Sunday, August 16, 2009

Movie OD

First, thanks to everyone who commented on my last post. And thanks to everyone who suggested possibilities for the books I mentioned there. Special thanks to Greg, Writtenwyrd, Don, and Daniel, who did indeed identify some of the books. I owe you folks. I now can put authors and details to “The Secret Staircase,” “Smuggler’s Island, “Claws,” “Listen to the Worm,” “Panther!,” and “My Gift to You.” Don over at Issa’s Untidy Hut came up with the most. I knew my blogging pals were cool.

Today’s post is on movies. Now, I don’t watch many movies. And only when they are absolutely convenient to me. But we’ve got the Showtime movie channels for free for a bit and I thought, why not take a day off and watch a few. I was actually pleasantly surprised that I didn’t hate most of what I saw. But here’s my take, ranked from my favorite to least favorite:

1. Rambo. OK, this has to be one of the all time goriest movies ever. So, rather naturally, I enjoyed it. I imagine the effects of the artillery and mines was probably portrayed very realistically, but I’m skeptical that regular rifle fire, even from a sniper rifle, would completely disintegrate whole heads or blow off limbs at the shoulder. I’ve seen the effect of high powered bullets on animals as big as deer, so thus my skepticism. The end was rather touching, though, and it seemed to bring the series to its close.

2. 3:10 to Yuma. It’s a western and I liked it, although it’s no Once Upon a Time in the West. Russell Crowe did a great job as the villain I thought, and had some great one liners. However, there were some letdowns in the orchestration of the whole thing. How does a prisoner in cuffs manage to kill two members of the posse taking him to the prison train without, perhaps, being bound and watched a little more closely after that? On the other hand, this one had by far the best all around cast of the movies I saw. Even the supporting actors did well, and many of them were well known, such as Peter Fonda.

3. Snow White: A Tale of Terror. Sigourney Weaver did a bang up job as the wicked stepmother/witch in this one. I thought she was superb. This was a somewhat loose retelling of the Snow White story but was pretty enjoyable. It was definitely a horror rather than a fantasy. The supporting cast was much weaker than Weaver, and I could kind of see at the beginning why the Stepmother didn’t much like the stepdaughter. I would have wanted to strangle the little priss myself. Some interesting visuals as well.

4. Into the Wild. This is the story of the young man who walked on his own into the Alaskan Wilderness, lived for something like a year in an abandoned bus there, and then died from eating poisonous plants. I came close to abandoning this one early on because the kid was just so immature. He was born into privilege to the point where he could afford to rebel against it all. And he did, against a life and parents that were not nearly as bad as he seemed to think. However, I have to admit the boy had some testicular fortitude and in the end I felt quite a bit of sympathy for him. He learned a bit of wisdom, although he died before he got a chance to exercise it. There were also some very good supporting actors in this one, especially Hal Holbrook.

5. There Will Be Blood. Twenty minutes into this long, long movie I turned to Lana and said, “OK, I see where this is going. We’ll have one scene with blood at the very end and then fade to black. That was exactly what happened, with no tension or suspense in between. How can a pretentious art film be so incredibly cliché? How many times has this story been told? 1). A businessman who is already somewhat unscrupulous becomes more and more brutal and bitter over time, as he also descends into alcoholism. 2). Said businessman gets everything he thinks he wants but nothing he needs. 3) said businessman runs off the only people who give a damn about him. There were two good things about this movie. Daniel Day Lewis did a great job as the despicable businessman, and the musical score was quite good. These could not save what was ultimately a rather silly and completely predictable film. This is the only one of the five I wish I had my time back on.


Greg said...

glad you got to watch all those movies! the only one of them i've seen is "into the wild," and i pretty much agree with your take on it. i'd never heard of the snow white remake with sigourney weaver, but it sounds pretty cool. thanks for the reviews!

Cullen Gallagher said...

I rather liked the new Rambo movie as well - and there certainly is a lot of gore that is most likely unrealistic. Structurally, it was one straight crescendo to the end - not longer than it needed to be (which is a problem with many movies).

I think there's actually going to be at least one or two more Rambo movies. A long-time fan of the whole series, I'm looking forward to where the next film will take the character.

Travis Erwin said...

Haven't seen the latest Rambo film but having done lots of hunting and shooting of large game I'll say you are dead on accurate in your assessment.

Travis Cody said...

I haven't seen any of those. I've got a bunch of movie channels, but somehow I'm always missing stuff. I guess I'm too distracted with sports and dancing.

Michelle's Spell said...

