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    17 years


Get Yourself a College Girl

some interesting music
The Wyndham College for Women is a conservative school but girls just want to have fun. The girls host a party where many bands perform. Terry Taylor (Mary Ann Mobley) is a senior writing pop songs under an assumed name. Her publisher Gary Underwood introduces her to perform the title song and she is threatened with expulsion. She and her girlfriends set off for a ski holiday.

The girls are beautiful and statuesque. Their acting is not the greatest but they do well enough. Mobley is a former Miss America and I think she even sings herself. The story is relatively empty-headed and babe-misadventure. Quite frankly, non of it matters. Non of the characters matter. The best parts are seeing the Animals and others playing music. I think it's the first time I've seen Astrud Gilberto performing "The Girl from Ipanema." Interesting. Just fast forward to your prefer songs and forget the rest.


Romeo and Juliet
Nina Dorn (Barbara Sukowa) and Madeleine Girard (Martine Chevallier) are neighbors and secret lovers. They plan to sell Madeleine's apartment and travel together. Only Madeleine is having trouble coming out to her adult children, Anne and Frédéric.

This movie has many long uncut scenes. It's an artistic choice from this first time feature director. The first noticeable use is the burning skillet. It's a very effective move especially when it denotes Nina's slowly building longing. This is more romantic and more tragic than any puppy love teenagers. It is a quiet emotional drama of devastating power. I might do a more tragic ending although this ending is very beautiful. Only, I would consider adding a slow dance scene to start the movie. This is the tragic beauty of true love.

The Water Man

David Oyelowo tries directing
In the small town of Pine Mills, Oregon, there is a local legend about a mysterious figure called The Water Man. Gunner Boone is obsessed with death and draws his comic book. His father Amos (David Oyelowo) is often absent and is struggling to reconnect with Gunner. His mom Mary (Rosario Dawson) is sick and his parents are trying to keep it from him. Jim Bussey (Alfred Molina) tells him about The Water Man who may have discovered immortality. He goes searching with help from blue-haired girl Jo who tells stories to little kids for money.

This is David Oyelowo trying his hand at directing. It's fine. It's not anything special but I'm not going to trash it either. It reminds me of Forest Whitaker who also dabbles in directing. There is always the possibility of improvement and I look forward to it. I find this film a little flat. The action scenes need some more kinetic energy. The climax is a little bit anti-climatic. The story is relatively straight forward with the gentlest of twists and turns. All in all, this is professional work for Oyelowo's first effort.

The Case of the Lucky Legs

3rd Perry Mason film
Margie Florence Clune wins prettiest legs contest with a prize of $1k from Frank Patton, a hosiery company representative. Frank is actually a con-man and always skips town before paying out. Another winner from another town catches up to him but she is taken by him. Margie loses not only the money but also her disapproving boyfriend. Col. Bradbury hires Perry Mason (Warren William) to find Patton after sponsoring the contest. Margie is his employee and he likes her.

This is the third Perry Mason movie. This one seems to be pushing the franchise hard on the comedy side. It's definitely on the silly side starting with a legs contest. In a way, I'm glad that it's not actually funny or else it would come off as a spoof. I'm trying to stay with the murder mystery but one struggles to ignore the screwball comedy. This is all over the place.

Olive Oyl for President

cartoon of its era
Popeye and Olive are listening to various politicians busking for votes. She grows tired of same ole promises and wonders if she could be President. Popeye laughs at her and she hits him with a skillet. He gets knocked out and starts dreaming Olive laying out her platform. This seems to be progressive but somehow it comes off as sexist. It happens a lot during this era. They like to do a special episode with women as political leaders but they always look at the work from a housewife's point of view. It's a cartoon of its era.

Glimpses of Java and Ceylon

great exotic locations with standard James putdowns
Traveltalks visits the Dutch colony of Java. The James A. FitzPatrick narration is funny in that he keeps trying to put down the locals. What he describes as strange food is hilariously standard. The dance is fantastic even if James describes it as nightmarish. In the British colony of Ceylon (today known as Sri Lanka), he again has a silly way of putting down the locals by ascribing the men with feminine traits. He must think that he's being funny and it adds to the colors of these shorts. It's just funny that the man is so uncultured and so white bread. Or at least, it reflects a cartoon version of the audience that he expected and got.

