Wow. That Long.

Today, Pergelator posts a bit about having watched Drunken Master II, also known as The Legend of the Drunken Master.

You know, I just watched that. Well, “just” being January of last year. The older I get, the longer the periods of time known as “just” and “recently” become.

With both agree on Anita Mui, but only I, gentle reader, posted pictures. Because I care about you. And because one of these days I’m going to remember to submit such posts to the Rule 5 link fests on TheOtherMcCain.

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Movie Report: The Hobbit (1977)

Book coverWell, when I said I was done with cartoons last month, clearly I was overstating things. I’ve had this videocassette in the cabinet for years (which differentiates this videocassette from all other DVDs and videocassettes in the cabinet as opposed to on the cabinet how?), but it was not rewound, so I rewound it as part of my recent project to handle that. So when I wanted something short to watch (ahut) with my youngest son this week, I popped it in.

Well, all right, you probably at least know the plot by now, ainna? Hobbit Bilbo Baggins is drawn from his hobbit-hole by Gandalf to accompany a, er, company of dwarves who are going to recapture their ancestral mountain and a bunch of gold from a dragon named Smaug.

Along the way, they have adventures. Peter Jackson turned this story into three movies. An animation company turned this into an hourlong television movie akin to Puff the Magic Dragon. Which actually came out the next year, so Puff the Magic Dragon came after this cartoon special. Which is weird, or maybe not. I remember the annual airing of “Puff the Magic Dragon” as a bit of an event at the end of the 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s–I think I watched it all the time, but it was probably only three or four times. The Hobbit never reached that fame. I don’t remember seeing it even listed. But it was not a thirty minute special but almost a movie-length animation, so it didn’t drop in as easily, I suppose.

So: Probably worth a watch if you’re into being an old-school geek completist or a 70sphile. Probably only a little more cartoonish than the Jackson films, which I have yet to see in their entirety (although I did see The Lord of the Rings set when they came out in cinemas because I have been a geek for a long, long time.)

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Movie Report: Better Off Dead (1985)

Book coverI got this film last September at the library book sale, and I’d hoped to watch it with my oldest, whom we taught to say, “I want my two dollars!” when he was a toddler. But he’s awfully busy now, so I watched it with my youngest still on hiatus from his preferred and privilege-abused devices.

So: John Cusack plays Lane, whose girlfriend of six months breaks up with him. He has suicidal ideation (now known as support for Canadian health care in scientific terms). However, he meets the French foreign exchange student across the street, fixes up his car (well, helps the French foreign exchange student fix up his car), gets his first job, and rediscovers his zest for life.

It’s a pretty simple high school movie plot, but the subplots/recurring gags make it stand apart. We have the precocious younger brother building/upgrading things he collects from mail-in offers (and picking up trashy women). We have the mother who tries to be a stereotypical mom but fails in 80s teen film fashion. We have David Ogden Stiers somehow looking younger than Winchester from MASH as the exasperated father. We have the mother and son foreign exchange family from across the street who try to make the exchange student the love interest of the obese, awkward son. And we have Johnny, the vandal paperboy, pursuing Lane for the two dollars owed for the newspaper subscription.

Overall, it provides an amusing stylized view of Northern California teendom in the middle 1980s. I didn’t see it until the late 1990s when we borrowed it from my beautiful wife’s former roommate, so I was reflective and nostalgic about it rather than actually spoken to. Although unless you’re of a skiing culture and location in an upper-middle-class enclave, it probably would not have spoken to you directly in that time. It also features an animated daydream sequence to Van Halen’s “Everybody Wants Some” that stuck with me enough that I thought it was the actual music video for the song. But, apparently, the song precedes music videos and there is no alternate official video.

The film also featured…. Continue reading “Movie Report: Better Off Dead (1985)”

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Movie Report: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)

Book coverOn an evening where my youngest was on an involuntary sabbatical from electronic devices, he joined me for a movie night, and I pulled this videocassette out. Actually, as I’ve mentioned, I’ve been going through the Nogglestead to-see library of unrewound videocassettes and popped them in with the television off to let them run to the end and fully rewind. So the Nogglestead to-see library has a lot of videocassettes atop it in unrewound or rewound states, so we’re watching lots of videocassettes these days. Which is good: We have lots of videocassettes to watch. And with the Friends of the Library Spring Book Sale looming, the number is likely to grow.

At any rate, I saw this film when freshly moved to Missouri, living in St. Charles. My uncle had a VCR, and he rented the film for us to watch, and we did. And although my son was not sure that he’d seen the film before, he knew all of the songs, not just the Oompa Loompa songs.

Oh, wait: This is a musical? I didn’t remember that.

But indeed it is, and not just the Oompa Loompa song. Charlie is a young man in England who is supporting his mother and four bedridden grandparents with his odd jobs. When reclusive Willy Wonka, famous candy maker, announces a contest where five young people and a guest will get to tour his chocolate factory, the world goes nuts. A series of vignettes introduce families and children who will be the winners, including a gluttonous German boy, a spoiled British girl (Veruca Salt), an American boy who watches too much television, and a girl who chews too much gum. All hope appears lost for Charlie when a winner is announced in Argentina, but that ticket turns out to be fake, so he wins.

They all start out a tour of the fantastic (as in fantasy) candy factory, and one by one the children are picked off by their own character flaws until only Charlie is left. At the end, he is dismissed by Willy Wonka, and he is about to take up a rival candymaker’s offer to pay for a sample of Wonka’s Everlasting Gobstopper, but Charlie returns it to Wonka instead, which triggers his ultimate victory–ownership of the chocolate factory itself.

I don’t know how much it varies from the book as I’ve not read it. But it was an enjoyable experience to share with my youngest, although he is already a bit older than the target audience.

The first song number in the film is “The Candyman” (The candyman can….) which was written for the movie (and Wonkaized for the film or de-Wonkified for subsequent covers). I pointed out to the boy that he and/or his brother had, when they were younger, once requested that I put on Sammy Davis, Jr’s version on. They liked Candy. He still does.

So I have the Johnny Depp version around here somewhere. I thought I’d watch them on consecutive nights while they were fresh, but of course now that I sought out the later film, I could not find it. So maybe that will be sometime soon.

Oh, and now that I think of it, Willy Wonka might have been top-of-mind because I just read a two-part Substack post Willy Wanker and the Great Glasgow Grift about the off-brand Willy Wonka “event” that earned Internet infamy for its poor execution in Scotland.

