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Monday, July 7th, 2014 08:24 am
Really it was Movie Weekend. We watched Three.

The Sum of All Fears. In which we affirm that Ben Affleck cannot act. However, the movie did have Morgan Freeman. James Cromwell played the President. I like Cromwell, but he is NOT a convincing President. On a scale of 1 to "Hunt for Red October," This movie is a zero. I would not have made it to the end if it where not for Morgan Freeman.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. Really? Just plug this device into an electrical outlet on the same wall as the office we can't break into and we will steal information off a super locked-down computer. Really? That would be the quality of this movie from opening credits to closing credits. Made it all the way through only because I starting playing games on my laptop and reading reddit. This one is also a zero on the Red October scale.

Two movies that just screamed "Fuck You" to audiences everywhere.

And then there was an independent titled "If I Were You." We debated what to give this on our normal 1-5 scale. Not quite a four because it was a touch slow in a couple of places. And I am not fond of adolescent relationship drama played out by middle-aged people. But there are plenty of twists and turns, dark humor and fine performances. I was really entertained by this offering. I highly recommend this movie to anyone who is not longer stuck in childhood morality.
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Monday, June 23rd, 2014 07:08 am
And it's another winner! "About Time." Stacey found it by accident in the SF section of Netflix. IT is a time travel story that really isn't about time travel. It is a wonderful cast of characters and a better cast of actors to play them. I'm going to watch this movie again, I'm sure. 4 out of 5.

How is it, I wonder, that I am partial to British TV and Movies?
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Monday, June 16th, 2014 06:51 am
Blow Dry.

This went on our list for exactly one reason: Alan Rickman. We were not expecting much, though, as the synopsis strongly suggested that we would find this movie to much like a brainless, adolescent romp. How could Alan even be in anything that looked this bad.

Turned out to be very, very good. Funny, prancing premise that gives us a framework on which the actors hang wonderful performances of love, hate, betrayal and forgiveness.

Without Alan, I would have given this movie a 3 out of 5. With Alan, it gets a 4.
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Monday, April 28th, 2014 07:21 am

Judi Dench is simply fabulous no matter what role she plays. And that continues in this movie. I don't know Steve Coogan, but he, too, was simply terrific. The story line was great. I can't say enough good things about this movie. It was a Netflix disc so I don't know what Stacey rated it as, but, I give it a strong 5 out of five.

There simply isn't anything to complain about.
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Monday, April 21st, 2014 07:11 am
Saving Mr. Banks

Emma Thompson. Tom Hanks. That alone makes it worth watching. The story is somewhat true as it is based on a true story and underpinned by hours of recorded conversations. Obviously, it has a predictable outcome. But it is really fun watching havoc caused by PL Travers. Disney was portrayed, for the most part, as kindly fellow who had the best interests of his customers in mind. In reality, he was one of those geniuses that it is difficult to work for. That bit of whitewash took some of the grittiness out of the story.

On the strength of the acting, the movie gets a three.
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Sunday, April 13th, 2014 04:49 pm
12 Years a Slave.

I wasn't going to watch this movie. However, since it was in our Netflix dvd queue and Stacey controls that, the movie appeared in my home. We watched. Mostly I read reddit.

It was what I expected. The acting was good. This story has been told before. And there is very little entertainment value for me in brutality. So, that's a 2 out of five.
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Sunday, March 16th, 2014 10:21 am
Inside Llewyn Davis.

I adore the Joel and Ethan Coen films. But this one, though certainly one of theirs in tone and tempo, was not their best effort. I want to feel there is some possibility that the main character has some shot of redemption even though I know it will never, ever happen. I felt none of it. More than that, I really didn't want to see this guy win.

The era was perfect. He is a mediocre folk singer when the Beats where gone and before the rise of protest music. The early sixties where not kind to folk singers. Failing after a serious struggle for success would be more interesting that a guy who seems to think that something magical should happen to him just because he's a folk singer.

In the entire movie, there was only one character who didn't seem like a total shit. The owner of a club in Chicago talked straight. Everyone else was either an ignorant git, a manipulative asshole, or a righteous twit. I can only take so much of that.

I watched it through which means a 2 at minimum. It jets a bump for being a Coen movie. So, reluctantly, it gets a three.

Would have been a lot better if any of the music was decent. It wasn't.
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Monday, March 10th, 2014 07:35 am
Watched two over the weekend. The first was Dallas Buyers Club. I avoid AIDS movies. There is nothing new to say and the stories are depressing. This one had something new (to me) to say. And while it was depressing for all the reasons HIV is depressing, it was more depressing for the lengths the Federal Government went through to screw with this guy. It took me a bit of time to warm up to the main character. He starts out an ignorant, homophobic, sexist,redneck asshole. His transformation is quite believable and worth the price of admission all by itself. A very solid 3 and well worth watching.

