Abbott & Costello

Yesterday I watched Arrival (2016). I'm not 100% sure what I thought of this movie. It is a great movie, but where does it stand in the great science fiction films of all time? It has touches of Contact, Solaris, and Slaughter House Five. The aliens come but the movie doesn't go into space, the aliens don't invade and the main character's challenge is to decipher the aliens's language. The movie opens with a child dying of some kind of disease. When I saw that I thought "really?" Guardians of the Galaxy opens with Star Lord's mother dying of cancer, while they are shot differently it sure made me think sci-fi thinks it has to kill someone with terminal illness early on to give the viewer

Getting on Party

This morning I watched Joshy (2016). This one snuck up on me. The opening credits shows the story of a woman making dinner for her fiance on his birthday while he goes out to the gym. This section is intercut with the list of the cast, except instead of just fulfilling union requirements, this list of actors serves as a stark juxtoposition. The film features Thomas Middleditch, Adam Pally, Nick Kroll, Brett Gelman, Jenny Slate, Lauren Graham, Aubrey Plaza, Alison Brie, Jake Johnson, and Paul Riser among others. It's an all-star team of great comedic minds, great comic performers and the sequence is concludes with the fiance finding the woman has killed herself while he was at the gym. O

"Ocean"

There's a bit of a tradition in the Talbot household on Thanksgiving of going out to a movie together after everyone recovers from dinner. Yesterday we went out to see Moana (2016). Disney Animated Studios started with quite a run of films starting in 1937: Snow White, Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo and Bambi. Then, let's say they took a break until 1950 because there were some problems with racism and war propaganda for a few years. Starting in 1950 there was another run where they had about a 85% success rate of movies you could show any kid and they're in for a solid block of entertainment. The quality tailed off in the '80's and wasn't 100% kid friendly until Little Mermaid was released

In the Suitcase.

Last night we went out for a late night trip to the theater to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016). This was just a fun movie. I recently watched all of the Harry Potter films so it was pretty fun to get back into the Potter-verse. I especially enjoyed that this film introduces new characters to get to know and places the wizarding world in a new setting. This film is rich with characters lead by the acting work of Eddie Redmayne. I think it's useful to always remember the role Redmayne stepped into in Jupiter Ascending because it was so bonkers and entertaining that everything else he does must be considered in context. Redmayne is surrounded by actors that have not been

Wrap it up.

For my third dip into the 1940's today I watched Rope (1948). “What would you say to some champagne?” “Hello, champagne.” I don't think this is in the top five for Hitchcock movies but it is a movie that's still referenced in pop culture nearly 70 years later. It is best known for the homosexual themes and the framing of the story in "one" take. On this viewing I was impressed by the ramping up of suspense in the movie. We know they killed him, we know where the body is, we just get teased and teased about when they're going to get caught and how it will all fall together. The acting is very compelling in Rope. I think it has gotten some guff for how animated the two killers act during t

Carol Reed WWII Bookend

I continued my apparent 1940's filmfest today with Carol Reed's Night Train to Munich (1940). I'm a big fan of The Third Man directed by Carol Reed so I was interested in checking out this movie about the start of World War II. It seems like it would have been a very fresh film at the time as this movie from 1940 even goes into a concentration camp, although it doesn't quite know the full context of the camps that would be known years later. This movie is impressive for the way that it mixes footage from real life in the Nazi invasions in the late '30's with pretty sophisticated sets. I had never seen this before today and I mostly enjoyed it. It was a little hard to follow the characters

Tombstone by Monument Valley

This morning I watched a movie that I had done a group project on in my Westerns film class in college. I watched My Darling Clementine (1946). When I signed up for the Westerns class, I wasn't especially excited by the topic. I liked westerns when I was little but hadn't gone out of my way to watch westerns in quite a while, aside from a brief Leone phase I had gone through freshman year. I didn't know much about John Ford, but I knew I didn't care much for John Wayne so I was only taking the class for the great professor. The first day of class there were a pair of UConn basketball players looking for an easy class of watching movies. The professor laid out the syllabus for the class

Baseball Notes: 2016 Facts of the Year

In no particular order some of the most interesting facts of the year: Joey Votto's OBP. Votto had a bad start to the season. His AVG's in April and May were .229 and .200 but he managed to win the NL OBP crown with a .434 OBP (.326 AVG) ahead of NL batting champ DJ LeMahieu's OBP of .416. For a guy who always has some kind of statistical freak of nature feats of strength he shows yet again that he can overcome a pretty lengthy slump to have an impressive season. Paul Goldschmidt's SB's. America's First Baseman isn't known for his speed, in fact he's just about average for a baseball player (including catchers), but this year he stole 32 bags. That's a nice number of steals and ranks 9th

Daredevil meets Taxi Driver in a Fantasy Romp.