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It Has Been Weeks Since I Quoted Repo Man

Wilder goes down the list of films of 1984, including Repo Man:

Repo Man – A movie about an alien in the trunk of a car being driven around by the physicist who developed the neutron bomb. In a weird twist, the movie was actually one of the favorites of the actual inventor of the neutron bomb. The movie still holds up. There’s one in every car.

My son bought a set of vanilla-lemon pine tree deodorizers and put one in the truck he takes to school. When I saw it, I pointed to it and said, “Find one in every car. You’ll see.” Even though I had not seen the film in nearly thirty years; it was Glenn‘s favorite movie, so we watched it when I stayed with him ca 1994 or 1995.

Oh, and Wilder says:

Conan the Destroyer – Okay, a sequel. But by far a better movie than the first one. There was supposed to be a third, but that ended up being Kull, which was a pretty good 1990s movie with Sorbo. Arnie was also starting to learn to an actor, rather than just being huge.

I am pretty sure the third film turned out to be Red Sonja.

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Movie Report: The Master Gunfighter (1975)

Book coverGentle reader, when I watched the 1993 anime film Ninja Scroll (and Ghost in the Shell), I said:

I would have enjoyed these films more as actual films with actors and stuff, maybe, but I’m too old to be watching a lot of cartoons.

And, in an amazing coincidence or bit of cosmic kismet, I proved that to be true within the week.

I grabbed this film thinking that it was going to be a sort of B-movie Western. I knew it starred Tom Laughlin, who played in the Billy Jack films so I expected it would have some political messaging.

The prologue voice over (provided by Burgess Meredith) tells of how the man was educated in Europe and the East, which explains why he was so skilled with a gun (a special 12-shooter) as well as the katana. But he, the Master Gunfighter, is leaving the hacienda of his father-in-law after the father-in-law’s men killed the native residents of a coastal village to cover for their illicit recovery of gold from a shipwreck. The Master Gunfighter, Finley, did not participate in the killing except to save himself when a villager attacked him, but he carries that guilt and cannot stay at the hacienda. Wait a minute, that’s the story from Ninja Scroll adapted to 19th century California instead of Tokagawa Japan.

Finley is working as a sideshow in Mexico when a group of gunfighters comes to find him and kill him because the leader of the hacienda is planning a similar slaughter to steal some gold to keep his hacienda running and wants to have Finley out of the way first. So Finley makes his way back to the hacienda to reunite with his wife, played by Barbara Carrera, and to dissuade his in-laws from pursuing their plans, meeting a mountebank, the only survivor of the first village slaughter, and a government spy along the way (the government spy, of course, tracks with Ninja Scroll as well). Gunfighting and swordfighting ensue.

After watching the film, I went to see if they shared a common source. And although Ninja Scroll‘s Wikipedia page does not mention it, The Master Gunfighter‘s Wikipedia says it’s a remake of a 1969 Japanese live-action film called Goyokin. Strangely, nobody on the Internet seems to have said that Ninja Scroll is also based on this film as well–I’ve found an article about anime that mentions both, but the listicle includes another anime whose soundtrack mirrors Goyokin‘s. So looky there, gentle reader: some original thought/connection/research here on MfBJN. That’s the insight you’re paying big bucks for. Born of a coincidence that still tickles me several days later.

At any rate, a little preachy, as you might expect from Billy Jack. It’s multi-layered though, and not as simplistic as you would get these days. The Americans are pressing the Spanish-ancestored landed gentry in California, who are then slaughtering natives for profit, and the natives abhor the Catholic missionaries.

I remember that my mother watched the Billy Jack movies when they came on. She might have had a little thing for Tom Laughlin, who was a native of Milwaukee and studied at the same university that I did, and I remember he ran for president in 1992.

But if the Internet had been around in 1975, well, public Internet, maybe we would have had Eula versus Chorika debates.
Continue reading “Movie Report: The Master Gunfighter (1975)”

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Movie Report: Highlander: Endgame (2000)

Book coverYou know, gentle reader, this might have been the first time I’ve seen this film. I mean, I have within recent memory gone through my videocassette collection of Highlander movies, and then I bought them again on videocassette to make sure I had them all (and have seen Highlander, Highlander 2: The Quickening, and Highlander: The Final Dimension again within the last year, roughly). But, as to the fourth film: I know I’d seen a Christopher Lambert/Adrian Paul movie in that penultimate run-through of the films, but I am not sure it was this movie. I think it might have been the pilot for the television show which originally passed the baton between Lambert and Paul.

At any rate, this film came out after the television series wrapped, and it looks as though there’ve been a number of other spinoffs since, including another series and an animated series not to mention comic books and novels (see my report on Highlander: The Element of Fire from twenty years ago, only ten years after the book was published, which is now, doing the math–thirty years ago?).

This film starts with Duncan MacLeod and Connor MacLeod meeting–apparently, Connor called for Duncan, but when they meet in New York, coming up from the subway, Connor is distant and promises to meet him later. But as Connor is coming to his antique shop, it explodes with a loved one inside, and a man with three crosses on his shoes walks away.

Years later, a group of immortals attacks the Sanctuary–a place where immortals can go and be drugged, kept out of the Game and dreaming (at their own request and as part of a plan from certain Watchers to always have one immortal on ice to keep any one from reaching The Prize). But Connor MacLeod, who was at the Sanctuary, was set free to hear the others killed.

The film includes numerous flashbacks to both Scotland and Connor’s wife Heather and to a time when Duncan married a woman whom he knew to be immortal but she did not know it. On their wedding night, after the customary several minute sex scene over 80s sensuous music, he stabs her to prove it to her–when she awakens, healed in bloody garb, she wanders into the night, and he has lost the love of all lifetimes.

Meanwhile, we learn that the big bad guy is a friend of Connor’s from Scotland, a man of God who participated in burning Connor’s mother at stake for not denouncing him (Connor) as a demon. Connor kills the man’s mentor, also a priest, in the height of battle or perhaps as vengeance, and the big bad Kell (also a K name, like the Kurgan, General Katana, and Kane) has been killing Connor’s loved ones for centuries, all the while with three crosses on the backs of his shoes. He has assembled a team of immortals, somehow, to help him, including Duncan’s wife.

Oh, and Jing Ke. When we first meet the team of immortals, Duncan recognizes Jing Ke, who serve the emperor Qin, and he calls him a man of honor. I know it’s not a comedy, but I laughed, because I have some knowledge of Chinese history not gleaned from…. well, I’m not sure where the writers of this film got their knowledge, but Jing Ke “served” the first relatively modern emperor of China by trying to kill him. So. Well, one does not come to Highlander movies for history.

