December 2017 Movie a Day Blog!

With work being a bit more low-key leading into the holidays (meaning more time at home as opposed to being on the road 24/7), it occured to me that I could do another Movie-A-Day Blog.  I did two previously, in July 2017 and August 2017 so here we are again!

What's the purpose of doing this?  Well, after being on the road for a few months, my DVR is packed full and I need reasons to go in and check them off.  Also, why not just enjoy watching movies while I can?

A few rules, which usually get broken...must be a movie I've never seen before...although in extreme cases, I can substitute movies I have already seen, as will happen immediately with the 1st movie...just cause...

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December 15th - THROW MOMMA FROM THE TRAIN (1987)

This was really bad.  So bad I barely got through it.  In fact, I'm not totally sure that I did.  I may have fallen asleep.  Not sure how this happened.  Danny DeVito, in his directorial debut, made a real stinker in my opinion.  Between him and Billy Crystal, two legends, I'm not sure how this happened.  But this was a commercial success, so what do I know?  I have a hard time watching Anne Ramsey, and I was shocked to learn she was nominated for a Golden Globe for this.  I mean, good for her, she was probably a nice lady in real life.  She was good in The Goonies but had a far smaller role there.  I've always had the image of DeVito nailing Crystal in the head with a frying pan in my head since I first saw the trailer back when I was a kid, but yet I've never actually watched the film until now.  About the only fun I had was catching certain cameos in the film.  Like how Crystal's writing class includes Philip Perlman, who plays "Phil", and also played "Phil" on Cheers and is also Rhea Perlman's dad in real life.  Also in the class was J. Alan Thomas, who played Jeff on Taxi, DeVito's all time classic TV series.  Rob Reiner shows up but I felt bad for Kim Greist, both her and her character.  After being in Brazil and Manhunter, she deserved better.  Not to mention the great Kate Mulgrew...but that's just my opinion.  *Side note: is this where Crystal perfected the move where he rests his face/head on his hand on the movie poster?  I can think of at least one other example, "Father's Day" with Robin Williams, where he did that, but there has to be others.  When I think of Billy Crystal, I think of him like that.  *Side note #2: I'm still looking for a way to watch "Running Scared", the buddy cop film starring Crystal and Gregory Hines... *Smoker's Report: I don't remember but it was in the 80's so there had to be, right?

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December 14th - STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI (2017)

Yup...I just saw THAT movie!  And what can I say without spoiling it?  Not much...if you believe the "evil" (or Dark Side) of the internet (aka Twitter), even me saying whether or not I liked this movie is considered a spoiler...so...I say..Go see this film!  You probably will anyway, I doubt I will sway anyone this way or that...let's see...Rey aka Daisy Ridley is my new celebrity crush...I thought she was cool and badass before but now I'm just plain ol' smitten...Mark Hamill is a God among men, as after all these years of hearing him do other voices in cartoons (like being MY Joker), I had no idea hearing him talking in "Luke's voice" would mean so much to me...the movie was a great tribute to the late great Carrie Fisher...lots of cool fight sequences but you probably could have guessed that...okay, I'll say it, I loved this film!  I have to go back and see it again (and again...and again...) but highly recommended!  Only a franchise like Star Wars can make me feel like a kid again, and what they failed to do with the prequels they are doing in spades with Force Awakens, Rogue One and this film!  Can't wait for Part Nine (and presumably Part Ten, cause...c'mon!  How can they not?)  Go see it!  *Smokers Report: N/A

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December 13th - ABSENCE OF MALICE (1981)

Starring Sally Field and Paul Newman and directed by Sydney Pollack.  This movie was apparently about the responsibility of the press, but it seemed to get bogged down by the romance of Field and Newman.  And it didn't really make sense either.  In his review when it came out, Roger Ebert wrote about this film that the reporter Field is terrible and "no respectable journalist would ever do the things that Sally Field does to Paul Newman in this movie.  She is a disgrace to her profession."  But also said he liked the romance of the film and that the fact that Field is bad at her job probably won't matter to most viewers.  Well it mattered to me.  The whole plot is kicked off by her bad reporting and I guess it's necessary to kick the plot into gear, but I couldn't get past it.  Plus how quickly Newman forgives Field for an even bigger mistake, although I guess later it turns out the ending lot twist negated that...but then I'm not sure that's what happened.  And if if DID happen, then Field forgives Newman way too fast.  Either way...It was nice to see Wilfred Brimley come in, kick ass and literally take names.  But most of the rest of the film is kind of a mess.  To me...*Fun Fact: By total coincidence, this movie is sold on DVD in a two-pack with And Justice For All, which I reviewed not that long ago...scroll down to see...  *Smokers Report: Oh Yeah.  It's about reporters and gangsters.  Everyone smokes.  I wonder if that was really the case or it's just a cliche that was just passed down generation to generation?

