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Started by overthejordan, May 17, 2019, 11:40:50 PM

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The American Society of Magical Negroes (2024)

This movie offers a literal take on the "magical negro" trope in film and other media, in which a black supporting character selflessly helps the white protagonist to achieve his or her (usually his) goals. This is a funny concept, but the film does not know what to do with it and so it turns into a generic romantic comedy with some heavy handed racial commentary. On the more positive side, the cast do their best with the material and it is pretty watchable, despite its flaws.

Grade: C


Quote from: Hegemony on May 26, 2024, 01:03:10 AMI know the studio expected this to be a blockbuster, and then it wasn't. But that doesn't mean it's badly done. Indeed I think the script may be a little too clever for genre expectations. So audiences stayed away, apparently. But everyone I know who's seen it has relished it.

I was a little surprised to hear that this movie was considered to be kind of a flop when it has made a fair amount of money, and people seem to like it.  I guess it didn't live up to whatever overblown expectations the studio had for it.  We both want to see it, so I'll be sure to keep an eye/ear out for the cleverness!

Quote from: Sun_Worshiper on May 27, 2024, 09:55:27 PMThe American Society of Magical Negroes (2024)

This one sounded and looked from the preview as though it could be really hit or miss.  Very interesting premise but difficult to execute, and it sounds like they weren't very successful.

Over the long weekend, we watched South Pacific (1958), Inherit the Wind (1960), and 12 Angry Men (1957).  The first triggered the other two because we saw them recommended afterward and realized they would be leaving Prime in the next week. So we put off our planned movies and fit them in instead.  I took my mother to the 2008-10 revival of South Pacific at Lincoln Center, and I fell in love with it.  I wish there had been a recording of that performance.  The movie was enjoyable to watch but suffered from a few issues.  One is the weird color filters that they apply at various times (during songs? sometimes not?) that I think the director regretted later.  Another is that most of the voices are dubbed.  Some viewers apparently thought the dubbing was not very successful, but I'm not sure I would have been able to tell if I hadn't known in advance.  The story itself is dated and though it pushed some boundaries in terms of confronting racism has aspects that would be considered problematic today.  Unfortunately, one of the best songs (IMO), "Younger than Springtime" is about a romance with some troublesome power dynamics.  Still, I think it's a beautiful song.  I saw Matthew Morrison (from Glee) as Lt Joseph Cable.  I prefer his voice to that from the movie:  I think this has one of the best soundtracks!

Inherit the Wind is based on the Scopes Monkey Trial about the teaching of evolution and the legal showdown between Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryant.  Spencer Tracy as Henry Drummond (based on Darrow) is captivating.  I think that though the story isn't completely true to the historical fact, it showcases some of the hypocrisies and struggles with trying to uphold the word of the Bible at any cost.  12 Angry Men is another great courtroom drama but is one that takes place almost entirely in the jury room as the jury tries to come to consensus on the verdict for a murder trial.  That one is also very intense not just due to the heated debate/argument but also to each man's personal qualms and introspection.  I think I had seen both of these movies before, but they are always worth a rewatch.


We watched Biloxi Blues (1988) and The Birdcage* (1996) this past weekend, both directed by Mike Nichols (we discovered that after the fact).  I think we will give them both 7s/10, though I'd lean more toward 7.5 if they had that as a possibility.  BB was a Neil Simon play and feels like it.  It's part of a trilogy, including Brighton Beach Memoirs and Broadway Bound focusing on Eugene Jerome (Matthew Broderick), a young Jewish guy from NY who joins the Army in 1945 and ends up traveling by train down to hot MS for boot camp.  He wants to be a writer and to fall in love (and to lose his virginity).  I don't know if this would be considered a coming-of-age film or a slice-of-life film, or both, or neither, but it's oddly compelling considering that not too much happens. 

