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The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Mostly enjoyable second tier Scorsese
Despite it's many flaws, "The Wolf of Wall Street" is a watchable movie. It's not nearly as good as many of director Martin Scorsese's other movies but it's not one of his weaker ones either. It does go on way too long. Comedies aren't supposed to be three hours. Three hours is a long time to spend with very unlikeable people. The cast does a nice job, for the most part. (I could have done without Matthew McConaughey's channeling of Dennis Hopper.) While I was watching "The Wolf of Wall Street" I kept thinking that material was beneath Scorsese. It's way too raunchy for a director of Scorsese's caliber. Every time I watch this movie I have the same reaction: "What's the point?". I just spend three hours with a bunch of jerks and I don't know why.
Is this Bakshi's best movie? Maybe
"Coonskin" is one for the books. It's wild and outrageous. It's a genuinely trippy experience. There was a long stretch where I had no idea what was going on but I was digging every second of it. Ralph Bakshi was a one of a kind filmmaker but not all of his films were successes. Many of his films are near misses. Not "Coonskin". "Coonskin" hits the target again and again. It somehow feels more current every time I watch it. This might be Ralph Bakshi's best movie. "Coonskin" hit the spot last night (as it always does). I plan on watching it again before the weekend is over.
I saw "Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back" in the the theater. I saw the "Special Edition" in the theater too. I've seen it many times at home. Every time I watch "The Empire Strikes Back" I remember how the audience reacted. I remember when they laughed and I remember when they cheered. Few movies can bring be back to the theater experience like this movie. I don't watch "The Empire Strikes Back" as much as I watch the original Star Wars but I still have seen it a bunch of times. It's always an easy watch.
Ice Age (2002)
Very funny and quite moving
"Ice Age" is always better than I remember it being. The animation takes a little getting used to but once I do the movie is a lot of fun. There are quite a few big laughs in this movie. As much as I don't normally enjoy John Leguizamo I must admit that he's great in this movie. His character is very funny. He gets most of the big laughs. The rest of the cast is also good but this is Leguizamo's movie. "Ice Age" always hits the spot.
The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1968)
I was on board with "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter" for the first twenty minutes or so. After that it began its slow decent into 1960s melodrama. By the time time it was over I was sorry I ever sat down to watch it. "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter" has a strong cast but their nice performances aren't enough to make this movie worth a second viewing.
Gojira tai Mekagojira (1974)
A lot of fun
I got a kick out of "Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla". It's totally ridiculous and I liked every minute of it. The monsters are terrific. Their fight scenes are a lot of fun. The story doesn't really matter. Those scenes just allow us to catch our breath between brawls. I plan on watching this movie again very soon.
The Big Chill (1983)
An okay time killer
I've always said that if "The Big Chill" didn't have any music, nobody would have liked it. It was that soundtrack that made this movie the hit it was. I first saw this movie was in the theater (Glen Oaks, NY). I saw it a bunch of times after that. It's okay. It has a few funny jokes, a couple of nice moments and a lot of great music. It also a pretty weak script and a very annoying Glenn Close. Every time she shows up everything grinds to a halt. I've seen "The Big Chill" a bunch of times and I'm sure watch it a bunch more. When there's nothing else to watch, it's fine. Honorable mention: a dreamy Meg Tilly.
Straight Time (1978)
Dustin Hoffman's classic
Dustin Hoffman has made quite a few great movies but none of them are better than "Straight Time". This movie is an edge-of-your-seat experience. There is tension throughout. Even its tender moments have an edge to them. The cast is top-notch. There are terrific performances across the board. This movie never gets old. "Straight Time" is a probably the best crime movie ever made.
Spielberg's follow up to "Jaws" is almost as good
Sometimes I forgot how really good "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" is. It's a great movie. The early films of director Steve Spielberg are hard to beat. "Close Encounters..." is one of his best films. This movie has one great moment after another. The cast is top-notch. The photography and the special effects are great. The music is also very good. I first saw this movie in the theater (Bellerose, NY). I've seen it many times since. It's a great piece of entertainment. Honorable mention: the always dreamy duo of Teri Garr and Melinda Dillon.