At any rate, some chop/chop and fight scenes. One of the Watchers (mythos from the television series, I gather) says that Connor (2000+ immortal kills) and Duncan (1000+ immortal kills) will have their hands full with Kell (661 immortal kills). I’m not as good as math as I am at history, but, wait, wut? So Connor determines that only by killing Duncan and gathering his, um, Gathering or vice versa, can one of them defeat Kell. Kell goes on to kill the members of his team (probably 5 of them to bring his total to 666–get it?). And then, chop, chop in a standard random industrial facility with steel steps and catwalks and steam and sparks, finis!

Except! Although we were led to believe that Duncan’s wife was part of the race to 666, she lives, and he meets her at the end to try to reconcile with her, or to begin again (or until next time).

My youngest, returning to non-electronics sabbatical, wandered into the film about 45 minutes in and asked what was going on. Well. How to explain the entire mythos of Highlander including the series? I didn’t bother and let him pick it up as he went, and he got the basics pretty quickly. At the end of the film, he said they couldn’t make another since it wrapped everything up. Well, they could just ignore the other movies which was standard policy for the first two sequels after Highlander wrapped everything up. But the television show added a bunch of complexities, and immortals seem to have been born fairly regularly in the past, so I guess they could make a sequel where an immortal has gathered the prize, but another immortal is born so he has to go all King Herod and try to decapitate a baby. Or something.

At any rate, I think the way the film dismissed Connor MacLeod was a bit sad. He is a broken man, haunted by memories of his first wife (the flashbacks do not include much of Brenda or any of the other women he romanced in the series). I have to wonder how much old footage they had in the can from the first film that they could trot out as new for this one. But he basically loses his will to live and decides that he must fight Duncan so that the victor can be powerful enough to defeat Kell–although I’m not sure why this was the case. So the predilection to piss on established heroes to pass the IP onto the next generation is not a new thing. We just forget so much.

At any rate, a definite film in the series which adheres to its framework. But it’s entirely possible I will forget having seen it, especially if I already have.

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Movie Report: Sabotage (1936)

Book coverOh, but no, gentle reader. Next, after Dracula, I did not delve into a Godzilla movie. Instead, I picked up this early Hitchcock film as Universal was pitching Hitchcock movies on videocassette in the trailers before that film. As I had this on videocassette and had freshly let it play soundlessly to rewind it, I popped it in over the weekend as well.

You know, in English class, they warn you against starting your essay with a dictionary definition, and I’ve seen that happen a couple of times in the Lenten devotional my church’s congregation compiled. And Hitchcock uses it with the titles on this film: The camera focuses on a dictionary definition of sabotage as what we would later call terrorism (of a sort, of course, not necessarily involving sabots). A blackout strikes London. Outside a cinema, the patrons demand a refund from the woman in the box office, and she tries to put them off. A vendor next door sees the cinema owner return, and the cinema owner washes sand from his hands as authorities discover sand caused the outage. When he meets his handler at the aquarium, the handler tells him to do something more serious, but the man tries to demur, not wanting to have a hand in the loss of life. But the cinema owner eventually gets a bomb to plant in Picadilly, but his gang discovers that the vendor working next door is actually a Scotland Yard detective, so they want nothing to do with the plot. So the cinema owner sends his young brother of his wife (the woman in the box office) to deliver the package. So the main tension of the film is whether the boy will deliver the bomb before it explodes. He is delayed by a parade and whatnot, and….

Damn, Hitchcock has the bomb go off whilst the boy is on the bus. The origin of the bomb is recognized by the films that the boy was also carrying, leading Scotland Yard to his residence. But before they get there, the sister/wife stabs the husband, but the murder is eventually covered up by the arrival of the bomb maker who sets off another explosion covering the wife/sister’s crime.

It definitely has some of the earmarks of Hitchcock’s later work, the ratcheting of tension and the actual danger involved which imperils characters that you think would be safe (especially in modern Hollywood productions). But the director is still learning, so this is a film for serious film students. Or indiscriminate purchasers of dollar videocassettes.

I actually bought a boxed set of Hitchcock’s early movies on DVD, so I might have it elsewhere. Unlike, say, a Cary Grant movie, I will not feel compelled to watch it again should I come across it. It’s a public domain thing off of a bad film print. The first reel looks to have been in rough shape indeed, making me wonder if my videocassette player was on the fritz (as it had trouble handling a VHS copy of Cast Away earlier), but it looks to only have been the particular cassette.

I’ll definitely watch for Hitchcock’s Hollywood films in the wild, but the early British stuff (like this) can be a bit hit or miss.

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Movie Report: Dracula (1931)

Book coverAfter my recent spate of cartoons and cartoonish films (interspersed with a romantic comedy), I decided to watch a serious piece of film.

Just kidding. What happened is that I started handling videocassettes that I’d bought where the previous owner had not rewound them. I have been treating them as though they’re stuck and unable to rewind–with some older videocassettes, the spring inside develops some trouble so that if you try to rewind it, it will get up to speed and rewind for a second and then stop because it thinks it’s completely rewound. To fix it, you can open the videocassette and remove the spring (I think–it’s been a while since I’ve done it), or you can simply let the film play all the way to the end, which resets the spring or something because it will completely rewind then. So I’ve been feeding videocassettes into the player with the television and sound system off to trigger the full rewind, which means a number of old videocassettes are sitting atop the cabinets now, which means I will likely be reporting on a number of old movies in succession.

So: This is a 1999 videocassette version of the 1931 film starring Bela Lugosi as Dracula. To a contemporary viewer, it looks like it hits the tropes of a vampire film, but this film pretty much established the tropes. A man, Renfield, travels to the Count Dracula’s castle in Transylvania even though the local villagers think it’s a bad idea. He’s got papers for the count to sign to take possession of a property in England, and he becomes the count’s thrall. The count travels to England and takes possession of the new property next to a sanitarium/asylum (where they have put Renfield whom they think is mad because the ship carrying the count had something kill its crew). Once there, the count sets his eyes (and teeth) on the daughter of the sanitarium….owner? Manager? When people start to disappear/get ill, including the daughter’s close friend, they call in a specialist, Van Helsing (not played by Hugh Jackman) who learns that Count Dracula is the vampire whose presence he suspected.

