Saturday, April 30, 2016

1941 (1979)

IMDb plot summary: Hysterical Californians prepare for a Japanese invasion in the days after Pearl Harbor.
Directed by Steven Spielberg. Starring Dan Aykroyd, Ned Beatty, John Belushi, and Lorraine Gary.

Spielberg isn't known for his comedies, and... well, maybe there's a reason. 1941 is not very funny, and on top of that, it feels interminably long. (20 minutes in, I looked at the clock and realized I still had two hours to go of this, and I audibly groaned.) It's kind of a fun concept, but the characters are all obnoxious, the gags are predictable and not terribly well-delivered, and it's a little unsettling that one of the B plots involves attempted rape in what is otherwise a very lighthearted film. This is a misfire on just about every level.

1 star.

How it entered my Flickchart:
1941 < A Little Night Music
1941 < The Boss
1941 > The Net
1941 > Did You Hear About the Morgans?
1941 < Jumanji
1941 < The Lodger (2009)
1941 < An American in Paris
1941 < Prince Caspian and the Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1989)
1941 > Dragonball Evolution
1941 < For Your Consideration

Final spot: #1987 out of 2451.

Friday, April 29, 2016

The Major and the Minor (1942)

IMDb plot summary: A woman disguises herself as a child to save on a train fare and is taken in charge by an army man who doesn't notice the truth.
Directed by Billy Wilder. Starring Ginger Rogers, Ray Milland, Rita Johnson, and Robert Benchley.


It's hard to know how to feel about this movie. It's got Billy Wilder's trademark clever dialogue, and Ginger Rogers does a good job of playing a grown woman clueless about how 12-year-olds act. (I especially loved that they addressed that when an actual young teenager calls her out on her pretense.) But no matter how cleverly written it is or how many funny jokes there are, there's something skeevy and off-putting about a cheerful rom com about a grown man falling in love with someone he thinks is 12. Perhaps if it hadn't jumped straight to "Let's get married" at the end, perhaps if it had ended simply with her explaining and apologizing and them moving forward to get to know each other as adults, it might have been more palatable. But in the end, as much as this movie tried to get me to like it, there was too much "Ugh, that's uncomfortable" throughout for me to really love it.

2.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
The Major and the Minor > A Little Night Music
The Major and the Minor < Argo
The Major and the Minor < A Separation
The Major and the Minor < Imitation of Life (1959)
The Major and the Minor < The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
The Major and the Minor > Inside Llewyn Davis
The Major and the Minor > When Strangers Click
The Major and the Minor < Matchstick Men
The Major and the Minor < The Scarlet and the Black
The Major and the Minor > Frankie Go Boom

Final spot: #1164 out of 2450.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Boss (2016)

IMDb plot summary: A titan of industry is sent to prison after she's caught insider trading. When she emerges ready to rebrand herself as America's latest sweetheart, not everyone she screwed over is so quick to forgive and forget.
Directed by Ben Falcone. Starring Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Bell, Peter Dinklage, and Ella Anderson.

This reminds me a bit of last year's (better) Sisters, in that it was a female-fronted comedy whose comedic moments were few and far between but that I enjoyed nevertheless as a refreshing woman-lead flick. This role lets Melissa McCarthy step outside of her all-too-prevalent recent "raunchy and oversexed" comedy role and lets her play a  more diverse character. It's not a good movie by any means - it really isn't very funny, and the story takes some abrupt turns - but McCarthy and Kristen Bell play well off each other, and I loved seeing funny women like Cecily Strong and Kristen Schaal taking on the funniest supporting roles. At least we have some lame spring female-fronted comedies to match against the lame male-fronted spring comedies.

1.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
The Boss < A Little Night Music
The Boss < Mr. Holland's Opus
The Boss > The Net
The Boss > Did You Hear About the Morgans?
The Boss > Jumanji
The Boss > Gideon, Tuba Warrior
The Boss > Paycheck
The Boss > Unknown
The Boss > X2
The Boss > The Interpreter
The Boss > Eagle Eye

Final spot: #1838 out of 2449.

The Blue Dahlia (1946)

IMDb plot summary: An ex-bomber pilot is suspected of murdering his unfaithful wife.
Directed by George Marshall. Starring Alan Ladd, Veronica Lake, William Bendix, and Howard Da Silva.

