Movie A day! 186-193 – “I’m On A Vacation!”

Right, so my staycation ended with me feeling under threat of a summer cold. I still feel like I’m on the verge of coming down with something, where the snot-hole in the back of your head feels iffy but you don’t have any actual symptoms of fever and runny nose and grossness. It’s horrible feeling like you might get sick with a cold when it’s 30C outside and it’s been going on for 3 days. So far I’m holding it off with pills. Keep thumbs held!

Due to potential oncoming sickness, I WATCHED MORE MOVIES! So you get two posts this week, you lucky lovelies! Here’s the start of August. AUGUST! Already August, what a crazy world we live in where months roll by so fast. Maybe it’s just me.

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186 08-01 The Rolling Stones: Sweet Summer Sun – Hyde Park London (2013) 4/5
This one is a concert film featuring the last show of their fiftieth anniversary tour. Features mostly concert footage with some narration, it’s surprisingly solid considering the near mummified state of the band. The set list is pretty much all hits by this point, I can’t imagine any fans of the Stones being let down by this release. As old as they are, there really is no sense in them stopping if they don’t wish too, they continue to deliver the goods. I’d argue that they are performing better now than they did in the late 70’s, early 80’s, only with the added thrill of wondering if their emaciated, petrified like limbs might break off mid-song.

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187 08-02 A Serious Man (2009) 2.5/5
This is another Coen brothers film, and the only one of theirs that managed to sneak by me when it came out. This one is basically about the life of a Jewish teacher in 1967 working on getting tenure or whatever they call it, and all the troubles that follow him. It’s a comedy, and it just isn’t all that interesting. You get a sense that it might be a bit biographical seeing as the Coens are Jewish and from the midwest, but it doesn’t really play that way either. It’s a bit of a broken thumb, following the also less than stellar BURN AFTER READING. Thankfully they’ll return more to form with their next picture, TRUE GRIT.

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188 08-03 Game of Thrones Season 4 (2014) 3.5/5
It took 4 years, but the show finally got good! Not much to say since it’s still has way too convoluted a plot. It’s made up for it by balancing all the talking and intrigue with some action. So I’ll stick it out and go for season 5.

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189 08-03 A Good Day to Die Hard (2013) 1.5/5
I heard that this one wasn’t very good, but really, how bad could it be? It’s DIE HARD! C’mon, fuckin’ John McClane ripping shit up in Russia! Ends up it’s pretty terrible. Willis couldn’t be less interested to be McClane one more time, with 80% of his dialogue being variations of “I’m on VACATION!” There is a plot, but it’s doesn’t matter when nearly the entire first third of the film is a car chase that makes no sense and is actually as boring as it is stupid. The look of the picture has such a digital polish that it doesn’t even look good. Even the poster sucks. Hopefully this picture kills the series. You can all make your own Die Hard jokes.

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190 08-04 The Manchu Boxer (1974) 2/5
This one is a pretty typical Raymond Chow Kung-Fu production. The title character gets kicked out of his house when he accidentally kills a guy in a fight due to his training where he punches hot gravel. He then gets mixed up in a big brouhaha of a martial arts contest which he doesn’t want to be a part of in case he kills someone again. It’s a bit plodding, and none of the fights are all that memorable. Sammo Hung pops up an extra in a couple of fights, but it’s not worth watching just for him. Actually, the most fun thing in the movie is recognizing stolen music cues, unless Pink Floyd did license material to this.

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191 08-04 The Big Parade (1925) 4/5
This one is King Vidor’s silent epic based on WW1. Seeing as it’s the anniversary of WW1 today, and I’m trying not to get sick with a flu that seems to be insisting on making me sick, I figured it was the perfect day to lay around and watch it. It’s widely considered to be one of the best silent films, and the first hour might have you wondering why. The basic plot is, WW1 is breaking out for America and a privileged do nothing signs up after being pressured by friends and his fiance. the first hour or so largely details his life in France, where not much happens as him and his two army buddies kick about waiting for orders. Once those orders come through, the whole picture shifts into battle mode and the horrors of WW1 trench style warfare start to knock the wind from you. A hell of a movie, with an incredibly natural performance by John Gilbert in the lead. Gilbert is mostly remembered now as the actor who lost his career when sound ended the silent era, and it’s a shame since he’s really good, including the odd performance I’ve seen of his in speaking parts.