The film makes its use of simple sets (and, apparently, some reused footage from an old silent movie for its shipboard scenes), and we get, like I said, things that we would come to expect (the vampire coming in the window, the leaning over the sleeping woman’s form, and so on). I know, some of it had been seen before, but we get Lugosi doing it. We get a lot of close-ups of his mesmerizing eyes. We get Dwight Frye as Renfield, chewing up the scenery and hamming up his madness.

And we get Helen Chandler as Mina, the daughter of the sanitarium owner who is presumably saved from becoming a vampire (or is she?) and Frances Dade as her friend Lucy who does become a vampire (and whose ultimate fate is not mentioned in this movie). But if the Internet had been around in 1931 (I mean, that is, if it was not around but hidden from us by the government, like giant robots and powerful cubes hidden under Hoover Dam), ahem, if the Internet had been around in 1931, perhaps we would have Mina versus Lucy arguments on newsgroups.

I dunno, but I think I’ll take Frances Dade as Lucy (right).

Do we even still have those kinds of versus arguments on the Internet any more, or is our society too completely fragmented for it? Or are they happening in places I don’t frequent, like Reddit? Because I’m not seeing them on the blogs I frequent (generally too serious and sturm und drang) nor on Facebook (given over to “suggested posts” and the same three or four people’s days’ old posts every time I log in). I dunno.

So: You know, I’m glad to have seen this as an adult because it is a bit of cinematic history, something part of the Universal monster movies back in the day that were exciting and thrilling and then devolved into self-parody after a couple of decades. The Dracula story was retold in 1992 with Bram Stoker’s Dracula with Gary Oldman, Anthony Hopkins, Winona Rider, and Keanu Reeves–I saw that film, but given its date, I might have seen it with college friends, with the girl who preceded my beautiful wife, or with my beautiful wife. Eesh, I cannot remember with whom I saw the film. Isn’t that awful? It would partially retold in 2004’s Van Helsing with Hugh Jackman as the title character as an action hero. Fortunately, the timing of that film lends certainty yhat I saw it with my beautiful wife.

What’s next, Brian J.? A Godzilla movie, for crying out loud? You never can tell, can you, gentle reader?

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Movie Report: Transformers (2007)

Book coverWell, I watched it.

Maybe I had just moved out of the target demo when this film came out–I had my first son, so I was a father, and we were not DINKs (double income, no kids) eager to hang onto our childhoods who were going out to see a property based on toys (which we never owned until we got McDonalds Happy Meal things for our boys promoting these films). I have not seen any of the GI Joe live action films, either, even though I did have (and still have) a number of G.I. Joe films. Maybe I instinctively rebelled against Hollywood trying to make a man named Shia LaBeouf an action hero. But until now, I had not seen one of the live action Transformer films. And now I have.

So. The film retells the story of the Transformers, their war on Cybertron, the destruction, the loss of the AutoSpark in space, and whatnot in the voiceover prologue. The film-film starts out with arctic explorers in the early part of the 20th century who find something in the ice, leading to the leader of the expedition’s eyeglasses becoming the film’s MacGuffin because the location of the AllSpark is imprinted on them, although nobody knows what they found in the ice (nor what the AllSpark is–they did not benefit from the prologue). In the present, robots attack a military base in the middle east to break into the military network. The attack is repelled, but the bad guys find the location of the MacGuffin, so they go to LA to try to get Sam (Shia), a teenaged boy trying to raise money for his first car by selling his grandfather’s artifacts. On a trip to buy his first car, he discovers a beat up Camaro that essentially picks him–it’s Bumblebee, seeking to protect the MacGuffin from the Decepticons who not only want to find the AutoSpark but Megatron, their leader, whom the military has on ice. Bumblebee summons the Autobots to help, and they come and have some robot battles and… finis! Well, except for the six sequels (so far).

The film definitely was built to be a special effects spectacle–look! Giant robots! That transform into cars! But a cartoonish plot, cartoonish situations that make no sense, and shallow characters make it not much more than a cartoon for humans. (Hey, Brian J., haven’t you been watching cartoons lately? Yes, but I’ve not been enjoying them.)

The film also features Megan Fox as a gearhead girl (of course). Normally, I would tuck some pictures of the actress below the fold, but I’m still wavering as to whether I think she’s pretty or not. She’s right up there with Angelina Jolie in the “Kind of hot, sometimes, but weird enough to be off-putting.”

Oh, and I’m probably not going to run right out and gather the other Transformer movies. Even if they’re a dollar or fifty cents each. I have other things I’d rather watch ahead of them, including a set of films about the 1980s year by year and instructional woodshop videos that I mean to get around to sometime.

I should also mention that I watched this with my youngest who will be joining me for plenty of films this quarter as he’s restricted from devices on weeknights. He asked me if this was an old movie, and I guess it’s a fair question: It is, after all, older than he is. And he was also unimpressed even though he is closer to the target demo than I am (or was when it came out) and he had Transformer toys and exposure to the cartoons when he was younger.

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Movie Report: Enemy Mine (1985)

Book coverI saw this film over and over again when it was on Showtime and we lived in the trailer. Many times, I’ve said that a small set of films played on those long summer days when we were not supposed to leave the trailer when my mother was at work (and we obeyed infrequently). Not only were we limited to a 12′ by 60′ metal box–a very small mobile home even then–but the nature of premium movie channels in the 1980s gave us plenty of opportunity to watch the same film numerous times in a short time frame. You might not remember, gentle reader, but premium movie channels in those days would get a couple of new movies every month and would play the hell out of them that month, running them two or three times a day interspersed with some of the older movies–that is, the movies that had debuted a couple months previously, which were still getting a lot of play, available several times a week to view. It’s hard to imagine it in the 21st century, where the premium movie channels offer a couple of movies and a pile of original series, so their playlists, if you will, are far greater than what they were then. So my brother and I watched Enemy Mine a couple of times in the span of a couple of months, and I’m not sure that I have seen it since. But when I asked my brother about it before watching it, he said he’d watched it a couple of months ago.

It’s a pretty simple plot. Dennis Quaid is a human space fighter pilot on a space station when the lizardian Drac attack. When a Drac fighter blows up one of Quaid’s squad mates, Quaid wounds his ship and pursues him into the atmosphere of a harsh planet, which leads them to both crash on it. They’re alone on the planet and have to team up to survive, working from hostility to friendship. The Drac, played by Louis Gossett, Jr., (wasn’t he a gamer? He would play anything in the 1980s) becomes “pregnant” and delivers a baby drac (I will have to check my style guide to see whether I should be capitalizing Drac when I don’t capitalize human), he dies, leaving Quaid’s character to raise the boy. He does, but when Scavengers, human illegal miners who use Drac for slave labor, return, it leads to a confrontation that culminates in a shared understanding, Quaid liberating the slave labor while hunting for his young Drac charge, and eventually peace between the races.