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December 12th - KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES (2016)

This has GAL GADOT in it!!!  WONDER WOMAN!!!  Along with Jon Hamm, Zach Galifianakis, Isla Fisher, Patton Oswalt, Matt Walsh...a great concept, so why did it bomb?  Well cause it's not very good...well, ten minutes in, Fisher suspects Hamm and Gadot of being spies and they reveal that, yes...they are spies.  But no one believes her...cut to thirty minutes later...Zach and Isla break into Hamm and Gadot's house...he shoots her with a dart...wackiness ensues...blah blah.  She follows Gadot to a change room in a mall and Gadot comes out wearing lingerie and that's a fun scene...although now that's like looking at Wonder Woman in lingerie and is that wrong???  Is that like looking at Mother Theresa in lingerie?  So the movie is 2 hours long and it takes an hour before the scene from the trailer, with Hamm and Gadot yell at Zach and Isla to get in the car and Zach takes off without Isla, to happen.  There are some funny lines here and in the ensuing car chase, but then it's back to blandsville.  It's too bad as, like I said before, this is a fun concept with a great cast.  Interesting tidbit: Rumours are that Ben Affleck is seeking a "graceful exist" from the DCU movies and Batfleck, and one of the rumoured choices to take over is Jon Hamm, which after seeing this film, with Hamm and Gadot's chemistry, that Hamm's Batman and Gadot's Wonder Woman would work well on screen together.  Thinking about THAT movie got me through this one.  *Smokers Report: Nope.

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December 11th - WHITE NIGHTS (1985)

As with most of these films, this is one I've always heard about but just never watched.  I always have had the image of stars Gregory Hines and Mikhail Baryshnikov dancing together in a studio, in tandem, both being amazing dancers.  But I didn't know the context or anything about the film.  For all I knew, they were American and Russian cops working a case who just happened to like dancing together when not fighting crime.  From the poster, it looks like a martial arts film in the same vein as Rocky IV.  Turns out this is about a ballet and tap dancer who become friends in Russia behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War.  The scenes where they dance together are tremendous, but the stuff in the middle drags, and it's a two and a half hour film!  There is a lot of homoerotic undertones which is funny, along with their dancing that involves seemingly too many karate moves that I assumed would be used later on in a big fight scene but alas...Not to mention the unintentional comedy of the dramatic "yelling" scenes, usually with Hines over emoting.  Fun to see young John Glover, Helen Mirren and Isabella Rossellini (with the "introducing" tag in front of her name), with Jerzy Skolimowski, who later played the Russian agent "interrogating" Black Widow in the 1st Avengers movie.  And the movie is directed by Taylor Hackford, who met Mirren here and they ended up married.  Mikhail was coming off being nominated for Best Supporting Actor for "The Turning Point", a movie that was nominated for ELEVEN Oscars, and despite that is a movie I've never heard of.  Speaking of Oscars, "Say You, Say Me" by Lionel Ritchie is from this movie, and apparently it won the Oscar for Best Song that year, beating out another song from this film "Separate Lives" and "The Power of Love" by Huey Lewis from Back to the Future (which FYI was also nominated for Best Original Screenplay and was ROBBED!  ROBBED I SAY!).  Also at the Oscars that year both Jon Voight and Eric Roberts were nominated for "Runaway Train", a movie I previously reviewed, so that's a neat connection.  I'd say fast forward to the dance numbers, but that's crappy to say.  Watch the movie, or don't. I have to track down that one movie "Running Scared" where Hines teams up with Billy Crystal of all people and they apparently are bad-ass Lethal Weapon style cops.  Can't wait to see that one!  *Smokers Report: Mikhail almost literally smokes every time he is on screen, as do alot of the "Russian" back ground actors.

