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Burning Godzilla
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In This House of Brede (1975)

My better half read the novel by Rumer Godden (who also wrote the novel Black Narcissus which became the classic film of the same name) adapted into this made-for-TV film, so we watched it. I am told that it really boiled down the events in the novel to the bone. That must be why years go by between several scenes. In essence, it's the story of a successful businesswoman who becomes a nun in a contemplative order. (If I got the hardly spoken back story right, her husband and child are dead.) No major plot; we see the married man who loves her beg her to reconsider; we see a very young nun with a bad relationship with her mother develop a daughterly affection for her; we see the order deal with Japanese women who want to become nuns in the order so they can found their own order in their native land. It's all very quiet and sedate. Diana Rigg stars in the lead role.

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Fri Jan 13, 2017 4:06 am
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THE BYE BYE MAN - In horror, it's always good to keep your monster a mystery, as being given too much information on the creature at the center of the film can make it appear less scary. The Bye Bye Man is so vague about its boogeyman, it's almost maddening. We see glimpses of what he can do, but we're not really told anything about him, or even what he's doing. I can appreciate building a mystery around your monster, but sometimes you have to throw us a bone of information once in a while.

The Bye Bye Man is summoned by saying his name only one time, which breaks the ancient rule in these kind of films that always requires you to say the name three times, like in Beetlejuice or Clive Barker's Candyman. Once you say his name, he gets inside your head and makes you think you're seeing terrible visions, until you are driven to violence to make them stop. In the opening prologue, we witness a common man in 1969 Madison, Wisconsin go on a shooting spree in his peaceful neighborhood. This does manage to grab our attention, but then the movie glaringly jumps to present day Wisconsin, and introduces us to our three young protagonists. They are Elliot (Douglas Smith), his girlfriend Sasha (Cressida Bonas) and his best friend John (Lucien Laviscount). They're college students who have just moved into an off campus house. Elliot finds an old nightstand in the house that has the Bye Bye Man's name scrawled onto it, and as soon as he says the name out loud, strange things start happening in the home.

The Bye Bye Man went through a variety of release dates this past year, and during this time, it was edited down from an R to a PG-13, in order to bring in the all-important teen audience. The plan supposedly worked, as my screening was absolutely packed with giddy Middle and High School students. But in the process, it has lost much of what little punch it probably had. There are many violent moments that are meant to be horrific, but now seem overly edited. A movie like this needs a lot of power and tragedy behind its violent images, and while this one definitely tries (it's probably one of the darker teen horror films I have seen), it is obviously constrained by the new rating. I'm not saying showing more blood and gore would automatically make a mediocre thriller into a great one, but it would have at least given the film some unforgettable moments.

As a thriller, The Bye Bye Man is a bit slow and plodding. And even if it does have a few ideas that could be suspenseful or scary, they are either underused or unexplained. Still, the kids at my screening seemed to be into it, so I'm sure we'll be getting a sequel before too long.

Full review on Reel Opinions.

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Sat Jan 14, 2017 1:32 pm
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keiichi wrote:
THE BYE BYE MAN - In horror, it's always good to keep your monster a mystery, as being given too much information on the creature at the center of the film can make it appear less scary. The Bye Bye Man is so vague about its boogeyman, it's almost maddening. We see glimpses of what he can do, but we're not really told anything about him, or even what he's doing. I can appreciate building a mystery around your monster, but sometimes you have to throw us a bone of information once in a while.

The Bye Bye Man is summoned by saying his name only one time, which breaks the ancient rule in these kind of films that always requires you to say the name three times, like in Beetlejuice or Clive Barker's Candyman. Once you say his name, he gets inside your head and makes you think you're seeing terrible visions, until you are driven to violence to make them stop. In the opening prologue, we witness a common man in 1969 Madison, Wisconsin go on a shooting spree in his peaceful neighborhood. This does manage to grab our attention, but then the movie glaringly jumps to present day Wisconsin, and introduces us to our three young protagonists. They are Elliot (Douglas Smith), his girlfriend Sasha (Cressida Bonas) and his best friend John (Lucien Laviscount). They're college students who have just moved into an off campus house. Elliot finds an old nightstand in the house that has the Bye Bye Man's name scrawled onto it, and as soon as he says the name out loud, strange things start happening in the home.