A fairly simple storyline with special effects of the era. As my youngest is taking a bit of an involuntary sabbatical from electronics, he joined me in watching the film, and he thought it was good. Even in 1985, though, it bears some elements of what we would later call “woke”: The humans are the bad guys, as they started the war with the Drac by trying to seize some of their star systems (mentioned in the prolog voice over) and they’re the slavers in the climax, and the Drac are nothing but noble. But you can’t build too much nuance into a simple film like this. But that sort of inversion has become the norm in fictional themes to the point of being beyond irritating.

I told the young man that, to get the real flavor of living in a trailer in Murphy, Missouri, in the 1980s, we were going to watch it again the next night. We did not, and it might be another forty years before I pop this one into the last remaining VCR on earth to watch it again.

But the film did have Carolyn McCormick in it as the about the only female role who was not an extra, one of Quaid’s fellow pilots.

Continue reading “Movie Report: Enemy Mine (1985)”

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Movie Report: Sleepless in Seattle (1993)

Book coverYou know, it was easy for me to think this was the first of the Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan movies, but actually, Joe Vs. The Volcano was first in 1990. I don’t think I’ve seen that one all the way through, but I have seen this one and You’ve Got Mail (1998) before. I might have seen the latter in the theater, of all things, as I was dating a girl whose first introduction to me announced by the America Online “You’ve got mail!” voice. As it happens, that girl, now my beautiful wife, joined me in watching this film, surprised that I was watching a romantic comedy instead of some old movie or foreign film of dubious merit.

So: A young widower and his son move from Chicago to Seattle to start anew. Worried about his father, the boy (8 years old) calls into a nationwide radio program hosted by a therapist and explains that his father is lonely. Which leads to the father getting onto the phone and talking for a while about his love for his dead wife. Women across the country write in to learn more about the father, including a journalist from Baltimore, Annie (Ryan).

So the film details how the father deals with the attention and then finally tries to move on by dating a local woman he’s met through work whilst Annie deals with the doubts in her relationship/engagement with a Bill Pullman character. A Rosie O’Donnell character connives to get Annie to reach out, and the son connives with the help of a friend, to get the two together, and the film alludes to An Affair to Remember (which I just watched last September), including plans to meet atop the Empire State Building at midnight on a holiday.

So fluff and fantasy. Not funny-funny, but not dramatic. So a romantic comedy? Eh, not so much. But you know what you’re going to get by now.

And it stars a pre-work-done Meg Ryan.

Continue reading “Movie Report: Sleepless in Seattle (1993)”

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Movie Report: Ninja Scroll (1993) / Ghost in the Shell (1995)

After watching a couple of martial-arts / Eastern-produced movies (The Forbidden Kingdom and Jade Warrior and Blind Fist of Bruce) and having my fill of them for the nonce, I took Ninja Scroll out of the cabinet and saw mention of Ghost in the Shell. Which I also had in the cabinet. I picked both of them up at garage sales before I started tracking film purchases on the blog here, but I am pretty sure it was in the Casinoport or Old Tree days when I thought I’d familiarize myself with anime since the young people (then) were into it. I can’t help but note that the young people with whom I work now–people in their early 30s, so teens or so when I acquired these videocassettes, don’t seem to be into anime–it’s for people ten or twenty years older than they are (but not me, as we’ll get to by-and-by).

Book coverWhen I popped in this videocassette, I thought it would be a short, maybe 30- or 60-minute cartoon, perhaps like an episode of Robotech, one of which I actually watched with my boys sometime after readingRobotech: Genesis/Battle Cry/Homecoming (my young boys were underwhelmed with the story and/or animation). But, no, this is a full length movie. I then noted that its animation was about what you would have seen in imported Japanese cartoons that appeared on television in the late 1970 like Battle of the Planets before the American toy-based cartoons like G.I. Joe, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, and Transformers took over in the middle 1980s. And I have to admit that, when I was a lad watching cartoons after school, I probably never thought, “You know what this cartoon needs? Gore, nudity, and sex!” Because this film has them.

In it, a mercenary ninja is hired by a wizened old Tokugawa government spy to help learn the fate of a village that died after an apparent plague arrived there. Meanwhile, a local clan leader sends a ninja team also to investigate, and they, too, are killed, except for one woman who reports back to the clan leader. She is sent back, where she encounters a devil who tries to rape her, only to have the mercenary ninja save her. Together, the trio uncover a plan by another clan to overthrow the government and they must face eight ninja with supernatural abilities to do so.

So it’s laden with intrigue and gore and nudity and whatnot. It was okay, I suppose.

Book coverAfter watching Ninja Scroll, I (re-) discovered this film in the library, and I figured I might as well watch it right away whilst my brief interest in anime was at its peak.

In it, a cybernetic government agent and her team (and directorate) investigate “ghost” hacking incidents where humans are “hacked” through maniuplated emotions to do actual hacking on behalf of a shadowy figure known as the “Puppetmaster.” She and her team discover that it might be a computer program another directorate created who has become sentient and wants to procreate.

The film dwells on some heavier themes than Ninja Scroll, including the nature of consciousness, the soul (the “ghost” in the “shell” of a physical body). Not too heavily–man, I am reading a particularly talky book that touches on Great Themes–but enough to maybe make you think.

This film has a different look than Ninja Scroll–the animators have a more Japanese traditional art influence (more straight lines and strokes) as well as the scene selection to animate was heavily influenced by traditional noir scenes. So more interesting to look at at times, but to be honest, I was a little lost on a main plot point when one pivotal character looked a lot like an earlier character who was unrelated–I got confused and just rolled with it, but better discernment on my part would have made a bit of it more comprehensible. Although I suppose with more experience and exposure to anime, I could get better at it.

But, no. I would have enjoyed these films more as actual films with actors and stuff, maybe, but I’m too old to be watching a lot of cartoons. And I’m not in my teens or early twenties, latching onto this particular “art” form to differentiate myself from the rest of mass consumer middle-brow taste at the end of the period that actually had mass consumer middle-brow taste.

