ReReview: Female on the Beach (1955)

025192118982OH MY GOSH LADY CALL THE COPS. (throw him out first). (and before that, make him give you back his key.) (and then, buy a gun.) OH MY GOSH. This isn’t going to end well.
EFF OFF, YOU CREEPY LITTLE F*CKER!

Although it’s no wonder he’s got an inflated opinion of himself, if he knows he’s able to drive women to attempted murder-suicide and this isn’t even a chick he slept with….this really isn’t going to end well.

Ladies, when you are talking to a creepy little f*cker, even if he’s managing to be less creepy and explain himself, DO NOT APOLOGIZE FOR BEING QUOTE RUDE UNQUOTE. Especially when he’s explaining to you that he’s a gigolo who is chasing you for your money and oh yes he was involved with the previous tenant, who, BY THE WAY, fell to her death mysteriously FROM YOUR BALCONY. Two days ago. I mean, seriously, they haven’t even fixed the railing yet, good grief!

(This isn’t going to end well.)

Zing! I like this detective. He’s going to be the guy who picks up all the pieces afterwards, isn’t he? (Unless he’s the AKTUAL MURDERER, but I doubt that.)

EFF OFF YOU CREEPY LITTLE F*CKER! AND TAKE YOUR PUSHERS WITH YOU…oh good, she sent them packing. BUT NOT HIM, SHEESH LADY. Oh, this isn’t going to end well….Oh. Kay. Riiiiiiiiiiiight.

Getting zinged by the cleaning lady: you ain’t doing well.

Lady, that’s just embarassing. All that? At your age?

OKAY, the detective is definitely smelling fishy, and it isn’t because of the shark hook.

Okay, we have now progressed to a) romantic bridal carrying, b) the detectives now have binoculars. What the heck is up with this movie?

You pimps are annoying.

I’m on Team Detective….

This scene in its native tongue:
– Meow grr hiss.
– Meow?
– Hissss
– Meow, mew, mew, licks paw.
– HISS! HISSSS YOWL GRRRR! YOWL!
– licks paw, cleans ear, licks paw again: mew?
Hissssss, flicks tail, leaves, tail still flicking.
As entertaining as that was, in hindsight, it’s kind of obvious that the writers didn’t actually know how to end this script and were fishing around for an actual villain.

AGGH GROSS IT’S A KISSING SCENE FAST FORWARD IT ewww!

Ugh you pimps are really annoying. Ahaha. Gosh. That guy’s even more of an obvious loser than Drummond is.

Okay, explain to me how you managed to knock him all the way to the floor with one slap? He’s a foot taller than you and made of stacked muscle. Seriously? You also gave him a concussion??

Gah, I really hate you catty lady. Oh no! She switched them! She set them up it was her doing OH MY GOSH!

Oh, and the detective is watching.

(Oh whew she’s okay. ((How did she make it out the water without even getting her hair wet?)))

Ugh gross it’s another kissing scene.

Well, that was underwhelming. I expected someone was going to die.

Rated: it’s a romance, we’ll be generous. 3/5 stars.

Primarily, Avatar

Dracula (1979) – Frank Langella as Count Dracula, Donald Pleasance as Dr. Seward, Lawrence Olivier as Prof. Van Helsing. I actually watched this a couple weeks ago and was favorably impressed. I might add that I had a fever at the time, but as adaptations that senselessly change things go, this was still fairly….dignified. Olivier and Langella both do very well. Jonathan Harker also has a prominent role that would have been even better if he had been framed as, y’know, the hero.

– My Cousin Rachel (1952) – Eh.

– Shadow of the Vampire  (?) – I watched a bit of this and then wandered back off, it missed the mark.  The vampire actor asking for more makeup was amusing, though.

– I’ll stick this one here because otherwise it might get missed: Tower of Silence – Larry Correia – the 4th book in his Saga of the Forgotten Warrior – has been released in eARC form. This is an un-copyedited, un-modified draft as directly turned by by Correia to his publisher, so there were some noticeable spelling glitches, etc; the official release is in April of this year. Without getting into spoilers: this book is excellent, mostly because it is the beginning of the end. Answers are beginning to show up; the plot is starting to coalesce; Crown, Mask, and Demons are assembling; Voice and Priest are in position, and the General is on his way. Now, if there wasn’t that small problem of Thera’s not quite-ex-enough-husband showing up….

