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The Grinch (2018)
7/10
The Grinch was another enjoyable version of Dr. Seuss' holiday story
15 November 2018
Previously, Dr. Seuss' book "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" was filmed in drawn animation by Chuck Jones with Boris Karloff voicing the title character as well as narrating and in live action by Ron Howard with Jim Carrey playing that same character. Now, Benedict Cumberbatch voices him in computer animation by Illumination Entertainment, makers of the Despicable Me movies. It admirably changes some things and adds some other characters in expanding the story. Chuck Jones' version is still the definitive one and the Howard/Carrey version has some good moments but this current version does make this Grinch a little more sympathetic even before his transformation. In summary, me and my movie theatre-working friend really enjoyed The Grinch.
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7/10
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is good family enertainment from Disney
10 November 2018
Just watched this with my movie theatre-working friend. We both enjoyed this adaptation of the various "Nutcracker Suite"s on film from the Disney company. It involves a young girl who lost her mother and is distant from her father and siblings when they go to a party. Then she experiences an adventure that may change her for the good. Because of some set pieces, it's not always easy to understand what's going on but it never lags in energy so there's that. So on that note, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is good, not great entertainment.
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8/10
Bohemian Rhapsody was quite an enjoyable take on the life and career of Freddie Mercury
3 November 2018
Just watched this with my movie theatre-working friend. We both were enthralled by the performance of Rami Malek as the late Freddie Mercury, the frontman of the '70s/'80s rock group Queen. He seemed to capture in essence both his performing style and what was known of his life. The movie seemed to take liberties of when certain events took place but, dramatically, it seemed believable for the way it was depicted. In summary, me and my friend really enjoyed Bohemian Rhapsody!
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9/10
This version of A Star is Born does justice to both Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper
1 November 2018
Just watched this with my movie theatre-working friend. It's quite a fine remake of something done three times previous. I've only seen the previous two that Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand did. Lady Gaga does quite well in her acting scenes and, of course, her musical performances are aces. Bradley Cooper also sings well. His direction is also mostly excellent as is his acting. Also, nice supporting turns by Sam Elliott and Andrew Dice Clay. In summary, this version of A Star is Born is highly recommend by me and my friend!
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6/10
"The David S. Pumpkins Halloween Special" was amusing for what it was
28 October 2018
This just aired in what usually is the last half-hour of the 90-minute-show, "Saturday Night Live" but since that night was a Halloween-sketches compilation show with one of those sketches featuring the title character of this animated special played by Tom Hanks in that sketch and voiced by him here as well, "SNL" ran for an hour and five minutes instead. The cartoon was amusing if not hilarious and so was pretty entertaining for what it was. It certainly was a decent time-waster, that's for sure!
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7/10
People on Paper was a fascinating short doc on newspaper cartoonists
27 October 2018
This short I just watched on Mark Evanier's "newsfromme" blog as linked from Facebook. It showcases various cartoonists that were active in 1945 like Chic Young at a pier drawing "Blondie" or H. H. Knerr drawing "The Katzenjammer Kids". By the way, that strip was created by Rudolph Dirks for King Features but after he left, Kneer replaced him but Dirks then started drawing the same characters for United Feature Syndicate and called it "The Captain and the Kids". None of that was mentioned in the short. Another cartoonist shown was Al Capp and his "Li'l Abner". The short ends with that character being animated with him talking. Other artists shown were-Chester Gould on "Dick Tracy", Harold Gray on "Little Orphan Annie", Fred Lasswell on "Barney Google and Snuffy Smith", etc. This was quite an interesting short so on that note, I recommend People on Paper.
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7/10
The Spinach Overture was another pretty entertaining Popeye cartoon
24 October 2018
Last Saturday I watched this Popeye cartoon on TCM at someone's apartment in New York City. The sailor man has a band with Olive and Wimpy as members. Bluto, with the long hair associated with symphony conductors at the time, shows him up with his more classically professional playing. Because of that, Popeye's bandmates leave him to join Bluto. Then a spinach can comes into play...This was quite an amusing cartoon from the Fleischer period of the character. Oh, course, that theme song also gets played along the way...
