May We Movie? (yes we may)


Not very many movies this month, alas. But quality should count for something. Or at least average age?

library dvd
The Incredible Hulk (2008)

So I have now seen all extant Marvel movies at least once. I can see why this one was deliberately cut out of the family tree, but it's really not that terrible. It's kind of a mess with a handful of excellent pieces and some clunky pieces melded together with too-much music and some weird editing choices. But the cinematography and some of the directorial and editing choices were as lovely as anything in the MCU and, frankly, making more of an effort to be lovely.

It's kind of awful to watch this movie at this point, though, because it leaves so many interesting threads unresolved. Threads that, frankly, it's pretty bold for the MCU to ignore. Or would be if the MCU wasn't totally ignoring this movie.

Anyway, I liked the first Iron Man movie back in 2008 but when Hulk came out a month later I wasn't really interested. I never liked Hulk as a character. I made an exception to watch the Ang Lee movie and it was visually cool (until the illegible final fight), but Hulk and Thor (the next two characters to carry movies) were nonstarters for me. I darn near escaped getting brought back into the movies. But the The Avengers became the first movie that really became a big thing upon its release at the high school so, for cultural literacy, I made time for it. And now here we are. I've seen them all. And now I have to live with them just dropping a Tim Blake Nelson supervillain. Not cool, MCU. Not cool.

library dvd
Parasite (2019)

It couldn't leave me as speechless as last time, but last week I watched several analyses of the film and seeing the film constructed, scene by scene, rather than being amazed by it moment by moment was quite the different experience.

And it really just makes me want to watch more 봉준호 movies---whether ones I've seen before or the ones I've yet to see. Thank goodness for an era where fulfilling such a hope is possible. Ah, the future. So nice to live here.

our dvd
My Favorite Wife (1940)

So we picked this off the shelf as a movie we had long owned but never watched. Lady Steed stands by that but I'm convinced we watched it before. But it hardly mattered. Seen it before or not, we watched and we enjoyed.

The set-up: A woman has been drowned, lost at sea, for seven years. Her husband has her declared dead the same day he marries anew. The same day she arrives back on dry land. Hijinks ensue.

It's a flawed movie. The second wife needs to be awful for it to work as set up, but mostly we feel sorry for her. And Cary Grant goes from charming and sympathetic to awful (this is intentional) to Santa having sex (really!). It's the sort of movie that will fall apart with too much scrutiny, but is much fun to watch if you just watch it.

That said, and no offense, Irene Dunne, but Myrna Loy would have been ever better.

And special shoutout to Granville Bates as the judge. He was great.

So I Married an Axe Murderer (1993)

The internet's been bringing up this movie nonstop for months and tonight Lady Steed and I finally sat down to watch it, see if maybe it's kid-friendly.

(Probably not. Partially because sex, partially because not that funny.)

Weird thing about this movie: what makes it so great is the FINAL act. I know waaay many movies that fall apart in the final act---this one finally really comes to life then.

Now, it's possible the first two thirds (four fifths?) worked better in the Nineties because this movie is all kinds of Nineties. Mike Meyers schtick that no leading man should do (his bit role makes more sense) and bizarro-world young San Francisco ala Friends in New York.

Somehow, even though it's not that big of a surprise, I completely forgot about the twist. But whether I remembered or not, the end of the movie was so fun, why would it have mattered?

But maybe the film is best for the great performances in small roles. I really need to watch every Alan Arkin comedy, for instance. And in even smaller roles I enjoyed Stephen Wright and Charles Grodin. I had no idea any of these men were in the movie. And it was weirdly right to be surprised by Charles Grodin on the day he died. R.I.P.

our dvd
The Maltese Falcon (1941)

This is another movie I thought I hadn't seen before but almost definitely have. But, unlike My Favorite Wife, which is a lightweight, this is one of the Great Films, a True American Classic. And I suppose it's possible I just know the clips well enough that the whole film feels familiar. And that may be right. There were some significant characters that weren't familiar at all. But I don't know. I just don't know.

Anyway, Sam Spade is a great character. It's fun to watch Bogie and Lorre and Greenstreet shuffled and redealt from Casablanca, and the conlusion really is very satisfactory. And not just because one Humphrey Bogart namedrops my hometown.

The Big O felt obliged to study for Calculus and Lady Steed fell asleep and so I may get to watch this again real soon. I won't mind. In fact, I look forward to the pleasure of piecing the whole thing together.

High Noon (1952)

I picked out five or six movies on Prime for number-one son to choose from and he picked the oldest. And he did not regret it.

It's been so long since I'd seen it I didn't know how it ended. Oh, I remembered the basic shape of the path to the end, but I wasn't sure how it got there. And I know I really liked it last time I saw it, but I'm heartbroken for Grace Kelly. I think maybe I feel her sacrifice more this time.

That John Wayne both hated this movie and wished he was in it is about all you need to understand American masculinity, I think.

Perhaps because I was worried about whether or not the Big O would like it, I did find the beginning a bit slow and the music a bit too much, but neither opinion survived the movie. In fact, I'm mighty curious in hearing this.

our dvd
Idiocracy (2006)

It's been a long time since I've seen this. I'm guessing long enough that this'll be the first time it makes one of these lists, though I'm too lazy to check. Which may not bode well....

Anyway, the movie is still funny. Lady Steed and I debated whether it is funnier now or more painful now than it was in the beforetimes. Hard to say. She got caught up in some that-wouldn't-happens but this movie makes it easy for me to not think about such things.

In our aftertimes, some of the opening jokes that felt mean at last viewing feel more reasonable now. Aftertimes will do that to you, I suppose.

our dvd
O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)

The Big O picked this out of a pile of suggestions (after we rejected his #1 and #2, Interstellar and Das Boot for potentially taking us past midnight) and, I'm very pleased to say, he loved it. Which is the only appropriate response to O Brother.

I will always love this movie but, I will admit, one of my biggest takeaways was how much I want to watch Sullivan's Travels again. That has to be one of my all-time favorite inter-film conversations.

The shape of the screenplay is a marvel. Whenever I see it, I think this—this—is the movie I want to write. The way characters are introduced and returned to never fails to impress.

Previous films watched


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