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Movie Report: Fist of Fear, Touch of Death (1979) / Blind Fist of Bruce (1979)

Book coverAfter watching The Forbidden Kingdom and Jade Warrior, I thought I would throw in this DVD which I bought in June 2021 in Branson. I mean, I knew one of the films starred Bruce Li who was supposed to be a successor to Bruce Lee, but what did I just watch?

Fist of Fear, Touch of Death is not a Bruce Lee film. It was made after he died, and one of the currents is questioning whether he was murdered. I don’t know if the film makers were influenced by Kentucky Fried Movie or similar influences, but this is a jump-cut mockumentary (?) comedy (?) (it’s not funny though) centering on a karate tournament in Madison Square Garden in 1979, where the winner might be the successor to Bruce Lee. You’ve got Fred Williamson playing himself; you’ve got interview excerpts with Ron Van Clief (I’m familiar with both from the Urban Action Cinema Collection). You have a couple other martial artists who might be real or might be actors doing demonstrations. You also have a sparring match for the title at the end. In the middle, you have a fictionalized “biography” of Bruce Lee based on two films chopped and redubbed: one a samurai film purportedly depicting Lee’s Chinese samurai [sic] great grandfather, a mighty warrior, and the second a film starring a young Bruce Lee redubbed and cut to show him studying kung fu against his parents’ wishes. All of it is narrated by a sports reporter Adolph Caesar who does not appear to have been a sports reporter.

So is it a comedy? A quick cash-grab made for small theaters? That doesn’t matter. This film was a thorough waste of time except for the stories of some of the awful films I’ve watched. And this is not bad in a fun way that I’ll want to rewatch.

Blind Fist of Bruce, originally Mang quan gui shou, is a straight-forward kung fu film. Bruce Li plays the owner of a small town bank who is being taught kung fu by a pair of clowns whose tutelage has not actually taught the youth much. They stage an attempted bank robbery which proves the safety of the bank and the owner’s martial arts skills. However, when a real group of criminals moves into town, they shame him until he finds that the blind beggar is a kung fu master who can teach him how to really fight. He then bests the leader of the criminal gang, but they call in a favor, seeking a really bad guy called Tiger who was originally the student of the blind beggar–and blinded the beggar years before.

I guess the film is more of a straight-forward kung fu movie at the tale end of the 1970s resurgence–right as Jackie Chan was turning the genre into light comedy and before the wire work and CGI made it into video games. It was okay–you know, we thought films like this were great when we watched them at 11:30 on Saturday nights in Milwaukee, but now I look at them with a bit of experience, and when I see people blocking sticks with their hands or arms, I think, “Well, this fight is over,” but these things are filmed for how they look, not how they actually are.

I think this exhausts most if not all of the Chinese films in the library currently, and even if it has not, it has rather tamped down my interest in watching another such film any time soon.

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Movie Report: Jade Warrior (2006)

Book coverAfter watching The Forbidden Kingdom, with its Jade Emperor and Jade Warlord and mention made of a Jade Warrior, I looked into whether this film was related to it. And it is not; the jade in the title merely reflects the association of jade with China.

Like Kung Fu Yoga was supposed to be, this film is a joint production between Chinese and Finnish, as in Finland, production companies. So it has subtitles from both Mandarin and Finnish. The joint nature of the production gives it a bit of a tortured plot device to shoehorn Chinese actors/settings and Finnish actors/settings into it.

In it, a Finnish woman leaving her boyfriend brings some of his junk to an antique dealer, including a MacGuffin. The antique dealer recognizes it as a Chinese artifact and contacts the boyfriend, a down-on-his-luck fellow who has taken up smithing as a hobby. The MacGuffin opens a bit and reveals to the young Finn how, in a past life, he was a great warrior-monk who defeated a demon who was building a device to open the gates of hell.

In past China, the warrior/monk was destined to Kill the demon which would give the warrior to Nirvana when he dies–he won’t be reincarnated in other words, but he has fallen for a warrior woman played by Zhang Jingchu–who falls in love with him as well, but her long-lost first love returns–the warrior’s companion Cho. Instead of killing the demon outright, he locks the demon’s head in the MacGuffin box, but the demon tells him that in all the warrior’s future lives, he will fall in love with Pin Yu, but she will not love him or will love another more than him. Jeez Louise, that is a hell of a thing to contemplate much less to endure. The warrior, who is half-Finnish (of course), takes the MacGuffin to Finland.

In modern Finland, an antiques specialist whose archeologist/anthropologist partner has discovered a preserved body holding the MacGuffin. When it is partially opened by some dust from the Finnish woman’s boyfriend’s things, the MacGuffin opens just enough to allow the demon to possess the antique dealer. He seeks out the woman’s boyfriend and tricks him into completing the gate to hell as the modern Finnish man rediscovers memories from his past life. He kills the demon, which means that when he dies, he will reach Nirvana, and he decides to try to win the heart of this incarnation of Pin Yu, the leaving girlfriend, anyway. And finis!

It tells the two stories in parallel as the modern Finn smith recovers the memories from his past life as well as hints from an archeologist/anthropologist who discovered the remains of Cho and Pin Yu in Finland and a bit of a coda that explains how they got there after the Jade Warrior (presumably the half Finn/half Chinese guy was the titlular character) killed himself to begin his next pursuit of Pin Yu. Cho and Pin Yu went to protect the MacGuffins or something.

An okay film, a bit odd in its artificially grafted synergy. But it did have Zhang Jingchu (or Jingchu Zhang, depending on where you put the family name relative to the personal name) as Pin Yu.
Continue reading “Movie Report: Jade Warrior (2006)”

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Movie Report: The Forbidden Kingdom (2008)

Book coverWhen it came time to delve back into the movies in or on the to-watch media center, I picked up this film. It must have looked interesting to me, as I bought it twice last year: once at the library book sale in April (although I called it The Four Kingdoms in that post) and once in Fairfield Bay, Arkansas, in June. Also, note that this doubled my odds of picking the film. Well, it would have, except that I had previously noted the duplication and put the copy with the Fairfield Bay, Arkansas, library sticker into the Little Free Library at the park in Battlefield. Perhaps whomever picks it up will wonder how that DVD got from Fairfield Bay to Battlefield as I often wonder how books and whatnot make their way to the Springfield area. I alone know the secret. Well, I guess my family, too, and given that Fairfield Bay is a “resort community,” whoever takes the DVD (if anyone) can probably assume a visitor to the resort there from the area did it, but it’s less romantic/heroic when you put it that way.

