Sunday, April 26, 2015

Next Short / Portraits in Sibling Rivalry: The Clown's Little Brother (1920)

...hmm!  Wonder if this guy's related to Max FleiScher!  Anyway... oh, I keep forgetting.  There's no 'S' in Cyrillic.  And... damn.  I almost wish I didn't watch that documentary on the DVD, because of a little thematic detail they mentioned about The Clown's Little Brother.  I probably wouldn't have been able to guess it anyway because, like Barton Fink, when it comes to something I'm rooting for, I tend not to think about its metaphorical implications... no interest, eh?  Well, just for that, I'm not even going to tell you what it is!  How do you like them apples?
Now, sure, you might say that this is just another entry in a serial series, but the thing you gotta remember about the Fleischers is that they always seem to give 110% percent in these things, when it comes to creativity and ingenuity, and the sheer sweat and tears it must've taken their team to put everything together.  And there's even a little bit of a "wow" factor in terms of visuals.  In case you don't guess what it is, Max runs out of ink and washes out his pen in a jar of water.  The ink trails hanging there in the water spin around and morph into Koko, their trademark clown.  I'm still scratching my head over how they pulled that off.  Why, I'll bet even Bob Zemeckis might take some time to figure it out!
As for plotting, well... screenwriters take note, because even the Fleischers figured out that when you've got the seemingly tiny universe of Max and Koko, duking it out between the real world and Koko's world of the white canvas, you just have to bring new characters into the mix.  In this case, it's a teeny kitten that arrives via the "mail"!  Awwwww.....  And sure, the scene where the cat is batting Koko around, it might not have that "wow" factor today, but you gotta admire the effort.  And so, the approach of Terry Gilliam's Monty Python animation was born.  Quite early!  Go figure.  As for which brother is represented by which clown, well... I'm guessing Max is Koko, and Dave is the shorter guy.  I'd be very surprised if they did the actual posing for the rotoscoped footage, though.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Auteur Watch - Ryan Combs

With two feet firmly planted in the rap gangster genre, Ryan Combs... odd!  Why don't any of his titles stand out?

Girls Just Want to Have Fun... and be the Highlander, Too!

Oh, Blake Lively and Van Wilder... I mean, Ryan Reynolds, they're the new Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon, no question... but without all that messy political stuff.  Well, it's a different era now, and thanks to the Internet, Hollywood is soon going to be reduced to the level of a charitable organization sending out emails to guilt-ridden job creators, asking for donations.
But 2015 is their year, no question, and things are working out just as they should.  I mean, her new movie, The Age of Adaline debuts at #3, and his movie, Woman in Gold, is... well, it's still making money, too.  Yes sir, a more clean cut couple you will not find in Hollywood... frankly, there's too many of them in Hollywood, am I right, Hollywood?  All these desperate, photogenic people, clamoring for the same opportunities in vain.  Maybe tax hikes on the rich ain't such a bad idea!  Let's have a little more egalitarianism around here for a change!
But never mind all that.  One last toast to Blake and Ryan.  The only other debut this week is called Ex Machina and, according to my good old pal the Internet, it's novelist-turned-director Alex Garland's big shot at international stardom.  Because where screenwriter John Brownjohn knows his place by Roman Polanski's side, Mr. Garland has toiled in director Danny Boyle's shadow long enough.  But that's the genius of Daniel Boyle.  He makes it look so damn easy!  Anyone who works with Boyle walks away thinking, "Well, Hell!  If that knuckle-dragger can direct, so can I!"  And so we have the Svedka-bot run amok in Ex Machina, because even the sexiest of robots are tired of being treated like slabs of meat.  Don't forget!  They wanna run after people like the T-1000 too!  I gotta go and unplug my toaster..................