Papa Gets the Bird

a bit bitter
Papa Bear is taking a nap while his son Wilbur is carrying a log. Mama Bear tells Papa to give their canary a bath. It does not go well.

This is a Hugh Harman production. The animation is a bit ugly. Papa Bear is not loveable. It's all a bit bitter. The frustrated dad is a very standard sitcom trope. I still don't understand the salt. Is Wilbur trying to eat the bird or is that part of the bath? This is fine.

To Catch a Spy

Hallmark mysteries
Chloe Day (Nathalie Kelley) is a busy writer for Destination Traveler Magazine. Her next job is to cover the newly renovated Hotel Optima in Malta. There are noises coming from the vent in her room. She hears a struggle and a man falls to his death. She searches for help and knocks on one of the rooms where FBI agent Aaron Maxwell (Colin Donnell) happens to be staying. When they reach the landing spot, the body is gone and the local police is dismissive of her.

The tension would be heightened if Chloe is traveling by herself. A woman alone feels more dangerous. She also needs more time with Aaron. This is Hallmark after all. They need to be coupled ASAP. The movie needs to amp up the romance since the mystery isn't much of one. The suspect is suspicious right from the start and never stops. While I like the complete randomness of her knocking on his door, I do wonder if she should have an earlier scene of them meeting and give her a reason to seek him out for help. On the other hand, the initial mystery of the dead man is great and I have no reservations about that. In fact, that should be earlier and all the spy stuff at the beginning is unnecessary. It's good enough to start the mystery without any priming of the pump. It's also cool to be in Malta. It's exotic enough to be interesting but bland enough for Hallmark. This could be a ongoing series but I don't see the FBI recruiting a travel writer. It would work better if he's in the CIA and they need a low-level off-the-books connection who has a reason to travel the world. The series could go to everywhere.

The Guilty

Hollywood remake
L. A. is facing wild fires. Police officer Joe Baylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) has been put on desk duty awaiting resolution to an incident. He is bitter being reassigned to the 911 call center. He takes a dismissive tone to his callers. He gets a strange one from a woman named Emily. She has apparently been kidnapped.

This is a Hollywood remake of a Danish film. Aside from being a copy, this film loses a bit of reality due Gyllenhaal's aggressive portrayal. I don't see how any supervisor would allow him to continue like that. Director Antoine Fuqua probably thought that the material needed some more flashiness and used all the Gyllenhaal acting power available to him. It's overkill. It's still pretty good and the fire adds a nice element to the story. Maybe they could have used some pursuit footage with the fire in the background.

Roller Boogie

roller queen
Terry Barkley (Linda Blair) is a rich Beverly Hills kid who loves her roller-skating. She gets into the roller-skating scene at the beach.

It's disco. It's the beach. It's a lot of leering at a certain lady area. It's a roller-skate dance movie. It's all very cheesy. It's probably the height of the roller-skating fad which married into the disco era. It's a young Linda Blair trying to be more than the Exorcist girl. I've always wondered if she could have worked more as a scream queen. She could have carved out a more successful career that way. This is what it is. It's not tricking anybody. If anything, Linda is doing a lot more roller-skating than I expected. The acting and the story is another matter. Non of that is any good. It's telling that non of the other young actors are big names before or after this. The movie seems to have cast to roller-skating skills than acting skills.

The Cool Ones

Hallie Rodgers (Debbie Watson) is a go-go dancer on the dance show WhizBam. The producers keep making empty promises and she goes crazy on the live show. She's fired but inadvertently creates a new dance sensation. Cliff Donner (Gil Peterson) is a singer who never gets the big break. In comes wealthy Tony Krum (Roddy McDowall) who brings the two together into a new musical duo.

This is 60's hipsters, beach blanket blanks, and unintentional camp. The dancing, by itself, is enough to define this as camp. Even as a cult flick, it still wears out its welcome. I never like Cliff and the pairing is awkwardly melodrama. Roddy McDowall can try to add as much goofiness as he can but he can't overcome the movie's inherent badness. If only this is his movie.