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Buried Loot (1935)
8/10
Buried Loot was the first in the shorts series of "Crime Does Not Pay"
13 October 2018
Just watched this, M-G-M's first of its "Crime Does Not Pay" series of shorts, on TCM just now. Robert Taylor, before his big stardom, plays a guy who turns himself in as the guy who stole lots of money from a bank he works at. He's sent to prison for five years. I'll stop there and say this was quite a thrilling short and when it ends, well, you'll either be very surprised or not so much based on whatever many of these kind of movies or TV shows you may have watched over the years. So on that note, I highly recommend Buried Loot.
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7/10
The Saint in London was the first time I've seen something involving him in its entirety
13 October 2018
Watched this on TCM just now. It's the first time I've seen the entirety of something involving The Saint a.k.a Simon Templar though I also remember watching nearly an entire ep of the Roger Moore TV show back in the '80s. George Sanders stars in the role with Sally Gray as his leading lady and an American actor named David Burns playing his sidekick. I was enthralled throughout but I couldn't tell you what went on since I still can't make sense of it all despite mostly being able to mostly follow it while watching! So on that point, I say, go watch The Saint in London if you're a big fan of him...
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7/10
Despite being a cheater, I very much enjoyed Adventures of Popeye
13 October 2018
I watched on TCM this morning. It starts in live-action when a little boy buys the book with the title of this cartoon. He then gets confronted by a bigger boy and the smaller one then feels defeated. Then Popeye on the cover of his book then comes to life and tells the little boy how he often defeated his enemies, usually Bluto, courtesy of scenes of four of his cartoons. If you're very familiar with how Popeye comes through, I don't have to tell you how the little boy defeats his bully, that's for sure! So on that point, I say Adventures of Popeye is worth a look.
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Night School (2018)
7/10
Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish bring plenty of laughs to Night School
4 October 2018
This is another of those random movies I decided to watch with my movie theatre-working friend. As the title implies, Kevin Hart goes back to night school to get his GED. Tiffany Haddish is...well, I don't feel like spoiling any more of the movie. I'll just now say that my friend and I found plenty to laugh much of the time during the movie and there's also some partially successful touching moments though it always goes back to laughs to undercut some of that. In summary, Night School was a pretty entertaining comedy.
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8/10
The House with a Clock in Its Walls was a nice entertaining scare for my friend and I
27 September 2018
This is one of those movies that I randomly picked to watch with my movie theatre-working friend just now. So it was a nice surprise to watch what was going on through much of it. I mean, I didn't know it took place during the '50s, what Jack Black's and Cate Blanchett's roles were, or even that Kyle MacLachlan was in it, not to mention how important the lead kid was. In summary, my friend and I very much enjoyed The House with a Clock in Its Walls.
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8/10
If you don't mind a revue-type movie, you should enjoy Ziegfeld Follies
26 September 2018
Warning: Spoilers
I had first watched this M-G-M musical comedy revue on VHS tape some 20 years before with the captioned subtitles showing for some reason. (It's possible I, or some other family member, accidentally turned it on) Anyway, I remember enjoying the songs and sketches presented for this film then and I enjoyed it even more now. It begins with William Powell reprising his role as Flo Ziegfeld in Heaven reminiscing about his heyday with the help of Lou Bunin's Puppets (It originally was supposed to have a puppet Leo the Lion doing the intro but his scenes were cut though that version is now on YouTube) Fred Astaire then tells what Flo was like before Lucille Ball appears and uses her whip to tame some cat-like girls. Virginia O'Brien then sings "Bring on the Men". Esther Williams does her "A Water Ballet" solo. Keenan Wynn has trouble getting a certain phone line in "Number, Please". Then Astaire and Lucille Bremer does the first of their two numbers with this one having moving floors. The other one has them portraying Chinese people, which wouldn't go well in these PC times but is not offensive here. Victor Moore and Edward Arnold do the sketch "Pay the Two Dollars". Red Skelton does "When Television Comes" in which he plays both the increasingly drunk announcer and the poet guest star. Fanny Brice, Hume Cronyn, and William Frawley enact a skit about a sweepstakes ticket. Lena Horne sings about "Love". Judy Garland plays an actress talking about her next picture to her admirers showcasing her comedic talents in characterization to the tilt! Astaire and Gene Kelly-the first time two movie dancing legends teamed up-showcase their great tap talents with fine humor. And then Kathryn Grayson sings "Beauty" among many suds of soap and plenty of beautiful women. All that I cited was quite entertaining and funny in the right places. And it was all put together by producer Arthur Freed. No wonder his unit was so legendary! So on that note, I highly recommend Ziegfeld Follies.