– Avatar: the Way of Water (2022) – I watched about 1.5~2 hours of this and got bored and left. It’s extremely pretty, yes. If you ever wanted to watch a nature documentary set on a hostile world, this is the movie for you. Watch it in theatres. Oh, also, I liked Quarich (the rough, tough, super-macho military bad guy) way, way, wayyyyy better than any other character in the entire movie…first movie, and second. Neytiri actually also wasn’t bad? Surprisingly. Also-also, the military-Na’vi avatars wearing Oakleys cracked me up. Anyhow, I didn’t like the movie because:

  • It’s extremely dumb. (Y no bulletproof glass in your helicopters? NO, SERIOUSLY, WHY DO YOU NOT HAVE BULLETPROOF GLASS IN ANY OF YOUR VEHICLES? I CANNOT EMPHASIZE ENOUGH THAT THEY DO NOT HAVE BULLETPROOF GLASS IN THEIR MECHAS, HELICOPTERS, MAGLEV TRAINS, OR SUPERGIANT BULLDOZERS. ON AN ALIEN PLANET WITH AN ACTIVE INSURRECTION…..WHY?!?! Why send small guerilla force unfamiliar with local hostile terrain to combat large guerilla force familiar with terrain and extremely hostile? Y not have anti-flying hostile bird guns mounted on important stuff, like trains? Why are your trains transporting weapons that the guerillas can take and use against you, excuse me, WHAT. The brain, it melts trying to comprehend the stupidity of the scriptwriters, who think that this is logical behavior for functional human beings.)
  • The story, such as it is, is also extremely poorly thought out. The leader–the warleader , without whose tactical knowledge any resistance against the more high-tech opponent will fail–runs away with his tail literally between his legs when his family is threatened. Not: he sends his family away to safety and stays himself. Not: he whups the snot out of his dumbass teenagers who walked themselves and the younger kids directly into a trap. No, he abandons his post, his people who rely on him (and wasn’t he the one who started the all-out war in the first movie, anyway?), and he runs away to go swim with the fishes. Meanwhile, humans–who have functional FTL travel, and cryosleep–have decided that a marginally habitable planet WITH AN UNBREATHABLE ATMOSPHERE AND ALSO INTELLIGENT ALIENS PERFORMING AN ACTIVE, VIOLENT INSURRECTION  is going to be the new home of humanity. Guys. Guys. Find another planet and move the fuck on.
  • It appears that unobtanium is no longer a thing.
  • It’s anti-human propaganda. I could rant about this for a while, but: it’s anti-human propaganda. There is no greater condemnation. Do not consume.
  • Unless you really, really, want to watch the pretty. Traitor.

Movie (re)Review – Remember the Night

maxresdefaultRemember The Night is  a “Isn’t Christmas Wonderful”-genre holiday special, wrapped in a noir-style trench coat and fedora.

The incomparable Barbara Stanwyck (Cry Wolf) and the damn fine Fred MacMurray (Quantez, Double Indemnity) star as a thieving dame who got sticky fingers once too often, and the prosecuting attorney whose job it is to land her in jail.

MacMurray (John Sargent) has something of a reputation to maintain: he’s the best in the department at getting female defendants convicted. Accordingly, when, just before Christmas, he sees the jury about to acquit, he…calls for a recess. The jurors will feel obliged to him for giving them Christmas off, resentful towards Stanwyck (Lee) for having dragged them back to the box, and in the post-holiday gloom are much more likely to give him his conviction. However, there is no heart so cold but knows a touch of pity, and seeing poor Lee fuming and frustrated about spending Christmas in jail, arranges to bail her out.

And then, since she doesn’t have money or a place to stay–or pocket money for a meal–takes her out to dinner. And then, since it turns out they are both native Indiana-ians, arranges to take her home for Christmas. Even though this technically means that he is transporting a felon across state lines.

Hijinx ensue….and they’re going to spend the honeymoon at the Niagara Falls.