Monday, April 20, 2015

Next Fleischer Short: Finding His Voice

Well, this is what I get for doing such an incomplete job.  Act in haste, repent in leisure!... something like that.  And so, it's time to look at all those other shorts on the Popeye DVDs.  First up: since I've already been working on Volume 3, I'll stay with Volume 3, and also because it seems to have only one extra short on it.  It's called Finding His Voice from 1929 and, as you may have guessed, if you know at least one big milestone in cinema history, 1929 was the year of the big stock market crash, and the first year when cinema started making its own sound, as opposed to mere live musical accompaniment with organ and or orchestra.  David Mamet once said that sound was the beginning of the end for the cinema, but that hasn't started him from writing his Silent Movie.
To cut to the chase, Finding His Voice is kind of a boring documentary with animation, but the Fleischers were only partially involved in this project, so it figures.  But it's kind of interesting for a couple reasons.  There's a few sparks of the old Fleischer imagination, as musical notes morph into a xylophone.  And some of the music chosen for this picture have become cartoon staples, like that... barber thing and "Merrily We Roll Along."  It's also interesting to see how far the art of animation for mouths has come.  It was quite new here, and apparently they were just happy to get it done... and not double-check it for accuracy.  Also, the Fleischers learned to let well enough alone with the Popeye series, and just let characters mumble a lot, so they don't have to animate the mouths at all!
And so, the Talkie and the newly-voiced Silent join forces to row a boat for our amusement, but a giant shark-looking thing gobbles them up... oh, I think it's supposed to be a whale, because the whale's tail highlights the words "The End."  I think it's supposed to represent... Disney.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Auteur Watch - Chico Colvard

Well, this guy... gal?  This so-and-so must be a High Monkey Monk if they're getting thanked by one of my fellow enemies.  I mean, look at this!  Thanks for Roger Ebert's Life Itself?  CAUGHT RED-HANDED IN BED WITH THE ENEMY.  TRAITOR.  DEATH TO ALL FILM TRAITORS.  DEATH TO ALL NON-DUES PAYING MEMBER WANNABE'S.  DEATH, DEATH, DEATH.........

The Hateful Ten

And so!  We've got a whopping three new debuts this week, as Furious 7's reign of terror continues at the box office.  First up, there is moderate joy in Sandlerville as Paul Blart 2 strikes out at a mere #2.  The former king of Queens continues his reign as a mere nobleman in the House of Sandler.  Clearly they've rejected my idea for an ad campaign: using the slogan "Paul Blart - Fresh as Fart."  Wouldn't that look great on t-shirts and buttons to put on said t-shirts?  But Kevin's dream lives on, that ancient dream of living large in the spotlight.  Sure, he's the star of Paul Blart 2, but he's still a star!  Makes me think of that old Donald Menzel star guide from my childhood, where even the occasional 12th magnitude star gets a shout out from its empty portion of the sky.  And something tells me that Rob Schneider's not too far away, in his new role in the casting department, making sure no uggos make it into a Sandler production.  Almost makes me feel sorry for them, having to sit there and say "Oh, Mr. Schneider!  I just loved you in The Hot Chick and The Animal!"  "I can be whoever you want me to be, darling," he says as he holds their young hand with his old leathery one.  "But I've got another appointment with some Sony executives in about twenty minutes, so we better make this fast," says Deuce Bigalow.  Maybe we should move on.
At #3, it's the latest low budget horror flick craze, and it's called Cybernatural.  The one I'm waiting for is Unfriended.  Revenge on Charlene!!! There must be some joy in Googleville.  I mean, look at the poster for Cybernatural!  LOOK UPON IT!!!  This Laura Barns must be living someone's dream.  By God, the name Laura Barns is going to mean something to you, just like the words "before" and "after" will never be the same to you after you see the 1996 Liam Neeson flick, Before and After.  But don't be fooled: Luc Besson had nothing to do with that one.  Anyway, I'll admit it.  I'm far too distracted by my own thoughts at the moment, but I did take a brief glance at the cast of Cybernatural and I saw the following name: Heather Sossaman.  And I thought to myself, as I often do... where have I heard that name before?  Sossaman, not Heather.  And then it finally hit me!  Shannyn Sossaman!  Apparently they're not siblings.  You know, just like Kate and Brian Bosworth aren't.  So, what's Shannyn Sossaman?  Chopped liver?  The answer may not surprise you, because yes, she is.  I mean, look at Shannyn's biography!  LOOK UPON IT!!!!!!!!!  It says Maxim's Hot 100 of 2002, not 2015.  Like every other girl in Hollywood that's made it on to a Maxim Hot list, they're now confined to the Hollywood "Grandma Ghetto" that I just made up.  ADAPT OR DIE.  ADAPT OR DIE.  No shame in taking the grandma role.  It's just a shame that people like Grandma's Boy so much... I mean, it's just a shame that there's a shortage of good roles for grandmas.
And lastly, at #7 it's David Michôd's long awaited sequel to his 2010 breakout feature Animal Kingdom and it's called Monkey Kingdom.  Oh boy!  I can't wait!  The poo's going to be flung tonight!  I gotta go.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

