What I Watched

What I Watched, What You Watched: Installment #110

I may be in Toronto, but I still have a film to share

I'm here in Toronto and you've pretty much seen daily reviews of what I've been watching as I've been trying to get my reviews online as quick as I can while also allowing each a little time to marinate. But there was one movie I watched before I left sunny Seattle, which I've included below and would love to hear what you've been watching over the last week in the comments. So have at it...

Cat Ballou (1965)

The AFI named Cat Ballou one of the top ten best American produced westerns of all-time and also included it on their 100 Years... 100 Laughs list so it has to have something great about it... right? Well, I wouldn't go that far, though I'm sure fans of the film will tell me I'm supposed to find pleasure in Nat King Cole and Stubby Kaye's theme song (it's not too bad) and that there are some genuine laughs in it (there are), but overall it did little to nothing for me.

The story centers on an aspiring schoolteacher turned outlaw when her father is murdered after refusing to sell his ranch to the railroad. The film begins with the scene you see below, featuring the song I mentioned above and pretty much laying out the story I just mentioned.

The film held an obvious influence on Gore Verbinski's Rango with the mariachi band of owls and the silver-beaked hawk Rango kills with the water tower would be Lee Marvin's counterpart. That said, the film is yet another product of its time and would probably hold more appeal over me had I seen it when it was originally released in the mid-60s. Unfortunately, I wasn't born for another 12 years after this was released and even then I'm not sure I would have understood the film too well. So I'm left to shake my head and say, nope, not really for me.

Oh, and I watched Thor on my iPad digital copy on the plane flight to Toronto. To me it is still the most entertaining of this summer's superhero movies. It's silly, but I get a lot of entertainment out of it. I'll be working on a Blu-ray review when I get back to Seattle.

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  • Rashad

    I loved Thor. Agree 100%. It's one of my favorites of the year.

    Watched Matchstick Men again, and am baffled why there isn't a blu ray. One of my favorite Ridley Scott movies.

  • Winchester

    Nothing in theatres this week -

    At home:

    Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961): TV airing, first watch - I have seen segments of this film over the years but never the entire thing from start to finish. I did find that I had a bit of an 'And.............is that it?' reaction when it was done given it's status as a classic. Possibly the 50 years has too far removed me from it's influence because while it's by no means a bad film I just found it a rather overlong and not that interesting story. Personally, from that era, I'd say 'The Apartment' beats it hands down without question. It may be that 'Tiffany's' is one of those style over substance cultural impact films - I'd imagine that has more to do with the opening than anything else that happens in the film. Anyway, I found it OK to watch, I just don't get the fuss 50 years later.

    Blood: The Last Vampire (2000): Blu-ray, first watch - Anime isn't really my bag, despite trying several times it just doesn't work for me............and when I try it each time something as generic and poor as this doesn't help a lot. It only runs 48 minutes and I get the sense it's a component in a wider story (or was planned to be) but on it's own it's very poor. The animation is fine, but there's only hints of a story in lieu of the action starting. Nothing I would want to watch again.

    Sucker Punch (2011): Blu-ray, first watch - This was a rental and it wasn't the Extended Cut that's on the retail Blu-ray's. I had one of those 'can't decide' reactions when I watched it. The odd thing is I really liked visually the opening sequence (where the backstory plays out to 'Sweet Dreams') up to the first fantasy transition and I liked the final part after we snap back into reality - it's just the ENTIRE fantasy layers part in the mid-section that I was bored by. Honestly, I haven't been as truly bored by a film that was trying to blow me away with it's visuals since Tron: Legacy sent me nodding off within 20 minutes of it starting as well. I get the characters retreat into the fantasy etc, etc, but because of the structure of the film I was given no time to really get to know or care about Babydoll............let alone any of the others (although I ended up managing to warm to Abbie Cornish's character by the end of the film but that's because she gave the best performance in the film I thought).........and so I didn't. Didn't care about almost anyone in the film. And it doesn't help that I'm becoming less and less convinced that Emily Browning is a decent actress because I haven't liked her in anything I've seen her in. There's no doubt Snyder has his visuals down to a lock.............but he's got to get to grips with writing a decent script. The only film of his I truly like is Watchmen at this point.

    Unknown (2011): Blu-ray, first watch - This is not as good a film as 'it' thinks it is. Comparisons to Taken in the marketing were off. Taken (for all it's slick dumbness I enjoyed it's visceralness) had a straightforward and compellingly simple premise that people could relate to driving the story. This has none of that, and instead tries so desperately hard to throw twist after twist at you that it ends up collapsing into annoying stupidity, not enjoyable stupidity. It was pretty tiring to watch Neeson run around repeating 'I'm Martin Harris' over and over. And I am now convinced that (Emmy nods notwithstanding) January Jones really truly cannot act for toffee. Not in movies anyway, and I wasn't impressed with season 1 of 'Mad Men' which is the only season I've seen so far. It's just as well she's pretty to look at though.

    Fast Five (2011: Blu-ray, rewatch - After another disappointing week, I caved and went and bought Fast Five on Blu-ray because I needed something for Friday night that I knew would give me what I needed. I never watch serious movies on a Friday night unless I go to the cinema. It's my general rule that I want something with acres of CGI/Destruction/Action etc so this fit the bill perfectly. The sound mix on Blu-ray really revs up the cars, and the action certainly defies physics I think at the end, but apart from a slightly flabby mid-section this heist caper entertained me in the way I wanted.