In the Heights

On a beach, Usnavi (Anthony Ramos) tells a group of youngsters about a place called Washington Heights in the faraway Nueva York. It's the days before the 1999 blackout. Usnavi runs a bodega but dreams of returning to his childhood home of Dominican Republic. He has a crush on the beautiful Vanessa (Melissa Barrera) who dreams of being a fashion designer. Nina returns from Stanford and is unwilling to go back especially if her father Kevin Rosario (Jimmy Smits) has to sell off his business to pay the tuition.

It's a Lin-Manuel Miranda musical directed by Jon M. Chu. I really loved some of this. It is too long and probably has too many story elements. The two main young couples could be combined into a simpler single Romeo and Juliet romance. It would allow the DACA story to have more space to breathe. Despite all the hot young things, the most emotional song is Abuela's powerful life story. I do like the visual of Vanessa running down the empty street with the fabrics flowing down the buildings. I don't know if it's possible but Vanessa may be too beautiful. I would have liked for Nina's college drama to be shown. The emotional climax is really Abuela's song and the DACA protest. The movie drags on a bit long after that although that is a fine ending. The main theme of this movie is dream which does present a minor problem. By itself, it does not give that much kinetic energy to the story. Everybody is just pining for money (from the lotto) to make their dreams come to life. All in all, I love quite a bit of this even if it is long.


Paraguayan horror indie
Diego Martínez is selfish and has no money. His girlfriend is concerned with his roaming eyes. He kills a pedestrian with his car in a hit-and-run. He gets a call from his boss. He has been assigned to guard a mostly empty hospital. There is one body in the morgue which presumably is the guy he ran over with his car.

This is a limited horror indie. The production is very limited. They probably had an empty building for a few nights and ran with this horror idea. I really like some of the ideas like catching the dead ghost in the background. The naked ghosts are very creepy. It's all very spooky. At the end of the day, this is limited. It has only one main character. There are no great special effects. It's really a Twilight Zone episode. It's a campfire ghost story. Even at less than ninety minutes, it does go on too long.

Mortal Kombat: Annihilation

bad sequel
Robin Shou and Talisa Soto return but everybody else is gone. This follows directly from the original movie. Outworld emperor Shao Kahn opens a portal to Earthrealm. He is joined by Kitana's resurrected mother, Queen Sindel. Johnny Cage is immediately killed off and the emperor promises to conquer Earth in six days.

The fun of the original is gone. It's an obvious step down when the movie opens with so many of the original actors missing. Even the special effects take a giant step down. This is a movie made by people with no foresight for franchise building. This is about making a few quick bucks and getting out. They use scraps and leftovers from the first movie. It's bad from start to finish although it does have a fight between Scorpion and Sub-Zero. It's still not good.

The Last Word

two great lead actresses
Harriet Lauler (Shirley MacLaine) is an opinionated controlling rich old lady. She's retired after running an advertising company. Her family is estranged and nobody likes her. After OD'ing on her meds, she starts being concerned about her obituary. She hires newspaper obit writer Anne Sherman (Amanda Seyfried) to write one for her.

After talking to the at-risk girls, the story end point is more than obvious. There is also an obvious route for this movie. It's two great actresses on a road trip to self-discovery. Shirley MacLaine has made a career out of this character. This movie just needs some good writing. The writing is sometimes good standard stuff but sometimes gets clunky. The two leads usually are able to work out some good chemistry but some scene falls completely flat. For example, Anne is on a date when Harriet confronts her about her writing. It's an important moment but the date keep budding into it. He's a third wheel who keeps causing them to drive off course. Then there is the main third wheel, the little girl. She's the quintessential sassy black girl. She gets overshadowed despite the movie wanting her to be the breakout star. Harriet's reconnection with her daughter ends with a weird fake laugh. The audience is just like the other characters, looking at Harriet side-eyed. At the end of the day, I just want this to be better. The writing needs to be better.


love the visual styles
In Chicago, artist Anthony McCoy and his girlfriend Brianna Cartwright are hosting a dinner for her brother Troy and his boyfriend. Anthony is looking for new inspiration. Troy recounts the story of Cabrini-Green and a bastardized urban legend of Helen Lyle, the woman in the original 1992 movie.