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8/10
Thrill of a Romance was quite an enjoyable Esther Williams-Van Johnson movie
24 September 2018
While this was the first time both Esther Williams and Van Johnson were the leads in a motion picture, this wasn't the first time they were in a scene together onscreen: that was in A Guy Named Joe a few years before when Ms. Williams had a brief dancing sequence with him. He's not the only man in her life here, another one played by Carleton G. Young also figures but watch the movie if you want to know what I'm talking about. There's also amusing supporting turns by Spring Byington and Henry Travers as Esther's relatives. By the way, I always think of Mr. Travers first as Clarence Oddbody, Angel 2nd Class from my favorite movie It's a Wonderful Life. While I'm not an opera fan, I did enjoy the singing of Lauritz Melchior especially when he performed with Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra. Incidentally, Tommy introes a teen named Helene Stanley-who does a fine piano and singing-as his daughter Susan but he wouldn't have such an offspring with that name until four years after this movie's release. There's also a nice singing performance by African-American teen Jerry Scott who plays a bellhop, which emphasizes the limitation of roles for his race in Hollywood at the time. Also, a fine drum solo from Dorsey's drummer Buddy Rich. In summary, I enjoyed this fluff Thrill of a Romance represented during this time of war all over the world that must have pleased many patrons looking for some distraction...
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8/10
Bathing Beauty marks Esther Williams' first of her "aquamusicals"
23 September 2018
After doing memorable short scenes in Andy Hardy's Double Trouble and A Guy Named Joe which were both in black and white, Esther Williams then did the first of her "aquamuaicals" in glorious Technicolor with this, Bathing Beauty. Her first leading co-star was Red Skelton. The plot is very much contrived so I'll just mention it's a good excuse for Skelton to do what he does best-physical comedy of which there are several hilarious set-pieces. And, yes, Ms. Williams does her water ballet swim sequences that made her such a big star. There's also swell music from Xavier Cugat and His Orchestra with vocalist Lina Romay, Harry James and His Music Makers with singer Helen Forrest, organist Ethel Smith, and Jean Porter who provides an entertaining duet with Skelton. Nothing more to say except Bathing Beauty is still worth seeing for anyone who likes these vintage musicals!
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9/10
A Guy Named Joe was a fine World War II drama/fantasy
23 September 2018
Spencer Tracy plays a hot shot pilot named Pete who gets in a little trouble with superior James Gleason. Ward Bond is his best buddy in the air and Irene Dunne is his fellow pilot girlfriend. Spencer goes on a mission that...well, I don't feel like spoiling so I'll just stop there and just say I really enjoyed this vintage World War II-made-during movie with all the action, romance, and humor that entails. Besides the above players, I also liked fellow supporting turns from Lionel Barrymore who, like Bond, was in my favorite movie It's a Wonderful Life, Barry Nelson, Don DeFore, a young Esther Williams as a girl who dances with the enlisted men, Charles Smith as a homesick boy who Ms. Williams tries to cheer up, and Van Johnson who dances with Williams and is guided by Spencer. Nice use of the song, "I'll Get By" whether sung by Ms. Dunne or used instrumentally in the score. Nothing more to say except I highly recommend A Guy Named Joe.
