Midnight in Paris
Let's ring in the new year with the latest from Woody Allen. The Woodman isn't in front of the camera for this film, he just wrote and directed. He got Owen Wilson to play the role of Woody Allen in this movie, and I have to say that Wilson plays the Woodman better than Woody ever did. A bit of Allen history here. Fans of the Woodman know his first film appearance was in "What's Up Pussycat?", which was set in Paris. Shortly afterwards, Allen moved to LA and starting writing (and directing/acting in) a string of successful movies. In this film, Wilson plays a writer who has had a string of very successful screenplays made into successful movies. He is currently in Paris, with his fiance, working on a novel. He is constantly complaining that he was truely happy back when was living in Paris as a near starving writer, before going to Hollywood and "selling out." His fiance doesn't see what the problem is, he is successful in his career and should continue doing what has been bringing in lots of money. To make things worse, they run into old "friends", including a fellow Wilson's character (i.e. Woody Allen) can't stand, but his fiance thinks is knowledgeable and charming. True to form, our protagonist is complaining about many things, including about how boring modern times are, and how much more alive Paris was during the 1920s. Then comes the movie magic, while wandering the streets of Paris alone, at Midnight, an old limo pulls up and the occupants insist that he join them. The booze†is flowing freely, so he gets in. The car takes them to a party where he meets F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife, Ernest Hemingway, and other famous people who made 1920s Paris their home. In the morning he returns to the early 21st Century and freshly inspired, works on his novel, while his fiance "tours" Paris with friends. This repeats for multiple nights, and his adventures continue, including getting Gertrude Stein and Hemingway to read his novel and give advice. Oh, and he also finds the love of his life. She is as bored with Paris of the 1920s as the Woodman stand in is of the 21st Century. She pines for the "Bella Epoch". The two of them travel there, were they find her heroes pining for the old days as well. This is a revelation for him, he returns to the 21st Century, cleans up the mess of his personal life, and decides to move forward rather than living for the past. I described an earlier B-Movie pick as "a big sloppy wet kiss, with tongue, to Steven Spielberg." In this film, Woody Allen does much more than that. He gets down on his knees, unhinges his jaw, and deep throats Paris. The city of Paris is as much a character in this movie as any of the roles played by actors (the actor playing Hemingway was fornicating awesome BTW). This is a film carefully crafted by a master film maker and will be especially enjoyed by fans of the Woodman's work, such as myself. The only part I would warn my gentle readers about is where Allen let's his far left extremist political views leak through. It's clear that those are based on his emotions, and not any rational thought.
Walk of Shame
Elizabeth Banks stars in this light comedy about a "good girl" having a bad day. She plays a local LA "TV news anchor" (i.e. a meat puppet news reader) who goes out drinking with her friends after a bad day (her fiance dumps her, and she comes up second for a network news position). Much drinking occurs, and after a series of advents going wrong, she ends up on the streets of LA without ID, phone or cash. She does have her car keys, but her car has been towed. To add to the drama, she has to get to work on time because it turns out she has a shot at the network meat puppet job. She endures a series of adventures, including a cabbie who thinks she is a stripper, cops who think she is a hooker, and the best part, spending some time in a South Central crack house. An OK comedy, not a great comedy. I think Banks took the role because she was turning 40 and wanted to show she could rock that yellow tube sock of a dress she spend most of the film in.
The November Man
Former Bond Pierce Brosnan teams up with former Bond girl Olga Kurylenko in this tale of espionage, morality, and international conspiracies. The action is good, as is the acting. There is the occasional upper torso female nude scene, just so you can have some sex with your violence. Not all the portrayal of human sexuality is wholesome though, one of the main villains is not a nice person. In all, a good example of B-Movie making. Well worth the rental and popcorn.
I Married a Witch
A classic example of the Screwball Comedy genre from the 1930s and 1940s. The absolutely stunning Veronica Lake plays a Witch who was burned at the stake in Salem, MA, but not before she cursed the Wooley family who identified her as a witch. 270 years later, she's back and decides to torment the current Wooley, who is running for governor of Massachusetts and is engaged to a shrew (because of the curse). A comedy of errors results in her falling in love with him!
Movie version of the classic Robert A. Heinlein short story, "All You Zombies." Remarkably true to the story, down to the dialogue, with an added layer of complexity added to make the story movie length. A very well made movie based on perhaps the best time travel story ever written.