So We End as We Began, with Olive tied to the Railroad Track

Oh, I must not be looking forward to writing this review or something.  But alas, another series comes to an end, just like the Toms and Jerries I was looking at earlier.  This is the last Popeye cartoon I plan to profile, the ironically titled Cartoons Ain't Human.  Why, there's damn near nothing that could be more human, from an anthropological perspective for one!  The timeless urge to put pen to paper and make your mark in this life?  Anyone and everyone can relate to that!  Of course, when the cartoon characters themselves decide to start doing that, well, that's just a sign of laziness on the part of the filmmakers.  And yes, this is one of the ones with story by Jack Mercer, the very voice of Popeye himself.


First off, a checklist.  No shame in a checklist these days.  The hot trend among doctors is to have a checklist of all the things they need to do.  Especially surgeons.  At the top of the surgeon's list: Number One.  DON'T LEAVE STUFF INSIDE YOUR PATIENTSTools, sponges, watches, whatever.  But that's how sacred the bond is between surgeon and patient.  There could be five helpers watching him leave a bone saw inside a patient next to their spleen, but none of them are going to speak up and get their ass fired.  Screw that!  Oh, screw that type stuff!  Especially these days.
Of course, the animator's checklist is a little less drastic, as you can see from the attached picture I have yet to attach.  It's merely a list of the ingredients, if you will, that go into an animated picture.  They've dumbed it down for the mass audience, of course, using paper instead of clear cels... oh, right.  It's "cartooning" for HOME movies.  Cels and paint are a little too rich for the home market's blood.  I have no idea what you'd need tacks for; shows you what I know!  Sheesh.  And so, with tons of paper surrounding him, Popeye gets to work.
...or does he?  This is where a Sharon Stone-type muse comes into play and gives the artist an idea for a freakin' film.  Popeye's method of finding inspiration is much like that of Bill Plympton: he just looks around for things in his studio to use as a plot... prop?  Plot prop... something like that.  Anyway, it's time for one of those things that the warning at the beginning of the Popeye DVD warned us about... as well as a more conventional, still heavily regulated thing that inspires Popeye that we weren't warned about.  Well I never!  I thought these were family friendly pictures.  That's what I get for straying too far from Disney.
Thankfully, after a live agent from the Hays Office intervenes, it's back on track, and Popeye eventually settles on an idea that will allow him to start churning out the sequential paper images.  Windsor McCay only wishes it were that easy; or that he would have thought to hire a couple interns, either way.