At any rate, the film features both Jackie Chan and Jet Li (both older by now/then) in dual roles, and neither is the true protagonist. Instead, a South Boston white teen named Jason Tripitikas travels to Chinatown (Boston) often to visit a pawn shop to look for kung fu movie bootlegs. He’s come to know the owner, Hop, during his visits. One day, he catches a glimpse of a staff in a back room and asks about it. Hop tells him that it’s waiting for a man to come to return it to its rightful owner, and that Hop’s grandfather, father, and now he waited for that man. When a bunch of thugs who bully Jason find out he knows the pawn shop owner, they force him to help get them into the locked shop for a robbery, and they shoot Hop. Jason grabs the staff and tries to fight them off, but ends up running to the roof, and he falls, and…..

He is transported to ancient, mythical China with the staff just outside a village being raided by the warlord’s men. A drunken martial arts master (Chan) saves him and starts to tell him the story of the Monkey God, a bit of a prankster martial arts master who invaded a ceremony held for the Jade Emperor and who embarrassed the Jade Warlord. The Jade Emperor only returns every couple of centuries from his meditation, and the Jade Warlord is in place while the Emperor meditates. The Jade Warlord challenges the Monkey God to a fight and tricks him into laying down his staff, and then he (the Jade Warlord) entraps the Monkey God in a statue. Before he’s completely encased, the Monkey God sends his staff far away for protection as it is the thing that can free him.

So Jason and Lu Yan (Chan) head off so that Jason can learn kung fu to handle himself as he is off to return the staff to the Monkey God. Along the way, they link up with a monk (Jet Li) and a young woman sworn to kill the Jade Warlord, who has taken the time to brutally conquer and suppress, etc. Then they get to the stronghold of the Jade Warlord, chaos and kung fu ensue, and….

Well, not finis. Jason returns to his own time without the staff, but uses his knowledge of kung fu to fend off the thugs and meets someone who looks just like the Golden Sparrow, the young woman whom he had to leave behind in ancient, mythical China.

You know what? I’ve been harsh on some Chinese and Chinese/American or Chinese/Elsewhere movies of the 21st century because they feature Chinese heroes fighting against Westerners who want to steal China’s treasures. This one does not ring the Chinese jingoistic or propaganda bells–although, note that the Western hero is bringing a Chinese treasure back to China. So I was pleasantly surprised by the film, and I enjoyed seeing Jackie Chan revisit the Drunken Master set (Lu Yen is an immortal, but his elixir, required to keep him ever young or strong or something, is wine), and Jet Li chews the scenery a bit in his dual role as the monk and as the Monkey God.

So, overall, a good way to pass an evening.

And then there’s Liu Yifei as the Golden Sparrow. Continue reading “Movie Report: The Forbidden Kingdom (2008)”

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Movie Report: Ma and Pa Kettle Back On The Farm (1951)

Book coverAfter discoursing, briefly, on films that piss on Missouri, I popped this film in right away as I thought it was set in Missouri because Ma and Pa Kettle are yokels, and the Ozarks hillbilly was entering the popular culture about this time. But I was mistaken; apparently, the films are set in Washington state for the most part (although one later entry is The Kettles in the Ozarks). So this is not a piss on Missouri movie at all. And it’s funny, the passage of time; I would have sworn I just bought this film, but it was almost six months ago. Man, I am not watching movies as fast as I’m buying them.

At any rate, this is the first Ma and Pa Kettle movie I watched on purpose and all the way through. I say this because, gentle reader, well… pull up a chair and hear about the Olden Days. When I was a kid, before cable, the UHF stations on the dial and sometimes the VHF stations, would play two or three movies on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. These tended to include old black-and-white war movies and comedies from series, including the Ma and Pa Kettle movies and Francis the Talking Mule (a couple of series I remember). As a pre-teen boy, I tended to only get into monster movies on the creature feature show. So although I would have had the chance to watch probably everything in this series, I didn’t.

So: This is the third film in which Ma and Pa Kettle and their kin appear. In The Egg and I, they’re secondary characters to the main characters who move from the big city to the farm (and for which Marjorie Main was nominated for Best Supporting Actress). Then the films focus on them with various vagaries (my rigorous research indicates). In this film, the Kettles are living in a modern house with their son who graduated from college and invented an improved chicken egg incubator (the premise of Ma and Pa Kettle). Their son and his eastern wife are about to have a baby, and the in-laws show up, and the domineering mother-in-law takes over, driving the Kettles back to their farm which lacks the modern conveniences they’ve come to appreciate. Prospectors think they’ve found a vein of uranium on the Kettles’ land leading to their presumed chance at wealth. And the mother-in-law eventually drives the new parents apart.

In a series of humorous set pieces, everything is set aright.

I chuckled at a couple of the things. But I don’t know if I’ll order other films in the series. If I see them, I might pick them up–odds are better to find them here than elsewhere, perhaps. Especially for a buck or fifty cents at the book sale or antique mall.

And I don’t even think this would count as a pissing on kind of movie because it’s light-hearted comedic poking at archetypes. I count pissing on movies as earnest, this is how those lesser people really are kinds of films. Or perhaps I just slap the term around arbitrarily and without being informed about what I’m talking about. This is a blog, after all, and hot takes are often also spit takes.

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Movie Report: Highlander: The Final Dimension (1994)

Book coverIt seems like I just watched the first two films in this series, gentle reader, but I watched Highlander last January and Highlander II: The Quickening last May. And I watched the series of them in recent memory, recent being within the last decade. Seems I see them priced to move somewhere together and I buy another set of them, and I put them in my unwatched cabinet (or on it). You know, of all the media libraries, the VHS and DVD library is the smallest, so it has a slightly greater chance of being organized some day rather than the LPs, CDs, or books do, and I might learn how many copies of each of these films I own.

At any rate, this film ignores the contents of the second, rightfully so. In it, Connor MacLeod has traveled after his first wife dies in Scotland to Japan to study with another immortal, a Japanese sorceror played by Mako. The sorceror helps the Highlander to fashion his katana and to learn to fight with it. But Kane, a Mongolish looking immortal played by Mario Van Peebles arrives and kills the sorceror who tells MacLeod to run. Because he has booby trapped his lair so that when his head is taken, presumably by Kane, that it collapses, burying Kane and his fellow bad guy immortals.