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Sucker Bait (1943)
8/10
Sucker Bait is a vintage World War II military training film featuring some familiar Hollywood stars of the time
22 September 2018
Just watched this military training short film on YouTube. It seems to have been made in Hollywood judging by the professionalism of the whole thing and the casting of many recognizable actors in it like Spring Byington, Donna Reed, Frank Faylen-those last two I recognized from my favorite movie: It's a Wonderful Life, and Esther Williams of whom this may have been close to her earliest film appearance. It takes place at a classroom where the teacher is telling his students how Americans aren't very smart and could possibly inadvertently reveal some classified info to someone they don't know but are fooled by certain demeanors or uniforms or other kinds of familiar clothes in thinking of them as fellow citizens instead of potential enemies during this World War II period. I'll just say that the way the film ends, it goes a way it perhaps shouldn't. So on that note, I recommend Sucker Bait for anyone curious about these vintage military films.
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Wintertime (1943)
8/10
Wintertime marked Sonja Henie's final film for 20th Century-Fox
22 September 2018
As the last of Sonja Henie's movies for 20th Century-Fox, Wintertime was a very entertaining way to go out for her, that's for sure! As always, her skating talents are front and center but there's also a nonsense slapstick plot that hits on all corners especially with a supporting cast that includes S. Z. (Cuddles) Sakall, Carole Landis, and welcome returning players Jack Oakie and Cesar Romero. The leading man is Cornel Wilde who wasn't established at this point in his career and doesn't get to make too much of an impression compared to previous men cast opposite Ms. Henie. Much of the musical entertainment is provided by Woody Herman and His Orchestra with fine vocals from both Ms. Landis and Romero in a few of their numbers. So on that note, Wintertime is highly recommended for any Sonja Henie fans out there.
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Iceland (I) (1942)
5/10
Iceland was perhaps one of the weakest of the Sonja Henie vehicles I've yet seen watching her films in chronological order
21 September 2018
Having seen all previous Sonja Henie movies-including Sun Valley Serenade which also featured her leading man John Payne and was directed by Bruce Humberstone, same as this one-this one is perhaps even more contrived than those others. It concerns a mixup between Ms. Henie and Payne concerning whether a wedding between them will be held or not. This was made while the US was involved in World War II so the numbers are of the patriotic kind as performed by Sammy Kaye and his Orchestra with singer Joan Merrill. Those numbers were highly enjoyable as were Ms. Henie's skate dances of which one of them has her partnered with Eugene Turner, a US skating champion. Supporting player Jack Oakie provides some funny lines, Sterling Holloway was also amusing in his brief scenes. But the banter between Ms. Henie and Payne wasn't funny and got increasingly tiring at the end. Good thing the movie's only about 90 minutes. So on that note, Iceland is worth a look for any Sonja Henie fans and nothing more.
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8/10
A Simple Favor is quite a funny comedic take on the thriller
20 September 2018
After a week of hoping to watch this movie, me and my movie theatre-working friend finally got to just now. With Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively the leading ladies and Henry Golding the leading man, this was quite a thrillingly funny adventure, that's for sure! Director Paul Feig moves things along at a swift pace that one almost has to catch a breath to keep up with all the twists coming! Kudos also for supporting turns like Jean Smart for her role as an elderly parent of one of the leading ladies and former star of Feig's TV show "Freaks and Geeks", Linda Cardellini, as a painter who tells Anna about a secret of Blake's that seems to really unravel things real quick! So me and my friend highly recommend A Simple Favor.
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8/10
Everything Happens at Night marked a nice change-of-pace for star Sonja Henie
19 September 2018
Previous Sonja Henie vehicles had comedians doing their shtick, some songs meant to possibly become hits, and many skating routines from the star. This one's different in that the humor comes from the characters-in this case, a couple of reporters (Ray Milland, Robert Cummings) looking for her father while romancing her. Actually, that father figures in a more dramatic shift later in the narrative that I won't reveal here. Let's just say it's a reason there are no songs or slapstick comedy that had been in previous Henie movies and Henie herself only performs one skating dance in a dream sequence this time. It's a nice change of pace so on that note, I recommend Everything Happens at Night. P.S. Among the supporting cast is one William Edmonds as the hotel clerk. If you're familiar with my IMDB reviews, you know I always like to cite when players from my favorite movie-It's a Wonderful Life-are in something else and in IAWL, Edmonds appeared there as Mr. Martini.
