- I Kissed a Vampire: I’d asked on facebook for recommendations of vampire movies for October. But none of the good ones are free with Amazon prime and this one was. It’s a teen vampire musical. Sounds terrible, doesn’t it? And, in fact, it is a pretty bad movie. But, other than the teen part, it’s actually right my speed. The music is unmemorable at best, but I can never resist people breaking into song for no good reason. The story involves a boy who got a mild vampire bite and is concerned that, as he turns, he may also turn his girlfriend. She’s actually not all that unwilling, especially when she catches the eye of the rock star vampire who leads the whole gang. There is also a mad scientist who may have a cure. This just shrieks of midnight movies in college. I can’t say I’d recommend it, but it was more or less the sort of thing I was looking for to keep me distracted during a flight.
- The Vampire and the Ballerina: Also free on Amazon prime, this is a surprisingly stylish Italian movie, in which a couple of ballerinas at a country house stumble upon a castle, its owner, and her servant. The dancing is a peculiar mix of styles and the special effects are almost comical (let’s just say a mask is just a mask). But the story more or less makes sense and I thought this was, overall, a lot better than I had any right to expect.
- A Mighty Wind: Copa actually has a decent movie selection on their flights and this was my choice from IAD to PTY. It’s a Christopher Guest mockumentary, centered on folk music. The idea is that three groups are reuniting for a concert in honor of their late producer. This is mostly character driven humor, but it also helps that the songs feel pretty authentic for the 60’s folk revival they’re intended to portray. If you like Guest’s other mockumentaries (e.g. This is Spinal Tap or Best in Show) and can at least tolerate folk music, you should enjoy this.
- Mud: One of two movies I watched on the Copa flight from PTY to MVD, I had seen at least part of it before, but I think I had drifted off and missed a lot that previous time. The plot involves two boys who stumble upon a fugitive hiding on an island and help him repair a boat to make his escape. There’s a lot of coming of age stuff mixed in there. It was also effective in manipulating which characters one felt sympathetic towards. Overall, it held my attention and I thought it worth watching, but it could have been tighter.
- Frozen: There was still time on the flight to MVD and I needed something light to watch, so this animated musical filled the bill nicely. I don’t have any sisters (just a brother, who I don’t always get along with), so I can’t completely relate, but I did think it was sweet. As far as I can tell, Elsa is more popular with little girls who see it, which is exactly what is wrong with little girls, since Anna is a much better role model. Overall, this was a deeply flawed but cute enough movie and one could do worse.
- The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel: Okay, so it isn’t like this sequel (which I watched on the way home from South America) was actually necessary. But the characters remained interesting, the conflicts felt realistic, and it’s rare enough to see a movie that treats elderly people with respect that one should encourage those efforts. Plus there is Bollywood music and dancing. Mildly recommended, but the first movie was definitely better.
- The Skeleton Twins: The plot involves a twin brother and sister reconnecting after his failed suicide attempt. This was billed as a comedy, but the only remotely funny scenes are one uncomfortable encounter with their flaky new-age mother and one involving a bunch of fart jokes after they take nitrous oxide together. Basically, they are both screwed up people and neither of them is doing anything to heal other than looking for other people to blame. An unpleasant film about unlikeable people, which is a pity because it starts people (Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader) who are competent actors.
- Spotlight: I chose this for my Christmas movie excursion (yes, an actual movie theatre) because I’ve been a huge fan of Tom McCarthy, who wrote and directed it, ever since seeing The Visitor some years ago. And it was an excellent choice. The story involves the Boston Globe’s reporting on the Catholic Church pedophile priest scandal. The emphasis is on the Globe staffers and their triumphs and frustrations as they discover the depth of the scandal and how many people it has affected. There is a particularly powerful moment involving the realization of the paper’s own complicity in lackadaisical treatment of accusations. All in all, a superb movie, treating a sensitive subject seriously and professionally. Highly recommended.
- The Station Agent: Since Tom McCarthy was on my mind, I downloaded (from Amazon Prime) the first film he wrote and directed. And it is also a winner – the sort of quirky slice of life movie I like. There isn’t a lot that happens, but a friendship develops between a train enthusiast with dwarfism, a woman who has lost a young child, and a garrulous but lonely Cuban hot dog vendor. The three don’t seem to have much in common, but it all works because they somehow manage to accept one another just as they are and grow as a result of the relationships. Recommended.
Quarterly Movie Update
This is definitely the latest I am doing a year in review. 2020 was, obviously, a challenging year. The biggest thing that happened was retiring (in…
Usually, I am traveling on Christmas. I've been to various unlikely places, ranging from an Antarctic cruise to Vietnam to Oman to Las Vegas. Asia is…
Our gaming group had a little Festivus celebration this evening. We started out with my offering of this completely reprehensible video from Sunday…