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December 10th - BENGAZI (1955)

I kept hearing this name "Bengazi" over and over again in this political climate, then as I was searching through the TCM schedule, I saw this movie listed, so that's really all I needed for a reason to watch it.  The cast is fun, made up of stars of some of my favourite films.  Richard Conte stars, who was in Ocean's 11 (the Sinatra version).  Mala Powers was Roxanne in Jose Ferrer's version of Cyrano de Bergerac.  Victor McLaglen was in Gunga Din.  Early black and white Hollywood seemed obsessed with any movie concept that involved a desert...or treasure.  And a treasure buried in a desert...BINGO!  I remember lots of old Bugs Bunny cartoons (among others) where the main character would be lost in the desert, see water, run towards it, but the water is a mirage.  I was waiting for the heroes in this movie to run into a mirage of their own.  I was hoping this movie was a hidden gem that people say they find on TCM from time to time (and I have as well, I admit).  The idea that I've heard of and seen all the classic movies on TCM is a depressing one for sure.  I tend to record the same movies over and over that I know are great and I love (I currently have Casablanca on my DVR three times, eventhough I just saw it in theatres, not to mention having it on DVD,  and will most likely delete them when push comes to shove) but the search for the elusive hidden gem in black and white continues.  The synopsis of this film says "Three Shady characters hunt for Nazi Gold in the African Desert" but I read that after the movie, and that makes more sense, but still not alot.  This movie is named "Bengazi" (spelled wrong, as it's "Benghazi") but I never once heard the word "Libya" or "Africa".  They say "Tripoli" once.  It's nothing like the aforementioned Casablanca, where you know why the characters ended up in a distant, foreign land, and why they have stayed there, and the circumstances where they would want to/have to leave.  Here the characters are just there, want gold for no better reason than to get rich, and we don't get any motivations anywhere.  Once they get the gold, then what?  Why is there a CID officer stationed in Libya?  Why is there Nazi Gold in Libya, or is there?  It's never called that in the movie, just the synopsis.  Why are the local "tribesmen" trying to kill our heroes?  At one point a character sacrifices himself...but his reasons for doing so make no sense.  In typical Hollywood style, a woman falls for a rogue after knowing him only for a day, and only after he forces her to kiss him.  Conte talks tough, like John Garfield, but usually with these movie tough guys there really is something likeable about them, like Frank Sinatra.  Not here.  Overall a miss in my opinion.  *Smokers Report: Lots but it's in black and white so somehow it works.

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December 9th - ACROSS THE PACIFIC (1942)

I recently got the chance to re-watch Casablanca on the big screen as part of it's re-release to celebrate it's 75th Anniversary, so seeing Bogie come up on TCM made watching this a no-brainer.  Although it would make more sense watching this after watching "The Maltese Falcon", as this cast and crew worked together on that film a year earlier.  Is this as good as TMF?  Nope.  There is a reason why this film isn't listed among Bogie's best.  It's not bad...it's just not great.  It's funny seeing Bogart and Mary Astor goofing around a bit on screen, after their tense relationship in TMF that was based on lies and deception.  And as a Canadian, my brain flares whenever I hear "Canada" or "Canadian" mentioned.  In this movie, Astor's character is supposidely Canadian (from Medicine Hat, to be exact, although whether she really is or isn't ain't exactly clear), some action takes place in Halifax, Bogart tries to join the Canadian Army, etc.  Little details like that make me pay attention, eventhough it really has nothing to do with the overall story.  Even the name "Across the Pacific" is misleading as they never make it across the Pacific as the action takes place in Panama.  And in one specific instance, they show that the date of this all happening is December 6, 1941.  As far as I can remember, after this there is no mention of Pearl Harbour and the attack, and from what I read online, this movie was supposed to be about a fictional attack on Pearl Harbour, but they re-wrote it after the Japanese bombing in real-life.  One quick note: I don't mean to sound like a jerk, but am I the only one not captivated by Mary Astor?  It would be fine, especially after in TMF when she's referred to as a "knockout".  Minor detail...  *Smokers Report: Yup, but it's black and white... 