We watched The Birdcage on the first day of Pride month.  I had seen it before, but it hits a little differently these days.  The story is about a man (Robin Williams) who owns a drag nightclub down in South Beach Miami who has what might be considered a non-traditional household.  His son from a long-ago heterosexual fling is getting married! But it's to a conservative politician running heavily on a morality platform.  Obviously, some havoc must ensue when the families are forced to meet.  But beyond the hilarity, I think they did a good job of portraying the hurt and damage that comes from trying to force someone to be someone they aren't and making them feel as though they are not right or not enough.  There are some iconic performances in this movie, and I'm sure I will be watching it again sometime.  Just watching the trailer again now made me want to watch it again.

*Note that there is another movie called The Bird Cage (1996) that does not star Robin Williams and is not being reviewed here.


We watched Godzilla Minus One this weekend on Netflix. This is the small budget film that won the Oscar for visual effects. Great model and miniature based effects- with some CGI mixed in as well. More surprising- it's a good and rather deep story. It's set at the end of WW2. The Minus one refers to the Japanese psyche at this point in history- at an all time low. It uses Godzilla as a metaphor to make strong points about PTSD, survivor's guilt, and the need for a national purpose.  Well worth the watch!


Saw Barbie for date night on Saturday with MrsFishProf.  We loved it, and I see why the awards buzz was so high.  There were so many eater eggs and callbacks that we had to keep pausing (e.g. the Matrix Red Pill/Blue Pill and Pink Stiletto/Birkenstock).

I made the mistake of reading some online reviews.  Talk about ick.  The number of people who hated the movie they swore they would never see was... a lot.

It passed my test, however.  At the end, I went, "Well, that was fun".
I'd rather have questions I can't answer, than answers I can't question.


I've seen two movies recently. The first was Furiosa. It does have one long and pretty amazing sequence, but on the whole it wasn't as inventive as Fury Road or the Mel Gibson Mad Max. I would rate it "Okay." Of course you have to know what you're getting into. Not for the squeamish.

Then I saw All Of Us Strangers, with Andrew Scott. For this you should be comfortable with a gay-related storyline and with seeing quite a bit of Andrew Scott (affirmative on both counts). The movie is poignant, deep, beautifully done, and amazing. Highly recommended.


I finally finished The Holdovers; could not watch it in one sitting because of travel. The best movie I've seen in at least a decade and I would not be surprised if it becomes an annual Christmas classic. Direction and writing were superb. I'm amazed at Dominic Sessa. This was his first film and he held his own opposite Paul Giamatti. I predict he's going to have a successful film career. He reminds me of a young Alan Alda.
It's terrible writing, used to obfuscate the fact that the authors actually have nothing to say.


Yes, Dominic Sessa was excellent. You know he was just a student at the school who auditioned for the part, along with many other students? What luck both for him and for the movie.


Wow, it's been a while since I talked about what we've been watching.  There have been quite a few movies since then, so hopefully I can remember them.  Some can be grouped pretty easily, at least.  So, in no particular order:

Rear Window, Rope, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Vertigo, Psycho.  I think I liked them pretty much in that order from best to still good but not as good.  Maybe if I had seen Psycho without knowing the twist I would have really been taken by it.  We went on a Hitchcock binge because a bunch of the movies were free on Prime but leaving at the end of June.

Rear Window (1954) is just fun to watch.  I thought the actors worked well together.  That one is about an injured photojournalist who has to stay off his feet for a few weeks and ends up just watching what all his courtyard neighbors are doing at all hours of the day and night.  One night he sees a crime take place.  Or does he?

Rope (1948) seems to be a lesser known of Hitchcock's movies but was also fun.  It's supposed to play out like one long scene.  The plot involves two school chums who murder a friend of theirs and then invite the deceased's friends and family over for dinner to dine and socialize with the corpse in the room in a trunk.  Will they be able to keep their cool so their plan to get safely through the evening and get away works out?

