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My #365movies Project (week 1 and 2)

The Idea was simple. I hadn’t been taking time to relax and watch movies, so I would make a game out of it. This is how bad things have gotten, I have to give myself a chore to stop myself always doing chores and not relaxing. So I decided to watch 365 movie in 2017. I started new year’s day and have gotten up to know. Here is the first two weeks…
If you see an asterisk, then this is my first viewing of the film.

#1 – RED*
We started watching at about 10:30 New Years Eve, and finished after Midnight on New Year’s day. I wasn’t super impressed with the movie. Somewhere along the lines, super silly, over the top started the bore the living crap out of me. The fact that poor Mary-Louise Parker could have been replaced by a sexy lamp did nothing to help. The whole thing felt underdeveloped and over blown. Was not a fan.

#2 Mon Oncle*
Oh my God, where has this movie been all my life? I bought that Jacques Tati set from Criterion and for reasons best left unexplored I started with this movie. It’s not perfect, but I found a lot to like. I’m a fan of physical comedy, and silent films and the like, so this movie worked for me a lot. Tati’s work is known as containing themes about how the modern world isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, but as Hulot reacts to things in an affable manner, you sort of don’t notice. The movie doesn’t come right out and say modernity sucks, but it’s woven into every part of the movie. I liked this one. I’m probably over blowing it, but this is the movie that has stuck with me so far.

#3 The Dead Will Walk*
Included on one of the George Romero zombie DVDs, this little retrospective documentary killed about 90 minutes of time. There isn’t a lot to say, since it’s just a few interviews cobbled together with some vintage documentary footage that is from another documentary that is probably on the same DVD set this came from. Not bad, but it’s something you watch once on New Year Year’s day having already watched two other movies that day.

#4 Magnificent Seven (2016)*
There just wasn’t much there. I can see why this flopped, there’s not much story and the action is kind of basic. I have the same problems with this as the 3:10 to Yuma remake. There was a point where the action just became like watching someone else play a video game. The original had 40 bad guys, you could see the progression as the power balance moved back and forth. I have no idea how many millions our 7 heroes killed, but they all looked bored doing it. There’s so much wrong that going into would just be a series of complaints.

#5 Ant-Man*
I liked Ant-Man better, but in many ways it’s just another Marvel Movie. I like the Marvel movies, but I feel a strange reluctance about them. I like them well enough while watching them, but find lately that I hesitate to see them in the theaters. I didn’t see Ant-Man in the theaters, and while I got Captain America: Civil War at the same holiday I got this, I haven’t re-watched that yet. Still, it’s a pretty good movie, I fear I may be getting burned out on the Marvel formula.

#6 Geisha Assasin*
I may have owned this movie for three years and never watched it. I love samurai movies, but I just couldn’t with this cheap little thing until now. I do mean cheap. If this movie cost more than $27 to make, I will eat my hat. It looks like it was shot with prosumer DV cams and all expense was spared on the script because the whole script could fit on the back of an envelope. It looks cheap, the action has a good reputation, but I wasn’t impressed. HOWEVER! I have a strong notion that a room full of half drunk friends could turn this movie into pure gold. You can talk, you can laugh, you can play drinking games with how many cheap fighting movie gags are used (spoiler, it’s all of them) this may be a party movie rather than a sit alone movie.

#7 San Quentin*
And then we drifted into the move basic, boiler plate guys in prison movie that ever there was. It’s not that I have nothing to say, it’s that I was forgetting this movie while I was watching it. It’s just not memorable and everyone was sort of sleepwalking through their parts.

#8 Gotti*
Yeah, the HBO movie. I have seen a lot of gangster movies, and this was one of them. A random present Syd bought me off my wishlist one day. Again, a sort of basic, boilerplate movie. It’s a thing that happened.

#10 Eddie Izzard: Force Majeure*
Stand up. Eddie Izzard Stand up. You know what you are getting into with this. There is a point where all his shows sort of blend together for me. The jokes here are fresher in my mind, but I expect that they will fade into the pot of Eddie Izzard Bits.

#11 Playtime*
I livetweeted my thoughts on this one so you can go look, but I’ll sum up. This is a beautifully made movie that goes on too long, has no particular plot (or too many) and is seriously a mess. I have never felt so conflicted. On the one hand there are masterful jokes and hilarious moments, but there are also things that go on so long that I actually said “Is this scene still happening?” while watching. I have never felt so bored and fascinated at the same time. I am totally going to watch this again, and will be frustrated again, but I can see why it failed.