Tonight I watched Stardust (2007). This movie was the first time I was really made aware of Neil Gaiman, Matthew Vaughn, Charlie Cox and Mark Strong. I may have seen some of their work elsewhere but this was the first place I really took notice of any of them. I was a bit late on Neil Gaiman and even though I was starting to get into reading graphic novels around the time this movie came out, I don't think I could have picked out any of his critically acclaimed works for a couple of years after. Vaughn is a director that I've noted in here is a lesser known director by his name but his body of work is incredible. He has almost exclusively worked on adapting graphic novels or comic books t

The Peak of Zombie Film

This weekend I saw Shaun of the Dead (2004). I'm pretty sure I wasn't savvy enough to see this when it first came out in theaters. I think I had seen Spaced at some point when I was in college (2001-2004) although I didn't see the full episode and my memory of what happened. For some reason I thought it was a sitcom based in an English town where there were different crazy background stories going on in the background that the main characters would come perilously close to without running in to or learning of the craziness around them. I thought I saw an episode where there was a spy story going on that Simon Pegg's character had no idea was going on. As it turns out, none of that ever h

Hellboy Discussion

I recently watched Hellboy (2004) and I'll hopefully post reactions from other people as a bit of a Movie Club film discussion, kind of like a book club that only takes a couple hours to catch up on the content. Here's some bullet points with the hopes that they inspire some movie club discussion. A few thoughts: *** The introduction of the movie as a Nazi occult story line makes me think there could be a fun crossover or shared universe with Indiana Jones. *** I like that the hero, Hellboy, has some deep flaws to make him more realistic(ish). He has aged to be in his 20's or 30's and has let himself go as a self centered slob. *** He is also jealous and socially awkward to the point that e

MCU+

Here is my ongoing ordering of the Marvel Cinematic Universe Plus. This list mixes the Universes of Marvel Studios and Disney, Sony, and Fox (and anywhere else characters from Marvel Comics find themselves in the movies. As of now, I am not including live action TV shows in the list, although the shows on Netflix as well as Agents of SHIELD and Agent Carter could fit in. Some of those episodes correspond to Movies down to the week they aired. As far as this list is concerned, the MCU+ starts with the release of Iron Man because the previous Spider-Man, X-Men, and Fantastic Four movies are all messes of continuity with everything else and aren't all that great of movies compared to later v

Mr. Doctor

I didn't see a Pete Doctor movie this weekend, I saw the new film Doctor Strange (2016). This is a visual stunner. My mouth was agape for a good portion of the second half of the movie. Don't worry, this movie doesn't wait around before it unpacking the special effects as the very first scene gives the audience a taste of the style of action in an impressive wall climbing spectacle of action. I had a couple of worries going into seeing the movie. I was worried the visuals wouldn't live up to the history of psychedelically drawn Doctor Strange comics from the '60's and '70's. That worry was taken away pretty quickly and my hopes were exceeded by the time the Doctor finds his way to Nepal.

Indiana Jones and the Last Good Movie

For Halloween we went with a small film festival the last two Indiana Jones movies starting with Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) followed by Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull (2008). Last Crusade I have no idea when I first saw this movie but I sure forgot a whole bunch about it. I completely forgot that River Phoenix plays young Indy at the beginning of the movie. The start of the movie might be the most fun. Young Indy has a horse chase and a fight atop a circus train. Phoenix is a pretty interesting actor, it's a hard game of what-if to think what kind of actor he would have been 27 years later. He's a little goofy when he runs, but Harrison Ford is not a lot less goofy w

Batman Begins Discussion II

Ed. Note: Part One of the Batman Begins Discussion can be found here. and the Letterboxd review here. Part Two comes thanks to Steve McGinley, lifelong Batman fan who most certainly still wears gold, blue and black underwear around in the world. Enjoy, PS. ------- Batman has always been a fairly simple concept. A billionaire orphan who decided to fight crime with fancy gadgets. He’s summed up as the rich guy fighting bad guys with toys. He’s basically a brooding Iron Man. Except there’s an important difference: his discipline. People often forget to mention that he’s also an Olympic-level athlete and world-class detective blessed with a genius intellect. He’s traveled the world and learned

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