So this week’s log is something of a cheat. I had to skip last week’s offering (which would have been meager indeed), due to lack of time, and thus, this article is actually covering two weeks worth of films. Keep in mind my journey with the epic miniseries, The Jewel in the Crown, has continued, as well as the beginning of my rewatching the ’90s Pride and Prejudice miniseries. I’ve also watched Dunkirk (Christopher Nolan’s confounding war piece) and Girls Trip (the outlandish comedy that makes good on all of its intentions) in theaters.
Boat Trip 7% on Rotten Tomatoes 3 (Netflix)
Starring Cuba Gooding Jr., Horatio Sanz, Roselyn Sanchez, Vivica A. Fox, Roger Moore, Will Ferrell, Richard Roundtree
Plot Summary-Two unlucky bachelors and friends, aiming to boost their luck with women on a luxury cruise, instead find themselves aboard a gay only party ship. Jerry accepts the situation once he meets a beautiful dance teacher also aboard the ship, while the homophobic Nick gets in to a continuous line of raunchy misadventures.
My Take-Widely recognized as the golden standard for bad comedies, this film rides its string of horribly unfunny jokes, offensive stereotypes, and shameless nudity to embarrassing lows. Makes you appreciate a film like Some Like it Hot even more, as it’s cut from the same farcical cloth as Boat Trip, but with a wealth of more talent and creativity involved.
-Directed by Mort Nathan, 2002
The Sound of Music 86% on Rotten Tomatoes 10 (DVD)
Starring Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer
Plot Summary-A young woman in 1930’s Austria struggles to fit in with the order of nuns she’s studying under; despite her relentless enthusiasm. They ask her to try work elsewhere for a time, to see if she finds her calling. And so she works as nanny for the wealthy but unhappy Von Trapp family that includes: the widower, Captain Von Trapp, and his seven children. Gradually, she works her way into the hearts of the children and the father, as the threat of Nazi Germany hangs over their beautiful country.
My Take-I basically feel that there are people who love Sound of Music and people who pretend not to love Sound of Music. I don’t feel the need to pretend. It’s corny, joyous, moving, lovely, wonderful. The music is unforgettable and the story is long and sweeping.
-Directed by Robert Wise, 1965
The Witches 100% on Rotten Tomatoes 7 (DVD)
Starring Anjelica Huston
Plot Summary-A young boy raised by his shrewd Grandmother discovers that the hotel they’re staying in is infested with children murdering witches (led by the Grand High Witch), with a plot that could wipe out children everywhere. After being turned into a mouse, the boy teams up with his Grandmother to foil the evil witches’ plans. Adaptation of Roald Dahl’s horror story for kids.
My Take-Children’s movies in the ’80s and, in this case early ’90s, were insane. This has some truly frightening stuff in it: the witches pulling off their masks to reveal their hideous true selves, kids being abducted in the street, weird body transformations. The opening sequence is remarkable, scary, and sad as we learn about a girl who became trapped in a miserable painting all her life. Anjelica Huston glides through the picture as if everything is dreadfully boring to her including the events of the film. She’s very funny and the film itself, which I believe compromises a little in the end, remains a solid creepfest.
-Directed by Nicholas Roeg, 1990
Matinee 93% on Rotten Tomatoes 7 (VHS)
Starring John Goodman, Cathy Moriarty
Plot Summary-Set in Key West during the ’60s, a young Naval brat deals with a new school and new home at the height of the red scare. He escapes through B movies, and when he learns that his favorite director is coming to town to promote the new movie, Mant!, he’s determined to help.
My Take-Fun mainly, nostalgia for some, I’m sure, and excellent time capsule for all. It’s a loving piece of cinema by a director who built a career on monster movies himself (Gremlins, The Howling).
-Directed by Joe Dante, 1993
My Fair Lady 96% on Rotten Tomatoes 10 (DVD)
Starring Rex Harrison, Audrey Hepburn
Plot Summary-Henry Higgins, a renowned phonetics professor wagers that he can turn a common flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, into a duchess by improving her speech. A musical adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s pay, Pygmalion.
My Take-Tops for me. The dialogue which is predominantly Shaw, the lyrics, the music, the costumes, the art direction, staging, the performances, are all exceptional. Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle are two of my favorite characters across all entertainment. They are both heavyweights, equals, and watching the two spar is a joy to me. Easily my favorite variant of the Pygmalion story, and probably my favorite musical.
-Directed by George Cukor, 1964
Chef 86% on Rotten Tomatoes 9 (Amazon)
Starring Jon Favreau, John Leguizamo, Sofia Vergara, Robert Downey Jr, Bobby Cannavale, Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman
Plot Summary-A disgraced chef turns to working out of a food truck as he embarks on a road trip with his young son and best friend.
My Take-On the one hand light and breezy, it also works well as statement about needing to rediscover yourself in any art form, and the need for an artist to take chances. The performances, mainly the camaraderie, seem very genuine, and everything appears authentic because of it.
-Directed by Jon Favreau, 2014
Funny Face 87% on Rotten Tomatoes 9 (DVD)
Starring Fred Astaire, Audrey Hepburn, Kay Thompson
Plot Summary-When the editor for a top fashion magazine, Quality, announces that she is looking for a new face to freshen up the world of fashion, her most trusted photographer suggests a book-worm girl he’s fallen for.
My Take-There’s nothing tremendous at play here, it just hits the mark in every aspect. Great music. Great stars (how can you beat Astaire and Hepburn?) Great costumes. All set in Paris, France.
-Directed by Stanley Donen, 1957