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Paper Planes (I) (2014)
6/10
kids making paper planes
20 October 2019
Dylan Weber is a young boy in the Australian outback. His phone is old. His father (Sam Worthington) is sleeping his days away haunted by the lost of his wife. His teacher is tired of the kids with their smart phones. He has them make paper planes and Dylan's first takes off. He has many failed trials until his father shows him the winning sailboat keels. He's inspired to do research and creates a superior plane. Jason Jones is his arrogant winning-obsessed rival with former golf champion dad. It takes him to Sydney first and then Tokyo for the championship.

It's a fine uplifting family film. Considering the subject matter being kids making paper planes, the movie can't be much different than what it turns out to be. It is positive with people overcoming heartbreak. It is good people finding inspirations and bad people turning good. The villain sweeps the leg but in the end, learns a lesson. This is fine family fare.
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Love on the Air (2015 TV Movie)
6/10
Hallmark with a dash
20 October 2019
Sonia Mayerick (Alison Sweeney) has her own female empowerment radio show in Chicago. Her selfish boyfriend Scott Ryder ends their engagement on the air after listening to the popular man-cave show hosted by Nick Linden (Jonathan Scarfe). Sonia is substituting for a radio psychiatrist. She and Nick have an encounter. When Nick starts talking about her in his show, she is shocked to discover that she has been talking to the caveman himself. She barges into his show and chemical reaction occurs.

At the start, these are two annoying personalities. They are both know-it-alls. Her boyfriend does humanize her and his history does show more sides later on. I do see what the movie is setting up. Obviously, this is a meeting of combative opposites. It's a classic romantic trope although it's a little more edgy than the usual Hallmark fare. It boils down to the likeability of the two lead actors and the speed of their characters' growth. The explosive meet-hate of the first studio booth encounter piques my interest. They soften quite nicely. The reintroduction of Scott is good although he needs a more compelling actor. Without a better Scott, the triangle isn't strong enough. This is a solid Hallmark with a little spice.
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6/10
marginal
20 October 2019
Ruthless crime lord Jack Bannister (Walter Huston) causes countless hardships. His daughter Gloria (Loretta Young) is returning home after ten years in an European boarding school. When she discovers his criminal work, she breaks her engagement to her boyfriend Dick Cheney. She's ashamed of her own father and fears entangling anyone else to his organization. He launches a milk war and she is threatened over it.

It's an entry in the WB gangster movie genre. Huston's performance is more stuffy than Godfather. It would be better to have Jack Bannister get his hands dirty early in the movie. Instead, he's a CEO dressed in a suit. He's vicious but he's not that different from the many psychopaths in the executive suites. The ending is rushed and unrealistic. It's odd that it doesn't even show the shooting. It's a marginal gangster movie.
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6/10
cute
19 October 2019
It's a Harman-Ising Cartoon from MGM. Two little puppies annoy the house cat who causes a big mess. The puppies are blamed and the lady sends them out into the yard. They escape into the streets where they are pursued by a dog-catcher. They steal a bone from a vicious bulldog. The puppies lead a procession of the dog-catcher and many dogs into the night. With night falling, the cat goes off to rescue the wayward pups.

The puppies are cute. Their adventures are cute. I like it until the cat turns into super kitty. The sensibility changes and quite frankly, cats are too aloof to care. I'm not a big believer in super kitty. Overall, this is cute.
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6/10
a time and place
19 October 2019
It's a ten minute James A. FitzPatrick Traveltalks. The journey starts in Bombay with a garden and a horse race. It goes to Delhi where it finally touches on something like street life. There is the government troops, a dance troupe, and finally a quick visit to the Taj Mahal. Despite getting independence in 1947, this short still makes India look like a jewel in the British crown. It's very colonial. It's historic in its way.
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Blacula (1972)
6/10
cult classic
19 October 2019
In 1780 Transylvania, African prince Mamuwalde and his love Luva are visiting Dracula at Castle Dracula. They are trying to convince him to join in the fight against the slave trade but Dracula turns Mamuwalde into a vampire instead. Mumuwalde is locked in a coffin for two hundred years until the castle's new buyers send the coffin to L.A. He becomes Blacula and is released with an insatiable hunger for blood. He encounters Luva doppelganger named Tina.

