• Gemini Man

    Gemini Man

    ★★★½

    I finally discerned the source of my two main issues (often elsewhere labeled the “soap opera effect”) with these 60fps 4K movies, though Lee has mostly mitigated the primary one[1]. It’s that the sound is all ADR-ed. If one turns off the sound, it doesn’t play nearly as freakily. Which, freaky and disconcerting are not the same thing; the high FPS are still somewhat weird in a movie context, but not to the same extent as before.

    I appreciate Gemini…

  • Richard Pryor: Live in Concert

    Richard Pryor: Live in Concert

    I'd forgotten how gifted a mimic Richard Pryor was. His library of voices and sound effects is astounding. It's also interesting how far ahead of the curve he was in mocking white people, whether they were woke or not. He tended to be somewhat gentle, keeping his generalizations broad enough not to make anybody specifically abused. And the comedy at this (1979) point in his career mostly qualified as ribbing rather than forceful condemnation. In the meantime, he described rape…

  • Thunder Force

    Thunder Force

    ★★

    Let's start with the fact that I love Melissa McCarthy, even in poorly-regarded movies. But this is not one of those I am willing to defend.

    It feels like the main problem isn't just that Falcone doesn't challenge his wife anymore; it's that the more projects she does with any given director, the fewer the returns. There’s something about her not being the focal point of any given scene that allows her to get crazy in a novel way. The…

  • Diner

    Diner

    When I was in high school, my primary friend group was exactly three guys and three girls. Whenever anybody started dating outside of the coterie[1], the, uh, challenger was immediately presented with a daunting task. All of us were polite, of course; pleasant, even. But there were few conversational openings for anybody who had not spent almost every available hour together for six-plus years. In-jokes were less jokes-ha-ha, than emotional Pavlovian bells.

    Our circle lasted, in diminishing intensity, until about…

  • Knives and Skin

    Knives and Skin

    ★★★

    In the mid ‘90s, after the success of Seinfeld, terrestrial television stations decided that the key to unlocking untold riches was to give comedians their own sitcoms. Some of these (The Drew Carey Show, King of Queens, and Everybody Loves Raymod, and, heaven help us, Home Improvement) were successful, and many (Rob, Whitney, Mulaney) failed. But one thing they often had in common was that the pilot episodes plundered those comedians’ material for solid jokes and did whatever was necessary…

  • Mortal Kombat

    Mortal Kombat

    ★★

    The prologue is solid, and reminds of the Shaw Bros. which is unequivocally a good thing[1].

    Once it moves to “chosen ones” things fall apart quickly. If anybody other than Josh Lawson had any fun making this, it surely doesn’t show up on screen[2]. And even Lawson loses his way at the beginning of the second act.

    The story is nonsensical even on a video-game movie level[3], and the silliness used to explain “special powers” is off the chain. Plus,…

  • The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

    The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

    The production values are excellent and there are some great moment-to-moment scenes (all of which include Louisiana) but in the end, it’s just chess pieces being moved around in anticipation of the next Marvel movie.

    If these were still for me, I couldn’t help but think it would have been more fun for all of the narrative to be deep background within the next Captain America movie. Every scrap of plot, here, is dragged out laboriously, and none of it makes sense on a character level.

    Mild spoilers

    But hey, Julia Louis-Dreyfus!

  • Justice League: War

    Justice League: War

    Watched on a laptop, parked in front of an emergency vet's office (the dog is OK now).

    I am a bit surprised by how thoroughly Chris Terrio and Zack Snyder plundered this and/or the comic books on which this is based, for Justice League (2021). Not that that is particularly a compliment to any given property. The story is pretty silly again, and other than an admirable focus on eye-based body horror, it's nothing you haven't seen. But the plus…

  • Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox

    Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox

    ★★½

    Watched this one (and the next) on a laptop while parked outside the emergency vet's office.

    What it gains in "WTF?", it loses in character motivation and narrative clarity. "Now, who are these people?" is not supposed to be the default generator of plot momentum. Especially since they are mostly dead red shirts 30 seconds later. This is further heightened by the story never even feinting at the inciting incident; it' all background and, much later exposition. There isn't so…

  • Justice League Dark

    Justice League Dark

    ★★½

    Short version: my dog was sick. It is not an exaggeration to say that she is, with the exception of my mother, the creature that loves me most in the world.

    So I watched this and thought about my my '80s comic books, long sold, and the movie made me less worried about my dog for a little while. JLD is, obviously, mostly silly, but it's also the last DCAU picture (as far as I can tell) before things went…

  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier

    Captain America: The Winter Soldier

    ★★★½

    All of the promise and problems of Phase 3 are already here, from the well executed fast combat to the dreadful CGI.

    If Falcon and the Winter Soldier had carried on exactly where this left off (which is mostly plausible except for discussions of "the blip" and Baron Zemo), it would be a stronger TV show. A truly crazy amount of material from this movie (Sharon Carter, Marvin Gaye, etc...) is embedded in that TV program. Plus there is an…

  • Dressed to Kill

    Dressed to Kill

    Dressed to Kill had the wonderful effect of sending me back to the Stephen Fry-read version of The Complete Sherlock Holmes on Audible (it is impossible to recommend that too highly). But a key element of those stories is that Holmes and Watson are (very) young men; I'd estimate 28 at the latest.

    Which does a weird thing to the action of this story. While the narrative has remained the same, Basil Rathbone (age 54, but looking a worn 65)…