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December 8th - BATTLE OF THE SEXES (2017)

This movie is still in theatres, so I'll lay off the spoilers...but this is an exceptional film!  I loved most things about it.  Emma Stone and Steve Carell are both tremendous as Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs.  I loved that they didn't make it a good vs. evil thing.  Sure Riggs played up the "Male Chauvanist Pig" routine, but he really is a loveable, funny guy.  When they have the press conferences, they show Stone-as-King smiling and laughing and seems to kinda be having fun, despite the fact she does really want to beat Carell-as-Riggs in their tennis match.  It shows that King did seem to like Riggs, warts and all.  They could have undercut these scenes with one of those deals where Stone is smiling for the public but then turns her head and is clearly mad, or a flash forward to her crying in her hotel room later after being embarrassed.  There was a tremendous balance there...it is possible for people to be competitive with each other and not want to murder each other.  I loved little details when Stone is coming out to start the match and she gladly gets on the big sedan to be carried to the arena by muscular men.  In a lesser movie, they would portray it as King being against such a thing, not wanting to turn her passion, tennis, into a spectacle like pro wrestling.  She knew the game she was playing and even gets to one-up the showman Riggs at times, like handing him a baby pig just before the game gets underway.  I also loved that both had amazing spouses who loved them, despite their issues.  Riggs is a hustler, King is laser-focused on tennis and her career.  I had no idea that this whole time period was when the WTA was formed, and learned other little bits of info about these tennis players, most I won't reveal as - again - spoilers!  Let's just say I ended up liking Austin Stowell more than Andrea Riseborough, and after the film you'll understand what I meant.  And ultimately, those relationships are important to the overall story, but the film does a good job reminding everyone that this is about a tennis game between and man and a woman, and not a soap opera game of who will end up with whom!  And isn't Elisabeth Shue awesome?  Why aren't more people talking about her?  Not to mention Sarah Silverman and the AMAZING Alan Cumming both knocking it out of the park (couldn't think of a tennis joke there, had to settle for baseball...)!!!  I hope alot of the talent involved here gets recognized come awards season, especially Stone and Carell.  Stone is already an Oscar winner and Carell was nominated for "Foxcatcher" (imagine reacting ten years ago to the idea that "Superbad" star Stone and "40-Year Old Virgin" star Carell would one day be Oscar winners/nominees...), but I see both these roles as more "worthy" of Oscars than their previous work (I really hated Foxcatcher...), but whatever...anyway...GO SEE THIS FILM WHILE IT'S STILL IN THEATRES!  *Smokers Report: SIlverman's character is always smoking, plus Virginia Slims gets alot of face time, as they sponsor the initial WTA tournaments.

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December 7th - TRUTH (2015)

Another chance to catch up with Cate Blanchett.  I am a Canadian who, in today's world, actually knows more about US politics than Canadian politics.  But I have no memory of this whole "Killian papers" scandal.  They must not have talked about it much on "The Daily Show."  Anyway, the movie hits the ground running and, in my opinion, assumes the viewer knows alot about the subject.  Since I didn't, it took me awhile to figure out that this was about a story about President GW Bush and his service record, or lack thereof, and the implications of that.  In fact, it isn't until 42 minutes into the film, where Robert Redford recreates the 60 Minutes opening where I had a distinct feeling of "Oh, okay...got it."  There were a few problems as the movie progresses...I have to admit I couldn't buy Robert Redford as Dan Rather...the use of "uplifting" music in certain scenes like when the piece first airs, and rock music when Blanchett is putting her badass news team together, like they are The Avengers or something...the scary horror movie music used when Blanchett sees the mean things people are saying about her on the internet...  The movie is kind of manipulative, reminding me of Aaron Sorkin's The West Wing or The Newsroom (oddly, I loved West Wing but hated The Newsroom for reasons I can't quantify).  The all star back up cast of Elizabeth Moss, Bruce Greenwood, Dennis Quaid and Topher Grace are fine, but the movie is about Blanchett and Redford.  Both are great, especially Blanchett.  *Smokers Report: None.

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December 6th - AND JUSTICE FOR ALL (1979)