...already?  Well, even though Popeye's a big movie star and what not, when it comes to showing "home movies," he's a silent film star at heart.  Like the bigshot he is, Popeye's going to sit back and provide the musical accompaniment and sound effects and dialogue, while Olive and Popeye's four hellspawn sit and watch the movie.
And so, the movie proper begins.  I'll never understand why comedians always want to do the heavy dramatic stuff too.  It seems to be an inevitability.  I always go back to the example of "Weird Al" Yankovic, because even he does the occasional slow dramatic ballad.  And yes, "Those Were the Good Old Days" and "You Don't Love Me Anymore" are kinda creepy.  Of course, when it comes to songwriting, the first rule is to always give yourself a place to take a breath.  Even rappers know that!  Even the Fu-Schnickens knows that!  Probably why The Mighty Mighty Bosstones are trying to phase out that awful "Impression That I Get" song, if only for the sake of the singer.
And so, Popeye's sad tale called Wages of Sin (Less 20%) starts in earnest.  Let's secretly hope to ourselves that it's shorter than Von Stroheim's Greed.  And right away, we see that even the visuals of the film need enhancement.  Okay, sure, Popeye's got to make the rooster sound... but do a shadow version of it too?  Oh my stars and gardens!  Makes me think of how certain studio films tend not to integrate the opening credits into the movie; Falling Down is my favourite example.  We'll save that for later... And so, the cartoon crescent moon of Krazy Kat fame awakens from its slumber and turns night into day with one gesture of its arm.  Well, celestial beings seem / tend to do that, if only in poetry.
And so, the daylight shines on the world that Popeye has created.  And true to a seemingly ancient tradition, the cartoon within a cartoon kinda sucks.  Makes me think of that Porky cartoon, whose soundtrack was on that Carl Stalling CD that came out about... damn!  Damn near twenty years ago now?  Oh, I feel so old... Porky's Preview!  That must be it!  Anyway, we meet "cartoon Olive Oyl" who's actually not all that dissimilar to regular Olive Oyl, but cartoon Olive's quite a bit thinner.  She's sawing on a piece of lumber, in a manner not so different from something that a Warner Brothers cartoon Indian might have been doing in order to be presented as foolish.  We see that cartoon Olive is making a splint for a cartoon cow.  Alas, it's too long, but for a reason: it gives Popeye an opportunity / excuse to provide the lowing sound of said cow.
And then... time for cartoon Popeye's intro.  Boy, what is it with these close-ups that look like one thing, and the long shot that makes it look like another?  Even Popeye himself can't get away from that flavour of gag!  Popeye eventually arrives at Olive's farm, and they lovingly approach each other.  But comedy's never too far away, and events arrange themselves so that Popeye ends up kissing the cow instead... on the bright side, the cow no longer needs the leg splints!  Maybe it's a different cow... I'm telling you!  This section of animation's an interesting one.  Sure, the subject's a bit tawdry, but the footage it must have been rotoscoped from must have been a hoot.  Anyway, Popeye eventually realizes his mistake, and approaches Olive instead.  But just before Popeye goes in for a kiss, he finds himself suddenly repulsed by Olive.  Olive's head morphs into that of a very lippy fish.  But Angelina Jolie wasn't born yet at this point, so Popeye's still scared and afraid, wondering what he ever saw in Olive in the first place.  So, he goes back to kissing the cow.  Humour, baby!  Still, if I were Olive, I'd be more than a little pissed off.  Cartoon Olive angrily pulls Popeye away from the cow, and we don't get to see "real-life" Olive's reaction to it all.  If she had any self-respect, she'd be a little pissed off.  You know, like Robert Duvall in The Judge during the slanderous home movies!  Filming the big accident... indeed.  The very idea.
And so, after the cow starts to swoon from Popeye's passionate kisses, Popeye gets all dramatic and stuff.  He could do Shakespeare!  I never knew that.  But Popeye's words are a little easier to decipher.  Something about seeking his fortune in the big city.  That most universal of dilemmas that face the middle class wage earners: do they focus on earning money?  Or starting a family?  Me myself, I now fall in between.  But who knows?  Maybe I'll start making some money again someday.  I'd kinda like to!
Anyway, back to Popeye's picture.  Popeye sets off to follow his Plan A.  And even though he rejects Olive's offer of a kiss a second time, I'm suddenly feeling strangely positive about the whole thing.  Maybe it's not that Popeye's repulsed by Olive and her feelings, but maybe he feels like he needs to earn the kiss.  We'll just have to wait and see.  (Spoiler alert: that's what happens)
And so, Popeye's out of the picture... incidentally, his body is a crudely drawn rectangle; on the other hand, it sure bends a lot.  So, Popeye has left, and Olive is sad about it, and she starts to cry.  MEANWHILE... we pan left, and here come the bad guys who will consume the rest of the picture.  It's the dastardly landlord and his dastardly horse.  But hey!  At least someone is paying attention to Olive!  Why, the dastardly bastard even kisses Olive! 
No... no, Olive is a proud and chaste woman, and she has devoted her life to this Popeye character.  She hates the landlord and everything he stands for.  Plus, his horse is making untoward advances toward Olive's bovine.  Ewwwwwwwwwwwwww!  What's a girl to do?  Well, she grabs the nearest phone and calls to Popeye to save her!  Fortunately, it's a cartoon phone, and it's right there, with a direct line to Popeye.  We see Popeye hard at work in the big city carrying a sandwich board... Newt?  What a strange-ass name!  You mean, like the amphibian?  What... ever.  Anyway, Popeye drops everything like a true hero and runs to save his beloved Olive.  In his unthinking haste, Popeye runs smack into a Keystone Kop, thereby inspiring that one car crash in 10.  Popeye always respects an "ossifuh," but he doesn't have time to lock himself into a cell, as in Cops is Always RightAnything to get out of a little housework.  Sheesh!
I just don't know where to take the last Act Break, but perhaps this moment is a good one to do it with: we discover that Popeye's dubbing in cartoon Olive's voice.  Cree-eepy!


