Friday, April 15, 2011

Dead Poets Society, Dr. Strange, Star Wars and more

I just watched the movie Dead Poets Society again for about the fifth time, this time on Netflix.

I thought Robin Williams' work was excellent. It kept your attention any time he was on the screen.

I've always thought the boys did a wonderful job as well, especially Ethan Hawke. Two of the boys almost looked like brothers. And I had to skip the part where Neil killed himself.


I watched the Dr. Strange movie a few days ago, and it was very much like the comic books I read decades ago.

The only thing that bothered me was how quickly Benedict Cumberbatch's Strange went from a novice to a master. You can't expect realism in a comic-book movie about the occult, but this was hard to take. On the other hand, a bumbling Strange wouldn't have been worth watching.

I probably won't see it again, but it's worth watching once. I loved the way Strange "overcame" the dreaded Dormammu.


I just watched a Netflix DVD of The Force Awakens, the most recent Star Wars movie, and it didn't really take off until Han Solo showed up part way through it. When he died, the movie was still exciting, but I felt lost.

That ending, where Rey meets Luke Skywalker, reminded me a bit of the end of the Star Trek movie Search for Spock. Spock just stood there at the end, and Luke did that here. I wish he had done SOMETHING.

I will say that I enjoyed it more than the prequel trilogy featuring Darth Vader and Padme.


I've loved science-fiction movies for years, and today I bought a movie from the library called Red Planet. Obviously it's about a team going to Mars, and (SPOILER) most of them die.

Val Kilmer is the big star (along with Benjamin Bratt, Simon Baker, Terence Stamp and a few others. Kilmer showed a side or two I'd never seen before (he played a flawed but likable character), and I liked the movie.

And, as expected, I saw a few things that I hadn't noticed when I viewed it before. At some point, I'll watch it again.


I used to read the X-Men comics when I was a kid, and I'm still interested. I enjoyed the first Wolverine movie, but I hated the one in Tokyo.

I figured out immediately about Yashida's death and the identity of the person in the super samurai suit; snooze. Wolverine's loss of his healing powers was interesting, but overall, I didn't care. Simple.


I recently watched Oblivion, the Tom Cruise apocalyptic movie, and enjoyed it immensely. I didn't figure out the secret of the movie before the main clues were shown, so I was on the edge of my seat until the end. Well done.


I just watched the third movie in the Christian Bale/Batman trilogy, the one with Bane as the bad guy, and the main thing that bothered me was the length, around two hours, 45 minutes.

The best thing, oddly enough, was the ending. I watched it about four times, and it made the movie worth watching.

The weird thing, though, was that the hugely-muscled Bane almost had an old man's voice.


I went into the movie Skyfall with some trepidation. I can't say I'd enjoyed the first two Daniel Craig Bond movies, but reviewers had been kind to this one. And I got it through Netflix.

I loved this one. When they brought out the Austin-Healey and played the old Bond music, I sat forward in my seat and was on pins and needles the rest of the way. I won't spoil the ending; I'll just say it was sad and then hopeful. I watched the ending at least twice.

There will be more Bond (I hope the next one is as good).

P.S.: I didn't like the new Q, although I was happy to learn that Q stands for the quartermaster division (which dispenses cars and other gadgets for Bond to destroy). I'd always wondered.


I hadn't planned to see the movie The Amazing Spider-Man, but I found a free copy at the library. I was bored at the beginning because I was watching old territory (the origin story for Spider-Man), but Gwen Stacy picked it up more than a bit.

When it got going, I thought it was wonderful. I think Spidey learned his way too quickly, though, but they didn't have time for more. I loved the way they handled the ending, and I watched it twice.


I pretty much hated the movie Men In Black 3, but I kept watching because of the kind things reviewers had said about the ending. I watched the entire movie, and the ending was worth the wait. The young guy did a nice job of channeling Tommy Lee JonesI actually would give the movie a higher rating simply because of the ending.

Maybe a 3. Or a high 2.