This is classic blaxploitation. It's a fun indie of black cinema culture. Even the title invests a certain camp and certain black B-history into the movie. It's actually relatively well made. The dialogue is clunky at times and the pacing sometimes gets slow. It's a Hammer film crossed with a healthy dose of 70s black culture. It's not actually scary as much as it's unintentionally funny. The female black vampire running down the hall in slow motion is pure camp. It's the music cue. It's the wild acting. It's the sincerity. It's all of it. This is a cult classic.
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October Kiss (2015 TV Movie)
6/10
fine
15 October 2019
Poppy Summerall (Ashley Williams) is a flighty free-spirit unable to commit to any job or love. It's Halloween. She gets a job from her sister as a nanny for workaholic app developer Ryan Larson (Sam Jaeger) and his two kids.

Ashley Williams dials up her wackiness up to eleven. If she's younger, she would be classified as a manic pixie dream girl. Her Cheshire cat smile fits the role very well. The leads are fine. The story is fine. The triangle is fine. The kids are fine. It's fine Hallmark and not much more.
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6/10
like the twist but not set up right
14 October 2019
Warning: Spoilers
High school student Mandy Lane (Amber Heard) is an object of desire for all the boys. She accepts an invite to a pool party and drags along her nerdy friend Emmett (Michael Welch). After a jock hits on her and bullies Emmett, Emmett convinces him to jump off the roof to his death. Nine months later, she's avoiding Emmett over the incident. Her mean girl friend Chloe (Whitney Able) convinces her to party with the boys at a ranch. Garth (Anson Mount) is the ranch hand.

Initially, this movie claws at my nerves, not in a good way. Amber Heard is basically an innocent sex kitten. She has little agency in her own story. She has to be talked into every decision. She is ogled at every turn. She is more object than subject. That brings in the twist. I like the twist a lot but it needs some foreshadowing. Mandy cannot be a blank and then suddenly does an 180. The movie needs to give some better hints. Non of the other characters are appealing. In some horror movies, one roots for the killer. In this one, I'm rooting for nobody. The movie throws out two suspects for the killer and it's a waiting game to guess which one. That killer reveal should be left until the last minute before the big twist. The killer reveal is done too early. There is something here in that big twist. The writer needs to be more careful leading up to that moment. Also I don't like dragging out the final fight.
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Our House (2006 TV Movie)
6/10
nice and easy
14 October 2019
Heart-broken widower Ruth (Doris Roberts) lives alone in her big Beverly Hills house. She rejects help from her adult kids. She almost ODs and stumbles into the street. Homeless Billy (Judy Reyes) saves her but she gets arrested instead. Ruth refuses to file charges and starts insinuating into her life. Soon, her home is full of the homeless. Her daughter and neighbors are not so happy.

The problem starts with Billy running away from the cops. It would be more compelling for Billy to not run away. There are lots of little flaws which take away the power of this feel-good drama. Dallas' drug problem could be done with a darker edge. Her problem could be tied more closely with the son's problem. Once the legal issue arises, the lawyer daughter would be the obvious choice. Even if Ruth rejects her help, she should be muscling in on the case. Quite frankly, this movie is too nice and easy about the homeless problem. This is a white savior movie. In order to alleviate that, it has dwell more on her initial suicidal problem. In the end, this movie is too nice to dwell on that.
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6/10
back to basics
13 October 2019
Aka Destroy All Monsters. It's the end of the century. UNSC is launching daily missions to the moon base. All the monsters are safely contained on an island until an accident in containment allows them to escape across the globe. It is revealed that it's aliens again.

The franchise goes back to the basics. There is no more silly comedy. It's a sci-fi monster movie. The major drawback is that the monsters initially get scattered. It's not until much later when they are drawn into a giant battle royale. I like the earlier alien designs. This is nothing more than a dress. Overall, the story is a bit muddled with the monsters going back and forth with the rooting interest. It is nice to get the franchise back to its roots.
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6/10
In Space
13 October 2019
In the year 196X, astronauts Glenn Amer and Fuji are traveling to Planet X. They are met by an alien underground civilization. The aliens want to use Rodan and Godzilla against Monster Zero which is ravishing their surface world. It turns out to be another King Ghidorah. In exchange, they promise to give a wonder drug to cure all human diseases.

Aliens and monsters. It's such a campy concept that one cannot help but love it. I love the aliens. The story needs a lot more simplification. A simpler story would work easier. This has all the classic Japanese monster bits from the genre. All the monsters get to crush miniatures. The Japanese actors get to point and yell in shock. It has all that plus aliens.
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6/10
I probably can't have that
13 October 2019
Philip Rosenthal is a neurotic Jew from Queens. He grew up without much of a taste pallet and is now an amateur foodie. His claim to fame is creating the popular and successful network TV show Everybody Loves Raymond which made him very, very rich. This is a food travel show. It has six episodes with each location from across the globe. The first is Tokyo which provides some exotic expensive fare. This is probably the most problematic of the show. I won't have what Phil's having since it probably will cost me an arm and a leg. The second is Italy which has his emotional reunion with his long lost friends and that's a great side dish. The third is Paris which has a romantic connection with his wife and that's why this episode needs his wife with him. The fourth is Phil's first time in Hong Kong. He learns Tai Chi and have many different Chinese foods. The fifth is Barcelona. Tapas. Tapas. Tapas. The sixth is Los Angeles where he finally gets to eat with some recognizable guests.