Okay, so now after watching this film for the 1st time, I know where the "You're out of order, you're out of order, this whole court is out of order" famous line comes from.  I can check that off my list of "To-Do's" that I didn't know existed.  Although the line is misquoted, as it's actually "You're out of order...this whole TRIAL is out of order..."  I record some movies randomly just based on stars, or the director or if the image shown associated with the movie looks interesting.  The write up for this movie says "A lawyer in contempt of court agrees to defend a judge he hates, accused of rape."  Starring Al Pacino, Jack Warden, John Forsythe, Lee Strasberg.  Based on that, I don't know why I recorded it, really.  Sure Warden is awesome and I know Forsythe from Dynasty, and Strasberg I know from Inside the Actor's Studio sure...no mention of the fact Norman Jewison directed this, Barry Levinson co-wrote it and it has an all-star cast of "wow they were young then" Craig T. Nelson, Christine Lahti, Joe Morton, Larry Bryggman (John McClaine's Captain in Die Hard 3) and the awesome Jeffrey Tambor, who has a full head of hair and also delivers the best line of the movie, better than the famous Pacino rant, to end the film.  In today's instance of weird random connections between films, this is alot like "The Children's Hour" in that things really haven't changed after all these years.  The events depicted in the life of a lawyer in the big city from 1979 seems like it could be the pilot of one of the many lawyer shows on TV today.  The scenes are almost like skits or vignettes about a lawyer's life that don't seem to be connected, other than Pacino connects them as the actor in each scene, but it all comes together in the end as Pacino's character, who at this point hadn't become the "shouty Pacino" he's become, gets louder and louder and starts screaming...but of course it works, as the character earned the exasperation he feels in the final courtroom scene, after one judicial disappointment after another.  Some scenes, like the helicopter scene, are seemingly out of place, but add to the overall bizarreness of the movie and the eccentricity of the characters involved.  For a movie I chose at random, I really enjoyed it.   *Smokers Report: Nada.

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December 5th - A CHALLENGE FOR ROBIN HOOD (1967)

I found out that, while doing my other lists, patterns just kind of emerge.  Thor: Ragnarok lead to Cate Blanchett, who lead to watching the 2010 Robin Hood, which now leads to this film that was on my DVR but I had forgotten about until I was scrolling through looking for something to watch tonight.  This was on TCM months back but as I watch the credits roll, I realise I recognize absolutely zero names listed.  The only name I recognise is "Hammer", which means the people who made this film also gave us the classic "Hammer Horror Films".  I recognize the man playing Robin Hood but have to look it up as Barrie Ingham, who ironically I just watched in an episode of the classic British TV show "The Avengers" "You Have Just Been Murdered", which inspired me in my writing a certain storyline for The Supers #1 and beyond...weird how all this is connected.  This movie and it's interpretation is a little different than any other interpretation, but still kinda the same.  There is, of course, Robin and his Merry Men, Maid Marian, the Sheriff of Nottingham...hiding in Sherwood Forest...a contest that leads to a big action sequence...rescuing Maid Marian from the bad guys...the big differences are how Robin becomes an outlaw, and how Maid Marian is "hiding in plain sight" to begin with, which isn't referred to at all going forward, but was pretty creative.  The movie is pretty inoffensive, has lots of humour and no blood or gore.  It's a better Robin Hood story than the 2010 version, but not nearly as heart warming as the Errol Flynn version or as...er..."blockbustery" as the Kevin Costner version.  There are certain stories that just keep getting told over and over again, like this one, and each time, I imagine, the filmmakers have to ask "Why do this...how can we make this different?"  In 2001, they put out "The Princess of Thieves" starring Keira Knightley in one of her first roles, about older Robin is trying to raise his and Marian's daughter, Gwyn, as a single parent (Marian has died) and is still hanging out in Sherwood Forest.  While you have to still wonder why the Merry  Men are still hiding out twenty years later, the movie was about the daughter trying to impress her father, and while not amazing, it was a different take on the legend.  While some things are switched around, this does seem like the same old-same old.  While I didn't like the Russell Crowe version, it is at least a totally unique look at the legend.  Despite it being made by masters of horror, this is an incredibly family friendly version of this legend and I liked it, but if I have to watch a Robin Hood movie it will be the Errol Flynn version...or the Costner version...or the Disney cartoon...  *Smokers Report: None

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December 4th - HANNA (2011)

Here we continue our Cate Blanchett Appreciation...ness...?  I guess there's probably no point saying "I've been meaning to see this movie for a long time..." cause that's the case with all these movies.  I'd heard lots of good things and I can see why.  This was a very stylistic film, great to look at.  I liked alot about the movie but there was just something missing.  It was interesting to watch but I didn't really find myself getting emotionally involved.  Cate Blanchett didn't have much to do here.  It's pretty much all about Hanna herself, Saoirse Ronan.  She does a great job, and I like her journey but, again, there was just something missing.  The action scenes are well done and I like the settings, like the container ship-yard and a freaky amusement park.  A good but not great film.  *Smoker's Report: Nope