    In TV-Land I also continued with Season 1 of Fringe, which I'm about halfway through now. It's a bit variable but it gets better as it goes and I'm continuing with it anyway for now.

    That was all this week.

    As an edit...........I only saw two of this year's superhero films (Thor and X-Men) and personally I thought that X-Men beat Thor severely in every way. But that was just me. I've not seen Green Lantern or Captain America yet.

    • m1

      I actually thought Unknown was better than Taken, but that's just me.

  • m1

    It was a pretty hit-and-miss week for me.

    Robin Hood (2010)-I had been meaning to watch this for a long time. Period action films can be fun (see Sherlock Holmes) but this seemed very bland. It's not awful, but the story isn't strong enough to hold one's interest for 2 and a half hours. That being said, I would love to see Crowe and Blanchett on screen again. 5/10

    Inside Job-A fascinating look at the cause of our economy's collapse. It is absolutely worthy of the Oscar it won and everyone will be furious after watching it. 10/10

    The Wrestler-A devastating movie with an amazing performance from Mickey Rourke. Tomei and Wood are great as well, and how the film wasn't nominated for Best Picture, Screenplay, and Editing is beyond me. 10/10

    The Tourist-I'm mixed on this one. It wasn't as unwatchable as people said, but it had the potential to be so much more. Though Jolie was fine, Depp was definitely phoning it in. The plot is an unrefined mess, but some individual scenes are well-done and the twist at the end is interesting. The movie is essentially for Friday night fun. Not exactly Golden Globe worthy. 5/10

    • Winchester

      Yeah, I didn't find The Tourist as bad as the rumours suggested it would be. It was older-fashioned I'd say. Probably would have gone down better in the 60s.

      I only had two main problems with it. First, Jolie and Depp had no particular chemistry that a film like that needs, and second, I had the 'twist' by the end of the first scene on the train. Then it was just a matter of waiting to be proved right by the end. Which I was.

      Apart from that, I didn't think it was a disaster or anything.

  • Criterion10

    A few Ken Russell films . . .

    Tommy - I really liked this movie. The music, the story, and the crazy head-trip style all worked out perfectly. One of my new favorite movies. A+

    Altered States -- This was an interesting, but flawed film. I personally didn't like the ending, though the film was still good overall. I might return to this at some point. B+

    Probably going to watch Women in Love and another film today.

  • Travis

    All Good Things - The acting is solid, there was something about Andrew Jarecki's direction that I really liked, but can't quite put my finger on. Other than that it just seems to meander through the story without going anywhere, at times evokes Psycho, pales in comparison. C+

    The Talented Mr. Ripley - I can see why the novel is considered one of the best of its genre, how it could make for a great movie, as much as I really like this film it is definitely not great. The two main things that were good, but held it back from being great for me was that Anthony Minghella wasn't a perfect fit for the material, Matt Damon wasn't quite ready for the role at that point in his career. Still a very good, thought provoking thriller, I thought Jude Law was quite good. A-

    You've Got Mail - Finally decided to watch this, was very surprised as I expected it to be a very cliche, safe rom-com like you often get nowadays, but instead it had a bit of an edge to it. As expected Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan are solid, charming as the leads with great chemistry, but Nora Ephron also did a very good job as both writer and director taking what could have been safe, cliche, turned it into a funny, heartfelt film. B+

    Mother and Child - Very good acting from all involved, but the one that surprised me the most was Samuel L. Jackson as it showed a subtler side of him, Rodrigo Garcia shows a real talent as writer, director. The weakness for me was that all of the occurances in the film are fine on their own, but all of them together slowly built to the point where near the end I was asking 'Really?' as it goes over the top, becomes a little melodramatic, but either way it's a solid film that showcases a lot of talent. Also, anyone else find Brittany Robertson (Violet) reminded them of Ezra Miller (City Island, We Need to Talk About Kevin) with her look, mannerisms. B-

  • http://isawpaulblartonce.wordpress.com/ Kyle

    Monster - Finally saw this and really didn't care for it. The storytelling was fragmented, and while Theron's performance was astounding, it's really the only thing saving this movie. 2/5

    Lancaster, PA - Great little indie that if you can seek it out, definitely do it. A bunch of very solid performances from not-so-well-known actors and an extremely interesting script that does not follow most movie norms. 4/5

    Shaun of the Dead (rewatch)
    Pulp Fiction (rewatch)

    • http://isawpaulblartonce.wordpress.com/ Kyle

      EDIT: It's called 'Lebanon, PA,' and not 'Lancaster.' I'm an idiot.

  • C138

    Munich - A fascinating look into the aftermath of the Munich Massacre by Black September at the 1972 Summer Olympics. Solid performances throughout, especially Eric Bana, and a lot of interesting moral and ethical questions that still remain potent today. This is arguably Spielberg's most mature work to date. 4.5/5

    Hard Boiled - A fun and often over the top action movie. Some of the most astonishing shootouts ever captured on film, especially the climactic battle in the hospital. It's refreshing to watch movies where you could actually comprehend the action and not just watch a camera shake constantly, like most action movies nowadays. 3.5/5

    Lebanon - Gritty look at experience of Israeli soldiers in the First Lebanon War in June of 1982. Nothing is glamorized at all in this film, and I can see where there were some comparisons to Das Boot. The three leads were all great. 4/5