What's on your Daily Viewing List?

Adam Lenhardt

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Michael
Originally Released: 12/25/1996
Watched: 09/25/2020
1080P HD digital streaming on HBO Max via HTPC

Michael (1996) Poster


This one popped into my head out of the blue yesterday, and I revisited it on a whim. It got lambasted by critics when it first came out, but I'm not really sure why; it's not a great film, but it's not an ineffective one either. A Nora Ephron screenplay was never entirely without merit, the cast played off each other well, and the story resolved satisfactorily.

The central conceit of an angel who smokes heavy, drinks hard, and drives the ladies wild certainly packed in audiences, but in the context of the film it makes a certain amount of sense; the archangel Michael in the film is basically a war veteran who is on vacation. He's got a job to do, and he does it with serene competence. But mainly he's there to soak up the sights, sounds, and experiences before he returns to the place beyond the sky; he is someone who savors life rather than letting it pass him by.

The movie did a good job of capturing the dynamics of a long car trip with colleagues for work. In particular, the tabloid journalists played by William Hurt and Robert Pastorelli are very comfortable with their roles churning out swill to fill the rags in the supermarket checkout line. Their laid-back cynicism made for a nice foil against the high-strung idealism of Andie MacDowell's character.

It was a joy to see Jean Stapleton nearly two decades after her last appearance as Edith Bunker. Among the most gifted comedic actresses of all time, and her character here is wonderful.

* * *​

Back to the Future
Originally Released: 07/03/1985
Watched: 09/26/2020
4K UHD digital streaming on Apple TV app via Roku Ultra

Back to the Future (1985) iTunes Cover


Took advantage of the recent $14.99 pricing on iTunes for the Back to the Future trilogy in HD, and happily the first two movies have upgraded to 4K.

I have seen this one many, many times and this is far and away the best I've ever seen it look. After all of these years, it still holds up. About as close to a perfect piece of entertainment as you can get.

It's a shame that Claudia Wells couldn't return for the sequels to due to her mother's cancer, as I prefer her take on Jennifer to Elisabeth Shue's.

* * *​

The Big Lebowski
Originally Released: 03/06/1998
Watched: 09/26/2020
4K UHD disc via Panasonic DP-UB820

The Big Lebowski (1998) UHD Cover


One of the greatest movies of all time. Like a Raymond Chandler detective novel, if Philip Marlowe had been unemployed degenerate who spent most of the story smoking weed, drinking, and having inane conversations.

It's so intricately plotted, with a large cast of characters to keep track of, and yet in the end it all does amount to really anything. Fortunately, the Dude has been adhering to a pretty strict, uh, drug regimen to keep his mind, you know, limber. The mysteries are resolved, everybody's roles in this whole circus are made clear, and the Dude is left with pretty much zero satisfaction -- in fact, he is quite a bit worse off than after the home invasion that plunged him into this whole mess.

One of those movies that gets funnier each time I watch it. An embarrassment of riches when it comes to both quotable lines and great character acting.

This is a title that has been the victim of Universal's overzealous noise removal over the years, but the UHD disc looks terrific.

With regard to Starship Troopers, from earlier in the week:
BTW, Isn't Rico Brazilian? It's been a long time since I read it.
It's never explicitly stated, but he mentions at one point that Tagalog is his native language, and Tagalog is the national language of the Philippines. But the world of Heinlein's novel was a post-racial society with a homogeneous, globe-spanning culture, so I don't know that it mattered in the same way it would with a story set today.

I mostly enjoyed the movie but it bears only a passing resemblance to the novel. The film's supposed satirism was totally lost on me - still is. That Verheoven never read the book is telling and shows on screen. I see it as a mostly enjoyable SF romp that fails the adaptation test and frequently misses the mark.
I agree that it's a bad adaptation, but it was never really trying to be a good adaptation. The source material was used as a jumping off point for Verheoven to make the movie he wanted to make.
 