The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) also appears to be lesser known than some of Hitchcock's movies.  This one took place in several countries and seems to be a remake that is better regarded than the original.  A doctor, his famous wife (a singer), and their young son are in Morocco for a medical conference when they are befriended by a man who later warns the doctor about a crime that will take place.  Now the doctor knows too much, so his son is in danger, and he has to try to get his son back without being quite sure who is involved with the crime-to-be.  I liked this one because it's so expansive.  As I mentioned, it spans several countries (and continents) and has bigger moments of high drama and intrigue than some of his other movies.

Vertigo (1958) is, I think, one of his better known movies.  A former police detective is hired by a man to follow his wife and figure out what's going on with her.  She's been acting weirdly and seems drawn to a woman who died years ago, obsessed with her painting and so forth.  It's a twisty-turny story that has a large ick factor to some extent, though I when I think about it from a particular angle I think the ick makes sense and can somewhat be forgiven, as it fits with the story.

Psycho (1960) is also a twisty-turny story, and I'm sure everyone knows the big reveal, but I will not spoil it just in case.  A woman absconds with some money and ends up having to crash for the night at the Bates Motel.  Things don't go so well for her there, though at least the plumbing works well.  The police, family, and friends come by to question the owner, but he can't provide any information about where she might have gotten off to.  Meanwhile, his creepy and overbearing mother watches from a high window in the creepy house overlooking the hotel.  There are some good parts to this movie.  It is creepy.  I can see it being pretty frightening.  I guess I prefer more of his intrigue movies. 

One commonality in all but the last movie is that they starred James Stewart.  It was interesting to see him in such a variety of roles.  He's quite likeable in Rear Window, not so much in Vertigo.  Of the Hitchcock movies, I had seen the two I just listed, and that's it, though I had forgotten them enough to thoroughly enjoy rewatching.

The Blues Brothers, Animal House (1980, 1978).  I had never seen either of these movies, but since they are such cultural reference points I figured I'd better get to it.  They are both fairly silly, and I didn't think either really deserved such a cult following, but both had some funny parts and plenty of well-known (now) actors.  And both had John Belushi.  Both also had some great musical acts! The Blues Brothers is about the Blues brothers (!), Jake and Elwood.  One of them gets out of prison, the other picks him up, and they have adventures.  They are trying to get the band back together to raise money to help save their former school, but most of the band members are on to other things now.  Along the way they get in trouble with another band, Nazis, the police, and an angry ex.  Animal House is about a fraternity of losers and the dean and another fraternity's attempts to get their charter revoked and get them expelled.  It's one of the movies where I wonder if I would have given it as much of a chance if I hadn't known it had a cult following.  It was definitely funny at times but also pretty stupid.  I didn't love either of these movies but thought they were okay and am glad I watched them.  It turns out we watched Blues Brothers the day after the 40th anniversary of the release and Animal House about two days before Judith Belushi-Pisano (Belushi's wife and an actress and producer who appeared briefly in both movies) passed away.

The Boys in the Boat (2023) is based on a book I had read for book club a few years ago and is also based on the true story of the University of Washington men's rowing team who against all odds makes it to the Olympics in Hitler's Germany.  The movie was not bad.  It was fun to cheer on the team.  But I think the book, though dry at times, gives so much more background on the team members and even just the craft of constructing the boats they rowed in.  It was pretty fascinating.  Still, good story!

Dune 2 (2024) is one I got for my husband for Father's Day since he's a big Dune fan. I am not.  He thinks this was better than the first one (and the other versions we've watched).  I thought it was okay.  They made some different choices in this one that I think kind of took away from the story, and I'm not quite sure why they did that.  I am also questioning my life now that I have read and watched enough Dune to be able to compare and contrast storylines.  ;-)

