Saturday, October 15, 2016

Queen of Katwe (2016)

IMDb plot summary: A Ugandan girl sees her world rapidly change after being introduced to the game of chess.
Directed by Mira Nair. Starring Madina Nalwanga, David Oyelowo, Lupita Nyong'o, and Martin Kabanza.

If you know anything at all about this movie, you know pretty much all of it. It follows the expected path of most underdog competition movies -- the rise, the fall, the rise, the personal problems, the triumphant ending. Disney does this formula better than many others, and it definitely works here, largely thanks to the incredibly likable actors at the center of the story. There are no surprises, but the trusted formula is used well, and it's a sweet movie. The highlight is seeing the actors meet their characters' real-life counterparts in the ending credits sequence.

3.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Queen of Katwe > Everyone Says I Love You
Queen of Katwe < A Clockwork Orange
Queen of Katwe > The Pursuit of Happyness
Queen of Katwe > The Intouchables
Queen of Katwe > Me and Orson Welles
Queen of Katwe < Don't Drink the Water
Queen of Katwe > The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes
Queen of Katwe < Battle Royale
Queen of Katwe > The Band Wagon
Queen of Katwe > The Cat Returns

Final spot: #681 out of 2522.

Internet Famous (2016)

IMDB plot summary: The Internet has given them fame. A talent contest could make one of them a superstar. If only they had any talent.
Directed by Michael J. Gallagher. Starring Shane Dawson, Steve Greene, Wendy McColm, and Amanda Cerny.

This silly little movie does a great job of capturing all the various aspects of Internet fame, from those who never wanted to be famous to those who are famous for nefarious reasons to those who are famous for reasons other than what they think. It's definitely a very narrow film in the sense that it has a limited timespan and a limited audience. This is a movie for YouTube followers right now, and I don't know that it'll have much appeal to almost anyone else. The characters aren't developed enough to have the longer reach of, say, Christopher Guest's best mockumentaries. All that being said, however, I enjoyed it for what it was and had a good time watching it.

3 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Internet Famous > Music Within
Internet Famous < A Clockwork Orange
Internet Famous < The Pursuit of Happyness
Internet Famous > Let the Right One In
Internet Famous < October Sky
Internet Famous < National Lampoon's Vacation
Internet Famous < National Treasure
Internet Famous > Hitch
Internet Famous < Titanic
Internet Famous < The Avengers
Internet Famous > Ghost Ship

Final spot: #1091 out of 2521.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

The Body Snatcher (1945)

IMDb plot summary: A ruthless doctor and his young prize student find themselves continually harassed by their murderous supplier of illegal cadavers.
Directed by Robert Wise. Starring Henry Daniell, Boris Karloff, Russell Wade, and Bela Lugosi.

From the very beginning of this movie, I was drawn into the mystery of the story. Boris Karloff is great as the ominous cabman Gray, whose frequent smiles and laughter somehow seethe with undertones of something much more sinister. The movie is short, but not a moment of it is wasted, and every new development in the story drew me in further. The final sequence was somewhat expected for me but really stunning in how it plays out. I hadn't even heard of this movie before it was assigned to me, but it was a definite hit.

4 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
The Body Snatcher > Scrooge
The Body Snatcher > A Clockwork Orange
The Body Snatcher < Kramer vs. Kramer
The Body Snatcher < I've Loved You So Long
The Body Snatcher < Heavenly Creatures
The Body Snatcher > Catfish
The Body Snatcher > GoodFellas
The Body Snatcher > Borat
The Body Snatcher > Crossing Delancey
The Body Snatcher < Mad Max: Fury Road
The Body Snatcher < Amelie

Final spot: #556 out of 2520.

The Overnight (2015)

IMDb plot summary: Alex, Emily, and their son, RJ, are new to Los Angeles. A chance meeting at the park introduces them to the mysterious Kurt, Charlotte, and Max. A family "playdate" becomes increasingly interesting as the night goes on.
Directed by Patrick Brice. Starring Adam Scott, Taylor Schilling, Jason Schwartzman, and Judith Godrèche.

This movie is... odd. It presents itself at first as a fairly straightforward comedy about two very different groups of couples meeting and becoming friends almost too quickly, and then it segues into a relationship drama about insecurity and dissatisfaction, and then it awkwardly bounces back between the two for the remainder of the time. Honestly, I'm just not sure what to make of it. It ends with a sort of "Well, that was an educational experience" feeling, but I'm not convinced our main characters took much away from it at all. I just came away from it feeling like it was on the verge of being something really interesting and then it just... wasn't.

1 star.

How it entered my Flickchart:
The Overnight < Scrooge
The Overnight < Gangs of New York
The Overnight > Band of Outsiders
The Overnight > Dragonball Evolution
The Overnight > Maggie's Plan
The Overnight < Inkheart
The Overnight > Outsourced
The Overnight > Hangman's Curse
The Overnight < The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
The Overnight > Whisper of the Heart
Final spot: #1935 out of 2519.