There really isn’t any much more to this say about the movie than that, except to add that, did we mention, it stars Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray at the top of their noir-sharp dialogue game and enjoying themselves enormously. Such as when they have to make a fast exit from a hick judge:

Sargent: You threw a lighted match into the wastebasket?
Lee: Well, I wasn’t aiming for the spittoon.
Sargent: You know that’s called arson?
Lee: [faux-aghast] Nooo! I thought that was when you bit somebody!

Or Lee, dismissing the suggestion that it’s kleptomania behind her thieving ways: “Well, they tried that. But you see, you can’t turn around and try to fence the stuff afterwards. They take away your amateur status, then.” Or Sargent’s completely deadpan explanation to his mother that Lee is actually a petty crook who is out on bail….no, Mother, I wasn’t joking. And it’s not even a first offense.

So: good stuff, adroitly packaged, funny, fun, heartwarming, perfectly cast, and perfectly pleasing in every way. They don’t make movie stars like this any more, and they don’t make movies for them any more.

Rated: …we’re at Niagara Falls right now, darling.

Read/watchlist: non compos mentis

So over the course of the last week or so, I’ve watched:

Mary Reilly – 1996 – film starring John Malkovitch as Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, and Julia Roberts as his housemaid. Also Glenn Close is in it. There are some movies which, it turns out, are perfect for watching in a feverish drowse, and this is one of them. It might even be pretty good whilst sober, IDK. I also read the book, which was improved on by the adaptation.

Con Air – 1997 – a film not directed by Michael Bay, which suffers from it. (I wasn’t quite out of my mind enough to watch this all the way through, but Nicholas Cage’s fake southern accent was kind of hilarious.)

Mission: Impossible (the one with the actress who got horribly miscast as Jessica in the new Dune movie), whichever that is, it’s pretty bad. There were motorcycles in it, I believe.

Top Gun: Maverick (again)

– Some episode of Xena: Warrior Princess (did this show just get completely memoryholed? Does no one remember that there was a Strong Female Character TM who was extremely popular and OP? It seems like more people debating the First Strong Female Lead Character Ever TM should be a bit more respectful.) I mean, it’s….completely cheesy and without lasting value, but! this show is absolutely amazing. When you’re also too lightheaded to drive.

Ayiyiyiyiyiyi.

And read:

Spinning Silver – Naomi Novik wrote a pretty great fantasy fiction, mostly by not allowing the romance tropes to overtake the intrigue and action. But leaning harder into the pure, high fantasy-epic tropes would have been nice regardless.

– Tales from the White Hart – Arthur C. Clarke chronicles the yarns of fictional raconteur Harry Purvis at the eponymous London pub, in an adorably ’50s cozy-scifi way.

– The Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas. Hell, it turns out, is finding that your premier paperback copy is actually abridged and Project Gutenberg insists on not providing a better alternative. Like Dracula, it would be kind of awesome to see an actual adaptation of this book….because I don’t think it’s ever actually been done.

Movie (re)Review – Best of the Badmen (1951)

Best of the Badmen was released in 1951, is a Western, and stars Robert Ryan, Claire Trevor, and Walter Brennan, in case you needed to know any of that.

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This movie was indecisive.

It’s got good filming/staging/cinematography. (Look, I am easy to please. If the colors are pretty and there are lots of them, I am happy.) It’s got good fight choreography (Robert Ryan was a collegiate boxer and knew how to throw a punch). It’s got some pretty top-notch actors–Walter Brennan in particular underplays his usual humorous old-timer role with an almost villainous edge, to interesting effect. On the other hand, there are times when the actors–especially Robert Ryan–nail their parts effortlessly, and then there are times when they don’t. If they’d all gone full-throttle, all the time, it might have smoothed over the deficiencies of the script and made it better overall.