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December 3rd - THE CHILDREN'S HOUR (1961)

Been meaning to see this for a LONG time.  Almost saw it at the TCM Film Festival, have had it on the DVR before, but just never sat down to watch it.  I've heard great things, and I'm a huge James Garner fan and Shirley MacLaine fan, so I was looking forward to this.  As I've stated in other Movie-A-Day Blogs, I have major gaps in my movie watching when it comes to Audrey Hepburn.  And I have yet to find a Hepburn role that I've loved, some that I've liked (Wait Until Dark) and some I've just hated.  And as for this movie, I loved all of it...except Hepburn!  In fact I think I might have hated Hepburn's character.  HATED!  Without spoiling the movie, as I do recommend it, it's about how rumours and heresay can ruin lives.  And how children are evil and I'll never have any...cause EVIL!  I loved how, once Hepburn and MacLaine get into trouble, Garner stood by them and never doubted them.  Until the big emotional scene where Garner wants all three of them run off together and start fresh, even insisting MacLaine come with them at least until she can get on her feet, then along comes Hepburn to ruin everything as she badgers him over and over and basically forces him to admit that he did believe "the rumors" in a moment of weakness, and she then sends him away.  That whole scene I was just...wow!  At that point I wanted MacLaine and Garner to run off together and leave Hepburn alone to mope by herself.  The little girl in this movie is very convincing at being evil, as is Miriam Hopkins at being a self-centered actress.  Alot of the tension at the end of the film revolves around everyone loving Hepburn and that I didn't get.  And the finale is heartbreaking.  Funny that this is a remake by the same director, William Wyler, who did the original, which is rare outside of Howard Hawks, who made TWO remakes of Rio Bravo.  Wyler wanted a second crack at the material, as when he made the first (sharing the name "These Three" with the play it was based on) in 1936, there wasn't even a hint of lesbianism allowed.  And even then, MacLaine has said she was disappointed about how Wyler didn't go far enough....Also, as a side note, it's really sad how little we've evolved since 1961 (or 1936, when the initial movie was made, or 1934 when the play first was performed).  Sure, people these days can at least say the word "lesbian" and be so publicly, which is great, but somehow I doubt that if a couple of lesbians were to run a day care center that their lives would be care-free and they would never receive a sideways glance, even in 2017.  *Smokers Report: As stated in other Blogs, for some reason, in black and white movies smoking doesn't seem to be as big a deal as in colour movies.  Garner, as always, smokes in this film, but I didn't really notice it until it was pointed out in a scene by Hepburn (Grrr).  Again, she just ruins everything!!!!  :)

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December 2nd - ROBIN HOOD (2010)