Number two as Stand Up Guys. Al Pacino, Christopher Walkin, and Alan Arkin. Mostly the first two. And they were GREAT. It's a gangster movie and I usually don't like them, but these guys are such great actors that I'll watch them in anything. Stacey thought it was too slow, but I think that was more her pain meds than the movie. We gave it a three, but I would have given in a four.

Both are well worth watching.
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Tuesday, February 18th, 2014 07:03 am
First up was Europa Report. I have read the synopsis on that movie ever week for several weeks. Netflix's lowish rating and the "B" movie plot line put me off over and over and over. Then a righteous ass on reddit suggested it was decent, underrated SF. Watched it. The space science was on par with 2001: A Space Odyssey which this movie gave a tip of the hat to. Just before they played Zarathustra, I told Stacey they were going to find the obelisk. The special effects were pretty damn good. The acting was good. It was good. Right up to the end. A solid 3.

Last night we watched Enough Said. This movie did pretty good with reviews everywhere. The lead makes here living as an out-call masseuse. She has the right table. She has the right moves. Completely believable. That was fabulous attention to detail! We thoroughly enjoyed this movie and as it neared the end, I was sure I was going to give it a 4 out of 5. A great love story with people in their 40s. Then it came to an end, then it started up again and came to a second end. And lost a point. Doesn't anyone in the movies every have to suffer the consequences of their actions? If you want a great movie, turn it off when the daughters leave for college. If you want a good movie, watch it to the end. Your choice.
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Monday, December 30th, 2013 07:17 am
Yeah, well. If one forgets that the movie is "based" on the life of Steve Jobs an Apple, the movie was middling good. For it to have been really biographical, it would have needed a lot more. Even if you leave out Pixar, which is a BIG mistake in a story about Steve Jobs, it brushed entirely over his personal life once we were 20ish minutes in. In a now you see it and now you don't way, personal things floated into and out of the picture in a disjointed, jarring way.

One thing the movie did manage to say is this: Becoming a public corporation can be the kiss of death for a company that stakes itself on innovation. Investors are not interested in innovation; only profits.

Stacey gave this a 3 but she is an apple fan. I gave it a 2 because I am not an apple fan.

Stacey suggested that the movie release timing might have been intended to give apple stock a bump. She says it was sinking after Steve died and went up again after the movie hit theaters.

People are fickle, superstitious, chimpanzees.
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Saturday, December 21st, 2013 04:04 pm
I like Jodie Foster. I like Matt Damon. And they both seemed to do about as well as could be expected with the material at hand. This movie was HORRIBLE. Really, really bad. Gut wrenching bad. And embarrassment.

spoilers )

This isn't worst SF movie I've seen, but it is close. I did watch it to the end (I don't really know why), so by the rules of my scoring system, it gets a 2 out of 5. I really should have been a 1. I guess I like Matt Damon well enough to endure the rest of the cast and the script. Really low grade script with ridiculous characters on both side of the morality war.
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Monday, December 16th, 2013 07:21 am
Netflix disks are controlled by Stacey, so I usually have no idea what movie is arriving next. And I usually have no idea about the movie when it shows up. I don't keep track of such things in the news.

So, here is a movie that looks like a standard coming of age movie. Not so standard after all. There were many, many things to like about this movie and almost nothing to dislike.

Things to like: The movie takes place mostly at a water park. Lots of young people ( early teens through 20s ) and all with regular bodies. I didn't see a single young woman who I thought really needed to eat a cheeseburger. No ridiculously muscled teenage boys. Really. It looked real which is not what a San Diego beach looks like. This impressed me so much that I had to mention it to Stacey twice.

While it does have brief moments about a 14 year-old boy's sex drive, it isn't stupid about it. It is mostly about a 14 year-old feelings of not belonging and feelings of inadequacy. Beautifully done.

The main adult male grows up right along with the teen. This is too be expected. But we aren't beat up with it. And he is sweet on a woman who is not going to be featured in Maxim.

We get a real characterization of a mom who was left by one asshat and has fallen for another asshat. She learns something from her son. This is to be expected. But it happens fast, isn't the most important part of the story. And the results of that learning are left to the viewer.

