Posts Tagged ‘movies’

Science fiction is not particularly my favorite movie genre. I don’t dismiss it, but I’m not necessarily motivated to see films either.

And SOME of the films are, I’ve heard, monumental.

As part of my Lazy Summer Blogging series, here’s the first half of Rotten Tomatoes’ Best Sci-Fi Movies of All Time.

A * indicates one of the paltry number of films I’ve actually seen.
The link in INTERSTELLAR is to my review.

100. A.I. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (2001) – I actually thought to see this at the time. That will be a recurring theme.
99. SPLICE (2010) -barely remember it being advertised.
98. SIGNS (2002) – I guess this was one of the GOOD M. Night Shyamalan films
97. PACIFIC RIM (2013) – had no interest
96. PREDATOR (1987) – one of those Arnold films where you say, “You didn’t see THAT?” I probably had some comic book adaptation, though
95. SUNSHINE (2007) – don’t remember this at all

94. VIDEODROME (1983) – now this I remember being advertised, because director David Cronenberg was practically a god to FantaCo’s horror fans.
I should note that, in addition to selling comic books, FantaCo sold magazines about films, especially horror films, and even published books and magazines and comic books about the sub-genre. It wasn’t my thing, personally, but I became quite conversant about movies that I had never seen, just by reading about them.

* 93. STAR TREK III – THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK (1984) – finally, a film I saw, and at the movies. I was emotionally invested.

92. WAR OF THE WORLDS (2005) – the was the year when we had an infant; we missed LOTS of movies
91. JURASSIC WORLD (2015) – wasn’t interested

90. DREDD (2012) – I actually used to read the comic books, but wasn’t ready for on-screen “bombastic violence”
89. PROMETHEUS (2012) – didn’t need a “quasi-prequel to Alien”

*88. INTERSTELLAR (2014) – I agree that “its intellectual reach somewhat exceeds its grasp”

87. MAD MAX BEYOND THUNDERDOME (1985) – probably saw bits and pieces of this on TV
86. ALIEN: COVENANT (2017) – nah
85. GATTACA (1997) – another “I thought about seeing that”
84. THE THING (1982) – also in the “I was aware of it because of FantaCo”
83. PAPRIKA (2006) – had not heard of this
82. TOTAL RECALL (1990) – another Arnold movie I’ve seen bits and pieces of on TV
81. METROPOLIS (2002) – don’t remember if this played around here

80. PREDESTINATION (2015) – not remembering this at all
79. THEY LIVE (1988) – another John Carpenter film from my FantaCo days
78. STAR TREK VI – THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY (1991) – after the terrible Star Trek V movie, I never saw another Star Trek film until the first reboot; I need to catch up on thesest
77. SERENITY (2005) – came out in the new baby period
76. THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH (1976) – on the list of the films I want to see

*75. STAR WARS: EPISODE VI – RETURN OF THE JEDI (1983) – a suitable ending of that first trilogy

74. RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (2011) – saw the violence of the trailer and opted out
73. STAR WARS: EPISODE III – REVENGE OF THE SITH (2005) – after loathing Star Wars I, never gave II or II a chance

*72. WESTWORLD (1973) – very effective. No, I haven’t seen the more recent iteration.a

71. ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK (1981) – another John Carpenter film from my FantaCo era
70. LOS CRONOCRÍMENES (TIMECRIMES) (2007) – don’t know it

*69. ALTERED STATES (1980) – I LOVED this movie at the time, though I have not seen it since. It “attacks the viewer with its inventive, aggressive mix of muddled sound effects and visual pyrotechnics.”

68. TURBO KID (2015) – don’t recall hearing about this
67. SUPER 8 (2011) – yet another “I was going to see that
66. AKIRA (1988) – thought it’s animated, I sensed it was too violent for my taste
65. MIDNIGHT SPECIAL (2016) – not remembering this
64. TWELVE MONKEYS (12 MONKEYS) (1995) – considered seeing this and didn’t for some reason
63. THE ABYSS (1989) – not the only James Cameron film on this list I haven’t seen
62. AVATAR (2009) – this one, for instance, only the #2 all-time domestic grossing film (and #15, even accounting for inflation)

*61. ROBOCOP (1987) – I found it a “surprisingly smart sci-fi flick that uses ultraviolence to disguise its satire of American culture.”

*60. STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN (1982) – my favorite Star Trek movie, and the one that was most parodied. “KHAAAAAAN!”

*59. THE MATRIX (1999) – I was glad to have seen this, not enough to see the sequels, mind you.

58. STAR TREK BEYOND (2016) – I hadn’t seen the previous film when this came out; I’ll probably catch it sometime.
57. THE HUNGER GAMES (2012) – I know it’s a YA favorite, but I suspect it’s too violent for the Daughter’s taste, and probably mine
56. ATTACK THE BLOCK (2011) – from the Shaun of the Dead people, but I don’t know it
55. MOON (2009) – don’t know it at all
54. THX 1138 (1971) – I suppose I OUGHT to see George Lucas’ feature

*53. PLANET OF THE APES (1968) – I was really taken by this film when it first came out, even before I knew Rod Serling had written the screenplay from Pierre Boule’s novel.

52. GALAXY QUEST (1999) – I had intended to see this but did not
51. MAD MAX (1979) – I’ve seen bits of this on TV; looked intriguing

Meh, 9 of 50. The next fifty next week; I’ve seen a lot more of them.

