Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982)

IMDb plot summary: A town's sheriff and regular patron of a historical whorehouse fights to keep it running when a TV reporter targets it as the Devil's playhouse.
Directed by Colin Higgins. Starring Burt Reynolds, Dolly Parton, Dom DeLuise, and Charles Durning.

Well, this movie is pretty much what I hoped it would be: a sweet, charming movie about an unconventional subject. What I like most about it, though, is watching the two lead characters. Mona and Ed Earl have an easy chemistry both as lovers and as friends, and any scene where they're interacting is really delightful to watch. I knew some of the music here, and it's pretty good, aside from the ridiculous choice to add in "I Will Always Love You," a great song in its own right that is completely wasted in how it's been shoehorned into the movie. I'm not sure this is a movie I'll remember for a long time -- it's casual low-key tone does make it pretty forgettable in the end -- but it's one that I'm sure I'd have just as good a time with if I revisited it later.

4 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas > Chasing Amy
The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas > The Reader
The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas < Smashed
The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas < Bernie
The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas > GoodFellas
The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas < Pom Poko
The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas > Rock of Ages
The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas < Rise of the Planet of the Apes
The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas < Megamind
The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas > Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas < 22 Jump Street

Final spot: #540 out of 2579.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Fist Fight (2017)

IMDb plot summary: When one school teacher gets the other fired, he is challenged to an after-school fight.
Directed by Richie Keen. Starring Charlie Day, Ice Cube, Tracy Morgan, and Jillian Bell.

I had pretty low expectations going into this, and those turned out to be pretty much right. I don't have a particular immediate fondness for the Charlie Day persona, and having him as the central character of this little comedy did very little for me. The concept is pretty ridiculous to begin with, and then it does that sort of awkward escalation of jokes where, before you know it, the main characters are covered in paint or climbing in each other's windows because the plot demands it. The editing is also off, with each joke shot held just a little too long. There are one or two funny jokes, but those are in the middle of a pretty messy flick.

1 star.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Fist Fight < The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)
Fist Fight < Special
Fist Fight > Honey, I Shrunk the Kids
Fist Fight > John Q.
Fist Fight < Flightplan
Fist Fight < Saw
Fist Fight > I Accuse My Parents
Fist Fight < The Robe
Fist Fight > A Prairie Home Companion
Fist Fight < Show Boat (1951)

Final spot: #2069 out of 2578.

The French Connection (1971)

IMDb plot summary: A pair of NYC cops in the Narcotics Bureau stumble onto a drug smuggling job with a French connection.
Directed by William Friedkin. Starring Gene Hackman, Fernando Rey, Roy Scheider, and Tony Lo Bianco.

I've avoided this movie for quite awhile, figuring it'd be a tedious crime movie I couldn't get into. Well, turns out I was right. I feel like I'm not even qualified to judge crime movies because I have so little investment in them from the get-go and they have to do so much extra work to win me over. This one doesn't. It all feels incredibly low-stakes, despite the fact that they tell me over and over again that it's not, but that urgency never comes through. Even in the scene where Hackman is (supposedly desperately) searching for the drugs hidden in a car he brought in, it feels sluggish, and any actual results to the car chases or searches are anticlimactic. This lazy atmosphere had to be a deliberate choice, but it's one that makes me care even less in a genre that was already starting a few steps behind for me.

0.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
The French Connection < Chasing Amy
The French Connection < Special
The French Connection < The Butter Battle Book
The French Connection > The World Is Not Enough
The French Connection > Holy Motors
The French Connection < Brigadoon
The French Connection < My Friend Irma
The French Connection < Kate and Leopold
The French Connection > Solaris (1972)
The French Connection > Five Children and It
The French Connection > Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron

Final spot: #2326 out of 2577.

Monday, February 13, 2017

12 Days of Terror (2004)

IMDb plot summary: For 12 days in July, 1916, a shark patrolled the waterways of northern New Jersey. This docudrama is based on Richard Fernicola's account of those days.
Directed by Jack Sholder. Starring Colin Egglesfield, Mark Dexter, Jenna Harrison, and John Rhys-Davies.

In the first few minutes of this movie, I had the realization that I hardly ever see period films set in the 1910s that aren't specifically about World War I. For a movie that's essentially Jaws to be set in 1916 was an unexpectedly fresh treat. That being said, it's definitely not as good as Jaws. Its protagonist is technically right in his pursuit of justice, but he's just so smug and unlikable. The dialogue is pretty cheesy, and the shark effects are not very compelling. It definitely has the quality of a made-for-TV movie. It's not terribly good, but it's about as enjoyable as any silly disaster B-movie, with maybe a slight bonus for being more interesting with its historical time frame.