Jordan Peele is doing more writing and producing. I really love the visual look. I love the shadow puppetry, the cold brutal cityscape, and the use of mirrored surfaces. Around the midpoint, I noticed that there is a lack of overtly scary scenes. It has the imagery but I'm not scared. I realized that the protagonist is a muscular black man. In a horror, the vulnerability of the protagonist is directly proportional to the fear generated. For a young black man, he's most vulnerable with the police or in a KKK clan meeting. This movie probably needs the protagonist to be a young vulnerable female victim. This could be a father daughter movie with Anthony being the father figure. While Anthony is always in danger, it's not the type of danger that generates real intensity. That's really the only missing element. The protagonist needs more vulnerability.


First Blood
Wyoming sheep rancher Dan Logan (George C. Scott) and his son Chris are tending to their flock. An Army helicopter flies by. Next morning after sleeping outside, Chris is in dire medical distress and there are dead sheep. Dan brings him to the hospital. He struggles to find any answers. Dr. Holliford (Martin Sheen) asks all knowing questions and immediately puts Chris in isolation. He gives their family doctor Dr. Caldwell (Richard Basehart) a secret handshake. The Army had accidentally released some nerve gas. Dr. Spencer (Barnard Hughes) from Public Health Service helps with the cover-up.

The Army aspect should be held back to give this story more mystery. I'd rather not have the Army folks do an extended exposition. The audience should discover the truth along with Dan. The reveal should be a shock. Spencer should be the one giving the full exposition. As for his vengeance, it would be nice if all his victims actually deserve it. Dan has a bit of Rambo in him but an unhinged Rambo can be very disconcerting.

The Power of the Dog

slow burn
Phil (Benedict Cumberbatch) and George Burbank (Jesse Plemons) are brothers leading a cattle drive in Montana. There is some unspoken tension between them. It's been 25 years since their first drive in 1900. George is taken with Rose Gordon (Kirsten Dunst) who gets belittled by Phil. George later marries her. Phil calls her the "suicide widow". Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is her awkward son.

This is a Jane Campion film. It's a slow burn especially in the first half. While I find these characters compelling, I do wish to have more reasons for these characters. I need their history. I do wonder if I missed something in the movie or if the book gives more meat to the bone. It's a movie of quiet beauty and an emotional volcano underneath the surface. It does have to hit its audience at the right angle. For me, the start is too slow and the movie struggles to gain speed.

The Story of Will Rogers

biopic of legendary name
It's early 20th century. Humble cowboy Will Rogers (Will Rogers Jr.) returns to Oologah, Oklahoma. Betty (Jane Wyman) takes little notice of another cowboy's arrival but soon the two become a couple. Eventually, he becomes one of the most popular American humorist and home-spun political commentator.

This is an autobiography of Will Rogers as told by his widow. Will Rogers is well before my time. He comes from another era. I don't know any specifics from his work but I do understand his general tone. It's a call to the old west and America's promise. He's a nice little guy and the little guy can be great in America. This movie taps into that. He's the regular Joe. I have no nostalgia for the man or the era. I do find this movie to give a sense of both. One thing I didn't know is that so much of his work is topical and political. There isn't much drama with this movie but it does what it's supposed to do.

Bells Are Ringing

love Judy
Ella Peterson (Judy Holliday) is an operator running the Susanswerphone answering service. She gets way too involved with her clients especially struggling playwright Jeffrey Moss (Dean Martin). Inspector Barnes from the police vice squad suspects the firm's activities as a front for an escort service. In reality, Ella has been unwittingly passing along bets for a bookie in code without her knowledge.

Judy Holliday is a fun endearing broad. I love that she's not some young skinny waif looking to be the next IT girl. She's simply a sweetheart and oh boy, a Hollywood leading man is falling for an age appropriate female character. The premise is a lot crazy but it fits the screwball comedy story. The party is great and that's where Judy shines. It's sad that this is her last film. She died too young. She obviously has more comedy in her. The film was a box office flop. There was an obvious change in the public's taste.

Senior Moment

weak writing
Victor Martin (William Shatner) is young at heart especially his libido. He loves his silver convertible and hot young ladies. To his horror, his license gets revoked after spinning out his car. His car gets impounded. He has to take the bus. That's where he meets Caroline Summers (Jean Smart).

