Saturday, November 14, 2020

Review - Cats

 This whole thing has a fascinating downward arc. It started with actual cats, which of course are excellent. Then in 1939 T.S. Eliot wrote Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. The poetry collection was entertaining enough, though surprisingly twee coming from one of the godfathers of moody modernism. In 1981 Andrew Lloyd Webber turned Eliot’s poems into a popular musical that – for better or worse – revolutionized the portrayal of felines by people in leotards. And now this. Despite the opportunity presented by nearly 40 years passing between the stage production and this screen adaptation, many of the artistic decisions seem ill-considered. The story leads off with an act of animal abuse. The effects, makeup and costuming create things that look neither like cats nor like people but rather some horrid hybrid designed to appeal only to audience members with a highly specific fetish. Technical problems abound; most noticeable is the characters’ scale variation from nearly human size to cat size to hamster size. With the assembled ensemble of talented singers, dancers and actors, a much better movie should have been made. See if desperate.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Abandoned - Capone

This movie starts out in the last year of Al Capone’s life, in his post-gangster, post-prison decline in his mansion in Florida. I waited for 20 minutes or so for flashbacks, plot twists or any kind of distraction from the slow deterioration of a tertiary syph patient. Nope. They might just as easily have made a movie out of the first year of the notorious criminal’s life. It would have involved the same amount of lying around, inarticulate babbling and shitting himself. But at least a baby would have been cheaper than Tom Hardy.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Review - Birds of Prey

Moving farther into the largely Marvel free realm of girl power superhero movies, DC offers up “The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn.” To be sure, this isn’t exactly a milestone in the history of feminist cinema. But it’s an entertaining action movie that keeps the story moving and manages some humorous moments along the way. Mildly amusing

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Review - Palm Springs

 Groundhog Day for stoners. This time around the protagonist has company, the love interest dragged into the time loop with him. The production manages an entertaining moment or two amid the general silliness. Mildly amusing

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Review – Bornless Ones

This could have been a much better movie. They’ve got some good ideas – particularly the demons that heal physical infirmities – and a few solid scares here and there. But it gets lost under a pile of horror movie clich├ęs and other bad creative decisions. Even the name is awkward, vaguely reminiscent of Witchiepoo’s attempts to invent rhymes for “oranges.” See if desperate

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Review – Supervan

I found myself genuinely in awe of the sheer plotlessness of this movie. They seem to have some kind of story in mind about a solar-powered, laser-shooting van that defeats an oil exec’s scheme to flood the market with gas-guzzling vehicles, a subject that must have been timely in 1977. The movie was shot in and around Kansas City, so I started watching it hoping for some familiar scenery. But I found myself drawn in and greatly entertained by the bewildering mishmash of story threads and sight gags loosely centered around a “freak out” for custom van owners. Appropriately enough, the star of the show is Vandora, the title vehicle designed by legendary movie vehicle customizer George Barris (who makes brief appearance toward the end of the movie). Mildly amusing

Review – 1917

Director Sam Mendes’s technique is as brilliant as it is distracting. He plays out two hours’ worth of life on a World War One battlefield in what appears to be two takes separated only by a brief period when the protagonist is unconscious. Watching for the micro edits as the camera winds through the scenes was fascinating, but in some parts it took attention away from a story that would have stood perfectly well on its own. Overall, however, the movie does a great job of creating a sense of urgency and tension that fits the subject perfectly. Worth seeing