As far as I can tell, it'd be a real problem trying to have what Phil had in Japan and Barcelona. Japan is as expensive as hell and Barcelona is as exclusive as hell. I get Phil's idea but he's as rich as hell. Italy is probably the best episode because it has an emotional heart. Paris clarifies something about the show. He's alone and all talks about is food. It's fine but the show doesn't expand beyond that. Jerry Seinfeld is not simply talking about the car or the coffee. Phil needs a travel partner. I'd rather have The Trip than this. In Paris, he needs his wife. In the other episodes, he needs his parents. Instead of Skype, he should just pay for their tickets to join him. As for Los Angeles, he finally gets some partners but they don't really get too far off topic. Marty Short is one of the funniest people on the planet. Phil's talkative nature and his obsession with food takes over the conversation. Marty struggles to do much with the short segment. This is fine for what it is. It's a funny, food-obsessed, rich guy traveling the world eating the best stuff. There's nothing wrong with that.
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6/10
campy monster mash
12 October 2019
Princess Selina Salno facing assassination threat is on a plane to Japan. There is a meteor shower of UFOs. She is drawn to open the plane's door when a meteor destroys the plane. She miraculously reappears in Japan claiming to be from Venus and warning of the rise of King Ghidorah from space. She also predicts the reappearance of Rodan and Godzilla. The Shobijin twins call upon Mothra who is only in its larva stage to save the world. Mothra tries to recruit Rodan and Godzilla but they don't have any reason to save humanity.

There is a good bit of camp in this one and the movie knows it. First of all, the princess story is unnecessarily complicate. It would have been fine for her to simply be an alien from Venus warning about Ghidorah. The movie adds layers where layers are wasting time and space. I like the twins. There's no reason why I wouldn't like an alien in a ball gown. This movie has some fun with the fighting starting with Rodan and Godzilla playing tennis for awhile. That's the moment when it becomes obvious that the filmmaker is having a bit of fun. Instead of the hullabaloo with the princess, the movie could use the twins more and find xenophobic villains looking to kill an alien princess.
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6/10
manufactured story
11 October 2019
In a small Australian town, thousands of penguins would nest on Middle Island every year. Then foxes discover the island and the colony of penguins gets devastated. There are only 20 left. In order to maintain their sanctuary status, they need at least 10. Their savior comes in the form of eccentric chicken farmer Swampy Marsh (Shane Jacobson) and his dog Oddball. After all, penguins are just chickens in tuxedos.

I love the simple dog saves penguins idea. The rest of the family drama and whale watching drama feels manufactured. The movie is manufacturing a villain and it's not good at it. I can live with the family drama if it's done a bit better. I do like the late mother being the origins story. Much of the story feels like a weaker 80's movie. I'm not opposed to making up a fictional story for this feel-good situation. I am opposed to doing it badly.
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Kiss at Pine Lake (2012 TV Movie)
6/10
Hallmark
10 October 2019
Luke Garvey and Zoe McDowell have a summer camp fling. They kiss in the end and promise to stay in touch. They don't. Fifteen years later, Luke Garvey (Barry Watson) is a rich philanthropist. He buys the camp to run it as it was during his childhood. The camp is in desperate need of repairs but he is short of cash. Zoe McDowell (Mia Kirshner) is a high-powered lawyer and she is ordered to buy the camp from under the new owner to be torn down.

There is a movie called Indian Summer which has a very similar story. That one is much better but this one is fine. The villain is trying too hard. The pairing of Watson and Kirshner has a sincere romantic feel. They are good together and that keeps the movie going. The plot isn't that complex. It's a very simple romance feel-good Hallmark movie. I just don't like the villain constantly being villainous for every second on screen.
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6/10
moody but needs more menace and pacing
9 October 2019
Sloan (Frank Grillo) gets out of prison and reunites with his old crew. They intend on getting back the money stolen by their former comrade Nick Brenner (Luke Grimes). Nick has been living straight and married to Tara (Marguerite Moreau) who is the daughter of local sheriff Frank Parson (Robert Taylor).

