June something something movie pun


Future War (1997) / MST3K: Future War (1999)

Incredibly, this is the first time since I started writing about Every Feature, in 2013, that I've watched a full episode of MST3K. So now I'm having to figure out how this'll fit into the template. How's this look?

Anyway, this is one of the worst movies I have ever seen, even comparing it to other MST3K entries. The script was awful, the effects embarrassing, the acting incompetent. And yet you know just looking at it that at least some of the people working on it really believed in the movie. That makes me sad.

Some of the jokes made me laugh and some of them made me google proving what I always assumed---they're aimed at people ten years older than me. (I wonder if that's still true?)

Ella Cinders (1926)

I first heard of Ella Cinders yesterday and this took me to Wikipedia which eventually led me to this film. Tada! I might not have watched it even though Colleen Moore looks beautiful and I'm intrigued by Cinderella variations and the poster on Wikipedia is a wonder except that it has been selected for preservation by the National Film Registry which was commendation enough to push me over.

The film kept going after I thought it was finished and turned into a backstage Hollywood picture before returning to the traditional Cinderella plotline. I was bummed Ella gave up her career to marry her prince but otherwise I was surprised by the feminist slants the film took.

Also, if you're into this sort of thing, I'm pretty sure Disney borrowed this moment from Ella Cinders.

library dvd
Sullivan's Travels (1941)

Having enjoyed O Brother with the oldest, I immediately put Sullivan's Travels on hold at the library, which the two oldest watched with us tonight and thoroughly enjoyed. Plus, now #2 wants to watch O Brother and #1 is all for watching it again. This all sounds great to me.

Incidentally, it has a very long silent sequence. Probably not as long as Rififi's, but long.

I believe this is the first Preston Sturges film I have rewatched. As expected, I think it's better on rewatch. But that doesn't make it easier to know whether I should rewatch Unfaithfully Yours next or finally watch The Miracle of Morgan's Creek.

But back to Sullivan's, a quick shoutout to Jess Lee Brooks who plays the preacher in the Deep South Black church that invites the prisoners in to watch the picture show (fun fact: Sturges wanted Chaplin but couldn't get the rights so had to settle for Mickey Mouse). In a very real way, he is the emotional and moral core of the movie. In just a few minutes of screentime, he demonstrates more goodness and charity than all the other characters combined. He's the reason the picture isn't just a parcel of self-love from a comedy director but means something a little bit more. It must be one of the great bit parts in all of filmdom.

Billu (2009)

This is only my second modern Bollywood film, best I can recall, so while I think that a lot of the movie stuff in Billu is farce, I can't be sure.

Here's the idea: a movie is being shot in a small village. A local barber has told his children that the famous star of the film is an old friend of his. Now that the star is in town, his children are telling the story to everyone. But is the story true? And just how true is it?

Everything in this film takes too dang long my American standards. It's not Tree of Life! Let's pick up the pace!

I'm not talking about the extended dance numbers that are, most of them, irrelevant to the plot. That's to be expected. Musical reality (although only one of the songs is natively musical) means the normal rules of pace are rendered mute for the length of the dance. What I'm talking about is a number of speeches characters give. They often take to long to get where they're going or last longer than necessary once they've arrived.

All that said, it may be often dumb, but it's more often fun. And the while the emotional payoff isn't a bank-breaker or anything, it works. Americans don't make big lavish brainless entertainments of this sort anymore. But it doesn't mean people don't want then.

Two asides. Aside 1: So much of this movie was injokes I didn't get. But I did get the two-Khan rivalry thing, so that was nice.

Aside 2: According to Wikipedia, the story is a retelling of Sudama and Krishna. Which explains why all the hedonistic dance sequences had just religiously themed lyrics.

The Errand of Angels (2004)

This is the other mid-aughts missionary movie I always intended to see but never did. Every once in a while I check streaming services to see if it's free anywhere and it finally showed up! On Tubi. Which is even better when you have an adblocker.

Beside the good reviews at the time, I wanted to see it because I had a high opinion of star Erin Chambers. Lady Steed and I had seen her in a theatrical version of Jerome K. Jerome's "Passing of the Third Floor Back" and she was excellent. She wasn't as great here. I thought it might be that she was new to film (but that's not so) or it might be Vuissa's fault. I don't know. A couple times she played it too big; several more she the timing was off. Maybe it was editing? I don't know. Anyway, she is lovely and capable and I wish she appeared in more things I was interested in.

As a missionary story, it's pretty pedestrian. It takes honest beats and the cast is uniformly mostly good and it has a couple of really good moments (the all-faiths couple revealing their position, meeting the getting-baptized woman) and I love this shot (ripped off from Wes Anderson):
Sister Jaeger

Raya and the Last Dragon (2021)

What an abysmal, abusive movie this is. I don't think I've been this offended by cheap storytelling in a long, long time. Apparently the latest Disney renaissance, the one that began with Tangled, is over.

I was looking forward to this film. I didn't have high expectations, but the South Asian aethetic looked cool and why the heck not? Why shouldn't it be, at least, good? But it's not.

This is like Legos purchased from Goodwill. Just a bunch of story bricks assembled into some nonsense that feels vaguely intentional. Now, I don't know, people sob at the end of the movie. The movie tells you just when to. But I refused. I don't like being so cheaply manipulated.

Among other thefts, I saw character business lifed from The Incredibles and The Iron Giant and The Last Unicorn. I saw story or character or design elements lifted from The Neverending Story, Black Panther, the Marvel gauntlet doowop, Winter Soldier, Tangled, Moana, Frozen, Miyazaki, Mulan (1998), and (maybe) Hero.

Speaking of Hero, that's another big disappointment this movie gives us. It should have counted, among its influences, the grand tradition of beautiful combat from Asian film. But I didn't see much evidence of that. Just normal American rockemsockem.

The dialogue was lazy, the editing was meh. All the cool stuff was either derivitive and nonsensical. The worldbuilding barely held together. They need to hire some actual fantasy writers if they want to keep doing this.

What a disaster.

Note to self: say something nice.

Okay. Um. The baby character was kind of innovative? Had a lot of potential? They didn't explore that potential at all but at least I don't know what it might have been lifted from? Does that count as nice?

library dvd
A Quiet Place (2018)

Finally getting around to watching this so we can see II which has been difficult. (You'll note we already watched Sullivan's Travels from the library; what you don't know is that we picked up a LOT of movies from the library and these are the only two we'll get to see before we hit the road.)

Anyway, even with a couple phone interruptions for Lady Steed's birthday, it was still a terrific movie. And just as great a movie about parenting and family as people said. This movie has a real shot at being remembered for a long, long time.

I'm sure there are videos talking about everything wrong with A Quiet Place or whatever (I have a list about the creatures ready to go, if that's your game) but overall I think the world and the monsters were very well crafted. I have no complaints. (Except that the stupid library edition has no making-of special features. I would love to hear about the creatures' evolution as they worked out their appearance.) It's a daring movie and it DEFINITELY breaks Rafifi's no-talking stretch!

Luca (2021)

Luca proves that even when Pixar decides to market a series of cliches it can move beyond the material and into something that is wonderful. I also loved that this was so much more cartoony than most Pixar movies. I wish they'd pushed it further.

The viewing circumstances were not ideal so I can't express a full opinion of yet, but I definitely enjoyed it and the pop of the color was wonderful. Just what we need mid-2021. Fresh air and sunshine and a new friend.

Previous films watched


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