Anyhow, it’s also got an intriguing concept for a plot: post the Civil War, the man (Jeff Clanton, Robert Ryan) who brings in Quantrill’s Raiders (you know–Jesse James and the like) peacefully, is double-crossed or outfoxed or whatever, by the evil carpetbagger-slash-Pinkerton, Fowler. Fowler wants the rewards on the Jameses and Youngers; when Clanton refuses to hand them over, has him found guilty of murder in a kangaroo court and sentenced to hang. However, after Mrs. Fowler (Claire Trevor) breaks him out of jail and he hooks up with the outlaws, the once peaceable Clanton is hell-bent for revenge on Fowler. (Only Fowler–he doesn’t care about the money.) Also, Mrs. Fowler has also taken refuge in the outlaw town–incognito–and hooks up with Clanton. Dum-de-dum, something something outlaw raid, oh, and maintain your humanity and let’s escape to Mexico but not until I. Get. Fowler.

So you can see there is much that could be of interest there. However, it’s got a script that doesn’t quite pull together as well as it should, and can’t decide whether it is going to be dumb but competent and occasionally witty, or dumb but moralizing and dramatic. It settles on dramatic….and dumb.

Pros: The characters are well-sketched. Walter Brennan, playing an antiheroic twist on his usual role, is quite good. Even the outlaws, who usually would be consigned to a surly bunch in the background, are fairly distinctive and have a certain amount of personality. Claire Trevor (rather zaftig and looking glam in period costume) does fine in an ambiguous but also slightly underwritten role. Jack Beutel, as the sidekick, is good at being A Good Kid.–which, if that name sounds vaguely familiar, yes indeed he was Billy the Kid in the 1943 horrorshow The Outlaw. He’s wayyyyy better in this movie. [This is not difficult.]

Cons: The script is a lot stupider than it needs to be and there is the distinct impression at points that the actors knew it, too. Oh, and the ending is abrupt, moralistic, and pretty darned unsatisfying. Other than that, it’s a good little movie.

Rated: Oh, and Robert Ryan has a shirtless scene.

Review: Dracula – Bram Stoker

9780141439846So, there are several things that jump out about reading the OG Dracula novel.

One is that it would be really, really cool to see a movie adaptation of this book that is actually an adaptation of this book. It’s somewhat famously been stated that most adaptations are of the stage play, and now most are just straight-up based on previous movie adaptations, what’s a stage play?

Jonathan, Seward, and especially Mina are the main narrators of this novel, and they’re quite interesting protagonists in their own right: Jonathan is intelligent but naive, and develops into a man of absolute will and iron nerve, fired by the need to protect his beloved wife and avenge his own hurts. Seward is cool and analytical, but not nearly as much as he wants to be or thinks he is, and struggles with things outside of the settled science that he understands. And Mina is very much the unsung heroine who glues the plot together…and provides much-needed brainpower at times.

It would also be cool for said faithful adaptation to focus on the horror of vampirism, rather than the OMG DID YOU KNOW VAMPIRISM IS A CODE FOR THE SEX? TEE HEE angle that every. single. movie. and the thrice-damned urban fantasy genre in general ever has gone in necks-deep for. Yes, there is a definite aspect of addictive pleasure to vampirism: Jonathan has a moment of temptation with the Brides, Lucy has a personality shift post-death. But it’s played for more of the addiction angle: it’s something that subjugates the real personality to another’s thoughts and will, something that enthralls rather than bewitches, something that’s not titillating at all when its soulless eyes are leering into yours and offering you a fix. The Count’s predation on Lucy slowly destroys her physically, kills her mother, turns her into a monster that preys on children, and forces her to tempt the man she loves into a similar fate, even though she’s absolutely horrified by this in her lucid moments. The Count is not portrayed as a mysterious, tormented lover: he’s a stalkery thug who picks random women who catch his eye and physically injures them just because he can and wants to.

Being a vampire is nothing desirable. It’s terrifying to the victim, who can feel their will being overridden and the pain of their body being physically attacked and weakened, drained of blood. It’s horrifying from the outside, to the people who may not even know why their friend or child–or lover–is in such pain. And then it’s horrifying because now the person you loved is going to do the same thing to someone else, and is going to laugh about it.

