MJ Monday-Movies: Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2:  This is a must see double header. I saw the first one in a movie theater and loved it. When Vol 2 came out on DVD, we all trooped to my nephew’s home theater for a double header, as my sister hadn’t yet seen the first one. It was an amazing experience.

Flash forward several months. My critique partners and I were enroute to a retreat in the woods when we learned at least one of our group hadn’t seen either movie. Out came the cell phones as we searched every Barnes & Noble, Target, Wal-Mart, Red Box etc. between where we were on the highway and our final destination looking for copies of both movies. As luck would have it, the Wal-Mart very near our destination had both. I purchased them and had another double-header night with my besties. I laughed as hard as  I had the first time seeing the films.

Action films sometimes bore me because they depend too much on special effects and bang-bang-shoot-em-up instead of plot. Guardians brushed against that threshold for me. But just when I would start to squirm and yawn, the boring stuff ended.

Solid plot, solid acting, solid humor, solid action.

MJ Monday-Movies: Nightmare Alley

My husband thought I would like Nightmare Alley, and he was correct. I had seen Tyrone Power in a Zoro movie and liked him. I was familiar with Joan Blondell from TV.

Power plays a carnival huckster who eventually gets his comeuppance. Lots of plot in the story. Lots of emotion. I also learned where the word “geek” originated. The film blew me away.

Here’s the TCM intro to the film.

If you get a chance, you should check it out.

If you

MJ Monday-Movies: Knives Out

I actually went to a theater and saw Knives Out with my husband when it was first released. I loved it. Great cast. I really hated Daniel Craig’s southern accent, but that was part of the absurdity that made the movie so enjoyable.

The cast was wonderful (despite the aforementioned dreadful accent used by Craig). In addition to Craig, we saw Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, Chris Evans, Christopher Plummer, and a face I knew, but I didn’t know from where: the actress who played Great Nana Wanetta. It wasn’t until the end credits that I realized who she was: K Callan, who played Clark Kent’s mother in Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.

The film was funny, intriguing, twisty, Agatha Christy. Part Clue, part Murder, She Wrote.

Thoroughly enjoyable.

MJ Monday-Movies: Bottle Shock

I hadn’t heard of this movie until the wonderful Alan Rickman died. Not only was Rickman in the movie, but also Bill Pullman (While You Were Sleeping) and Chris Pine (Star Trek reboot). Worth checking out for the cast alone.

The topic was another go-to for me: (from the IMDB):  the story of the early days of California wine making featuring the now infamous, blind Paris wine tasting of 1976 that has come to be known as “Judgment of Paris”.

For those who are unfamiliar with this, California wines weren’t considered much before the Judgment of Paris. The film is the story of how a California wine ended up winning the tasting and launching a whole new industry.

I wish I could say I loved the movie. I wish I could say I liked the movie. I wish I could take it out of the library again and watch it alone, hoping to improve my impression of it.

The main thing, for me, was the slow pacing. Maybe it was intentional, mimicking the wine aging process and the savoring of a glass of fine wine. But while time is needed in both of those instances, telling a story on film needs to move. Otherwise, it’s watching grapes grow.

Three stars (because of the cast).

MJ Monday-Movies: People Will Talk

Someone on Facebook recently mentioned People Will Talk was airing on TV. I mentioned it to my husband, who recorded it. Neither one of us was familiar with the film. A few weeks later, we sat down to watch and were more than pleasantly surprised.

It stars Cary Grant, Jeanne Crain, with Hume Cronyn and Walter Slezak along with and uncredited appearance by Margaret Hamilton in one of the early scenes. It’s billed as a romance/comedy/drama. All three categories are correct.

I didn’t realize the complexity of the movie until after I watched it. The plot lines are so finely woven together the stories make complete sense. One plotline involves a doctor (Hume Cronyn) trying to discredit another doctor (Cary Grant). Another is  the romance Cary Grant carries on with an unwed mother.

You read that correctly. This movie was released in 1951, after the Hayes Code was put in place. An unpunished heroine unwed mother?  Even the family of director Joseph Mankiewicz aren’t sure how he slipped that one past the review board.

There are several laugh-out-loud moments.  The romance is delightful. There is political intrigue and honor.

Five stars.