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192 08-04 Marty (1953) 4/5
This is the original, live on TV broadcast version starring Rod Steiger. He plays a 37 year old butcher who’s henpecked by pretty much everyone in Queens to get married. The ending is a bit of a let down, but the journey there is amazing. Steiger is all wounded emotion, and puts in an absolutely incredible performance. It’s amazing that this was broadcast live once, and then the tape stuck away in a vault until the late seventies. It’s kind of a shame that TV doesn’t do this type of live drama stuff more often.

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193 The Skyhawk (1974) 2.5/5
This is on the same disc as MANCHU BOXER, and is a better movie. The Skyhawk is an older master of Shaolin Kung-Fu, or some such horseshit where he flips around a bunch when he fights, and his disciples (one of them Sammo Hung, again playing a character called “Fatso” in the crummy English dub) get mixed up in some crime intrigue while Skyhawk is visiting a relative in Thailand. It’s not the greatest chop-socky you will watch, but the fights are pretty decent and the film worked better than MANCHU BOXER did.

That’s probably it for this week. Time to take more pills and try to keep this cold away.

The End

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Movie a day! 035-044 First Half of February

And the blog keeps rolling along! So Far I’ve kept up with my three posts a week that was my usual norm way back in the Benrik days. That said, I’ll be caught up soon, and then not so sure on what to blog about. Feel free to post suggestions in the comments!

Right, this is the first half of February. Before you get scared that it will be too long to read at your work, please remember that February is the short month and that it’s only ten or so titles long. We can get through this together guys, it’s will be fun!

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035 02-01 Justice League: WAR (2014) 2/5
This one’s the latest in the line of what are typically decent direct to video cartoons based on DC Comics. This one though was a bust. Maybe I’m suffering from DC overload and carrying too much baggage from their mostly shit “New 52” comic book launch. The plot of this one is basically the first 6 issue arc of their relaunched “Justice League” comic, which wasn’t the greatest thing ever published, but better than this adaptation. I think the main problem I have with this is that despite the animation quality being really good, the voice acting and character designs are overall so terrible that I can’t get into it. They have to bring back the voice team behind the original Batman/Superman cartoons. They’re’ still the best superhero adaptations to date. DC’s constant attempts to improve things that don’t need to be improved continue to hobble their properties.

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036 02-02 The Bling Ring (2013) 2.5/5
I’ve always considered myself a fan of Sofia Coppola’s work, but this film has me thinking I’m more wanting to be a fan, instead of an actual fan. Aside from “The Virgin Suicides” and “Lost in Translation”, I find that I want to like her work more than I do. This one is no exception. It’s inspired by the true events of some rich shithead teenagers who get the idea to bust into celebrities homes and rob them. I don’t know what I was expecting, but this movie just kind of flops out without ever really accomplishing anything. If it’s supposed to be as empty and vapid as the people who did the crimes, then I guess it’s a success. Just not a very engaging one.

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037 02-05 Miss Sadie Thompson (1953) 2.5/5
This was one of Rita Hayworth’s come back films after taking time off to be a Princess or something. Anyway, it’s a weird one. She plays a dance hall girl (1950’s speak for “whore”) who’s looking for redemption and finds it from a miserable missionary in American Samoa. Throw in a couple of numbers for Rita to sing and a rape, and you get a trashy little film that should be more fun than it is.

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038 02-08 Three on a Limb (1936) 2.5/5
039 02-08 Grand Slam Opera (1936) 4/5
040 02-08 Blue Blazes (1936) 2.5/5
041 02-08 The Chemist (1936) 2.5/5
042 02-08 Mixed Magic (1936) 3/5
Another mixed bag of Buster Keaton shorts from Kino’s “Lost Keaton” set. Some good gags, but none of the films really do much for you. The exception being “Grand Slam Opera” that features Keaton’s “Elmer” character desperate to win an amateur radio competition. Packed to the gills with nearly non-stop gags and stunts, this one is right up there with the best of his silent work.

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043 02-14 The Conjuring (2013) 4/5
Revisited this one by showing it to mum. It holds up just fine on a second viewing, and it’s fun to scare the shit out of your mother when they believes in ghosts.

044 02-14 Jail Bait (1937) 3.5/5
Another of Buster Keaton’s Educational Pictures shorts, and it was another really good one that’s right up there with his better work.

See? That was a pretty quick one right? Kind of a blah first half of the month. Those Keaton shorts were getting to be a bit of a slog at this point, so I have not much to say about them. I still think I’m behind this year from last year by this point, so in my next blog I’ll compare end of February totals and keep that as a trend. Won’t that be fun? Maybe?

The End.