Mar 20, 2016

WIWTW #39

This week was a bit of a funny week in the sense that I didn't really see any bad movies besides The Return of Jafar. While I didn't necessarily see any must-see classics, I'd recommend pretty much everything I saw this week. I might never have a week like this again.

Most of this week was composed of some pretty good flicks from the 90's like In & Out ('97), Beautiful Girls ('96) and The Opposite of Sex B ('98). Seriously, watch any of them because they're all quite good in their own way. I guess Aladdin ('92) deserves to be part of the conversation too since it is the Best Movie of the Week after all. It doesn't quite reach the levels of The Little Mermaid or Beauty and the Beast which the latter is the crown jewel of Disney's library in my books. Still very good though. And The Return of Jafar is still very bad. I'd have to check, but I think this is the first time in a WIWTW that the Best Movie and Worst Movie are part of the same series.

Now on to this week's WIWTW.

But first...
 

Some News (That I Actually Care About)

  • Netflix makes a lot of money, so what's $90 million to them? Well that's what they paid for Bright which will star Will Smith and Joel Edgerton. Max Landis had already written the script and the film is to be directed by David Ayer (Suicide Squad) so this is pretty huge for Netflix. @Deadline
  • Box office report: Zootopia isn't going anywhere just yet. With $38 million this past weekend, it beat out newcomer The Divergent Series: Allegiant which could only muster $29.1 million. That's a franchise low with its two predecessors Divergent and Insurgent earning $54.6 million and $52.3 million respectively. Along with The Maze Runner, we're probably seeing the final days of the YA film franchise. Anyhow, this week is most likely Zootopia's final week on top since Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is up for release officially next weekend. Unless of course everyone just flocks to My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 of course, totally possible.
  • Is Terminator 6 really going to happen? Arnold Schwarzenegger seems to think so. I haven't even seen Terminator: Genysis yet but I think I've heard enough to know that it deserved to flop and flop it did in the US. It did make some pretty good change in China, but is that really enough for a sequel? @Independent
  • Speaking of Netflix again, after being dropped by Paramount, The Little Prince has been picked up by Netflix. It had already been released theatrically in other territories, but will now only be available in the US on Netflix. That's the power of Disney and Zootopia I guess. @The Hollywood Reporter
Video of the week: Disney's Wilhelm Scream is a real thing, here it is.

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Number of movies watched: 10

Average rating: 6.60
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March 13th

 

In & Out (1997)

Rating: 7/10

What is it: A Frank Oz directed comedy about a man unsure of his sexual orientation

I've rarely seen a movie as well casted as In & Out. There's nobody who could have played Howard Brackett as well as Kevin Kline did and I mean NOBODY. He dominates the screen in his own quiet way and makes it very easy to root for his character. Joan Cusack's acting style is also very well suited for her character and Tom Selleck without a mustache? It's a must see. Anyway, In & Out is a really pleasant comedy/drama that has a very pleasing message about acceptance and homophobia. The climax is a bit of a Hollywood cop-out, but there's no denying its effectiveness. The dialogue has teeth and Frank Oz manufactures some very good comedy with the script he's given. This is definitely worth a movie worth watching.

 

 

Once Upon a Mattress (2005)

Rating: 6.5/10

What is it: A fairy tale re-tooling of The Princess and the Pea

OUaM was nominated for 2 Primetime Emmys, but I've never heard of it and I honestly wasn't familiar with any of the actors besides Zooey Deschanel. I can say that I came away pleasantly surprised by the end. There have been other adaptations of Once Upon a Mattress which originally was a Broadway show, so I can't compare this one to any of the others. The songs appear to be quite well written to my ears and the singing is also more than competent, especially when it comes to Tracey Ullman. The very loud costumes are a bit hard on the eyes, but where Once Upon a Mattress succeeds the most is in simply being fun. Carol Burnett in particular seems to relish in her role and sometimes that's all it takes.

March 14th

 

Beautiful Girls (1996)

Rating: 7/10

What is it: An ensemble cast small town drama

With the title Beautiful Girls, I was not expecting this Ted Demme-directed film to be as good as it is. I guess I was expecting some kind of comedy centered around a guy who couldn't make up his mind about who he wants to date. While you could almost say that BG is just that, only with several male characters, it goes way further than that. This is a movie about finding yourself, about coming to terms with expectations, failure and friendship. The small town setting feels genuine and Demme has a great script to work with courtesy of Scott Rosenberg. His direction with every actor from Matt Dillon to Rosie O'Donnell couldn't be better and that makes BG a really nice little movie.