I could never really be sure which direction this movie was trying to go in. A gritty mystery? A noir about femme fatales? A serious drama about PTSD? It touches on all of these but doesn't really settle on any of them, and as a result, when the credits rolled, I just shrugged and thought, "Meh." Not a lot compelling here in terms of story, character, or themes.

1 star.

How it entered my Flickchart:
The Blue Dahlia < Dreamgirls
The Blue Dahlia < Rebel Without a Cause
The Blue Dahlia > The Net
The Blue Dahlia > Did You Hear About the Morgans?
The Blue Dahlia < The Best Years of Our Lives
The Blue Dahlia < After the Thin Man
The Blue Dahlia < Freaky Friday (1976)
The Blue Dahlia > Prince Caspian and the Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1989)
The Blue Dahlia > Tears of the Sun
The Blue Dahlia < The Thirteenth Floor

Final spot: #1974 out of 2448.

Shui quan guai zhao (1979)

IMDb plot summary: After being beaten by some thugs, police officer Chin Tai Ba learns the Sleeping Fist style from martial arts master Chung Yiu.
Directed by Wing-Cho Yip. Starring Ka-Yan Leung, Siu Tin Yun, Ling-lung Ouyang, and Yi Lung Huang.

As far as kung fu movies go, this would be OK, I guess, if it wasn't for the horrific dubbing. I don't have a lot of patience with kung fu movies when they're basically all either training montages or scenes of people being offended by other people and deciding to fight. But the characters are kind of sort of loosely interesting here, which saves it from being as boring as it could be. Definitely not my cup of tea, genre-wise, but it was tolerable.

2 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:

This movie is not yet on Flickchart. When it is added to the database, I'll update this review.

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Host (2013)

IMDb plot summary: When an unseen enemy threatens mankind by taking over their bodies and erasing their memories, Melanie will risk everything to protect the people she cares most about, proving that love can conquer all in a dangerous new world.
Directed by Andrew Niccol. Starring Saoirse Ronan, Diane Kruger, Max Irons, and Jake Abel.

This was a huge disappointment. Not because I thought a movie based on a Stephenie Meyer novel was going to be good, but because the first 15 minutes or so of the movie were so fascinating. It's a good concept, and I was looking forward to seeing how it was going to play out. Soon after the inciting incident, however, things went downhill FAST into everything I came to loathe about the Twilight series. Characters make abrupt decisions for no other reason than that the plot demands it, they fall in love with people they've thus far never indicated they were interested in, they change how they feel about each other in the blink of an eye with no justification. What could have been an interesting, thoughtful look at two species fighting to share a world became a cheesy, nonsensical romance full of unreasonable actions. What a letdown.

1 star.

How it entered my Flickchart:
The Host < Dreamgirls
The Host < Rebel Without a Cause
The Host > Rich and Strange
The Host > VeggieTales: The Star of Christmas
The Host < The Best Years of Our Lives
The Host > The Lodger
The Host < Holy Ghost People
The Host > Cujo
The Host > Giant
The Host < Show Boat (1951)
The Host < Silverado

Final spot: #1936 out of 2447.

The Day of the Triffids (1963)

IMDb plot summary: After an unusual meteor shower leaves most of the human population blind, a merchant navy officer must find a way to conquer tall, aggressive plants which are feeding on people and animals.
Directed by Steve Sekely. Starring Howard Keel, Nicole Maurey, Janette Scott, and Kieron Moore.

(Mild spoilers.)

This is an adequately entertaining, if silly, sci-fi movie. The moments where it focused on the aspects of living life as a blind human in a world where plants are out to eat you were more interesting than the appearance of the plants ever were. I got the sense watching it that there was a lot more that could have been said about it, more interesting points to be made about the few sighted people in this world of the blind, but the movie opted for a shallower presentation, making it fun but not that memorable.

2 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
The Day of the Triffids < The Fall
The Day of the Triffids > Rebel Without a Cause
The Day of the Triffids > The TV Set
The Day of the Triffids < L.A. Confidential
The Day of the Triffids < Pleasantville
The Day of the Triffids > The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
The Day of the Triffids > Cinderella (1965)
The Day of the Triffids < Corpse Bride
The Day of the Triffids > Alfie (2004)
The Day of the Triffids > Cracks

Final spot: #1464 out of 2446.