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Second Fiddle (1939)
8/10
Second Fiddle marked the second teaming of Sonja Henie and Tyrone Power
18 September 2018
Previous Sonja Henie pictures tended to have some songs meant to possibly be on the Hit Parade, some comedians doing their shtick, with a ridiculous story meant to emphasize the over-the-top-ness of it all. This one has a score by Irving Berlin of which one of his songs mentions not caring if it's a hit or not, humor coming from characterization, with a satiric story that believably turns a bit dramatic. Based on the publicity surrounding the search for the leading lady of Gone with the Wind, Tyrone Power plays a studio executive who finds Ms. Henie in Minnesota and whisks her off to Hollywood for her film debut. Along for the ride is Edna May Oliver as Ms. Henie's aunt. She's quite a hoot here. There's also Rudy Vallee as the studio's musical star who's given a publicity stunt of dating Sonja to the consternation of Mary Healy. I'll stop there and just say that I quite enjoyed this second teaming of Henie and Power and the Irving Berlin songs provided. Also enjoyed, as usual, Ms. Henie's skating numbers. So that's a recommendation of Second Fiddle. P.S. Since I like to cite when someone from my favorite movie-It's a Wonderful Life-is in something else, here it's Charles Lane-that guy in IAWL who told Mr. Potter that he may someday work for George Bailey-using only his voice as the studio head. And it was a nice surprise to find out that Mary Healy was from New Orleans which is only a two-hour drive from my current residence in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
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My Lucky Star (1938)
6/10
My Lucky Star was another enjoyable Sonja Henie vehicle depite a more ridiculous plot than previous Henie movies
17 September 2018
Having just seen two of Sonja Henie's previous movies-One in a Million and Thin Ice-before this one, this particular one has a more daffy plot than those others though the performances are good enough, one forgives the unbelievability of it all. Ms. Henie is, as always, good during skating numbers with one good uptempo one to balance her more classical ones as well as another fascinating one based on "Alice in Wonderland". Her leading man here is Richard Greene who I never heard or seen before. Among Ms. Henie's returning supporting players from her previous films are Cesar Romero, Arthur Treacher, Billy Gilbert, and Joan Davis, the latter two especially welcome. Loved both Gilbert's trying to add pistachio nuts to Greene's order and Ms. Davis' pratfalls and funny way with her arm movements. Also amusing was Buddy Ebsen as Ms. Davis' boyfriend. Together, they make a pretty good team. In summary, My Lucky Star was another pretty enjoyable Sonja Henie vehicle.
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Thin Ice (1937)
7/10
Thin Ice was another of Sonja Henie's early films with quite a leading man in Tyrone Power
16 September 2018
I've now seen this-Sonja Henie's second feature-online. She seems a little more comfortable on camera as well as with dialogue of which she has to carry more of though with a leading man she was very enamored of off-screen this time: Tyrone Power. He plays a prince trying to go out incognito at night for skiing while Sonja does the same thing as a skating instructor at a swank hotel. There's also comedienne Joan Davis as the bandleader of an all-girl orchestra providing a couple of funny numbers. Among the rest of the supporting cast are Arthur Treacher, Sig Ruman, and Alan Hale Sr.-yes, the father of Alan Hale Jr. who's famous as the Skipper of "Gilligan's Island". Initially hilarious, the plot threatens to run out of steam but ends soon enough with yet another of Ms. Henie's skating routines. Kudos to director Sidney Lanfield for guiding her in both this and her debut in One in a Million.
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7/10
One in a Million was a pretty entertaining first feature for skater Sonja Henie
15 September 2018
Having first watched this on American Movie Classics back in the '90s, I just rewatched this first Sonja Henie starring feature just now on YouTube. The upload seemed a bit chaotic with some zooms I don't remember from my previous viewing. Since this was her first real time being showcased on film, Ms. Henie doesn't dominate the proceedings with her ice dancing and scenes which are shared with leading man Don Ameche, comedians The Ritz Brothers, supporting players like Adolphe Menjou, Arline Judge, Ned Sparks, and Jean Hersholt as Sonja's father. There's also an all-girl band and a harmonica player who is later joined by likewise players who do some good slapstick. The Ritzes are also pretty amusing if not completely hilarious. In summary, One in a Million is entertaining fluff.
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