March 15th

 

Superman vs. The Elite (2012)

Rating: 6.5/10

What is it: A DC Animated Universe movie that finds Superman's relevance being questioned

These animated DC movies usually have some very neat ideas and this is definitely one of them. As we know, Supes is not the kind of superhero who goes around killing everybody, preferring to neutralize threats and have them be judged under the law. Well, what happens when imprisoned bad guy gets out and kills more innocents? Would it have been better to simply kill them in the first place and not risk more death? The Elite seem to think so which makes for a compelling battle of different philosophies. Unfortunately, the short runtime severely cripples S vs. TE just like so many other DC animations making this a woulda could shoulda. The animation disappoints in a few places as well.

March 16th

 

Cats v Dogs: Which Is Best? (2016)

Rating: 6.5/10

What is it: A BBC Two documentary miniseries comparing the two kinds of pets.

I rarely ever watch TV, so watching this documentary was a little strange for me. Got to change it up from time to time I guess. Anyhow, this Brit doc aims to find out if cats or dogs are the superior pet through a series of different tests measuring athleticism, senses, intelligence, affection and more. Overall it's a pretty well done show and it will certainly satisfy both types of owners. It probably does try a bit too hard to make everybody happy and I do doubt some of the testing that's done. Also, the male co-host Chris Packham has a speech impediment that got to be pretty irritating. 


 

 

Closed Mondays (1974)

Rating: 7.5/10

What is it: Best Animated Short at the 47th Academy Awards

I personally love claymation and Closed Mondays happens to be the holder of "First Use of Claymation" from the Guinness Book of World Records which is kind of a big deal. It follows the story of a drunk man wandering into a closed art museum which gives him the chance to appreciate all the art in his altered state of mind. It's the kind of short that'll make you reflect on what you've just watched. Bob Gardiner and Will Vinton really do have some impressive tricks up their sleeves when it comes to the use of claymation as well. Fans of claymation should definitely check this one out, at least out of respect.

March 17th

 

Aladdin (1992): Best Movie of the Week Award

Rating: 7.5/10

What is it: The animated feature that kicked off A-listers doing voice acting

Everyone credits Disney for starting the trend of big name actors doing voices in animated movies which always makes me feel bad for Ferngully: The Last Rainforest. Still, it's abundantly clear that Disney went out of their way to build Aladdin around the talents of Williams and his knack for improvisation. In fact, Williams' presence is so huge and unforgettable that his Genie character completely overshadows Aladdin (Scott Weinger) and Jasmine (Linda Larkin) which to me is a bit of a problem. While I like how their very different backgrounds are addressed, they're a little bit lost in the machine gun exuberance of Genie. Great animation though and there's a slew of good songs in Aladdin.

March 18th

 

The Opposite of Sex (1998)

Rating: 7/10

What is it: The biting directorial debut of Don Roos.

In The Opposite of Sex, Christina Ricci's character Dede narrates at several junctures which is usually the kind of thing that works beautifully or fails miserably. The former is the case here. Dede goes as far as satirizing the very fabric of the narrative which makes the more routine scenes of TOoS work a lot better than they would without it. Don Roos' dialogue is sharply written and the storyline is definitely of the more risqué variety which is nice. I suppose that liking Christina Ricci is a bit of a must in order to enjoy TOoS, but I think her Golden Globe nomination was well deserved here. She takes the role of Dede by the reigns and never lets go for a second. 

March 19th

 

Time to Kill (1942)

Rating: 6.5/10

What is it: An adaptation of Raymond Chandler's novel The High Window.

I've seen a couple of Philip Marlowe movies so it made sense to see the rest of them. With a total of ten films, it's clear that the character was popular. What's funny here is that writer Brett Halliday's Michael Shayne takes the place of Marlowe despite this being a Marlowe story. Kind of like putting Batman in a Superman movie. Anyhow, at a scant hour and one minute, TtK is short. Somehow it manages to squeeze everything in which actually is a service in this case since the cranked up pace keeps your attention quite effectively. Lloyd Nolan as Michael Shayne is also lots of fun as the practically invulnerable detective/charmer. TtK definitely falls into the second-tier of hard boiled detective films, but it's a solid one. 

 

 

The Return of Jafar (1994): Worst Movie of the Week Award

Rating: 4/10

What is it: The first entry in Disney's money hungry effort to flood the video market

The Return of Jafar and every direct-to-video sequel that Disney put out was a smart business decision. It significantly cut down on costs and that is depressingly clear when you compare the TRoJ and the original. It's only a little over an hour, the animation is flat and dull and the absence of Robin Williams (left due to a disagreement) makes things even more cost efficient. Disappointingly, the songs leave no lasting impression and boy was it a mistake to give Iago a more prominent role. I have to mention the animation again because what is up with the horrible character expressions and the lack of consistency? TRoJ is just a poor effort rushed to market to capitalize on a hot product from two years earlier.