Because Cate Blanchett was so awesome in Thor: Ragnarok, and also because on cable Saturday morning they showed Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (a favourite movie from my childhood, Kevin Costner's accent be damned), it made me think of this film...and how I'd never seen it.  Going back to childhood, my fascinations were Superheroes, pro wrestling and Robin Hood...so apparently early on I admired men in tights (but oddly not Mel Brooks' Robin Hood: Men in Tights...).  I loved the old Errol Flynn version, the Costner version, and the Disney cartoon version.  I remember hearing alot about this film in it's build up, how it was going to be the definitive "historically accurate" Robin Hood...and I thought "Who needs that?"  As I get older, I've started to realise you "Never let the truth get in the way of a good story"...add to that I've never really been a big Russell Crowe fan.  I wasn't a fan of Gladiator, which these days is almost like admitting you don't like The Godfather...but that's another story...This movie had the usual Crowe dinner theatre players (Scott Grimes as Will Scarlett, Canadian boy Kevin Durand as Little John for example), Crowe's buddy Alan Doyle of the Canadian band Great Big Sea (who all randomly guest starred with Crowe on the Canadian CBC drama Republic of Doyle, in a little trivia for you), and his favourite director Ridley Scott.  There was also an all-star cast of Mark Strong, Oscar Issac, William Hurt, Danny Huston, Max Von Sydow, Mark Addy,  Lea Seydoux, Jessica Raine...etc.  How was the film though?  It's...fine.  It's definately more complicated than any other version.  Robin LONGSTRIDE and his Merry Men fought with King Richard the Lionheart and Robin of Locksley in the Crusades.  Locksley was married to Marian, but Locksley dies, Robin returns to Nottingham to fulfull a vow he made as Locksley died, Robin pretends to be Locksley, meets Marian, all the while Richard's death mixes things up politically in London, with Isaac's King John taking over, coming up with "taxation", etc etc etc...this looked like, from the trailers, a dour humourless adaptation but there is some humour, especially once Crowe and Blanchett meet up.  There's even a scene where they share a bedroom but not a bed so there is a sheet that divides the room...just like famous scenes in such classics as "It Happened One Night" with Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert and "No Holds Barred" with Hulk Hogan and Joan Severence.  People always make lots of fun of American Costner's British accent in "Prince of Thieves" but no one seems to make fun of New Zealander Crowe's British accent.  Probably cause he'd kick their ass if they did.  It's an hour into the film before Crowe and Blanchett meet, and an hour and a half before Crowe meets the army of Sherwood Forest...there is somekind of political stuff going on with Hurt/Issac/Strong in London but it's confusing and over complicated, some stuff about Longstride's secret origin, Hurt tries to get a war started by simply yelling "They're FRENCH!!!!"...Going in I expected great action sequences, with Scott involved but while a spectacle (it was apparently the Middle Ages version of Saving Private Ryan's invasion of Omaha Beach) it is messy, as at certain points Crowe is attacking from the left, then he's attacking from the right...and it takes you out of the movie.  And when it gets right down to it, this isn't a Robin Hood movie!  The only part of this that is "Robin Hood" is the last five minutes, I guess setting up a sequel that will apparently never happen.  Blanchett is always awesome, and I like Crowe when he's smiley and with softer edges and their scenes are great.  But the rest is...well, again...over complicated.  There are lots of other, better versions of Robin Hood, so go check them out first.  Man, I hope my other reviews aren't so long... *Smoker's Report: Nope

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December 1st - THOR: RAGNAROK (2017)

Okay, so full transparency...I saw this movie on opening night, a month ago...and loved it!  And it's been in the back of my mind ever since.  Over the past month, while I was on the road travelling all over Western Canada, I had the chance to see it again, but never did.  Upon returning home, I got together with my podcast partner Andrew Buckley to record for the first time in awhile, and the first show was Thor: Ragnarok vs. Justice League.  To get ready for this ahead of time, I listened to a few other podcasts (Comedy Film Nerds and Filmspotting to be precise) to refresh my Thor memory.  And then I started flashing back, remembering all the great scenes, and then talking about it with Buckley on our podcast TRILOGY SPOILERS made me want to see the film again BAD!  So I did!  I went again and I had previously claimed that it might be in my top 3 Marvel films period!  After seeing again, it was amazing and I still loved it, but towards the end in the big fight I did get a little drowsy.  The movie has so many memorable scenes it's hard to list them all.  The banter between Thor and the bad guy in the "swinging-while-chained-up" opening scene, the amazing cameos in Loki's "play-within-the-movie" (which I won't spoil), Dr. Strange's cameo, Hela showing up and being awesome!...then the movie shifts to the planet of SAKAAR and the movie turns into an early episode of The Simpsons with a joke-per-second ratio that is simply amazing!  As soon as Tessa Thompson's Valkyrie stumbles off her space ship, then Jeff Goldblum shows up...then THE HULK shows up...the BRUCE BANNER shows up (there is a difference)...someone on a podcast (I think Filmspotting) mentioned that it was almost too bad that Cate Blanchett's Hela was in this movie, as she was so good and such a great character that she could've had her own spinoff...I agree...the big final fight is well done (despite my drowsiness) and this does a great job setting up the next Marvel Avengers movie "Infinity War".  Special mention to Taika Waititi, the director, who after odd ball movies "Eagle vs. Shark", and the great "What We Do in the Shadows" was picked to tackle this 3rd Thor movie and apparently make it as weird and different as the other 2 Thor movies, which most people think of as a cross between Lord of the Rings and Shakespeare. As we are inching towards the 20th edition of the Marvel Movie Universe, these movies are trying new things, and whomever came up with the idea of a Thor movie being a space opera/buddy-cop/action-comedy movie deserves a raise!  Not only did he do that as a director, he contributes on screen as "Korg" a wonderful character who I hope we see more of in the future.  Other than the first Iron Man, first Avengers movie, first Guardians of the Galaxy movie...this movie is up there on the list!  Can't recommend this enough!  *Smokers Report: N/A