Back to that hypothetical very cool movie adaptation: there’s a lot of scary, atmospheric, horror-type scenes, too, that never make it into the movies. The apocalyptic voyage of the Demeter, with crew disappearing one by one and the captain finally lashing himself to the wheel for the final trip through shoal and storm could be it’s own movie all by itself (has there been?) Then, there’s the Count’s final attack on Lucy–beginning with a howling wild wolf smashing through the window while she is too weak to call for help, her mother dying in her arms, leaving her trapped in the same bed as the corpse. Or the invasion of Carfax Abbey, when the hunters are suddenly swarmed by a horde of rats (to be rescued by a reserve team of terriers….) Those scenes are scary! And cool! They deserve to be seen on film!

[Complete sidenote: there is a very low-budgeted indie horror-Western movie called Shroud….which, well, we’ll discuss it some  other time, but it’s almost worth watching the negative-budget stunt fights for the twist at the end. The twist at the end makes you just want to pat this movie on the head and tell it nice things because, awwww, it has ambitions, lookat d’cute li’l dumb thing.]

There’s also some pretty darned thrilling action scenes that I don’t think have ever been adapted, either: the hunters confronting the Count in his London lair–Jonathan lunging at him with a kukri and then following him through a broken window–or even or Quincy Morris shooting at an eavesdropping bat. There’s the tension of the race to Europe after the Czarina Catherine and then, afterwards, tracing the Count’s river journey back towards his castle.

In fact, most of what I consider the strongest part of the novel–the point-by-point investigative work, tracing the Count to Carfax Abbey and then back again outwards from it, finding where he’s hidden his other spare coffins and systematically destroying them–just seems to get completely left out. Which leads to my second point:

The second point about this book is that there is a really taut, thrilling, action horror pulp novel in there. Problem is, it’s covered up with generous. nay, heaping dollops of melodrama that really don’t play as well to the modern eye as perhaps it did to the pre-modern. There’s a lot of weeping, hugging, emotionally swearing brotherhood, eternal trust, holy vengeance, more weeping, eternal brotherhood, emotional hugging, weeping, promising of trust….et cetera. The problem isn’t that any of this stuff is there, because some of it is a vital part of character progression and development. The problem is that there’s oodles too much of it and it gets in the way of the interesting stuff that happens.

There’s also the fact that roughly half of the characters aren’t really paying attention to what’s going on in the rest of the book, and as such, are prone to making the stupid and repeated mistakes of deliberately excluding Mina from the war council after Mina has provided crucial intelligence for the cause, ignoring Mina when she’s obviously suddenly anemic, ignoring random bats outside the war-council-room window, ignoring your canary in the coal mine when he warns you that Mina is in danger RIGHT NOW, and then, after finding out that (GASP) Mina has been preyed upon and vampirized by the Count….then and only then deciding that you are going to trust her utterly and include her in all councils hereafter. (Mina herself has to be the one to tell them not to do this.) Van Helsing has the paper-thin excuse that he thinks Mina might be pregnant and needs to stay out of it, but Seward knows how vital, useful, and well-informed Mina is, and Jonathan has zero excuses to make.

So, this book is a deeply uneven read. When I first read (listened via librivox, which is a great resource if you didn’t know about it) this book, I loved it for what was actually quite a small portion of the book: the investigation parts, where Jonathan, and Arthur Holmwood are at their very best, tracing the Count’s movements and and lairs (with some baksheesh), and then using social engineering to outright freaking burglarize a vampire’s legally-purchased house and destroy his earth box coffin lairs in broad daylight plain sight. I also loved the three-part chase: the Count fleeing by boat up-river, and the hunter’s company trailing him by river, horseback, and by carriage, each group armed with rifles of the same caliber so the ammunition is interchangeable, and the horseback group including a saddle with a removable horn that can be adapted for Mina. I mean, logistics! What more can you ask for?

But these verisimiltudinous touches keep getting interrupted, and worse, spread out by the aforementioned oozing emotional melodrama, taking up way too much page time, telling and not showing, removing the focus from the laconically thrilling medical mystery-slash-detective vampire hunter story, and padding the wordcount (probably.) Oh, and speaking of verisimilitude, the epistolary format allows for the inclusion (via Mina collecting and pasting them into her journal, dont’cha know) random POV snippets such as the random reporter who interviews the zookeeper about a missing wolf, or the invoice receipts from shipping companies. It’s all about logistics, I’m telling you. 

