Skip to main content

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.


Popular posts from this blog

CR3 # 17: Mount Misery by Samuel Shem

Mount Misery is the sequel to Samuel Shem's first book, House of God (review here). It follows Dr. Roy Basch as he leaves the House of God and moves to psychiatric hospital Mount Misery to begin his psychiatric residency. Unfortunately, it turns out that psychiatrists are just as crazy, confused, and often detrimental as medical doctors. As Dr. Basch cycles through the various sectors of the hospital (talk therapy, admissions, Freudian Analysis, drug therapy) he is horrified to discover that it seems everything he is being taught is not only wrong, but potentially dangerous. He begins to fall into terrible patterns of behavior, mirroring the problems his patients are having. Each area is worse than the last, with one doctor who thinks the best way to treat is to be aggressively hostile, one who cares only about insurance premiums and efficiency, one who treats with silence and "regression," and one who thinks the only viable treatment is to pump every patient full of exp…

CR3 #30: The First Wives Club by Olivia Goldsmith

I saw the movie of The First Wives Club before I read the book. It's a cute chick flick, in which scorned women take comedic revenge on their former spouses. They become better friends and everyone winds up happy in the end. I was somewhat surprised (though not much--the differences between film and literature are often wide) at how different the book was--I am used to changes in plot or small character changes (combining two characters into one, or perhaps changing to a more pleasant ending) but the major change here between novel and movie was the tone.

The story is basically the same; After a close friend's suicide, three middle-aged female friends get together and beginning reviewing their lives. They realize that much like their late friend, they have been screwed over by the men in their lives--the men used them to get to their high social and financial positions, then screwed them over both personally and financially. The three women decide to use their wits and their co…

CBR9 #5 Borgin Keep by Ron Ripley

I've read the entire Berkeley Street series, as well as the Haunted series, and I think this was definitely one of the better offerings. This time, former Marine Shane and his slowly growing band of willing (and unwilling) ghost hunting allies face their biggest challenge yet. While the ghosts of Borgin Keep are both very dangerous and very evil, Shane also must keep one step ahead of The Watchers, a ruthless and powerful organization who find him to be a threat to their shadowy goals.

As always, for me the best part are the characters. Shane and his ghost-hunting partner Frank (a former soldier/former monk) are joined once again by police detective Marie LaFontaine, who is a very tough woman determined to avenge a dead friend. I'm not as fond of Shane's girlfriend Courtney, but I understand her uses as far as character development.

The plot moves along quickly, and I found this book a little better fleshed out than a few of the previous ones in the series -- while I enjoye…