It's a moody crime drama indie. It doesn't have enough action. It would have been nice to have an important murder done on screen. The movie is trying to have all the inbetween scenes. It leaves the movie with a moody feel. It would help to have more intensity to give it a more menacing feel. There is a big action sequence but it doesn't look great. This has all the parts but lacks the pace to drive it.
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Love, Romance, & Chocolate (2019 TV Movie)
6/10
Chabert in Bruges
9 October 2019
Emma Colvin (Lacey Chabert) breaks up with her boyfriend who is moving away for his job. She goes to Bruges by herself for a chocolatier vacation. She finds new inspiration and new love in Luc Simon (Will Kemp). Luc's chocolate shop is in financial trouble but he has great hopes for his chances at the Belgium's Royal Chocolatier. He reluctantly accepts help from the American who has different ideas about chocolate.

The meet-cute is paramount in a romance. This one has some good potential but one needs to know the language. That's where funny subtitles would be really effective. The location is basically stuck in a shop with no customers. As for the exterior shots, the Belgium locations should be better. The camera work doesn't do the place justice. It's not just about the locations. It needs an imaginative vision to bring out the exotic Europe. It does have a boat ride montage but that's really the pinnacle. It helps to be a nighttime ride. This Hallmark romance relies heavily on the bubbly Chabert and she is exactly that. I like the triangle although the opposition should be more villainous throughout the movie. This is a fine standard Hallmark romance.
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Strange Cargo (1940)
6/10
fugitive plus
9 October 2019
Verne (Clark Gable) is a thief with three years left in his sentence at a jungle penal colony. He never stops trying to escape despite the dangers of the jungle. Showgirl Julie (Joan Crawford) arrives in the nearby town. Verne escapes again and flirts with Julie. She turns him in but gets fired anyways. M'sieu Pig (Peter Lorre) apprehends the fugitive. He escapes once more with six other convicts. Starved and tired, he finds food and shelter from Julie. She also needs to escape and joins him in his jungle trek.

I really don't care about the other fugitives. I couldn't wait for the movie to get back to the big stars whenever it concentrates on the preacher or the others. There is also a lack of intensity with the jungle. I expected more. Then there are the characters. They are very chaotic and irrational at times. It's hard to get my hands around these people. Some of them look too similar. The dialogue is rather melodramatic. The plot is definitely trying to do something intriguing but it's a strange blend. With the shark, it would have been more intense if the characters don't bring it up first. The Jesus theme is odd. These are great stars. Peter Lorre always delivers. Verne is frustrating. There is something here but it doesn't ever seem to get the intensity.
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Love on the Sidelines (2016 TV Movie)
6/10
cute
8 October 2019
Football star Danny Holland (John Reardon) has a season ending injury. He fires his incompetent assistant and needs a new one. Cash-strapped fashion designer Laurel Welk (Emily Kinney) needs a job and knows nothing about football. At first, he rejects her declaring that he needs a guy to do the job. He reluctantly accepts her and she slowly wins him over.

It's got cutie patootie Emily Kinney. John Reardon has the looks although he doesn't look like a football player. That's all fine. They are both pretty. There are plenty of pretty people here. Danny has a good meet-hate and has a good progression. His one mistake is the classic romantic sudden jump kiss. It's a new era and he can't do that anymore. The character is a big name in that world and he can't go around kissing his employees without consent. It's a lawsuit waiting to happen. Quite frankly, he should Mike Pence the main reason why he can't have a female assistant. Consent can be sexy if it's done right. At the very least, these movies need to slo-mo that standard move so that they can nudge nudge wink wink the consent. Otherwise, this is a function Hallmark romance with a cute couple.
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Pumpkin Pie Wars (2016 TV Movie)
6/10
good for Hallmark
7 October 2019
Faye McArthy and Lydia Harper have a breakdown in their pumpkin pie partnership during their fair contest starting a war with each other's pie shops. It's ten years later and the war goes on. Casey McArthy (Julie Gonzalo) is trying to run her mother's shop while Faye is bitter at losing to Lydia for the last three years. Faye has an accident and Casey is forced to enter the bake-off despite her utter lack of skills. Sam Harper (Rico Aragon) wants to change the shop but his mother refuses. With news of Casey taking over, Lydia decides to extend the family feud to the next generation by letting Sam take over the competition.