And so, a mighty chase ensues.  However, as an action fan, I'm unable to take it too seriously, as it becomes more like a dream sequence.  Not quite as bad as a series of unconnected gags, but close.  We see Popeye wailing away on a pogo stick, we see Popeye in a boat rowing along... we see Olive commandeer the bad guy's horse, and the horse goes along with it!  The bad guy summons bloodhounds with stick legs from out of thin air, we see Olive walking on water with giant ice cubes tied to her shoes... see what I mean?  But the four nephews are getting into it.  Kinda shocking to me, since they seem to have little to no respect for Popeye the rest of the time.
And then, more umbrage for Olive to take, as Popeye has a scene where Olive is barking at the bloodhounds, who are running away from Olive, scared half to death.  And then... it's time to get tied to the railroad tracks.  Now wouldn't that be a great bit of trivia to know?  The first time in recorded history when someone got tied to a railroad track?  Of course, it would depend on the person.  Perhaps it's just a myth, like how guns are a great idea for home defense.  Anyway, as in the very first Popeye cartoon, we get a close-up of the badly drawn train, and we see Popeye making its various sound effects... and what's the deal with Popeye's piano?  Why are there two levels of keys?  It's not a piano he's drawn for the film!  Maybe the filmmakers confused themselves on that one.
Needles to say, Olive's in imminent danger, and Popeye better hurry his ass up... hmm!  Notice how in the very first Popeye cartoon that Bluto ties Olive to the railroad tracks with the metal part of the tracks?  She might be able to survive that!  Get on that, Mythbusters! 
Anyway, screenwriters take note: there's either a great lesson in this next part, or no lesson at all.  For the next non-sequitur, we see Popeye riding an angry bull running along the railroad tracks.  Popeye and the bull enter the train tunnel... then out comes the train.  Popeye emerges a second later, and posts a sign on the tunnel that says "Free Hambergers." (sic)  Sorry, "fresh" hamburgers.  Alas, a cartoon Wimpy doesn't show up to stuff his fat ass face.
Perhaps this was the proper moment to take the Act break.  I decided against having a nested level of Act breaks for the film within a film, but perhaps future generations who review this cartoon will know better to do that.  As everyone says in Hollywood these days, WWJJAD?  We see Popeye's four darling nephews watching the film once again, and the one nearest to the projector makes a grand sweeping motion with his tiny arm, and hits the speed lever on the projector, changing the speed from low to high.  It's one of those early home projectors that doesn't handle the high speed very well.  The projector starts to shake, and move along the table.  But rather than just tell someone to flip the switch back, Popeye somehow instinctively knows that this is just the break he needs to give the film a little extra oomph.  Why, Popeye's film within a film itself seems to change its content based on this speed change!  In this scene, we can tell that the content of Popeye's film is not as important as how its audience has to change position to watch what's happening.  Apparently, no one dares tinker with the projector, as it flails about wildly.
At this point in Popeye's film, Popeye is riding in a kangaroo's pouch towards his destination.  Slip sliding away, indeed!  Art students, take note of the thickness of the line around the kangaroo's body.  You know, for emphasis.  At one point, the projector ends up showing Popeye's film on the moon.  Why?  Because a) it can, and b) wow!  What an idea!  Kinda looks like the opening of the original Honeymooners TV show.  And, of course, my favourite part of Popeye's accompanying music is right here, where he plays two notes with one instrument, then quickly switches. 
Meanwhile, Popeye's audience of five are still chasing the movie all over the floor and up the wall.  They end up hanging from the chandelier.  I like this part here because, once again, what's happening in the film is not that important, as the action in the rest of the room.  Good image, though!  A close-up of the bad guy's grinning mug.


