Some old animation, some new live-action. Some pleasant surprises, some expected disappointments.
MULHOLLAND DRIVE: * * *
I swung up and down on this. It was okay at first, then it got really good, then it got really WTF. Oh, David Lynch, why do I always forget that you always do this? However, given time to reflect and review and reconsider, I do think it holds together enough to be worth it. But I won't give it any more than that.
THE MUPPETS TAKE MANHATTAN: * * * *
Watched at home on instant play on a rainy day, as I recall. A little harder for Liana to "get" than the original and overall just not as pitch-perfect, but it's still a fine film. Really, it's hard not to enjoy the Muppets. Something would have to be wrong with you.
THE HUDSUCKER PROXY: * * * * *
I should have seen this a jillion years ago! Why did no one ever tell me this film is entirely delightful?
THE SWORD IN THE STONE: * * *
Decided to try some Disney backfill. I had fond memories of the magical duel. But it doesn't really hold up that well. Most of the plot is just filler gags around shape-changing and the conflicts (such as they are) never really develop properly. Also, the quality of the animation is really noticeably poorer than that which came before and that which came well after.
GET HIM TO THE GREEK: * * * *
I had this vague understanding that Russell Brand is a British comedy douchebag, of the radio shock jock sort in at least some form, but I think C had read some of his book or something that suggested he might actually be funny, so we pulled this one down. A swell surprise! Brand is excellent and Sean "Diddy" Combs is out-of-left-field phenomenal. It's only core flaw is that Jonah Hill (and the Jonah Hill Type) seems rather implausible for an industry entirely of, for, and about the completely opposite Type, but he's very good in the role.
MODERN FAMILY: SEASON 1: * * * *
Right in the zone for evening comedy watching: half-hour, reasonably sharp, reliably funny, awkward humor not too painful. A bit maudlin with the episode wrap-ups but at least they know what their message is and stay on point. Well cast across the board but Ed O'Neill, especially, is pure joy to watch.
MEMORIES: * * *
The film that Katsuhiro Otomo made after AKIRA (* * * * *), consisting of three short films based on his manga work. I've had the excellent soundtrack for years; it was about time to see the film. Sadly, about as disappointing as I'd been led to believe. All three of them suffer from feeling padded, at times, by drawn-out sequences that add nothing to the story but time. The middle story, "Stink Bomb", about a lab experiment gone apocalyptically awry, ended up being my favorite (by which I mean, the only one of the three that I was able to stay awake through entirely without ever dozing off and needing to rewind several minutes.)
HOT TUB TIME MACHINE: * * * *
Does what it says on the tin. Plagued, unfortunately, by a handful of anachronisms (ironic, in a time travel story, I know). Good thing you checked your expectations of realism at the door when your eyes saw the words "hot tub" and "time machine" in a title together.
FANTASIA: * * * * *
One of those films to just come back and revisit every several years. This time, for Liana's benefit. Surprisingly, her favorite sequence is not Mickey in "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" (which she finds just a bit too anxiety-inducing) but rather, the Ancient Greece of Beethoven's "Pastoral Symphony". We re-watched that segment most every evening for over a week.
IRON MAN 2: * * * *
Suffered from exactly the problem that most hit comic-book movie sequels face sooner or later: Too Many Fan Service Elements. The fall of Tony Stark! Hammer Industries! Whiplash! War Machine! SHIELD! Black Widow! Most of the film consists of stuff other than Iron Man, it seems. Most criminally, there is way more focus on Black Widow than on Pepper Potts. Why go through all the trouble of actually crafting a role that makes Gwyneth Paltrow appealing, and then underuse her in favor of ScarJo who, really, would be entirely appealing as a parking meter.
For consideration: next up we have a bunch of things other people told me I really ought to see, most of which paid off