Hey Charles,

That sounds like a great day! Every now and then, I take some time to watch my "stories" (usually HBO or Showtime series) and just relax. Also love movies as well -- it's one time in my overly cerebral life that I can just not worry. And it helps my writing when I'm stuck and the well is dry. Haven't seen any of these movies, but I'll check out the good ones and skip the Daniel Day Lewis one. I don't know why, but I love him in My Beautiful Laundrette and think everything else he's done just sucks.

Steve Malley said...

Wow, freakish: I have not seen a single one of these movies. I mean, what are the odds?!

G. B. Miller said...

I think #4 is based on the actual book.

Not into modern remakes of old westerns as I've seen too many (Stagecoach comes to mind) classic movies ruined by bad remakes.

laughingwolf said...

grats on getting some book info, charles... as for the flicks, i saw none of them, nor have any inkling to do so

pattinase (abbott) said...

I liked 3:10 TO YUMA a lot. THERE WILL BE BLOOD was wretched. I didn't even like DDL in it.

ivan said...

Just a picayune point over sniper fire in Rambo.

Sniper fire can so blow your head off. Snipers use .50 cal bullets. That's about 15 mm. Approaching the size of the smallest aerial cannon.

Paul R. McNamee said...

Last summer, my friend Netflix-ed both the original '3:10 To Yuma' and the remake. We watched them back-to-back one afternoon.

What surprised me the most was that some scene dialog was reused verbatim.

I liked them both.

I figure a good Western story seed would be - what if Dan took the money and let Ben go? What might his life/their lives be like five years later?

Maybe I'll explore it someday.

Chris Benjamin said...

i've heard good things about into the wild.

gotta check out that sigourney weaver snow white flick though, sounds amazing.

Rick said...

I've been taking a break and watching all the Rocky movies in sequence. I'd write more, but I have to do some push-ups.

cs harris said...

I've been wanting to see 3:10 to Yuma. I never seen to have the time to watch movies anymore.

JR's Thumbprints said...

3:10 to Yuma - Didn't Elmore "Dutch" Leonard write this back when he was doing westerns?

Into the Wild - I loved the book and the movie doesn't disappoint.

There Will Be Blood - I couldn't agree more. A real snooze fest.

If you get the chance, see "Ocean of Pearls." The movie was directed by a doctor from my area. It's in a few theatres. Probably won't make it to your area, but keep it in mind down the road when looking at DVDs.

Charles Gramlich said...

Greg Schwartz, I had heard of the Snow white one but had forgotten about it. It was made around 97. Interesting for sure.

Cullen Gallagher, really? More Rambo movies? Hum, well it should be definitely interesting given the ending of this one. I liked too that it wasn’t overly long, which was a problem with There Will be Blood.

Travis Erwin, I’m rather glad I don’t know for sure from experience.

Travis, I go on tears, like this one. I might go 4 or 5 months without watching hardly anything, then dedicate a whole day or two to it.

Michelle, I liked him OK in Last of the Mohicans. But I’m not a fan of his by any means, although I thought he did a good job acting in this one. I certainly didn’t like his character.

Steve Malley, apparently pretty good. Most of these are older films too, but ones I never saw earlier in their runs.

G said..., It may be. I didn’t look it up. But I do wonder how in the world that bus ended up in the wild like that. Most of the modern westerns I’ve seen I haven’t liked all that much either.

laughingwolf, nor would I have if they hadn’t been free.

pattinase, I definitely did not like Lewis’s character, although I thought he did a decent job potraying him. The movie sucked badly, though, as you say.

ivan, that could be. I didn’t think sniper rifles typically used such big calibers, though. In some cases in the movies they were using AK 47s for this, too. But I’m just grateful I’ve never seen it in reality.

Paul R. McNamee, I’ve never seen the original of 3:10. Interesting that some of the dialogue was virtually identical. I will have to watch the old version sometime. Yeah, there were some questions raised by all that. I’m curious myself.

Benjibopper, Sigourney was quite a “witch” in that one. I liked her a lot.

Rick, I just recently saw the latest installment in the Rocky series. Not too bad, although the fight scene wasn’t nearly as good as in Rocky 1 through 3.

Candy, I don’t very often either. But it fell at the right time Saturday and was free!

Scott said...


I haven't seen any of these flicks. I just had a movie marathon of my own: Evil Dead Trap, Big Man Japan, and Holy Mountain. Also saw Severed Ways-The Norse Discovery of North America entries coming soon.

eric1313 said...

The Rambo I liked was the original, First Blood. Hey--all he wanted was something to eat!