Now, you're probably thinking to yourself, there must be one last way to insult Olive!  Well, the filmmakers have thought of one.  As Olive's hanging from the chandelier (the four nephews are scattered on the floor, having fallen off the ceiling), the ending of Popeye's film ends up getting projected onto Olive's now bulbous nose.  Popeye decks the bad guy, then eats his ubiquitous spinach!  Bad-ass.  Now, Popeye's punched out at least two trains, so it's time for something different.  Here, he doesn't take the Luddite path to saving Olive, but rather turns himself into a digging machine, and quickly builds a tunnel of sorts underneath cartoon Olive so the train can safely pass under her.  Cartoon trains only, mind you.  A real train would need a less steep grade and a slower speed to... you get the idea.  And so, cartoon Popeye kisses Olive in earnest, drawing a curtain down over them to make it seem that much naughtier.  They're in love again!  Still, if I were Olive, I'd be...
Anyway, that's it, folks!  Another end to another long series of cartoons.  I'd be a little more misty eyed over the whole enterprise if I didn't feel so rushed.  But what to profile next?... damn.  I just realized that there's all these miscellaneous shorts on these Popeye DVDs!  Guess I better look at those next.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Auteur Watch - Kathleen Collins

Sadly, our next auteur has thrown off this mortal coil, but the work stands on.  Kathleen managed to complete two films in her short lifetime: The Cruz Brothers and Miss Malloy and Losing Ground, which seems to have left a bigger journalistic footprint than the former.  Sure, they're not the greatest films in the world, but Miss or Mrs. Collins dedicated her life to telling the greatest story of all... her own!  Judging from the subject matter of Losing Ground, I'm guessing she was a Mrs., and a slightly unhappy one at that.  And if that's not what cinema's all about, then I don't know what.

b.o. 4-12-15... holy crap! My taxes!

Let's see how well Furious 7 does in its second week!  Well, according to my highly-detailed records, Furious 6 hung in there for six weeks!  Two weeks at #1.  Of course, Furious 6 cost $160 million to make... dayamn.  Think about that!  That's a very, very expensive sixth installment of a franchise.  In contrast, Saw VI cost only $11 millionFriday the 13th Part VI cost... dude, someone needs to fix the IMDb Connections pages of the various Friday the 13th films.  Then again, it's not a one man job.  Plus, the Nightmare on Elm Street films are all tangled up in there too.  Kinda ridiculous.  I thought they were first joined at the hip in 2003.  Anyway, the sixth installment of Friday the 13th cost only 3 million dollars, according to said IMDb.  The point being, they'd turn the Fast and Furious series into a soap opera if it weren't so damn cost prohibitive.  Also, action scenes take longer to plan out than soap operas.  I mean, if they're to be done well.  Soap operas have different standards of quality.  It's almost a different universe, populated by people pretty enough to be on television, but not pretty enough for feature films.  Yes, there are exceptions.

(Sunday proper) Well, this is kinda interesting!  Both of the debuts from last week, Furious 7 and Woman in Gold stay put at where they were in the top 10, with Furious 7 staying at #1, and Woman staying at #7.  Probably for the best in the latter case.  Meanwhile, debuting at #3 is Nicholas Sparks' latest: a little indie called The Longest Ride.  Reminds me of that time about 20 years ago now when I called up the local video store and asked about Fargo.  The clerk on the phone asked me " that an adult film?"  Apparently, the titles of adult films made all the difference in the world back then.  Now, people don't usually pay attention to who's directing the latest Nicholas Sparks tripe-fest, so I decided to check it out.  Turns out, it's a black dude named George Tillman Jr.!  What the deuce?  Just goes to show you how far we've come as Americans, perhaps how much farther we have yet to go, but I say it's a good sign when a black dude can direct a Nicholas Sparks love fest in his sleep.  After all, Nicholas Sparks novels are for everybody!
So while Sparks is back on top of his game, the icons of yesteryear have taken a turn for the worse.  Al Pacino's latest, called Danny Collins, debuts at #9 after a rather extensive TV ad carpet bombing.  Sure, it seems down for the count now, but wait three months, and you'll be able to buy it in a two-pack at Costco with Michael Keaton's Jack Frost.  Kinda similar, right?  Down-on-their-luck rock stars... never mind.  As for While We're Young, well, I guess the American movie-going public decided they'd rather watch it while they're old... if that.  Maybe if we're allowed to sleep through it.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Short Reviews - April 2015

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein -Mitt Romney's favourite Laurel and Hardy film

Beautiful Creatures - With Margo Martindale as the Ugly Duckling

Being There - Okay, I confess.  I'm obsessed with Basketball Jones now.  Kinda hard to believe that it's best known for being in this movie.  Go figure.