2 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
12 Days of Terror < The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)
12 Days of Terror > Special
12 Days of Terror > Independence Day
12 Days of Terror < The Three Musketeers (1993)
12 Days of Terror > X-Men: The Last Stand
12 Days of Terror > Quitting
12 Days of Terror < The Double Life of Veronique
12 Days of Terror < Plan 9 from Outer Space
12 Days of Terror > Touch of Evil
12 Days of Terror < 21 Up

Final spot: #1484 out of 2576.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Now, Voyager (1942)

IMDb plot summary: A frumpy spinster blossoms under therapy and becomes an elegant, independent woman.
Directed by Irving Rapper. Starring Bette Davis, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, and Gladys Cooper.

(Spoilers ahead.)

This is a fascinating movie. It seldom went the way I expected it to. I've never been sold on Bette Davis as an actress -- she's always seemed to fall too easily into the campy self-parody she became in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? -- but here she's excellent as a woman working to reclaim her sense of identity after a lifetime of parental abuse. Charlotte is a wonderful character, and seeing her take her first steps into the adult world and blossom is very satisfying. I love that the central concern of the story *is* her reclaiming her independence, and not just through finding a man to love her. The romance is a side effect of the real emotional work being done here, and that's why even when it ends with our lead characters not getting together, it's still a positive ending in my book. Charlotte may still be undoing bits of her mother's damage throughout her life, but she is confidently reclaiming herself, making her own decisions and taking care of others in a way she never got to do when she was just her mother's slave. While the film has a few moments that veer very closely toward melodramatic overacting, overall it drew me into its story so completely that I'd happily sit here discussing the characters and their reactions for another hour without even really touching on the technical aspects of the film.

4.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Now, Voyager > Chasing Amy
Now, Voyager > Men in Black III
Now, Voyager > A Man for All Seasons
Now, Voyager < Equus
Now, Voyager < Pirate Radio
Now, Voyager < Better Off Dead
Now, Voyager < Guardians of the Galaxy
Now, Voyager < Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Now, Voyager > Breakfast at Tiffany's
Now, Voyager < High School Musical

Final spot: #316 out of 2575.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Space Between Us (2017)

IMDb plot summary: The first human born on Mars travels to Earth for the first time, experiencing the wonders of the planet through fresh eyes. He embarks on an adventure with a street smart girl to discover how he came to be.
Directed by Peter Chelsom. Starring Asa Butterfield, Gary Oldman, Carla Gugino, and Britt Robertson.

Oh, wow. Oh, this is so incompetent. It's kind of a cool concept, that of a kid born on Mars making the journey to Earth for the first time in his life, and there are moments throughout where we get glimpses of what this movie could have been. But it is all *so* badly mishandled. From terrible acting to an eye-rollingly melodramatic score to a script that I can only assume was written by an actual alien from Mars to some of the stupidest plot points I've seen in a long time ... it's just all a big ugly mess. I'm clearly not alone in thinking this, either. In the theater where I saw it, there were frequent moments that I suspect were meant to be intensely dramatic, but where the audience around me broke into laughter. You probably don't want your coming-of-age tragedy to make the audience giggle at the characters' misfortunes. It's so disappointing, because I'd have loved a story like this done well. Everything the creators could mess up, they did.

0.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
The Space Between Us < The Color Purple
The Space Between Us < Special
The Space Between Us < The Butter Battle Book
The Space Between Us < The World Is Not Enough
The Space Between Us > American Gangster
The Space Between Us < Man with a Movie Camera
The Space Between Us > Ladies in Lavendar
The Space Between Us < There's No Business Like Show Business
The Space Between Us > Deathstalker III: Deathstalker and the Warriors from Hell
The Space Between Us > The ButterCream Gang II: The Secret of Treasure Mountain
The Space Between Us < Employee of the Month

Final spot: #2467 out of 2574.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Romancing the Stone (1985)

IMDb plot summary: A romance writer sets off to Colombia to ransom her kidnapped sister, and soon finds herself in the middle of a dangerous adventure.
Directed by Robert Zemeckis. Starring Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, Danny DeVito, and Zack Norman.

This is exactly what I was hoping it would be. It's so light and fluffy and silly but has just the right proportions of romance and adventure. Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner have the necessary superficial chemistry without making us think too hard about their characters, and even though my first instinct was that it needed some justification of the unexpected happy ending, I ultimately decided, nope, it did not, because what is it if not the kind of wildly, implausibly romantic story Turner's character writes as a profession? This is the kind of movie you watch when you're sick or tired and just want to enjoy something fluffy, and it excels at that.

4 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Romancing the Stone > Closer to the Moon
Romancing the Stone > Yojimbo
Romancing the Stone < A Man for All Seasons
Romancing the Stone < Seven Samurai
Romancing the Stone < Mars Attacks!
Romancing the Stone > To Kill a Mockingbird
Romancing the Stone > Amelie
Romancing the Stone > Four Lions
Romancing the Stone < Roxanne
Romancing the Stone > Billy Elliot the Musical Live
Romancing the Stone > The Secret Garden (1987)

Final spot: #568 out of 2573, or 78%.