Good to see you still here. I'll try to come back when and how I can. I'm in Hot Springs, which is gorgeous, as you said, and I'm a slave at one of the popular clubs downtown, trying to steal the dj gig all the while serving tables at the restaurant nextdoor... Not how I wanted my degree to work for me, but it works.

Hope all is well. Say hi to ana and of course I van and the rest of the crew.

Talk to ya soon! It's last call here....

Merisi said...

Signorey Weaver and that Little Miss Prissy angle, I have got to see the Snow White movie, thank you! :-)

BernardL said...

The M107 .50 caliber sniper rifle can pulp a head or take off a limb. They also make an armor piercing round for it.

Charles Gramlich said...

Scott, I've always been intersted in the Norse trips to America. Looking forward to that post particularly.

eric1313, Hot springs is a nice place for sure. Sounds like you're having an adventure, albeit a hard working one. Good to hear from you. Be well, my friend.

Merisi, I enjoyed it, although Sam Neill wasn't used to his best effect in that one. Normally I like him pretty well.

BernardL, in the movie Rambo was using a 50 cal machine gun at times with armor piercing so I could believe the damage that gun was doing. I don't know what the specific sniper rifle used was. but yeah, 50 cal would do some serious damage.

jodi said...

Charles, I read "Into the Wild" years ago and was thrilled that Sean Penn was eventually going to produce it. I followed the story as it actually happened, and the movie was much like I imagined.

L.A. Mitchell said...

Isn't it grounds to revoke your man card if any guy didn't like Into the Wild? The Snow White one does sound interestinig..I'll have to check it out.

Randy Johnson said...

Haven't seen any of these. I'd wondered about Rambo. I thought the series was tiresome after First Blood, but I'd read and enjoyed the David Morrell novel beforehand. The fact that Rambo died at the end of that book may have influenced my feelings about the others in the series.

Charles Gramlich said...

Jodi, I didn't even realize Penn produced it. But it was decent. I might try to read the book at some point.

L.A. Mitchell, I don't know about that man card thing. Into the Wild is not exactly what I'd call a masculine movie, although it has the title for it.

Randy Johnson, I really liked the First Blood novel too and thought the movie wasn't nearly as good, although it wasn't bad. I didn't care that much for either of the others in the series. This one was actually maybe better than some of the earlier ones. I thought anyway.

Lana Gramlich said...

I shouldn't have decided to eat when Rambo was on. That's all I'm saying.

Erik Donald France said...

I've only seen bits and pieces of any of these. Very helpful "takes" on all of them.

3:10 to Yuma was based on a Leonard Elmore story from the 50s, and it's a remake, that's about all I know about it.

Charles Gramlich said...

Lana, I know it was definitely gory.

Erik, I have the original story 3:10 to Yuma but have not read it yet.

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the walking man said...

3:10 I liked a lot, Into the wild is on the will watch it list and I was able to make it through There Will Be Blood without a lot of skepticism.

I was thinking of Billy Sunday and the other preacher of the 30's and how they were no different than the character Lewis played as he was "repenting" for the sake of his business.

Middle Ditch said...

Not seen any and not heard of half of them.

I keep them in mind

How's Lana?

Charles Gramlich said...

suzi, being a teacher and all I'm not very pro "buy term papers." In fact, my most recent book deals fairly extensively with that itssue.

Mark, the preacher Lewis was the most intersting aspect of that movie, I agree. I wouldn't have minded seeing more about his story.

Middle Ditch, no particular reason you should. I seldom recommend movies, but just mention 'em as I see 'em. Lana is doing good. Got a clean bill of health from the doc this morning.

Thumbelina said...

Thank you for saying Rambo is one of the goriest! This is one of my biggest reasons for saying the word "inappropriate" to the little guy in our house! Thank you. :)

Just popping by to say hi. I'm having to quit blogging as I just can't find time but I hopefully will visit from time to time and will see you here. I love your reviews.

Charles Gramlich said...

Thumbelina, I wouldn't have wanted my little one to see Rambo. Far more gorier than I would have wanted my boy to get a taste of early. Good to see you.

glovin said...

I like the fact the list is an eclectic mix. I think that's why I did OK on it as well. My own list will be eclectic as well.

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Angie said...

Late but what the heck. :) I enjoyed 3:10 to Yuma very much, and I'm not generally into Westerns. Crowe was definitely a good villain, and I also loved Bale as the everyman type trying to do what he has to for his family. The guy's a great actor, very versatile.

If you meant the first Rambo, I saw that ages ago and remember that I enjoyed it (although not enough to watch the sequels) but I don't remember many specifics. If it's the newest one, I haven't seen that. The first one actually had some depth to the story, though, besides just a bare excuse for a lot of blood and killing.