Not so hot
I first saw "Hook" in the theater (Lynbrook, NY). I've seen it quite a few times after that. I don't know why because it isn't that good. It a big and noisy and not that much fun. The sets are impressive and so is Dustin Hoffman's performance but the rest of the movie is pretty weak. Director Steven Spielberg has made his fair share of good movies but he made his fair share of duds like "Hook" too. I sure I'll watch "Hook" again but I still don't know why I bother. Dishonorable mention: the non-stop music.
A childhood favorite
I couldn't say how many times I've seen "Westworld". All I know is that I've seen it a bunch. Today was the first time I watched it in a while. It still hits the spot. It does have a couple of dips along the way but, for the most part, it's a fun ride. The cast is good as is the script and direction by Michael Crichton. I've never really been that big a fan of Crichton's books but that guy knew how to make movies. "Westworld" is a solid sci-fi adventure that never gets old.
Crocodile Dundee II (1988)
Good natured fun
Sure you can nit-pick a movie like "Crocodile Dundee II" but why would you want to? It's as harmless as they come. The movie looks great. Its location photography, both in New York and Australia, is top-notch. The story is okay and the jokes are funny. The main thing this movie has going for it is Paul Hogan. It's impossible not to enjoy him in this movie. I first saw this movie in the theater (MovieWorld, Douglaston, NY). I've seen it a bunch of times since but last night was the first time I watched it in quite a wild. I really enjoy "Crocodile Dundee II". It's an easy watch.
The Slumber Party Massacre (1982)
The dreamy looking cast makes it worth the watch
"The Slumber Party Massacre" is a paint-by-numbers "80s slasher movie. It's okay but its nothing special. The main thing this one has going for it is its very attractive cast. The girls in this movie make it worth the visit. The large amount of nudity doesn't hurt either.
The Passion of the Christ (2004)
Few movies pack a punch like writer/director Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ". It's an emotionally draining movie. It's also a physically draining experience. It's a movie that stays with for days (or longer). I first saw this movie in the theater (Regal Westbury, NY). I've seen it quite a few times since. I don't watch it as much as I should because its impact is so strong that it takes me a while to recover. There's no way it can fit into a living room double feature. No other movie can match the power of "The Passion of the Christ".
Bugsy Malone (1976)
A semi-creepy curiosity piece
"Bugsy Malone" is not a very easy movie to get through. Are they supposed to be kids or are they supposed to be adults? They act like adults. Their dubbed in singing voices sound like adults. The dance hall girls are all dressed liked adults. I don't know, it's all kind of weird. It's certainly more weird than it is fun. The only thing "Bugsy Malone" has going for it are Paul Williams's songs but they are hit and miss (mostly miss). I've tried watching "Bugsy Malone" quite a few times over the years. I've only managed to make it to the end a handful of times. That says it all.
I don't know if I was laughing with "The Bowery Boys Meet the Monsters" or if I was laughing at it. A little of bit of both I guess. Either way I did laugh quite a bit during this movie. Leo Gorcey and Huntz Hall are in pretty good form, as is the rest of the cast. There is also a strangely attractive Laura Mason around to help things out. "...Meet the Monsters" isn't the best Bowery Boys movies but it's not the worst either. Overall, I enjoyed the hour I spent with the Boys.
Straw Dogs (1971)
A borderline masterpiece
"Straw Dogs" is an amazing movie. It doesn't matter how many times I've seen it (and I've seen it a bunch) it never loses its impact. Director Sam Peckinpah and company hit the ball out if the park with this one. Knockout performances across the board. There's tension from the opening scene to the last. It's an edge-of-your-seat experience that never fades. "Straw Dogs" is another strong entry in Sam Peckinpah's Hall of Fame resume. Honorable mention: a wildly dreamy Susan George.