Jake Lipson

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It's a shame that Claudia Wells couldn't return for the sequels to due to her mother's cancer, as I prefer her take on Jennifer to Elisabeth Shue's.
It would have been nice to have Wells back for consistency's sake. But given that that was impossible, I thought the transition to Shue was about as seamless as they could possibly have done. Shue did a good job with what she was given, which wasn't much, considering she kept getting put to sleep. It's not jarring for me when I watch the films together.
 

bujaki

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Springfield Rifle (TCM app) 1952. Gary Cooper in his other '52 western located in Colorado in 1864. Spies and copperheads abound and Cooper poses as a renegade in order to infiltrate the Southern renegades. Ably directed by Andre de Toth with plenty of action sequences. This is not a remastered print but the color (Warner) still holds well.
The Future (Criterion Channel) 2011. My first exposure to Miranda July as a filmmaker/actor/writer. It succeeds in achieving its goals. Their anomie killed the cat. Their navel gazing killed the cat. Their inability to commit killed the cat. Their lifestyle killed the cat. There are some beautiful, poetic moments in the film, but the cat still died. Lucky cat.
They Won't Believe Me (TCM) 1947. We're certainly getting a dose of hommes fatals from Eddie! Robert Young exudes this "je ne sais quoi" magnetism that attracts 3 women (one of them, saved by the bell of an ending, from their doom), as he feebly, or skillfully, moves from one to the other to the other. Conveniently narrated by the accused and never questioned by the DA, the film moves deftly to an ironic ending. The film actually ended a few minutes earlier when Young uttered his final words, his own verdict, to Greer.
Tarzan's Peril (TCM app) 1951. Lex Barker plays our hero. Jane barely registers. Dorothy Dandridge does more than that, much more! Cheetah irritates. A young boy called Nessi substitutes for Boy. George Macready plays a juicy gun-running villain, and it's all shot (except the African location work) by the great Karl Struss.
 
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Dave Moritz

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September 27th, 2020 Sunday

Space 1999: Force Of Life
HD Blu-ray upconverted to 4K
DTS

Force Of Life may be my favorite episode of Space 1999 but I have not seen most of them in so long I will wait and see if that holds.

Space 1999 Set.jpg



Top Gun
4K Blu-ray / Dolby Vision
Dolby Atmos

Top Gun L.jpg


dolby_cinema.png
 
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Adam Lenhardt

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Secret Society of Second-Born Royals
Originally Released: 09/25/2020
Watched: 09/27/2020
4K digital streaming on Disney+

SecretSocietyOfSecond-BornRoyals_2020_Poster.jpg


As far as I know, this is the first original scripted movie made specifically for Disney+, and I was curious to see what the streaming service's level of ambition was for its original films.

Judging by this: not very high. Other the a slightly better cast and slightly better production values, it is exactly what you'd expect from a Disney Channel Original Movie.

Peyton Elizabeth Lee, last seen as the adorable tween protagonist of Disney Channel's coming of age dramedy "Andi Mack", has grown up a bit to play Princess Sam, the angsty and rebellious teenage second-born to the royal family of Europe's smallest fictional kingdom.

She soon discovers that the second-born children of Europe's royal families develop superpowers at a certain age and then are trained as superheroes working as part of a secret society. It's a ridiculous concept, of course, but it's the kind of thing I would have loved back when I was in the target age range.

The problem is that the execution is so lazy. The closest thing to this that I can think of is Sky High, Disney's 2005 feature film about a high school for the children of superheroes. Both movies are inoffensive family-friendly fluff, but Sky High was so much better done. None of the characters in this feel developed, the worldbuilding is virtually non-existent, and the movie's logic feels inconsistent; one minute we're told a coronation is a massive event, with billions of people watching around the world. Five minutes later, there's a massive fight sequence at said coronation, and there are no cameras and no crowds.

If this is the level of Disney+'s original films, it's probably going to be the last one I watch.
 

Matt Hough

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The billing on the poster for They Won't Believe Me is interesting. On the film itself, Hayward gets top billing, but Young gets it on the poster.
 

TJPC

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We are watching through "The Falcon" series recorded from TCM a few years ago. I am always struck by how these '40s b picture series' resemble the early TV shows that will follow half a decade later. We also find it hilarious how there is so little consistencies in the character actors from film to film. The police inspecter etc. seem to be played by whoever was walking through the studio that day. Of course the main actors never notice the difference. I guess they are too busy smoking their brains out. The stock in the Reynolds Tobacco company must have gone up each time one of these was made!
 
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bujaki

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The billing on the poster for They Won't Believe Me is interesting. On the film itself, Hayward gets top billing, but Young gets it on the poster.
Hayward must have had a very strong agent. After all, she was still a relative newcomer, and Young is really the main protagonist of the film.
 

