“I’m not crazy about reality, but it’s still the only place to get a decent mail.” — Groucho Marx
A fast paced action film set at the tail end of the Cold War. The Berlin Wall starts to come down during the movie. Charlize Theron plays a British agent sent into Berlin to collect the McGuffin (in this case, a list of spies, including who is actually working for whom). Add in James McAvoy as the MI6 agent in charge of Berlin, who has not just gone native, he’s gone “bloody feral.” Spectacular fight scenes, and of course, nobody is exactly what they seem. Double agents, double crosses, and of course someone seduces the beautiful French agent.
The Hitman’s Bodyguard
An action comedy buddy story with the inspired pairing of Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson. This is a funny and deliciously violent film. Reynolds is a high priced bodyguard at the top of his game, until he loses a high profile client (a well known arms dealer). Now down on his luck, he gets a call from his ex-girlfriend (an Interpol agent) who asks him to transport his arch nemesis (Jackson’t hitman character) so he can testify against a war criminal. From there, the fun really starts. Not a family film, unless your kids are old enough for an impressive amount of profanity and violence.
“The Democrats’ central concern isn’t that taxes will be raised on the middle class, but that Republicans are taking away money that Democrats believe belongs to the federal government. This is the root of all the “heist” rhetoric — Democrats no longer believe in the basic principle of private property.
Valerian and the City of A Thousand Planets
Luc Besson had a lot of fun bringing one of his favorite childhood comics to the big screen, and it show. This is a fun film. Awesome special effects, visually stunning, and gloriously true to the pulp origins of the original comic. The weak of part of the film is the two lead characters, who gave it a good try, but just didn’t nail the chemistry needed. Still worth the popcorn and rental, especially if you have a nice big screen with a good sound system.
Smokey and the Bandit
A B-Movie classic. The writer and director, Hal Needham, freely, and proudly, admits that this was a low budget film that was intended for regional (i.e. Southern) appeal. It picked up some box office appeal, when Needham’s friend Burt Reynolds read the script and said that he wanted to play the Bandit. It picked up some more star power with Jackie Gleason and Sally Field. Not leaving Jerry Reed out, but he was better known for his musical career than his acting. The film was made for just over $4 million and was the second highest grossing film of 1977. This film is an American Classic. If you haven’t seen it, don’t wait. Fire up the popcorn and enjoy a film that Billy Bob Thorton claims is considered more of a documentary in the South.
A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny
Going back to a 2024 pick. A classic by the late Grandmaster Roger Zelazny. It is set in the month of October, which each day being a chapter. The story is told by Snuff, a watchdog, who like his companion Jack, is the owner of several Curses. One of Jack’s involves a large knife. Whenever there is a full moon on October 31, a group of people and their animal companions gather together and work toward a ritual on the night of the 31st. They are trying to either open or keep closed, a gateway for the Elder Gods (think Lovecraft). So far, the Closers have always won. Up until the end, it’s hard to tell who is an Opener and who is a closer, or even who is in the game. Others who are in the area with Snuff and Jack include: a vampire called “The Count” and his bat; a mad Russian monk and his snake, a broom flying witch named Crazy Jill and her black cat, the Great Dective and his sidekick; and Larry Talbot and his furry alter ego. Zelazny had a lot of fun with this book. If you can pick up a copy with the Gahn Wilson illustrations, you are in for a bonus treat.
Going with something different for the 4th of July pick this year. Mel Gibson’s revolutionary war movie tells the tale of the war in the Southern states, and the hit and run tactics used by the American forces. Excellent movie with outstanding performances by Heath Ledger and Jason Isaacs. Star Trek fans will be happy to see Rene Auberjonois. Also featured is veteran actor Adam Baldwin, who should have played a tough guy in a Libertarian Space Western for five seasons.
The Guns of Avalon by Roger Zelazny
The second book in the Amber series. Two sets of five books, plus a fist full of short stories and an amazing amount of fan fiction. Prince Corwin has escaped the Dungeon his brother Eric threw him, with the help of the family madman Dworkin. Revenge, and the throne, are what he is after. First he has to go to Avalon, and of course is sidetracked by Lorraine (name of the land and the woman). He does manage to finally get to Avalon and get what he wanted there. Not without complications, including his extremely deadly brother Benedict, another family member named Dara, and the ominous Black Road. This series are amazingly well written, and this volume includes some insight from a guard in the Castle Amber dungeon named Roger.
A good solid SciFi film that combines a psychologic thriller with a love story, and throws in a locked box mystery for flavor. The setting is a colony ship taking 5000 colonists to another planet. Since the trip is 120 years long, so everybody, including the crew is in cyro-stasis. The fun starts when the ship takes some damage the automated systems cannot handle. One of the first glitches is waking a passenger up 90 years early. Yup, for the first chunk of the movie, it’s all Chris Pratt, and an android bartender. He spends a year trying to figure out what’s going on, and slowing losing it from the isolation. Add in Jennifer Lawrence’s character for reasons I’m not going to give away, and now you have the romance part. When things go start really wrong, from the accumulating damage over the previous two years, toss in a crew member waking up. He doesn’t live long, damage from multiple failures in his stasis pod, but it gives the passengers the access they need to save the ship, and the 5000 other passengers, literally at the last possible moment. It’s not great, but solidly acted and well crafted.