This story has a bit of spice, pumpkin spice. That means it's unnecessary but not as bad as one expects. The couple actually has chemistry. The family conflict is cute. It's not terribly exciting but it works. It's more decorative than substantive. It is better than most Hallmark romance. That's something.
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Arctic Tale (2007)
6/10
Queen Latifah narration
7 October 2019
National Geographic does a documentary with a good dose of cutesy storytelling from the Queen Latifah narration. It starts with a momma polar bear and her two cubs emerging from their den for the first time. They have to navigate the new climate along side a baby walrus within its herd. It's nothing new to tell a nature story from a humanistic manner. Sometimes, it works well like the death of the cub. Other times, it's rather too cute. On that note, I don't like Queen Latifah's narration. It may be old fashion but nature documentaries always sounds better British. I also don't like the music which has singing in it. When it gets to a fart fest, the show takes a giant step down. I appreciate the attempt at something new but most of this is rubbing me the wrong way.
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Lone Star (1952)
6/10
historical drama
6 October 2019
It's 1845. Texas' future is in the balance. Sam Houston recently published an opinion against annexation after earlier attempts. News reaches ex-President Andrew Jackson (Lionel Barrymore) who decides to send in cattle baron Devereaux Burke (Clark Gable) to talk to Houston and recruit for the cause. He is opposed by powerful state senator Thomas Craden. He battles injuins on the way to Austin where he meets Craden's girlfriend Martha Ronda (Ava Gardner) who runs a local newspaper. He is assumed to be anti-annexation and decides to play along while Craden supporters hunt for him.

Historical accuracy is not always important. In this case, I find the history rather interesting and I wouldn't mind having the real story. This is obviously not the real story. I don't know anything about the real story and this is not going to enlighten me that much either. Some of the background issues are presented. The cast is headed by the great looking Clark Gable. This is a fine film but I would probably be more interested in a deep dive into the history.
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6/10
fine
6 October 2019
Brooklyn Moore (Jessica Lowndes) has always had the knack of making the perfect match. Devin Knight (Wes Brown) is her awkward school friend. It's twelves years later. She has a matchmaking business called "Over the Moon in Love" in San Francisco, but she has never made a match for herself. Devin re-enters her life after losing touch. Stephanie Carlton holds the potential for a big magazine cover but she wants to get set up by Brooklyn. She's taken with Devin and demands to be set up with him.

Oh hey! Jessica Lowndes actually wrote this herself. I won't be too mean. This is fine. Hallmark does not set a high bar. It doesn't inspire me to follow her writing career. She does need to learn to write a meet-cute for her rom-com leads. They could meet in high school with his dental headgear getting caught in her hair. He just needs to be a big nerd whom she never sees coming. Maybe he gets picked on and she comes to his rescue. I do like the Cyrano de Bergerac aspect but the final pairing is never in doubt. Non of this is in doubt. It's a very safe Hallmark flick.
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6/10
Halloween short
5 October 2019
Shrek and the gang come out of the theater after watching The Music with Sound. He is furious that he wasted his time on Halloween night. Donkey brings on a sing-along of the Michael Jackson song Thriller. It's a Halloween short. The sad truth is that it's an easy spoof and quite frankly, less fun than the Jackson video. It doesn't even do it right. Shrek and Fiona should be on date night. She should be the one doing Michael. Nevertheless, it's fun to have the characters doing the dance and replacing the zombies in the video.
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6/10
fine until it's not
29 September 2019
Hattie (Vanessa Kirby) is a part of an MI6 team on a mission to secure a deadly programmable virus. They are attacked by the superpowered villain Brixton (Idris Elba). Sole survivor Hattie manages to escape and takes the virus with her by injecting the capsules into her hand. She is framed for the massacre and the thief of the world ending virus. The CIA recruits two outside operatives to retrieve her and the scientist who designed the virus. It's Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Shaw (Jason Statham), and they don't like each other.

I like the first half. It's a fun superhero Avengers movie. The Rock and Statham have charisma to burn. Vanessa Kirby is intriguing and Idris Elba is a great actor. It seems set to be a fun ninety minutes popcorn movie. Somewhere along the line, the movie loses momentum and goes into slow motion action mode for the worst. I know exactly the moment. It's the torture scene. Like Brixton says, these guys are never going to turn. The whole exercise is futile. If the villains kidnapped Hobbs' daughter and figured out that Hattie is Shaw's sister, turning them may get interesting. The writing is never that smart.

As for being smart writing, I have an issue with the virus. The movie needs an opening scene where the MI6 team is introduced to virus. The virus needs exposition. Then I couldn't figure out why Hattie wouldn't simply cut off her hand and burn it. It kept nagging me for the rest of the movie. I know it's silly to nitpick this movie but it's annoying when an obvious solution is being ignored. Finally, two hours is way too long. Blowing up the evil base is plenty to close out the movie. It needs to end. This is not worth two hours. This movie is fine until it's not.
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