Robert Crawford

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Hayward must have had a very strong agent. After all, she was still a relative newcomer, and Young is really the main protagonist of the film.
I don't know about her being a relative newcomer as she had done a number of movies the last several years prior to this film's release. Also, she got a AA nomination for Best Actress that year with "Smash-Up, The Story of a Woman".
 

bujaki

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Fargo: Season 4 (FX) Episodes 1 and 2. Set in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1950. Setting up the warfare between the settled Italian gang and the Black contingency moving in. We'll where it takes us.
Lamb (Criterion Channel) 2015. Ethiopia. Drought. Famine. A boy is left by his father with relatives. He only has his pet lamb, left behind by his late mother. His relatives see a meal. The boy sees a friend and a memory of better days with his family. He works towards a return to his old home. He realizes that he has to leave his lamb behind, but well tended. He also realizes that his father will never come back. It's time to set off on his own. Beautifully realized film, delineating family dynamics and even religious issues. The family is Christian, but the boy is Jewish on his mother's side, a common occurrence in Ethiopia. This is the first Ethiopian film I've ever seen.
 
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bujaki

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I don't know about her being a relative newcomer as she had done a number of movies the last several years prior to this film's release. Also, she got a AA nomination for Best Actress that year with "Smash-Up, The Story of a Woman".
Oh, she'd been around. One first took notice of her in Beau Geste (1939). She had some leading roles in the mid-'40s, and her AA nomination came in '47, but that wouldn't have affected her billing until the following year. Young, however, had been around since the advent of the talkies. He even defended Helen Hayes in The Sin of Madelon Claudet ('31)!
Let's just say that Hayward was far more attractive (that red mane!) and talented than Young. :)
 

Robert Crawford

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Oh, she'd been around. One first took notice of her in Beau Geste (1939). She had some leading roles in the mid-'40s, and her AA nomination came in '47, but that wouldn't have affected her billing until the following year. Young, however, had been around since the advent of the talkies. He even defended Helen Hayes in The Sin of Madelon Claudet ('31)!
Let's just say that Hayward was far more attractive (that red mane!) and talented than Young. :)
The nomination didn't come until later, but talk of her performance in that movie which was released about four months earlier could have helped her billing.
 
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bujaki

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Alvarez Kelly (TCM app) 1966. Can it be this long since I've watched this film? Holden/Widmark at each other's throats. Janice Rule and Victoria Shaw adding beauty. Dmytryk handling the drama and the action quite well. And this time, the Mexican national almost helped the treacherous Confederacy win the war.
Lightning Strikes Twice (TCM app) 1951. King Vidor fulfilled his WB contract with this crime/noir thriller with shades of Rebecca. The screenplay's fatal flaw is that the juror who swung the second trial for acquittal actually knew the accused, an automatic dismissal as a potential juror. Vidor and DP Hickox have composed a shot around the 55-minute mark that left me gasping for breath. A bold shot of Roman's partial body at left frame, her half body reflected in a huge mirror that is also reflecting a half-body portrait of Richard Todd, while at the right of the frame Vidor placed Kathryn Givney. Three physical planes in one flat shot! I find Ruth Roman, smoking or not, to be quite an attractive woman. Of course, the acting honors go to McCambridge. This film has two femme fatales: a dead one and a live one. You might even say that there are two candidates for hommes fatals honors: one, because of the doubts harboring his innocence or guilt; the other, because of the perfidy revealed near the end.
The Emigrant (Netflix HD) 1994. The story of the biblical Joseph, here called Ram, told from the Arab point of view. It follows the main outline of a family of nomads and a patriarch who favors Ram; jealous brothers who plot against him; Ram ending up in Egypt where he ingratiates himself into the household of a powerful man; his loves and triumphs (no dreams here); and eventual recognition by his brothers and forgiveness; return to his father. The parting from Egypt and return home are handled with emotional restraint and that makes those scenes very moving. The acting is excellent as is the cinematography. The time Ram spends in Egypt is the transitional period from polytheism to short-lived monotheism, but he leaves before it is institutionalized.
Youssef Chahine directed this fine film. Many of his films are currently being shown in Netflix. He is one of the great film directors, responsible also for discovering Omar Sharif.
 

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