Well, logistics….and ignoring Mina. However! I have an elegant and simple solution for this particular problem, and it is thus: have Mina not be there. When the action moves to Carfax and the asylum, have Mina remain in London–and move into Lucy’s former home, to help administrate the estate while the trustee (Arthur Holmwood) is out of town. Thus, Mina is living in the house that the Count has the ability to enter; it keeps her at a remove from the men who should recognize instantly that anemia, pallor, and lethargy  = vampire; and it could allow the timeline to be tightened up a bit.

Honestly, though, my only other main criticism is that the main characters’ voices are all fairly similar, with Jonathan’s being the most distinct only inasmuch that he tends to downplay his emotions (while Seward denies that he’s actually wallowing in them…whilst in the midst of wallowing in them, and Mina just straight-up either cries or makes everyone else in the room cry.)

All that being said, this is a good book and it’s a shame no one ever made a movie of it.

Rated: I stand with him. To close you out.

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Quik(re)review – The 13th Letter (1951)

the-13th-letter-md-webSo I (re)watched The 13th Letter – a 1951 movie directed by Otto Premiger (you know, the name you know from lots of better movies such as Fallen AngelLauraWhere the Sidewalk Ends and…River of No Return? Huh.) and starring an underwritten Linda Darnell, a bored Charles Boyer, and Michael Rennie’s cheekbones as the hero.

It’s about a (very) tall, handsome, young, unmarried doctor who has set up in a small Canadian town and is just starting to settle himself and his clock collection in comfortably. The settling-in process is interrupted by a series of poison pen letters accusing him of an affair with Charles Boyer’s wife. This is, of course, nonsense, because Rennie has Linda Darnell throwing herself at him in a negligee and it’s getting harder and harder to dodge. But things get decidedly serious when one of the letters’ receivers commits suicide on being told he has cancer. Everyone is a suspect now–from the incompetent hospital nurse who is Boyer’s spurned ex and Boyer’s sister-in-law, to Darnell’s snide younger sister, to Linda Darnell herself. And what is the terrible trauma which lurks in our hero’s past…?

The reveal is two-fold, and actually rather more satisfying than you’d expect. It’s even been cunningly foreshadowed by Boyer’s doctor character explaining to another about this weird psychological condition known as folie a deux…

All that said, it’s still a bit underwritten. There’s enough story here for a TV episode, not really for a movie. Linda Darnell has barely anything to do except look alternately sultry and sulky, and there’s nothing whatsoever to make the romance between her and Rennie interesting other than both parties’ good looks. The central mystery is, fittingly, the most intriguing part of the story; but it’s a little hampered by the fact that there are really only two strong suspects and neither of them get any focus. Inserting more plot–such as making the “investigation” less laughable–would have provided more interest, and more room for all characters to explore and expand. It didn’t, it wasn’t, they couldn’t, and ultimately this movie is….a bit underwritten, and its cast members–who totally did have the ability to take what they were given and deliver on it–were good-looking but underserved.

Rated: I’m going to do something productive with my day any minute now. Annnny minute now.

Watchlist: noirish

Vicki (1953) – a noirish film starring Richard Boone, Jeanne Crain, and…others. Quite good, except I started mentally screaming for everyone to GET A LAWYER YOU IDIOT about three minutes in and never stopped. Apparently a remake of I Wake Up Screaming. 

– Ten Wanted Men (1955) – Richard Boone, Leo Gordon,  Lee van Cleef, and Randolph Scott. Not very good, even though that’s an excellent Western bad-guy lineup.

The House on Telegraph Hill (1951) – also a noirish film, starring….Richard Basehart? Possibly.

– Episodes of Have Gun, Will Travel – Why can’t we make TV shows like this any more? They’re short, intelligent, interesting, and they seem to have been made on a shoestring budget that mostly went to Richard Boone’s wardrobe and stunt doubles.

Sailor of the King (1953) – starring Michael Rennie, and a mostly-shirtless Jeffrey Hunter.

– Currently working on Shockproof (1949) – with what looks like Cornel Wilde – instead of going to the gym.