Really. This was quite good. 4 out of five.
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Monday, December 9th, 2013 07:13 am
Finished Star Trek: Into Darkness

Wow. Did I hit the nail on the head with my starter review. Recycled old plot with long references to and one entire scene from one of the original series movies. Cute, but not satisfying. It gets a 2 out of 5. And had I known the plot line, I wouldn't have watched it at all. Between my starter review and this one, I have thought about the Star Trek Franchise. I realize I have a romanticized vision of it because the original series was very important to me.

However, the original series was pretty damn bad. TNG was, in my opinion, the best series although several characters where really horrible. Deep Space 9 could have top honors for me except that after season 3, I think, they were in a war. Got boring very, very fast. Didn't make it through season 4. The rest, Voyager and Enterprise, were just pitiable at best and laughable in general.

So the franchise hasn't a good track record for being good. I'll watch the next one, but I really don't expect much.

The other movie we watched, entirely for nostalgia, was the 1963 "Move Over, Darling" romantic comedy. I've always loved James Garner (fell in love as a boy when he was on Maverick in the 50s). And I have a special place For Doris Day. It has a wonderful cast of character actors that I love to watch work. One of the most interesting things about the movie is the morals assumptions. The laughable morals of tv and movies in the 50s and 60s. Those assumptions were not in the movies of the 30s and 40s and certainly gone again by the 70s. It was fun, but so seriously dated that it was fun in ways not intended. And like many movies of the era, it didn't really have an ending. They just slapped on a 2-minute happy ending. It didn't fit well. We watched it all the way through, so it gets a 2. Not recommended for anyone under 60 years of age. :)

Reminded me of an earlier movie "Cheaper by the Dozen." That movie didn't even have the slapped on ending. It just stopped. As much as I am a fan of Clifton Webb, that movie really sucked. He best work was the fantasy biography of the March King, John Philip Sousa.
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Saturday, December 7th, 2013 09:38 am
Well, less than half a movie night. We only watched a small portion before "tired" won.

I liked the first J.J. Abrams Star Trek. It was a decent story for relaunching a franchise that was pretty much played out. A new time line means an unexplored future. So many of the old story lines can be reused with new twists and turns. So, I was expecting this movie to be about the same action-packed, thrill a minute ride through the Star Trek universe.

Not so much so far. Why? Well the Kirk character is just not believable. In the Foundation Series, we have a character who has been carefully bred such that based on very limited information, he always comes up with the right answer. The character is explained well and is reasonably easy to accept because of the explanation.

The new and improved Kirk character is always right but unbelievable. Really unbelievable. Clownish. It was hard to spot in the first one because the movie really moved so there wasn't much time to think about his dare-devil view of the world. It was explained, but that being a dare-devil does not correctness make.

In this movie, so far, we get to spend a lot of time with nothing else to do but think about idiot Kirk. In fact, two other characters spend a lot of time letting us know that he is idiot Kirk. Kirk will win in the end (duh). He will have been proved correct in spite of the zig-zag course he lays in for the movie.

The other problem I'm having is with Spock. His character is a nag, so far. A bitchy, hide-bound, dick weed. This is not who he was in the first movie. I think the intention is to show us the building friendship between Spock and Kirk. But couldn't we pick that up where the first movie left off? Guess not.

The main plot is, so far, pedestrian. The subplots are still a bit opaque. Might turn out well. I'm hoping so.

No rating yet. But it better get better cause I'd really hate to give any Star Trek movie a 2 out of five. Even the even number ones from the first series of movies weren't a mere 2, although a couple of them were close to that.
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Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013 02:10 pm
Stacey and I have had Flypaper in our streaming queue on Netfix for quite a long time. I kept being a no to it because it stars Patrick Dempsey. I didn't like his character on Grey's Anatomy and I have not liked any of the interviews I've seen him in. So I don't like the man and I don't like the one character I've seen him play.

Finally decided to try it just to get it out of our queue.

Loved it. Even liked his character.

I'll probably watch it again. 3 out of 5.
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Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013 07:31 am
I really like Kevin Kline, so when Stacey discovered a movie that was made in 1995 when I was not paying the slightest attention to movies which starred Mr. Kline, we opted to watch it. The other star was Meg Ryan. Ms. Ryan plays cute characters. Always. I suspect if she was the superhero star of an action thriller, she would play it cute. Maybe that is all she can do. I have a lot of trouble with most of her movies because I don't find her the least attractive or interesting. I almost never like cute in people over the age of 3 or 4. And romantic comedies are a hard genre to write/direct because of the shortage of plot lines and twists. So, all and all, I was prepared to hate my way through it just to watch Kevin Kline.

Fun fact: When Mr. Kline plays in a straight up comedy. he has a mustache. When in a drama (even in it has comedic elements) he is clean shaven. His choice.