Better Call Saul season finale - Wow!  I can understand how all our Better Call Sauls got deleted from the DVR, but they're not in the Deleted Recordings file!  That's cold.  Anyway, two thoughts: 1) I was hoping they wouldn't go for the South Park-ish cheap soft serve joke, but it fits with the character, arguably.  And 2) it's probably been done somewhere else before, but there was something poignant about Slippin' Jimmy's fat friend's last dying words being "This was the greatest week of my life."  Maybe these economists are on to something.  The Hedonic model!  Make things fun!  Sheryl Crow and the other girls just want to have some fun!

Charade - Where's the MONEY, Cary-Grant-ski?

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation - April on TV?  Whatever.  Personally, I think the cinematography's far too serious and moody for such a raucous and high-spirited comedy, but what do I know

Copycat - I'm just listening to it from the other room, and... really?  A car alarm as an instrument of psychological torture?  I guess it could work!

Dirty Dancing - So the hot meme trending on the social media tubes right now is: which dead movie star would you resurrect for one last movie?  The finite list of choices we get are: Heath Ledger, P. S. Hoffman, Brittany Murphy, Michael Clarke Duncan, Patrick Swayze, Marilyn Monroe, Paul Walker, Bruce Lee, Ryan Dunn, Rob(b)in Williams, Bernie Mac, and Cory Monteith.  So, a couple nods to this generation.  Now, if I were real good, I'd come up with films for all of the listed stars.  But really, who wouldn't want to see the real sequel to Dirty Dancing?  Not that Havana Nights crap, but Patrick alive and kicking, still married to Jennifer Grey and her new nose?  Oh, the stories they could tell!  Of course, judging from the body of work of screenwriter extraordinaire Eleanor Bergstein, it'd probably be nothing but generalized clichés.  But who knows?  Maybe that's just her life!

Effie Gray - Shocking, Emma Thompson!  You kiss your grandchildren with that potty mouth?

The Expendables 3 - Welp, we just watched it... a slight improvement over the second one, but I dunno.  The explosions looked too fake, methinks.  As an action fan, I'm used to the bigger carbon footprints of old

Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief - Scientology is probably the religion that the capitalist system ultimately deserves, but I still believe that its every building should be razed to the ground with something less powerful than those atom bombs they use to blow up volcanoes.  A miscarriage of justice.

"Grey's Anatomy" - I don't normally like to put TV shows in these things, but I've just been handed an important Facebook alert, telling me that, and I'll quote it verbatim here... "ABC broadcasts episode written by series creator Shonda Rhimes."  And, oh, I dunno.  Somehow it doesn't rise to the level of Judd Apatow's Simpsons episodes, but whatever.  Someone paid a lot of money for that "news" blurb, that's the main thing.

Hot Pursuit (2015) - The trailers make it look like a dumb chase movie.  I just hope it's not a fake dumb chase movie

The Longest Ride - Some big shot at Yahoo ranked all the Nicholas Sparks adaptations from 1 to 10... but I couldn't tell if 10 was the best or the worst.  The Longest Ride, judging from the trailers, probably has the best male torso!  I have an idea for some wise-ass grad student.  Try and find a way to do like Kurt Vonnegut's Cinderella thing, and turn all of Sparks' ten movies into curves, and show us all how close they are to each other.

Now You See Me - With Joan Riegert as Casino Guest (uncredited)

One Man's Way - Featuring the back of Tom Skerritt's head... the part I saw, anyway

Paul Blart 2 - As long as it doesn't cross paths with Pixels, then I'm happy

Pitch Perfect 2 - Oh boy!  I can't wait!  How's Rebel Wilson going to debase herself on a stripper pole now?

The Ridiculous Six (6) - Because even Adam Sandler gets tired of making his usual flavour of crap.  Guess he should've gone with Pawnee instead of Apache.  And Choctaw and Navajo.

True Story - Oh, Jonah Hill and James Franco are just trying to scare me... aren't they?

The V.I.P.s - Now I know where A Clockwork Orange got its (credits) font from.

The Whales of August - Shyeah, more like late November, early December, if you catch my drift!