The filmmaking is a bit lower. An old guy getting all the hot young babes is not that funny as a premise. It needs a twist. For example, the bikini babe could be taken more with the car than him. The joke needs a spin. It can't be as simple as Shatner hooking up with every hot babe. His love of the car is fun but the premise is too contrived. There's no way that he couldn't get his car out of the impound lot. He gets off the bus and his racing rival just happens to drive by. It's a lot of weak writing. I do like the characters or more precisely, I like the actors. It does have that.

Absolutely Anything

struggling to be funny
Aliens find a probe from Earth. Before the council of superior beings destroys the planet, it decides to give the humans a test. It gives absolute power to a random person and see if that person uses it for good or for evil. Neil (Simon Pegg) is a teacher with a crush on his neighbor Catherine (Kate Beckinsale). Colonel Grant Kotchev (Rob Riggle) is obsessed with Catherine.

The aliens are a reunion of sorts for the Monty Python gang. One wouldn't know it unless one knows it. They are trying to be funny but rarely achieve it. The same could be said for the movie. Neil is a bit dumb in an annoying way. He keeps doing the same comedic move and it's rarely funny. He needs a sidekick which turns out to be the dog. At least, that relationship has a bit of fun. On the other hand, Grant is a problem. He is much more threatening than funny. I really wished that he went away which is funny for a movie about wishes. This is a comedy that struggles to find the humor in an often done premise with a new spin.

Bosque de sombras

some problems
Married couple, Lucy (Virginie Ledoyen) and Norman (Paddy Considine), joins his boss Paul (Gary Oldman) and his Spanish wife Isabel (Aitana Sánchez-Gijón) on a vacation in the Spanish countryside. Paul had recently purchased his grandmother's former home. The group encounters less than friendly locals. While Paul and Norman are hunting, they find a girl locked in a cabin in the woods.

The adults are too stressed after finding the girl. They are over-doing it. It feels artificial. The dialogue becomes clunky. The movie is trying too hard to inject intensity. When they crash the car, they seem set up for a nice thrilling jog through the wood. Then suddenly, they're just back in bed at home. This is done poorly and the little girl's constant screaming doesn't help. It gets rather annoying. The reason to lie to the locals is not compelling enough. They don't actually know who kept her in the cabin early on. In general, this movie is pushing too hard when it should allow the story to flow more naturally. These characters are doing some unreasonable things.

I Love Melvin

adorably super sweet energy except for a bit of old fashion racism
Judy Schneider (Debbie Reynolds) dreams of being a Hollywood star but she's only a chorus girl. She gets a part on Broadway but it's playing a football. In Central Park, she bumps into Melvin Hoover (Donald O'Connor), assistant to a magazine photographer. At the musical, he exaggerates his job and promises her a magazine spread of an up-and-coming actress.

Honestly, this is the sexiest football I've ever seen. When they talked about a football, I assumed it to be a bulky costume like a little kid's Halloween costume. She is arguably the star of the show which negates the premise of the movie. She would be funnier with a chunky costume. This is all about Debbie Reynolds' bubbly smiley personality. Donald O'Connor has some good physical comedy. The fleeting old fashion racism does get awkward. Aside from those moments, this is adorably cute like the little girl's song.

Man Alive

not sure about the marriage
Michael O'Flaherty 'Speed' McBride (Pat O'Brien) forgets about his wife Connie's birthday which causes friction in the marriage. It doesn't help with the arrival of Connie's old admirer Gordon Tolliver (Rudy Vallée). Speed gets drunk at a bar and lets another man drive his car. They drive off a pier. The other man is killed but Michael is mistakenly identified. He is instead rescued by a passing river showboat. The boat leader Kismet (Adolphe Menjou) convinces him to play dead and haunt his wife in an effort to save his marriage.

First, Speed is not that great of a husband. It would be helpful if the marriage is worth saving. I have no evidence either way. Second, the premise is ridiculous. A silly story is not the end of the world. I'm just never fully convinced with the first problem that all the silly screwball antics amount to nothing much. I don't find it funny.

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