Well, the basic plot was transparent. Meg was reliably cute. Kevin was reliably superb and his character was not what one thinks of when "male lead in romantic comedy" is spoken. He was good enough that he elevated a watchable movie to entertaining movie. He made it a 3 out of 5.
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Monday, November 18th, 2013 07:40 am
I really like William Macy. I also really like Donald Sutherland and Tracey Ullman. So, we watched Panic. The plot synopsis sounded promising. It was slow and predictable.

Macy's character was not particularly well written, though. At least, it seemed to me that he was really two different characters. One written for a mid-life crisis movie and one written for this movie.

This was a very heavy-handed movie that failed entirely to fit its "dark comedy" genre.

A bright spot was John Ritter's portrayal of the psychologist. Very believable. I miss him.

spoilers )
And we knew that we would going to give it a 2 out of 5. Because the rule is that if we watch it all the way through, it gets at least a 2. But if it weren't for the principle actors, we would not have made it through the movie.
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Monday, November 4th, 2013 08:04 am
Monster University. 3 out of 5.

I think Disney should just stop using the PIXAR name. We have Toy Story II and III, cars II and III (the airplane one), and, now, Monsters II. This is NOT what made PIXAR great. This is just base commercialism.

I enjoyed the movie. I liked having a back story for Randall, Sully and Mike. It was a treat to here Roz and see Snowman and "cameos" from other MI characters. And I especially like the Princess Bride reference (made my rating go from 2 to 3). Probably liked it the best of everything in the movie. I also thought the librarian and that whole scene was really good.

What I didn't like was the PREDICTABLE nerds/jocks story line. It is sad to see PIXAR settle into Disney Ho Hum.
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Monday, October 21st, 2013 08:30 am
I could never get through the Great Gatsby when I was in school. It was assigned more than once, but I just couldn't stand the book. Then I tried to watch the 1974 movie. Walked out of the theater after 15 minutes. Tried to watch the new one. I really, really like Toby Maguire. Lasted about 30 minutes. I still hate the story. But this movie added seriously discordant music.

I have serious reservations about people who think it is one of the "great American novels." Must be the same people who put "50 Shades of Grey" on the NYT Best Seller list.

So, even with Toby, the new GG gets a solid goose egg on entertainment value.

And there there is TV. I discovered this weekend that Netflix is filming a second (and final season) of House of Cards. JOY.
I knew that Orange is the New Black didn't do as well with critics as HoCs, but I was not prepared for just how ridiculously bad the first episode was. The premise isn't too bad, but the lead character is being sold to us as a brainless valley-girl stereotype. I'm sure the story arc is her toughening up and getting "street smart" as her 15 month prison term stretches on. I just DON'T CARE about this character or her idiot BF. And lots of naked women and pretend sex and none of it sexy in the least bit. And most of it unnecessary to the story. Guess it is there to draw in the all important 15-30 male demographic.

And the rest of the inmate/guard population are also stereotypes. I'll give the actors some credit for trying to turn this characters into full fledged people.

I should look up the show and see if there is even ONE woman on the writing staff. That first show seemed filled with the kind of humor that floated around the boys locker room in junior high.

Well, watched the whole episode, so it gets a 2 out of 5. It is a very weak 2. I spent most of the episode glancing up now and then will I played Sudoku on my iPad.
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Wednesday, October 16th, 2013 07:25 am
Watched a movie called Guard. The plot is a pretty straight forward police versus drug dealers drama. The difference here, though, is that it is set in Ireland. And the lead character is quite wonderful. I was far less interested in the crime drama and way more interested in learning more about this Sargent. 4 out of five.

Also, finally, finished House of Cards. I am a Kevin Spacey fan, so I like everything he does. :) The entire cast was great. The least acting skill or the most poorly drawn character is Zoe Barns. She is cute enough to make her character less intolerable though. She is a journalist. A rather stupid one. Part way through the series I finally remembered that in the first episode our "hero," Congressman Underwood, stated his intentions. At the point where I couldn't figure out why he was doing a certain thing, I remembered what he was really up to. Great writing. Great delivery. The creative team left us with a great cliff hanger that could just as easily be the series ending show. How good is that? It means Netflix has the room to make more if they want. I'm of mixed feeling about the idea.

One of the good and bad things about the series Firefly was that it died a sudden death before the writers had a chance to have it linger and limp along like Grey's Anatomy has done after the first three seasons.

In any event, I give House of Cards a solid 5 out of 5 for TV. Rants right up there with Breaking Bad. Thank you, Netflix, for getting "out of the way" while the show was being made.