In 1994, an industrial dig of some sort–the set is, of course, a generic industrial set–unearths the legendary cave of the sorceror and frees Kane. Of course, a beautiful archeologist played by Deborah Kara Unger is on hand to be a love interest after discovering the secret of MacLeod’s past. In northern Africa, the Highlander senses that another immortal is afoot and returns to New York, where Kane heads himself for the renewed Gathering. A couple of set pieces and cinematic sword fights later, Kane and MacLeod face off on another conveniently located generic industrial set of steam pipes and metal stairs and catwalks. Well, the last piece is set in New Jersey, so maybe it’s all like that.

So it’s a grand fun film to watch, especially Mario Van Peebles having the time of his life chewing up the scenery as the bad guy. The budget for these films must have been pretty low, as they didn’t spend a whole lot on set lighting or custom sets, but they’re still more fun to watch than modern action films costing hundreds of millions of dollars.

And in the Highlander film, I mentioned how both Roxanne Hart, as the then-modern Brenda, and Beatie Edney, as MacLeod’s first wife, were pretty. But, boy howdy, Deborah Kara Unger.

Continue reading “Movie Report: Highlander: The Final Dimension (1994)”

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Movie Report: Collateral (2004)

Book coverThis film came out back when we still went to films in the theater–we were still in Casinoport. I had just started working as a consultant for the digital agency, starting my own consulting company and working from home for the first time. Basically, I’ve worked from home ever since except for a year or so when the agency hired me and had an office downtown. Perhaps that was not a film-filled summer–I was not only working full time for the agency, but I’d picked up short contracts with previous employers for in-office night work and white paper writing. So I had knowledge of the film when it came out and since–Foxx was something then, ainna? His Oscar winning turn as Ray Charles would come out a couple months later–and Cruise was in the mid-career doldrums, although his doldrums tended to move better than actual doldrums.

At any rate, the plot: Foxx plays a cab driver who picks up a blond Cruise at a courthouse after dropping off a prosecutor planning for a big case. Cruise has a couple of stops to have people sign papers for a real estate deal, so he engages the cab driver to drive him to all the stops. But, at the first stop, a body flies out the window and lands on the cab, and Max (the cab driver) learns Vincent (Cruise) is an assassin on a mission to… well, it develops, take out witnesses and the prosecutor in a case targeting one of his clients, or related organized crime figures.

Along the way, Max and Vincent develop a bit of a rapport. Vincent shakes Max out of a bit of a habitual, rote existence dreaming of better things (owning a limo company) and gets him to man up and demonstrate some confidence–one scene has Max going into a nightclub, pretending to be Vincent. But, in the end, the rapport is false, and Max has to protect his mother (whom he visited in the hospital with Vincent) and the pretty prosecutor who rode in Vincent’s cab earlier.

So the film has some depth in exploring the relationship between the men and how it evolves, mostly in Max drawing strength and confidence from the psychopath’s influence and ultimate his testing.

However, some of the plot turns are just that, plot turns, and not actual evolution of the situation. I mean, Max could have gotten away on several occasions before Vincent knew about his mother, but did not. And they’re driving around in a damaged cab with a body in the trunk as though they have nothing to worry about–although they are stopped by police at one point, saved only by the coincidence that the police are just then called to the scene of one of Vincent’s earlier crimes. So the plot as played out detracts a bit from it.

The film also features a young Mark Ruffalo as a police detective on their trail and Jada Pinkett Smith as the pretty prosecutor. Wow, she was pretty back in those days. Now, not so much. Not so much because she has aged–everyone has except my beautiful wife–but because her (Jada Pinkett Smith’s) character has been revealed to be reviled.

So an okay film. Not one I will watch over and over again, and not something that entered the cultural zeitgeist to be remembered or quoted much twenty years later.

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A Quiz, Sort Of

The Web site of the Springfield News-Leader has a tile that presents it as a quiz:

However, the title gets more to the point: These 16 television shows, movies are set in Missouri — but were they filmed here?

The majority of the series [Ozark] is set in the dark, ominous Ozarks, but critics didn’t hesitate to point out that hardly any of the episodes were filmed in Missouri. The majority of the series was filmed in Georgia, according to IMDb. As for the lake scenes, most of these were filmed at Lake Allatoona, a reservoir similarly shaped to the Lake of the Ozarks about 45 minutes northwest of Atlanta.

In recent years, “Ozark” may have been at the top of people’s minds when it came to how Missouri was showcased by Hollywood, but there have been several other award-winning television shows and movies set in the Show Me State — some of which, like “Ozark” weren’t actually filmed here.

Perhaps the journalist is disappointed that she does not have the opportunity to see stars on location, but the article points out that Georgia ladles tax breaks and incentives on production companies. One wonders if this is supposed to serve as a call to action for Missouri to also ladle out tax money so Shia LeBeouf can fly in and film for a couple of days before flying out.

However, since it was presented as a quiz, I must ask myself: How did I do? The sixteen from the article are:

  • The Act
  • Sharp Objects
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbings, Missouri
  • American Honey
  • Gone Girl
  • Switched at Birth
  • Winter’s Bone
  • Up in the Air
  • Waiting for Guffman
  • Road House
  • Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
  • National Lampoon’s Vacation
  • Paper Moon
  • Meet Me In St. Louis

I’ve seen five of sixteen.

The list skews to recent and to piss-on-Missouri stories and includes a number of entries where a scene nominally appears in Missouri in a larger travel film. Coincidentally, the latter overlap a lot with the films on the list I’ve seen.

The journalist does disclaim:

Note: There have been countless television shows and movies set and filmed in Missouri. This list is not exhaustive.

However, if one goes to the AUTHORITY (the Wikipedia entry Films set in Missouri), one sees this pretty much is the pattern: Piss on Missouri or just passing through. Guardians of the Galaxy? Deep Impact? I have seen these films, and they might have a scene in Missouri, but to say they’re set in Missouri is a stretch.

I am glad to see One Night At McCool’s is listed. But Larger than Life is not. The latter falls in the “Passing through” category, with a scene in Kansas City, and something that was filmed in St. Louis–Mike and Todd, both veteran actors of The Courtship of Barbara Holt, were extras in a scene that did not make the final feature.

At any rate, I’m not much into movies, books, or articles that piss on the heartland or where the writer is from (after the writer has moved to the big time). So I probably won’t watch Winter’s Bone (although I did just check movie accumulation posts to make sure I hadn’t already bought the DVD somewhere) but I do have the book in the stacks somewhere (I ordered it from ABC Books during the LOCKDOWN).

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