Don't Touch If You Ain't Prayed (2005)

IMDb plot summary: After saving herself for marriage, a forty year old Christian woman finally meets her soul mate. But her hopes sour once she finds out this candidate carries extra baggage.
Directed by Larry Flash Jenkins. Starring Ce Ce Peniston, Randy Brooks, Anica Barbosa, and Larry Flash Jenkins.

Oh, this is awful, both as a movie and as a Christian movie. Our main character is whiny and pessimistic. When one of her sidekicks tells her, "The Pamela I know is a fighter," I almost laughed out loud because that was so contrary to the character we'd been shown. On top of that, the movie has a very odd point of view on marriage and divorce for what is otherwise a typical Christian movie. The technical aspects are incredibly amateurish, with the dialogue barely audible over the cheesy R&B soundtrack and many shots cutting off the top of actors' heads. This is just a mess all round.

0.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Don't Touch If You Ain't Prayed < Music Within
Don't Touch If You Ain't Prayed < The Last Temptation of Christ
Don't Touch If You Ain't Prayed < The Art of War
Don't Touch If You Ain't Prayed < Captain January
Don't Touch If You Ain't Prayed < The Matrix Revolutions
Don't Touch If You Ain't Prayed > The Game Plan
Don't Touch If You Ain't Prayed < Prince of Space
Don't Touch If You Ain't Prayed > The Mask
Don't Touch If You Ain't Prayed > Mr. Deeds
Don't Touch If You Ain't Prayed < Bee Season

Final spot: #2464 out of 2518.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Cat's Eye (1985)

IMDb plot summary: A stray cat is the linking element of three tales of suspense and horror.
Directed by Lewis Teague. Starring Drew Barrymore, James Woods, Robert Hays, and Alan King.

This movie is tremendously weird. I really knew nothing about it going in, not even that it was by Stephen King, but it certainly *felt* like Stephen King -- ideas that made me laugh out loud with how ridiculous they were and enjoy the silly tenseness of it. This movie fully lands on the "delightfully campy" side of King, which is where I tend to like him best. This is the kind of movie where of COURSE there's a weird little goblin in someone's wall and of COURSE people are throwing severed heads at each other.

My favorite of the three stories in this anthology is by far the first one, which was also the only one I felt to really have an element of plausible tension to it. It was bizarre but it felt consistent. Just because other two weren't tense didn't mean they weren't enjoyable, however. Such an odd but fun little film, and a fitting one for the month of October.

3 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Cat's Eye > Music Within
Cat's Eye < Children of Men
Cat's Eye < The Village
Cat's Eye > Revolutionary Road
Cat's Eye > October Sky
Cat's Eye < Knight and Day
Cat's Eye > Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium
Cat's Eye < Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken
Cat's Eye < Smiles of a Summer Night
Cat's Eye < The Ring
Cat's Eye < V for Vendetta
Cat's Eye < The Miracle Worker
Final spot: #1001 out of 2516.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Shock Treatment (1981)

IMDb plot summary: Janet and Brad become contestants on a game show... but wind up as captives instead.
Directed by Jim Sharman. Starring Jessica Harper, Cliff De Young, Richrad O'Brien, and Patricia Quinn.

Let me start off by saying I was never much of a fan of Rocky Horror, Richard O'Brien's previous cult musical movie. I thought the first 20 minutes or so were a hilarious parody of classic B-movies, but then it devolved into bizarre nonsense that was not enjoyable enough to make it worthwhile.

This movie is like everything after the first 20 minutes of Rocky Horror with less talented performers and less interesting songs. I can't decide whether it feels more like a movie written on all the drugs or a painstakingly faithful adaptation of someone's dreams. Either way, it's incoherent and, while I never thought I'd say this about a musical, there are too many songs, making the already vague plot even more vague as the characters take a break to sing about something that is in no way connected to what's been going on. On top of that, not sure whether it was my copy of the movie or the movie itself or a combination of the two, but the visuals were dreary and sloppy and looked distractingly low-budget, but I think even if it had had a clearer picture it wouldn't have made them look prettier.

Unfortunately for whoever suggested this to me, this is a definite miss, though it's probably one I needed to see eventually given my (typical) love for musicals.

0.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Shock Treatment < Scrooge
Shock Treatment < Anchors Aweigh
Shock Treatment > The Art of War
Shock Treatment < Enough
Shock Treatment < Love in the Afternoon
Shock Treatment < Hamlet 2
Shock Treatment > All Dogs Go to Heaven
Shock Treatment < The Great Train Robbery
Shock Treatment < Big Business
Shock Treatment < Clash by Night
Shock Treatment > Distant Drums

Final spot: #2179 out of 2515.