A classic Western from 1959 recommended by none other than the Middleman! Great cast which includes Randolph Scott, Pernell Roberts, Lee Van Cleef, and a very young James Coburn. Scott plays a bounty hunter with his own reasons for bringing in a killer. Roberts and Coburn's characters want to bring him in for their own reasons, and the killer's brother, played by Van Cleef, a viscous, cold blooded killer, doesn't want to see his little brother hang. Throw in Indian attacks and a beautiful woman (played by the director's wife) for flavor, and you have a classic Western with Noir elements. Well worth the popcorn and rental fee.
1776 and An American Carol
Once again, I'm going with an Independence Day double header. Starting with the 1972 film version of the Broadway musical 1776. It tells the tale of getting the resolution on Independence passed through the Continental Congress in the summer of 1776. William Daniels is quite good as John Adams, but it is Howard Da Silva as Benjamin Franklin who steals the show. The second film was the 4th of July weekend pick for 2009. It is the story of Crocumentary filmmaker Michael Malone (name slightly changed so you will be sure which fat communist bastard it is supposed to be), who wants to ban the "4th of July" and is visited by the Ghost of John F. Kennedy, who tells that he will be visited by three spirits in order to cure him of his un-American ways. Very funny, with a great cast of actors who put their careers at risk by outing themselves as Conservatives in the far left extremist moonbat haven of Hollywood.
A fun modern spy movie. The Kingsmen are a NGO. Not the type that takes money from the middleclass in the first world to give to the rich in the third world, after skimming their take of course. Nope, these are self-funded upper class Brits. Proper Gentlemen and Ladies, and uber-spies. Think John Steed with a health dose of Jason Bourne. Like most spy movies, it is the villain who makes the movie. Samuel Jackson is excellent as the tech billionaire AGW cultist who has moved past the typical socialist wealth transfer scheme AGW types are so fond of, and moved straight to another favorite of environmental extremists, genocide on massive scale. Of course, making sure the "right people" survive the kill off. It's up the Kingsmen, including their newest recruits, to save the World, which they do with style and well tailored suits. Well worth the rental and popcorn. My take is that Joe-Bob would approve.
It's almost Halloween again, so we're going with some of the classics. This 1984 classic is currently being remade. Personally, don't think they will capture the spirit of the film, pun intended. Part of that spirit they will probably miss is the Libertarian theme to the movie, which the director admits was intentional.
Tomorrow is Halloween, so let's keep with tradition here.
An American Werewolf in London
Let's not forget Near Dark and Dog Soldiers, picks from October 2011, for a double header of vampires and werewolves.
A cautionary tale set in the action genre. The teachable moment here is if you steal a man's car, kill his dog, and don't kill him, make sure he isn't the retired top hit man for your father's Russian crime family. Keanu Reeves plays the protagonist, John Wick. Lots of serious gun fu is this movie with a surprisingly good cast. It includes Willem Dafoe and Adrianne Palicki as other professional assassins. Wick seeks revenge and gets bloody satisfaction. Worth the popcorn and rental. Joe Bob would say to check it out.
It's Friday the 13th, but I'm not going with the horror genre. First I'm not a big fan, and I just listed some classics in the Halloween movie list. Going with some finest kind Space Opera instead. Jupiter Ascending from the Wachowski clan, and it has what you expect. Reality isn't what is seems, excellent special effects, and lots and lots of action. My quick take on the film, a Dune/Soylent Green cross over. I can see why it didn't do well in the theaters. Too complex, competing members of the same Royal household, overseen by a large and uncaring bureaucracy. It would be helpful to have a score card in order to keep track of who was working for which faction, with the changes of loyalties listed. I kept track of it all, but then I've read Dune about a half dozen times. Plot aside, it was also a visually stunning movie, with dog fighting space fighters flying amid Chicago's sky scrapers, massive space vessels, and lots of aliens and human hybrids. There were giant flying lizard men, elephant and mouse human cross overs, and some clockwork androids. There was even a goth Asian chick riding a hover bike. One of the main characters was a human/canine mix that literally lost his wings. If you are a huge SciFi nerd like I am, you'll like this movie.
The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
Guy Richie shows his love for the 60's TV series with this Cold War era movie. It's the early 1960's and the Cold War is running hot. The movie starts with CIA agent Napoleon Solo up against KBG agent Illya Kuryakin. Kuryakin doesn't stop Solo from getting the daughter of a German scientist out of East Berlin, but he comes a damn closer than Solo is used to. So when they are told they have to team a few days later, there is hostility and mistrust. This is an origin story, about how the U.N.C.L.E team was formed and the enemy agents learned to work together. I enjoyed, but then as a child of the 60's I remember seeing this show when I was very young. I saw a lot more of The Avengers and The Wild, Wild West, which are of a similar theme. Check it out, it's a good spy story with a touch of humor.
Current Friday B Movie Picks.
Monday Book Picks