#12 The Golden Spiders
I really like the Nero Wolfe Mysteries show. I had to eventually watch stuff I had seen before, and I’m glad it this one. This show got me into the books, which are some of my favorite books in detective fiction. I love this first made for TV movie. It’s pretty great.

#13 Traffic*
Okay… so… it was shorter than Playtime, and it had a plot, but I can almost see Tati’s teeth gritting every time he has to come on screen as Hulot. One thing I find interesting, and it’s shown more here than some of the earlier movies, Tati seems to be okay with young people and youth culture. He looks backwards to a simpler time, but young people are usually the good people in his movies. The helpful strangers all always in their 20s in this movie.

#14 Horse Feathers
I like the Marx Brothers, Grocho is fun. Watching Chico play piano is like watching a magic trick… and then there’s Harpo. The older I get the less interested in Harpo I become. And Zeppo is Zeppo. Still, fun enough movie.

Then I started to go in for some short movies…
#15 The Electronic Labyrinth 1138 4EB
If Jacques Tati and George Orwell had a baby, it would be this movie.

#16 Me and The Big Guy
It’s basically one, long, joke.

#17 The Second Come Back
Another one joke short. Not as good as some, better than others.
So that’s the first week, tune in next week and we’ll see where we are.

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Sad little film fest…

Posted: March 16, 2014 in Uncategorized

I realized something. I only ever seen to watch Koyaanisqatsi and Silent Running when I’m alone, and it’s like… midnight. And then it occurred to me that Goyokin fits that pattern as well. And The Dark Corner and Under The Cherry Moon too. And now I want to watch them all, in that order, and have the weirdest One-Man Film Fest in history.

This is why I can’t be left alone unsupervised.

So I watched all of Zatoichi…

Posted: February 5, 2014 in Uncategorized

I don’t have any children, I have cats. Specifically, I have one cat that is MY cat. This is going somewhere. So at Christmas, I decided to allow my cat to get me a nice present. She decided to get me the Zatoichi Boxset from The Criterion Collection. See, I don’t have kids, so Syd can’t get some something and put their names on it. I’ve got to go on Amazon for the cat, and find something she would think I would like, and buy it for her. Cats, as you may have heard, are lazy creatures. So that’s how I came to own most of the Zatoichi movies, I already owned recent films under the brand name (more on that later) and I acquired the latest and the one film Criterion didn’t put in their boxset (again, later) so I could have them all. I then decided to watch all of them during January. I watched all the original movies during January, but life got in the way for the last three films. I watched them during the first few days of February.

So what it is?
The Zatoichi movies are an action series that spanned both movies and TV. There are 25 movies in the original set of films (which were made in only 11 years) and then it went to TV for four seasons. Then, in 1989, one more movie came along. All of these stared Shintaro Katsu in the title role (all the movies had the name Zatoichi in the title) which means it’s really not the James Bond of Japan, since those losers drop out after four or five movies. Even Dr Who tends to get a new guy to be its lead after three seasons.

Who Is This Guy?
The main character is a blind masseur, who wanders from place to place, getting in adventures. It’s okay that he’s blind though, because he has a cane with a sword in it and Mad Skillz (with a Z damnit) that even Daredevil would find impressive. He’s also part of the yakuza, even though he’s not part of any particular group. Yakuza have a different relationship to mainstream culture in Japan than The Mafia have in America, evidently. Zatoichi is very specific about how things should be done, and has no time for any yakuza boss who works with a corrupt official or victimizes people who aren’t asking for it. He’s got no problem with gamblers and even tolerates thugs, but if they break The Rules, then they are toast. Thing is, he’s not very high ranking, the Zato part of the name indicates that he’s the lowest rank of masseurs. He’s supposed to be just one step above a beggar, he’s the lowest rank of the lowest legal profession.

What Surprised Me
What I found most surprising is that the series never started to feel stale. There was only one movie in the original 25 that I didn’t like and that was Zatoichi Meets he One-Armed Swordsman. Every other movie was great, and I really enjoyed each and every one of them. I was also a little surprised at the fact that it wasn’t the same thing over and over again. Certain themes cropped up, but there are repeated themes just within the Samurai movie genre as a whole. That a few things seem to come up over and over again wasn’t a failing of the movies, so much as the beat of their rhythm. That there were regular badasses for Ichi to fight, or that Ichi would guess the dice by the sound they made was just part of the movies.