The Bye Bye Man went through a variety of release dates this past year, and during this time, it was edited down from an R to a PG-13, in order to bring in the all-important teen audience. The plan supposedly worked, as my screening was absolutely packed with giddy Middle and High School students. But in the process, it has lost much of what little punch it probably had. There are many violent moments that are meant to be horrific, but now seem overly edited. A movie like this needs a lot of power and tragedy behind its violent images, and while this one definitely tries (it's probably one of the darker teen horror films I have seen), it is obviously constrained by the new rating. I'm not saying showing more blood and gore would automatically make a mediocre thriller into a great one, but it would have at least given the film some unforgettable moments.

As a thriller, The Bye Bye Man is a bit slow and plodding. And even if it does have a few ideas that could be suspenseful or scary, they are either underused or unexplained. Still, the kids at my screening seemed to be into it, so I'm sure we'll be getting a sequel before too long.

Full review on Reel Opinions.


My dad (an extremely lowbrow individual) and the kid my folks babysit (eleven years old) liked it. Which basically sums up the target audience.

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Sat Jan 14, 2017 3:46 pm
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La La Land - Every now and then Hollywood puts out a big, spectacular musical that reminds us how great the medium can be. I suppose the last one of any significance was Baz Lurhmann's Moulin Rouge. La La Land is such a film, and will likely be considered a modern touchstone of the genre. But it takes things a step further than Rouge and as such becomes the thing that all Academy Awards voters adore: a Hollywood Love Letter To Itself.

From the open screen emblazoning CINEMASCOPE, we know we're in for a high level homage to the great musicals of the 40s and 50s, those put out by such icons as Vincent Minnelli. There are two characters in this film, and two characters only. Both are starving artists trying to get their big break - Mia (Emma Stone) the actor and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) the jazz pianist. They fall for one another, and help will each other to achieve their dreams. The rest of the roles are essentially glorified cameos. But that's all this film needs, as Stone and Gosling carry the weight of the film on their shoulders and wildly succeed. You care about them deeply by the film's bittersweet climax.

The musical score and set pieces are top notch. Director Damien Chazelle clearly adores the genre and has taken great pains to recreate the old musical magic in a modern setting. The film could have easily have been called 'Tracking Shot, the Movie' as we are treated to about a dozen or more of them over its course - it must have been a breeze to edit. None are gratuitous, all serve to help build the core romance and move the story forward.

It's the ending, though, that gives the film it's emotional heft, and will be the reason it stays in viewers' minds for a long time. It was here that my cynical side crept in. I know that Oscar loves films about Hollywood, and about actors. But this film adds a new dimension that will probably make it a shoe-in for Best Picture - 'The Price Hollywood Actors Pay For Success.' I don't pity actors for being successful - they make a choice and they gotta live by it. I think the film understands that too - but it reminds us that there's a curse to go along with the blessing nonetheless. Take it for what it's worth, and enjoy it for the spectacle.

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Sun Jan 15, 2017 9:07 pm
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Guardians of the Galaxy
It's a good thing this had some laughs, because otherwise it's mighty stupid. And I didn't really like any of the characters, and the worldbuilding left me with a taste of crappy Trek reboot in my mouth. I know it's popular, but I personally would recommend this for a younger audience, not for grownups.

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Sun Jan 15, 2017 9:42 pm
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supersonic man wrote:
Guardians of the Galaxy
It's a good thing this had some laughs, because otherwise it's mighty stupid. And I didn't really like any of the characters, and the worldbuilding left me with a taste of crappy Trek reboot in my mouth. I know it's popular, but I personally would recommend this for a younger audience, not for grownups.


I don't care how much you veer from popular opinion, you aren't getting your hat and monocle back.

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"Times have not become more violent. They have just become more televised." - Brian Warner

"Marlowe's overreacting, Marlowe's taking it wrong, Marlowe's lighting kittens on fire again..." - Marlowe, on how the rest of the board sees him

"What we have here is one hellaciously well-built monument." - Bergerjacques, on the Lincoln Memorial

"Folks, we need a way to get Uwe Boll to inadvertantly touch Tony Jaa's elephant." - Beggar So's Hat speaks truth


Sun Jan 15, 2017 11:14 pm
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MONSTER TRUCKS - Monster Trucks is an odd and ungainly movie that tries to combine the plot of a "boy and his creature" movie (think E.T.) with the off the wall automobile stunts of The Fast and the Furious.

