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The Caustic Critic's Movie Explo!

I have been watching a lot of movies lately. I have discovered a nifty feature of the cable which allows me to scroll through just the movie listings, choosing the movies I want to DVR with ease.
Not great for my social life, but excellent for my movie watching.

1. Two Mules for Sister Sara - A great 1970 western featuring a typically feisty Shirley MacLaine, Clint Eastwood during that 15 seconds he was attractive, some rad explosions, and an unexpected twist at the end. Highly recommended.

2. The Jubilee Trail -- I must admit that I'm partial to this one not because it's particularly good, but because I own the book it's based on and love it. It does have some nice strong female characters--rarities in 1950s westerns. The book (of the same title, written by Gwen Bristow) is much better though, and includes a lot more of the history of California's entry to the USA. A little predictable but not unpleasant.

3. The Guns of Fort Petticoat -- Another 50s western (I have to admit, I kind of love westerns.) An AWOL Union soldier holes up with a bunch of women in a Texas mission during the Civil War and fights off renegade Indians. Another tough woman movie. Corny but amusing.

4. The Ballad of Josie -- I have to say that Doris Day westerns always disappoint me (my basis of comparison being both this film and the more charming but equally disappointing Calamity Jane). She starts off as this strong female character determined to accomplish something, and she accomplishes it, only to find that what REALLY makes her happy is a nice man and a pretty dress. Boooo. Interesting fact I learned: women in Wyoming actually had to give UP the vote when the state joined the US.

5. Stop or My Mom Will Shoot -- Yes, I know this is trash. Yes, I am aware that most of my loyal readers would rather jam a rusty fork coated in salt into both their eyes rather than watch it. That said, I liked it. I really have this deep-seated enjoyment of Stallone doing comedy. There is something about his hulking form, pervasive head-cold voice, and marginally mobile face that is hilarious to me. This one is not nearly as good as Demolition Man or Tango & Cash but it's an acceptable way to kill 90 minutes.

6. O Brother, Where Art Thou? -- I personally wasn't particularly interested in this one, but The Boyfriend is crazy about bluegrass music, so I gave it a try. It turned out to be surprisingly good. It's certainly no Big Lebowski, and I am still on the fence as to how I feel about George Clooney, but it wasn't bad. I actually enjoyed the music a lot, and I found it cinematically impressive if nothing else. Supposedly this is based on Homer's 'Odyssey' but unfortunately I never read that when it was assigned to me so I wouldn't know.

7. The Poseidon Adventure (Original Version) -- Pretty good for a disaster movie. I'm very partial to films in which a bunch of mismatched characters are forced to band together and conquer something, so this one definitely appealled to me. Gene Hackman and Ernest Borgnine were both excellent, but I have to say Shelly Winters really stole the show. The special effects weren't great, but they were acceptable, and on the whole I enjoyed it. In any case, it was good to see such an iconic movie, and now I'll know what to expect when I see the remake.

8. King Arthur -- Another kick-ass woman! Great to see Gwenivere slicing people up and running around punching everyone instead of weeping in a corner someplace. Kiera Knightly seems to have a knack for this type of role, and I say let her keep playing them. Clive Owen is quite good as Arthur, and I was impressed with the performances of all the secondary characters as well. It's an interesting historical perspective on the Arthurian legend which I appreciated. Not to mention some totally rad battle scenes.

9. Broken Trail -- This is another western, but in my defense it is new. It's a TNT original, and it wasn't bad. Two ranchers running horses up to Wyoming meet and rescue a group of Chinese girls who were sold into sexual slavery. The cultural awkwardness as well as the danger the men face from the girls' frustrated buyers make for an interesting tale, though I thought perhaps a little less time should have been spent on sweeping cinematic views of high country scenery and a little more into character development or smooth story progression. The Chinese women were difficult to differentiate, the story was jumpy, and the cowboys could have had considerably more depth. Probably should have been a mini-series instead of a two-part movie.

10. Dawn of the Dead (Remake) -- Not sure why I thought it would be a good idea to watch this, as zombie movies give me the heebie-jeebies. Since I DVR'd it, I managed to fast forward through most of the really gory gross parts. The performances were acceptable, and there were still a couple points that really creeped me out. I won't give it away, but the bloody whiteboard gave me an extremely nasty turn. I ahve to admit, one of my main thoughts was "Doesn't this mall have a leather store? 'Cause if it were me, and I was thinking about venturing across the parking lot or wherever, I'd want to be outfitted in head-to-toe bike leathers or something. Not that they'd be a LOT of protection, but something that's designed to protect your skin from asphalt at 30mph should offer at least a little resistance to zombie teeth." Not a bad flick--probably attracts me for the same reasons I described re: The Poseidon Adventure.

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