News of the World (2020)
Top shelf every step of the way
I wanted to see "News of the World" when it was in the theater but it didn't work out. I thought it was going to be a pretty good movie but I didn't think it was going to be as good as it actually is. It's excellent. It's a beautiful movie to look at. The music is really the good. The cast is top-notch with knockout performances by Tom Hanks and Helena Zengel. "News of the World" is a great movie that I plan on watching again real soon.
Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)
Simplicity at its finest
You can explain the plot of "Assault on Precinct 13" in one sentence. That doesn't take anything away from the movie. In fact, that's part of what makes it so great. "Assault on Precinct 13" is a terrific meat and potatoes thriller. Writer/director John Carpenter is one of my favorites and this movie is one of the reasons why. Carpenter wastes no time in this movie. It hits the ground running and never stops. It might be the fastest 90 minute movie ever made. "Assault on Precinct 13" is an edge-of-your-seat experience that never gets old.
The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Heavy handed and way too long Part 3
I've seen "The Dark Knight Rises" three times now. It doesn't get any better but it doesn't get any worse either. The main problem this movie has is its cast. It's like a Who's Who list of annoying/uninteresting actors. None of them bring anything to the table. (As far as the always overrated Tom Hardy goes, any of the guys who played Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers could have done Bane just as well.) Another problem is the length. It takes nearly three hours to build up to an unexciting and unsatisfying finish. Despite a few good moments, "The Dark Knight Rises" ends up being an endurance test. Dishonorable mention: making Michael Caine cry.
Return of the Bad Men (1948)
Another solid Scott western
If Randolph Scott were a baseball player, he wouldn't be known for his home run hitting power. He would be known as a solid line drive hitter. He would definitely hit for a high batting average. "Return of the Bad Men" is another example of Scott hitting a double down the line. This movie has a nice cast and the B&W photography is terrific. "Return of the Bad Men" is not one of Randolph Scott's best movies but it still a pretty good one.
An easy watch
"Batman" is not a perfect movie. It doesn't flow as well as it should at times but, overall, it is a fun movie. It is a great example of a big time '80s pre-CGI action movie. The movie looks great. The set design is very good. The costumes are also really good. The cast is good with very strong performances from Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson. Having the always dreamy Kim Basinger around doesn't hurt either. I first saw "Batman" in the theater (Sunrise Multiplex, Valley Stream, NY). I've seen it a bunch of times since. My feelings towards the movie haven't changed much. I still like it.
Love and Monsters (2020)
Who doesn't love a movie with a great dog?
What a nice surprise "Love and Monsters" turned out to be. I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I sat down to watch this movie. It turned out to be a lot of fun. Post-apocalyptic comedies are quickly becoming one of my favorite genres. "Love and Monsters" fits right in with the best of them. The movie is suspenseful and very funny. It looks great and has very good music. The cast is top-notch with standout performances by Dylan O'Brien and Michael Rooker. This might be Rooker's best work. "Love and Monsters" totally hit the spot. I plan on watching it again real soon.
Damien: Omen II (1978)
A classic from my youth
I first saw "Damien: Omen II" in the theater (Bellerose, NY). I've seen it a bunch of times since. It's a great movie. It has a great look to it with terrific location photography. The cast is also very good, especially Jonathan Scott-Taylor. Scott-Taylor was born to play the role of Damien. This movie may not be scary but it is very suspenseful with one great kill scene after another. Today was the first time I watched "Damien: Omen II" in quite a while. It totally hit the spot. It's one of those rare sequels that actually better than the original.
The biggest surprise of 2021
When I sat down to watch "The Very Excellent Mr. Dundee" I wasn't expecting very much (especially after the not-so-hot "Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles"). It turns out this movie is a lot of fun. I laughed quite a bit and smiled even more. This movie has goodwill to spare. The cast is very likeable. The movie moves well and ends very nicely. I have nothing bad to say about "The Very Excellent Mr. Dundee". I've already decided to buy it for my brother for Christmas. Honorable mention: a very dreamy Crystal Della Posta.