The Big Sick is your typical boy-meets-girl, girl-breaks-up-with-boy, girl-gets-very-sick, boy-meets-girl’s-parents rom com. OK, that was a bit cheeky, but not entirely incorrect.

The one-night stand that became a romance between stand-up comedian Kumail (Kumail Nanjiani) and grad student Emily (Zoe Kazan) is the starting off point of the film. Yet it was Kumail dealing with her mother Beth (Holly Hunter) and father Terry (Ray Romano) which drives much of the middle of the film.

Also intriguing is Kumail dealing with his own parents, Sharmeen (Zenobia Shroff) and and Azmat (Anupam Kher), the former of whom is especially busy trying to fix him up with a nice Muslim girl.
.
The Big Sick is based on the real-life courtship between Kamail and Emily V. Gordon, and written by them. I saw Kamail on The Daily Show recently talking about the writing process. On some of their real dates, they had radically different recollections of how a certain date played out, and they used that conflict in the script.

The movie showed real insights into the culture clash, the emotional tug-of-war between his family and his heart, without being pedantic. It manages to be quite funny while at the same time dealing with the emotions surrounding Emily’s …well, see the title.

I was really fond of this movie, and if anything, my wife more so, which we saw, naturally, at the Spectrum Theater in Albany. “They” say write what you know, and in plagiarizing their own experiences, Nanjiani and Gordon have avoid hitting any false notes. And in the current political atmosphere, it even seems especially timely.

The Big Sick was directed by Michael Showalter and produced by Judd Apatow. Some believe that, like some other Apatow works, it was too long, but at at a tick under two hours, I thought it was just right

Here’s the trailer. See the movie!


Random Final JEOPARDY! answer: Later an Oscar winner, she appeared as the child baptized towards the end of “The Godfather”. Question at the end.

I could have waited to watch the new movie Paris Can Wait. But it was something my wife wanted to see. And it had Diane Lane, who I think is the bee’s knees. So off we went to the Spectrum Theatre in Albany while the Daughter was out of town.

From Rotten Tomatoes:
“When her director husband is occupied with work in Paris, an American woman takes a jaunt with his business associate, a charming Gallic rogue who is happy to squire her on a tour of some of the finest meals in Provence. The first feature directed by Eleanor Coppola, wife of Francis and director of the “Apocalypse Now” documentary ‘Hearts of Darkness’.”

Alec Baldwin is playing pretty much the same role I’ve seen him in another movie, Michael, the distracted husband, who is too busy to see that his wife Anne (Lane) is not particularly engaged in life.

This film looked REALLY nice, with the sights and sounds across France. The food looked particularly great. Yet for much of the time, I just did not care about the heavy-duty flirtation by Jacques (Arnaud Viard).

In fact, in some ways I felt that that Anne had left the controlling neediness of Michael, to the controlling side tripping of Jacques, and I found this actually irritating.

It wasn’t until fairly late in the film that the audience realizes a particular linkage between Anne and Jacques, by which point I did not much care.

Some reviewer suggested that it was that Viard is not classically handsome, but I don’t think that was the problem.

my spouse enjoyed Paris Can Wait far more than I.

Random Final JEOPARDY! question: Who is Sofia Coppola, the daughter of Francis Ford Coppola and Eleanor Coppola. So as Trebek noted, “She had an in in getting the role.”


The three of us saw Beauty and the Beast on the marquee of the Madison Theatre, not too far from our house. I’d seen the 1991 animated film when it was released, though not since.

Still, I was ambivalent about seeing the live-action adaptation. I feared that it would be, in the words of one critic, “a straightforward retelling of the original, with a few cosmetic changes tacked on to make it look like something else.”

Not so, IMO. Some old songs were in, including one of my favorite Disney villain songs ever, “Gaston,” – Josh Gad’s sycophant is used well here – but other tunes were switched out, making it aurally satisfying.

Maybe it was getting to hear six-time Tony winner Audra McDonald sing very early on, but I bought into the magic almost instantly. Then I got to enjoy Emma Watson in a role other than that of Hermione Granger. There was a dinner scene between the principals which reminded me of some Esther Williams film.

Somehow, I was more intrigued by her rejection of Gaston (Luke Evans) here than in the animated version. This Belle was more clever, with her back story better explained, including her relationship with her father (Kevin Kline) and late mother.

Now, an article in Sojourner points to a fundamental flaw in Beauty and the Beast, and worse in its predecessor: “[It] still ends with the heroine finding her prince charming, the titular Beast, in a way that isn’t entirely healthy. Their relationship starts out with her being held captive in his castle…

“It would take a monster overhaul to fix what’s always been the central problem of this story — a smart, independent woman sticking with a partner who’s prone to unpredictable bouts of violence… That uncomfortable aspect [is] a problem that added musical numbers won’t solve.”

The piece isn’t wrong. Yet I choose to appreciate what joys the film provided. Hearing Stanley Tucci, Ian McKellan, Emma Thompson, and Ewan MacGregor, then seeing them at the end. The one thing I will note is that, in seeing [spoiler?] the Beast (Dan Stevens) transformed to human form, I’d gotten so intrigued by the look of his alter ego that the prince appeared pretty bland.

2011: the Daughter, niece Alex, niece Rebecca


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From Dan – Hebdomadal: “Spell checker likes it. Means something that happens once a week every seven days, used especially for organizations. It’s not considered archaic, although usage was more common in the 1800s. Saw it in a (paper) book first published in 1986 that I am currently reading, used without a trace of irony.” Wouldn’t “weekly” do?

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