Misc + QuikReviews: No Time to Die, Oblivion

The area my parents are from has an industry based on three things: cows, chickens, and flea markets. That being said, it does pay to patiently check all the bookshelves when you browse your way through:

  • The Conquest of Mexico – Bernal Diaz del Castillo
  • The Horse and His Boy – C. S. Lewis (apparently I’m assembling a Narnia collection piecemeal)
  • Hank the Cowdog: The Case of the Double Bumblebee Sting – E. Erickson (to be delivered to the homeschool group, which will ignore it because those kids are hopeless.)

We also watched:

  • Oblivion (2013) – For a non-scifi person, The Mother of Skaith is rather surprisingly good at picking out the influences of one movie and another.
    • “They stole that from Star Trek!”
    • “This is like that other movie! The one with Sean Bean and whats-his face!”
    • “Sandpeople!”
    • “When was this made?”
  • No Time to Die (2021) – I have several thoughts about this movie.
    • The Mother of Skaith had thoughts about this movie, too, and they are:
      • “I do not like him as James Bond! He is an ugly person!”
      • “That is not Q! That little student person is Q? Q should be a distinguished figure.”
      • “What! James Bond does not have a child! That is not Bond.”
        “He probably has multiple kids, you know.”
        “James Bond does not have kids.”
    • Anyhow, this isn’t a very good James Bond movie. It’s an okayish “grizzled ex-spy gets pulled in for One Last Job” movie, but that still leaves it with some fundamental structural problems.
    • It’s aimed at a female audience. Female audiences are interested in things like feelings, emotional speeches, characters making emotional connections with each other, and families. They aren’t interested in things like: spycraft, cars, motorcycles, helicopters, gunfights (loud), tactical weapony procedural stuff (boring), problem solving under pressure (scary!), or stuff blowing up (ugh, come on). That stuff is boring, and they like to skip past it as quickly as possible to get back to the good stuff.
      • Mind, having emotional connections and character growth in your movie is good stuff, don’t mistake. Fights do get boring when there aren’t any personal stakes involved–such as people that we care about being endangered….and we have to legitimately care about them. My personal favorite action scene in the movie is where Bond attempts to draw off pursuit from his love interest and daughter. Bond legitimately cares about these people, and so, consequently, do we.
      • Bond and Paloma taking a moment for drinks in the middle of a gunfight was also a nice classic-film-Bondish moment.
    • The fundamental structural problem with skipping to the good stuff is that the conflicts are set to “easy mode.” The climax of the movie is Bond trying to a) stop the bad guy, b) rescue his family. a) is pretty simple. b) should require some effort, as both love interest and kid are in separate places under guard. But easy mode kicks in and all three manage to wander into each other without having to think, plan, ask questions, or work towards it as a goal.
    • It does not integrate the required male-audience interest stuff well enough to make it a truly unisex viewing experience. If it had it would have been….quite a lot better. And it is possible, at least in my opinion.
      • Seven Swords (2005) is a wuxia movie that is extremely female-audience-oriented. It’s got handsome guys with long flowing hair; shirtless scenes; elaborate costumes; at least two love triangles, one of which is a not-too-bad-looking villain obsessively in love with one of the main characters and the other of which is star-crossed; the action scenes are pretty much all filmed from the POV of the female characters as per the director’s commentary; not to mention that there are multiple well-written, female characters to begin (and end) with. And there’s oodles of wuxia violence, sword fights, fist fights, sword fights with weird swords, fights with weird weapons, fights on horseback, fights upside down between walls, fights where everything is on fire….and so on. So it is possible. (Is a very good movie.)

I also watched:

  • Two Weeks Notice (2002) because I’m still recovering from sickness, OKAY
    • Hugh Grant is actually really good here, making his upper class twit character a charming, intelligent upper class twit. Sandra Bullock is also good; her part is rather obnoxiously written but she makes herself completely likable. Unfortunately, after the first fifteen minutes or so, the script loses headway and never really makes it back up.
    • Although
      “Do you know what other games I like?”
      “Pokemon?”
      “Strip chess.”
      “….that is also a good game.”
      was pretty funny.