Fortunately, I got it with my Netflix membership, so it was no big deal. I did, however, watch the ending at least twice (that's becoming a trend; this is the third straight movie mentioned here in which I watched the ending multiple times).


I've become a fan of horse movies -- I recently watched the movie version of "Dead Cert," Dick Francis' first horse-racing mystery novel, and I watch nearly every western I can find.

Now Disney has released "Secretariat," the story of the Triple Crown winner of 1973. I wonder why it took them 37 years to make the movie.

Here's a NY Times review. Me? I liked it. Secretariat's stretch run in the Belmont is exciting, and they did a nice job of finding horses to play the great one. I have the movie in my Netflix queue so I can watch it again.

As for "Dead Cert," a 1974 movie featuring Judi Dench, I enjoyed seeing Francis' vision on screen, but it's not a great movie.


I watched the movie The Blind Side last night and was a little disappointed. The story was much like I'd expected — I'd read about Michael Oher before — but it wasn't the great movie I'd heard it was. It was a nice movie, but it certainly didn't compare with Hoosiers, Bull Durham and Miracle, my favorite sports movies.

It was realistic, though, in the game scenes and the NCAA investigation. I especially liked him stuffing that obnoxious No. 66 into a trash dumpster.

I just found a movie called The Big Year. I'd never heard of it, but I picked it up at the library because of the cast (Steve Martin, Owen Wilson, Jack Black, Brian Dennehy and Dianne Wiest, among others).

I found the birders irritating at first, but I found the humanity endearing (and the rest irritating). I was afraid one of my favorite character actors, Dennehy, would get killed off, but that turned out to be one of the better story lines in the movie.

Interestingly, and appropriately, the biggest winners in the movie weren't the ones who saw the most birds.

I liked it enough that I've seen it again since I wrote this.


Today, I found the movie The Magic of Belle Isle, featuring Morgan Freeman and Virginia Madsen, two of my favorite actors. I wasn't disappointed; it made me want to live on Belle Isle, too.

I'll have to watch it again with commentary.

Oh, I think my favorite part came at a little girl's party, when Madsen had a butterfly painted on her face and a little girl painted something on Freeman's face. Sorry, I couldn't tell what it was.


I recently watched the James Cameron movie Avatar and was amazed at the graphics. It's beyond anything I've seen, particularly movies that mix live and CG images. The story was OK, but almost any story would pale before the images.


I found a delightful movie the other day called Diminished Capacity. The top two billings go to Matthew Broderick and Virginia Madsen, but Alan Alda makes the movie as an old man with a baseball card and a failing memory. I loved the way Broderick's character, who also was diminished because of a head bump, saved the day at the end.
I had never heard of the movie before, but I'll watch it again.


I didn't remember the story of The Miracle of the Bells, but my wife and I thoroughly enjoyed the movie last night. Frank Sinatra seemed miscast as the priest, but he was believable. Fred MacMurray was fine as the lead actor, and Alida Valli was tremendous as the young woman who has one chance to be a lead actress. Valli even had two death scenes, and she aced both of them.
It made me almost sorry that I'd never seen it before.


I was a little sad when I recently watched the Batman: The 1943 Serial Collection: Disc 1 from Netflix. I wanted to love it, but it was tough. The star, Lewis Wilson, was excellent as Bruce Wayne but only passable as Batman. His "horns" were distracting (not in a good way), and the story was silly. I had gotten my hopes up for an excellent story line. Sorry.

The most interesting thing was finding J. Carrol Naish playing the sinister Japanese operative, Dr. Tito Daka. I'd seen Naish before, playing Lt. Gen. Philip Sheridan in the John Ford/John Wayne/Maureen O'Hara classic Rio Grande, one of my favorite westerns. In the Batman serial, the wavy-haired Naish seemed an odd choice. He might have made a good Mr. Moto, though.

I won't get Disc 2, but don't be too harsh ... the character was only four years old at this point and had room to grow. Batman got better through the years.


Entries from The Dog Blog

Blog entries from The Auto Racing Journal
(a book of great stories about the Intimidator)
(the book of great NASCAR stories)

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