This is one of those times where the story behind the movie is more interesting than the movie itself. In fact, I can picture a documentary being made one day, where the director, producers, writer and actors (of which there are some talented ones here) shake their heads and laugh as they think back on the making of this film. The movie supposedly started out as the idea of the four-year-old son of the head of Paramount Pictures at the time. He saw franchise potential in his kid's idea, and envisioned a huge blockbuster built around mysterious monsters from deep underground who like to hide in the bodies of pick up trucks, and guzzle motor oil. The movie was given an overly generous $125 million budget, and was filmed back in 2014 with the intention of it being a big summer release for the studio in the following year. Obviously things did not go as planned. The film did not receive the reception they were expecting from test audiences, and the movie was kicked around various release dates for two years or so, until it is just now finally seeing the light of day in the traditional studio dumping ground month of January. Paramount has already announced that they plan to take a huge loss on this movie before it even came out.

But is the movie really that bad? Well, it's not exactly a disaster. It's surprisingly far too boring for that. You sit there in silence watching it unfold with little investment, all the while wishing you could somehow have been there to see this movie take shape. This is the kind of movie that would have been a lot more fun if it truly took advantage of its bizarre idea, and just ran with it.

Full review over on Reel Opinions.

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Mon Jan 16, 2017 9:52 pm
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Charnelhouse wrote:
La La Land - Every now and then Hollywood puts out a big, spectacular musical that reminds us how great the medium can be. I suppose the last one of any significance was Baz Lurhmann's Moulin Rouge. La La Land is such a film, and will likely be considered a modern touchstone of the genre. But it takes things a step further than Rouge and as such becomes the thing that all Academy Awards voters adore: a Hollywood Love Letter To Itself.


Though it was made by the French, I had the same exact reaction to The Artist which won Best Picture in 2012. It was nothing but a love letter to old Hollywood.

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Tue Jan 17, 2017 3:10 pm
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Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe (1953) In this classic 50s serial we get a rocket pack wearing hero battling with the minions of an alien known only as "The Leader" who is bent on conquering the Earth. The first half of the serial is getting their atomic rocket built which of course begs the question, "How can you call yourself Sky Marshal of the Universe if you haven't got off your own planet yet?" But they eventually do venture off into space, or what looks like the California desert or government park, and tackle the alien menace and his incompetent followers. Basically if you like rocket packets, space ships, robots and Ming the Merciless knock-offs you will most likely have a blast watching the adventures Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe.

You can read my full review here: Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe

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Fri Jan 20, 2017 2:04 pm
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Movie Mike wrote:
Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe (1953) In this classic 50s serial we get a rocket pack wearing hero battling with the minions of an alien known only as "The Leader" who is bent on conquering the Earth. The first half of the serial is getting their atomic rocket built which of course begs the question, "How can you call yourself Sky Marshal of the Universe if you haven't got off your own planet yet?" But they eventually do venture off into space, or what looks like the California desert or government park, and tackle the alien menace and his incompetent followers. Basically if you like rocket packets, space ships, robots and Ming the Merciless knock-offs you will most likely have a blast watching the adventures Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe.

You can read my full review here: Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe


Does Commando Cody have anything to do with Radar Men from the Moon?

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Fri Jan 20, 2017 2:25 pm
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There were several rocket-pack heroes ripping each other off back then.

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Fri Jan 20, 2017 7:04 pm
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Let me just add to the confusion:

King of the Rocket Men (1949) -- Republic serial. Hero is Jeffrey King.

Radar Men from the Moon (1952) -- Republic serial. Hero is Commando Cody.

Zombies of the Stratosphere (1952) -- Republic serial. Hero is Larry Martin.

Commando Cody: Sky Marshall of the Universe (1953/1955) -- Republic serial without cliffhanger endings and designed to be shown as a TV series also. Hero is Commando Cody.