The thing is, the stories at the heart of the movies was always something a little different, and they were actually developed. A local boss would have a scam, and he would have reasons for the scam, and the people who would be helped and hurt are generally shown and fleshed out within the movie. It would have been very easy for this series to get lazy, but I never felt like it did. I always felt like the movies had fully realized stories and characters that you could actually care about. And at the heart of the whole thing is a fantastic actor playing a really captivating role. Katsu is sort of amazing as Zatoichi, and he’s incredibly fast. There are several action scenes I had to watch over to really catch everything.

I was also taken aback at how modern the movies felt. They’re shot with a style that was less prevalent then, but is more so now. This was kind of a trendsetting series though, so it’s easy to see how this might be the case.

Thoughts
The first 25 come in such quick succession that it was like watching a TV show (which the series later became) but one where a little more time and money was lavished than the average show. It’s a really excellent series, and very populist. The poor people, the exploited masses, these are the heroes, while the rich are corrupt bastards. Ichi is a tough guy, and a sweetheart, so he was adored by yakuza and grandmothers alike. You can see how the series was as popular as it was, and why it gave Katsu the power it did.

The last movie (the 26th) came some 16 years after the previous film, and is so 80s it kind of hurts. The movie itself it fine, even if it comes off as Zatoichi’s greatest hits. The music is super 80s pop though, as is much of the rest of the movies. I liked it though, and it’s got no shame in standing next to its brothers.

Now, in 2003 Kitano Takeshi made a new movie, with himself in the title role. He’s often the star of movies he directs, so there was nothing odd there. And Katsu directed two of the original Zatoichi movies, so that’s okay. The movie was weird though, because it was very much a Kitano Takeshi movie and those two styles don’t naturally suggest each other. Also, while paying tribute to the originals, they are also sort of a parody as well. Several things are made jokes, while other things are followed along exactly as they should be. It was sort of the perfect mix in a world that grasped that kind of humor.

In 2008 a movie with a woman starring as Ichi (the blind swordswoman). This movie played the whole thing far more seriously, and had a plot that followed Ichi more than it examined the bad guys. The movie was different than any of the Zatoichi movies, but I felt like that was in a good way. It was inspired by the original, but it wasn’t a slave to it. It was also longer than any of the others. Most the Zatoichi movies clock in at under 90 minutes, this one went a full two hours.

Finally, at the end (and I’m exhausted by the way) come 2010s Zatoichi: The Last. To be honest, less said about that the better

The Greats Recap

Posted: December 18, 2013 in Uncategorized

Great Series

Horror

Fantasy

Historical Movies

Crime Pictures

Sci-Fi

Westerns, Samurai & Kung-fu

Behind the curtian…

Posted: December 5, 2013 in Uncategorized

I’m not sure kids… this review is having some problems. This special is makes me genuinely and legitimately angry. Like, red mist angry. Like, spitting nails angry. Now, I know, some people like it when I get angry, but I’ve felt lately that I’ve passed that phase. I’ll still post the links for the Rudolph and Charlie Brown reviews, but I’m not sure I have it in me anymore.

On the other hand, the world needs to be told why this is making me angry. On yet another hand, certain events in the lives of some friends would make the review hit way to close to home. And yet, there is a truth to be told and a personal struggle to expose.

Sooo, yeah… I honestly don’t know. You may end up reading about how The Bourne Identity and The French Connection TOTALLY count as Christmas movies come Sunday.

1. I liked it! I really liked it. It might be the best Iron Man movie, but I’ll have to watch the first one to make sure. Still, very good. Shane Black knows what the he’s doing.

2. The tone is darker, more serious, but it’s still a light hearted movie you can take the kids to see.

3. What the hell is it with Shane Black and Christmas? SRSLY!

4. This had a way better roll for Pepper than anything else the character has been in.

5. I think some people suffering from PDST (or atleast major anxiety issues) can point to this movie and say “Yeah, that’s what it’s like.” without having to worry about things being triggery. The end of The Avengers is his trigger, the rest of us don’t need to worry.

Minor spoilers below the cut…
(more…)

I had an idea today…

Posted: April 23, 2013 in Uncategorized

I had an idea this morning, that I should have a film festival of movies with years in the title, silly idea, but I had it. This is what I would be watching, but I have to get the movies first.

1492: Conquest of Paradise

1900

1911

Gold Diggers of 1933

Gold Diggers of 1935

Gold Diggers of 1937

1941

Back to 1942

1984

2001: A Space Odyssey

2010: The Year We Make Contact

2012

2046