Oklahoma! (1955).  Another Rodgers and Hammerstein show made into a movie, it takes place in... Oklahoma! I read that it's set before 1907, before OK was a state.  The ranchers/cowboys and the farmers were somewhat at odds because the farmers had started fencing off all the land that the cowboys used to roam.  Most of the plot, though, is about romantic entanglements: Laurey/Curly/Jud and Ado Annie/Will/Ali.  I was somewhat taken aback at how dark this movie got at times! Though I still prefer South Pacific overall for the music and the movie overall, this one also had some pretty great songs.  Some of the acting/dancing/singing was also very good.  A notable exception was Gloria Grahame as Ado Annie.  I have read a little about how she was cast, but I don't really understand it.  I also was not sure if her character was supposed to be a child pretending to be an adult, or someone who had an intellectual development challenge of some sort? Or maybe she's just the town ho.  The child acting as an adult idea might sound farfetched but is apparently what is going on with two other characters in this movie.  I didn't realize that was what what was happening and thought they were just total weirdos, though I am not sure the correct framing helps.  This movie gets added to the list of those with long dream sequencey dance scenes.  Not a huge fan of that, but good overall.

Oldboy (2003) is a very, very dark Korean revenge movie.  I would advise caution if you are squeamish about pretty much anything.  Despite that, I thought it was a great movie and very clever.  I don't want to give anything away so will just include the IMDB description: "After being kidnapped and imprisoned for fifteen years, Oh Dae-Su is released, only to find that he must track down his captor in five days."  I wanted to watch it because it was mentioned as a favorite revenge film on one of my favorite podcasts (Very Bad Wizards), and I appreciate move plotlines that are well thought out and intriguing.


I actually forgot one (I think): Reservoir Dogs (1992).  I had only seen this one once, possibly in college, so it seemed like a good time to watch it again since it was free.  The movie is about a bank robbery gone wrong and I guess is one of Tarantino's first films.  It was originally going to be made on a very small budget with some of his friends as actors.  Though the budget ended up growing a bit the actors who actually starred in it (including Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Harvey Keitel, Chris Penn, Steve Buscemi) still wore their own clothes in it.  I think when I first watched it a lot of my guy friends were pretty heavily into Tarantino, and the environment was a bit unappealing, so I probably judged it with that bias.  Watching it now, I think it was a pretty good movie.  Some of the shots and scene set ups are great.  I liked the intensity. 


Nope, I forgot another one: Sarah's Key (2010).  This is based on another book I read, I guess historical fiction.  It takes place in two timelines.  In the "present," a journalist is moving into a residence in France that her husband's family has owned for years and acquired during the time that Jewish citizens were being taken from their homes, stowed in the terrible conditions in the Velodrome d'Hiver and eventually transported to death camps.  She digs more into the history of the apartment and finds that there are two children who lived there and tries to trace what happened to them.  The second timeline takes place during those earlier events.  It is an extremely sad story, but I think they told it pretty well in the movie.  The book, as usual, contains more story.


Inside Out 2. They mostly did a pretty good job, given all of the constraints they faced, and I liked how they characterized Anxiety. My biggest objection is that they made Riley too perfect/ideal and they seem to have realized it and kind of tried to backtrack but didn't really succeed - I guess the reverse of "lipstick on a pig" is something like "a pimple on Riley." Same goes for Val, they hockey team captain.


I saw the trailer for the new Captain America movie.  I have definitely tired of those Marvel movies and haven't seen most of the more recent ones, but this looks like more straightforward action, has Anthony Mackie and Harrison Ford (both of whom I like), so maybe.

This weekend we watched Rashomon (1950) and Some Like it Hot (1959).  Both are classics.  The first is an Akira Kurosawa film that looks to have been shot using limited resources but with a lot of cleverness that allowed a lot to be accomplished.  The story is about a man's death recounted from several (differing) viewpoints.  This device has been used many times since.  It's a movie I think I'd have to watch a few more times.  We gave it an 8.

The latter stars Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis, and Marilyn Monroe.  The guys are musicians who get embroiled in some nasty mob action in Chicago in the Prohibition Era and have to skip town to stay alive.  They find an out in an all-girl band that will be traveling to Florida for three weeks.  Of course they have to fit in! And, of course, hijinks ensue.  This has been done plenty of times, but they really pull off the humor very well.  Lemmon, in particular, is just kind of adorable to watch.  We also gave this one an 8.