picked up. I watched part one last week, and saved my review until I watched the second part this week. It's okay, I guess, for a TV movie produced for SyFy. But you could definitely see how the producers cut corners on the production cost. A good third of the scenes take place at the same location, an inlet that is suppose to be the East River. With such a low budget, it is a mystery how they were able to get Isabella Rossellini as one of the villains. Ryan Carnes plays Chris Moore,  who during the first episode discovers that he was adopted.  His real name is Kitt Walker, and he is the 22nd Phantom. The entire first movie has Chris discovering his past, and after joining a secret agency the former Phantoms had formed, begins to train to become the new Phantom. He does not actually put on the Phantom costume until part two. If that sounds like the story was dragged out, you are wrong. Enough material is jammed into the four hours for a six part movie. For example, after Chris meets a beautiful paramedic, the movie quickly cuts to a few weeks later when they are a couple. The action scenes in this movie are pretty simplistic, with exclusion to a couple of scenes where Chris uses his parkour abilities. But those abilities were not enough for the writers, who probably did not like that The Phantom was a superhero without any real powers. So in this version his costume is updated so that it is not only bulletproof, but is able to amplify his strength. Like I said, good enough for a cheap SyFy movie, but just barely entertaining.

The Phantom ( 1996 )
Since I have cleared time by refusing to watch any more of the Beach Party movies, I decided to use that time to re-watch the 90s Phantom film with Billy Zane. The producers of this movie had the same problem. What to do with a superhero who has no powers. Their solution was to turn the Phantom into a sort of poor man's Indiana Jones. It seemed like a good fit, considering most of the original Phantom comic strips took place in a jungle. They even went to the trouble of setting this movie in the 1930s. It has a lot of good action sequences,  but non of them are particularly memorable. And then there is that mandatory battle with the supernatural in the third act that you must do if your movie is mimicking an Indiana Jones movie. This was probably more to do with having a reason for visual effects in the movie, which would look good in the trailers. It is a fun enough movie to watch, but like I said, forgettable.


Poppy ( 1936 )
WC Fields rose to stardom with the success of the Broadway musical Poppy which he co-wrote and starred in. Two years later Fields was in Hollywood starring in Sally of the Sawdust, Paramount Picture's film adaption of the musical. A decade later Paramount decided to film a sound version. Surprisingly, there are only two musical numbers in the movie, one being a reprive. The song was A Rendezvous With A Dream which was not even from the Broadway musical. By 1936 the musical was king in Hollywood, and would be that way until the 1960s. Even the non musical films usually had a few song and dance numbers forced into the plot. And here was an adaption of a broadway musical which they did not even use one of it's songs. Poppy is the odd name of the lead female character in this movie, the daughter of a traveling con man, Professor Eustace McGargle ( WC Fields ). When the professor discovers that there is a missing heir to a fortune, he decides to pass his own daughter off as the heir. This is far from the best of the Fields movies, mostly due to the fact that he was attempting to detox from alcohol during the film's production. He is lackluster for much of the film. But that did not prevent him from writing himself some good lines, including his most memorable line "Never give a sucker an even break."


Offline JimJ

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #16870 on: July 03, 2016, 11:45:15 PM »
ID4 Resurgence... and I'm hating myself already for saying this, but Resurgence really needed some cheese factor. It felt like it lacked the heart and soul that made the original a good disaster movie.

Yeah, I'm with you.  I love the first one for the big, dumb, silly movie that it is.  Resurgence is just as big, dumb and silly, but it's missing something compared to the original (aside from Will Smith, though his absence certainly doesn't help the movie).  Maybe it's just the nostalgia factor enhancing my appreciation of the original, I don't know, but I just didn't have a good time with the sequel.


Offline The Lurker

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #16871 on: July 04, 2016, 01:02:27 PM »
The Phantom ( 1996 )
Since I have cleared time by refusing to watch any more of the Beach Party movies, I decided to use that time to re-watch the 90s Phantom film with Billy Zane. The producers of this movie had the same problem. What to do with a superhero who has no powers. Their solution was to turn the Phantom into a sort of poor man's Indiana Jones. It seemed like a good fit, considering most of the original Phantom comic strips took place in a jungle. They even went to the trouble of setting this movie in the 1930s. It has a lot of good action sequences,  but non of them are particularly memorable. And then there is that mandatory battle with the supernatural in the third act that you must do if your movie is mimicking an Indiana Jones movie. This was probably more to do with having a reason for visual effects in the movie, which would look good in the trailers. It is a fun enough movie to watch, but like I said, forgettable.
I wonder how much the "supernatural" element was inspired by the 90s Shadow movie.


Offline stethacantus

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #16872 on: July 04, 2016, 02:04:22 PM »
The Phantom ( 1996 )
Since I have cleared time by refusing to watch any more of the Beach Party movies, I decided to use that time to re-watch the 90s Phantom film with Billy Zane. The producers of this movie had the same problem. What to do with a superhero who has no powers. Their solution was to turn the Phantom into a sort of poor man's Indiana Jones. It seemed like a good fit, considering most of the original Phantom comic strips took place in a jungle. They even went to the trouble of setting this movie in the 1930s. It has a lot of good action sequences,  but non of them are particularly memorable. And then there is that mandatory battle with the supernatural in the third act that you must do if your movie is mimicking an Indiana Jones movie. This was probably more to do with having a reason for visual effects in the movie, which would look good in the trailers. It is a fun enough movie to watch, but like I said, forgettable.
I wonder how much the "supernatural" element was inspired by the 90s Shadow movie.

Probably very little. The Shadow did not do very well at the box office. It had more to do with the mindset of the studio heads at that time. Special effects and visual effects were seen as the sure fire way to turn any movie into a blockbuster. Some movies, like the Star Trek franchise, could not exist without being wall to wall effects. But others did not need them. Effects were tagged on anyway. Take Young Sherlock Holmes ( 1985 ) for example.


Offline Russoguru

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #16873 on: July 04, 2016, 04:13:28 PM »
Stethacantus you do some very professional write-ups. :)


Online Johnny Unusual

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Re: What was the last movie you watched?
« Reply #16874 on: July 04, 2016, 06:49:44 PM »
The Unknown (1927)

This is an odd little horror thriller that feels very much like a Tales from the Crypt story.  A circus performer leads a double life as a murderous strangler but no one suspects him.  Why?  Because he's convinced everyone he has no arms (which is part of his act, throwing knives and shooting guns with his feet.)  This madman falls hopelessly in love with the circus owner's beautiful daughter and feels he has an advantage since she has a fear of men's grabby hands.  But he also knows if they get married she'd find out not only that he's a liar but he's also her father's killer.  Soon he comes up with a plan to solve all of his problems, but fate has other plans.  The last act of the film is really darkly funny and it is a fun, weird little (really little, it's only 48 minutes) film.