Quote:
There is some disagreement among fans of movie serials whether this is a 12-episode motion picture serial or a series of short subjects. This is because it was originally filmed as a TV series which contractual obligations forced Republic Pictures to give a theatrical release before allowing it to be broadcast on TV. As the episodes do not end in "cliffhangers", some serial "purists", considering this a requirement for the classification of a movie serial, refuse to accept it into the serial canon. Unlike short subject series, though, the episodes are not self contained - they follow a definite story arc, and cannot be shown out of order and have the story remain comprehensible to the viewer. Odd claims that unspecified 1950s legislation prohibited release of any motion picture filmed after 1948 from subsequently being released to television - which, if true, would prove that this title had no theatrical history and therefore must be classed as a TV series only - are entirely unfounded. In reality, post-1948 films were being shown on early-to-mid 1950s TV, often while still being available for theatrical showings as well, on a regular basis. In fact, the mass syndication of product postwar product by Republic Pictures itself resulted in many theaters boycotting this distributor for carrying the practice to an excess dangerous to the survival of motion picture theaters. The records of the New York State Censorship Board at the New York State Archives, clearly show that all twelve episodes of this serial were submitted for approval and licensing for theatrical exhibition in that state in 1953.


Note also that both the musician (of ". . . and his Lost Planet Airmen," best known for "Hot Rod Lincoln") of the 1960's and 1970's, and the character in the Star Wars universe are named Commander (not "Commando") Cody.

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Dark tears for is alabaster muse lost forever into the unforgiving jade daggers of the night. Her slim form no longer to touch his burning lips, her blood like the thorny rose no longer his, O Death! O Oblivion! Why havent you come! I wait in my garden of shadows for thee! -- Juniper releases her inner Goth.


Fri Jan 20, 2017 7:30 pm
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Hman wrote:
Movie Mike wrote:
Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe (1953) In this classic 50s serial we get a rocket pack wearing hero battling with the minions of an alien known only as "The Leader" who is bent on conquering the Earth. The first half of the serial is getting their atomic rocket built which of course begs the question, "How can you call yourself Sky Marshal of the Universe if you haven't got off your own planet yet?" But they eventually do venture off into space, or what looks like the California desert or government park, and tackle the alien menace and his incompetent followers. Basically if you like rocket packets, space ships, robots and Ming the Merciless knock-offs you will most likely have a blast watching the adventures Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe.

You can read my full review here: Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe


Does Commando Cody have anything to do with Radar Men from the Moon?

It works as a prequel to the Republic serial Radar Men from the Moon (1952) as it is here that we are introduced to the team that will help Commando Cody defeat the threat from the Radar Men.

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Fri Jan 20, 2017 11:52 pm
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SPLIT - I honestly am not sure what to make of M Night Shyamalan's Split. The movie managed to simultaneously fascinate and frustrate me to no end. On one end of the spectrum, we have the powerhouse performance by James McAvoy, who plays a man with 23 different personalities living inside of him. This would be a challenge to any actor, and the way that McAvoy throws himself so completely into the role (or roles) is something to definitely see. But at the same time, it feels like this is a movie built entirely around that performance, and not much else. While McAvoy is captivating, the movie he's in is less so.

This is intended to be a return to form for the filmmaker, a return to the low budget, tense thrillers that helped him make a name in the industry. Shyamalan seems to be drawing upon Hitchcock for inspiration here, trying to juggle gripping suspense with a pitch dark sense of humor that ranges from the playful to the downright disturbing. It should be fascinating, but something felt just a tiny bit off to me. The movie is never exactly scary in any way, and the tension never builds as it should. I have heard some people say that this is intentional, but I'm not so sure. I think Shyamalan is trying to play with his audience here, and generate the emotions of tension and fright. But far too often, the movie is more weird than genuinely frightening. Weird is not scary. It can be creepy, yes, but the way it's used here, it often seems to be weird just for the sake of being weird. There are even a couple scenes that generated some bad laughs from the audience attending my screening. Split can be interesting to watch, but it's far too messy for me to label it a total success.

Full review over on Reel Opinions.

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Sat Jan 21, 2017 1:59 am
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The Angry Birds Movie - Meh. In these days of cleverly-written animated films that seamlessly juggle humor aimed at different age groups, I was expecting the writers to find hilarious ways to mine humor from the concept of birds knocking over buildings. Instead, all that is relegated to about five minutes in the last act, with the first two acts dedicated mainly to a ramshackle subplot involving the Mighty Eagle; a pointless, trite moral about believing in yourself; and far too much humor derived from pee jokes, snot jokes and fart jokes. There's far too much build-up to far too little pay off in terms of Angry Birds destroying stuff. I guess my favorite part is the scene where Red is at the anger management class and the white bird starts reading Terence's background, growing more and more horrified as she does so.

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Sat Jan 21, 2017 2:09 pm
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