A No-Review Review of the Little Mermaid Remake

Matt Walsh gives an amusing review of Disney’s remake of A Little Mermaid by comparing it to Burger King.  Personally I think he’s unfair to Burger King in this comparison.  But I did enjoy his rant.  It was well ranted.

Capitol L Small A. Capitol F Small O Small N Small G.

I have an inordinate fondness for W.C. Fields’ comedy.  His henpecked, misanthropic “heroes” are among my favorite comedic characters.  Here’s a part of a scene from his movie “It’s a Gift.”  I’ve always thought that the insurance salesman sounds an awful lot like the talk show host Johnny Carson.

Dagon’s Spawn Goes for a Stroll

Dunwich is the home of more than just Cthulhu himself.  In addition to the First Selectman several of his fellow Great Old Ones inhabit the borders of the township.  For instance, several of Dagon’s descendants inhabit the various lakes, ponds and swamps that overgenerously hydrate the area.  As I’ve often mentioned I am adjacent to one of these swamps and from time to time one of its inhabitants sojourns through or near the grounds.

Today I was in the west field collecting the scattered remains of some cattle that a shoggoth must have devoured there when I heard the sound of tree trunks creaking and cracking under the strain of some horribly massive object forcing its way against them.  As I watched I could see some enormous white pines toppling over far off in the distance.  I cautiously made my way to the location where the trees had fallen and I saw a terrifying sight.  One of the Deep Ones, possibly Dagon’s oldest child was just finishing off the shoggoth as a small meal.  It was of course eating it alive and its victim was changing form and letting out the most horrifying sounds ever heard by a human ear.  Well, except for that time Kamala Harris laughed at one of Biden’s jokes.  That was worse.

When the Deep One was finished with its meal, it belched thunderously and the air was filled with a sulfurous fume that nearly finished me off before the wind changed direction.  Then it hauled its titanic bulk out of the mud and battered a path back into the deeper end of the swamp where it disappeared below the surface with a sickening sucking sound.

Later when the sun had set the foot prints began to glow with a sickly yellow phosphorescence and any creature, insect or amphibian that touched those glowing patches jumped away in pain and rapidly died.  And I happened to witness later that night when an enormous gas bubble broke the surface of the swamp and a yellow glowing fume drifted up.  All the leaves above the pond immediately shriveled up and fell into the water.  I guess the shoggoth was a little greasy even for one of Dagon’s kin.  I wonder if they make Alka seltzer in Great Old One size.

Luckily (or unfortunately) I had my camera with me during the event and I had the presence of mind to capture the great creature returning through the haunted wood.

I intend to send this photographic evidence to the Department of Cryptozoological Studies at Miskatonic University where I studied under the eminent dagonologist Clyde Crashcupp.  With his decades of study and razor-sharp brain he’s sure to earn at least a Nobel prize with this evidence.  I may have to lend him a tux.  He’s kind of a hermit and wears a rope to hold his pants up.

Well, I’d better get back to my chores.  There’s a family of ghouls in the neighborhood and I need to get the fences fixed before they wander by.

The Means of Production – Part 1

So, what to write about tonight?  Tucker?  Elon?  The Biden Crime Family’s Congressional investigation?  Trump and his various legal problems.  The Republican presidential contenders?  Dementia Joe’s sinking ratings?  The crime-drenched cities?  The invasion at the southern border?  The collapsing banks?  Stagflation?  The Ukraine War?  Bud Light’s ongoing sales freefall?

Meh.  Just not in the mood.  Maybe it’s the crazy local things I’m involved in.  Maybe it’s too much same old, same old.

Well for whatever reason, let’s talk about something different.

I was reading recently about a studio that has been producing family friendly movies.  Mostly Christian movies but not exclusively.  Let’s call them Christian friendly.  They recently had a hit with a movie called the Jesus Revolution, “a feel-good movie about hippies who returned to Christ during the 1970s, starring former “Cheers” and “Frasier” star Kelsey Grammer – has grossed more than $52 million since its debut just a few weeks ago, making it the most successful film released by studio heavyweight Lionsgate since 2019.”

Many years ago, I remember watching a few of the movies produced by Christian churches and other organizations.  And although it was refreshing to see entertainment that stressed religious values and themes, they were notable for very simplistic plots and amateurish acting.  I guess the cast was more living the moments of the plot rather than acting them.

““The biggest critique on Christian art of the last thirty plus years, is that it’s not good, or it hasn’t been good,” said Terence Berry, COO of Wedgwood Circle, a nonprofit that connects investors and creators to develop projects that are informed by their Christian faith. “And I do think there have been huge strides made in people creating content for the faith market.””

Move forward twenty years and the producers now out there like Wedgwood and Angel Studios are producing movies that can be viewed by mainstream audiences without eye-rolling.  Berry calls it “a third way.”

““Can you offer stuff that is not perceived as faith market, and that is really well done, and it’s good, true, and beautiful, and it’s speaking to larger questions and it is aligned with your faith,” he asked, “but it is done so in a way that allows other people from outside the faith to engage and like that content?””

In the article the writer mentions that these producers are producing movies and arranging theater distribution using both investor and crowd-funded capital.  And the products include movies, music, books, television, and radio shows.  In fact, there are even animated movies in the works.

So why is this interesting?

I think because Hollywood is melting down.  Other than super hero movies Hollywood has only had a very few actual blockbuster hits in the last ten years.  Tom Cruise in Top Gun is that exception that proves the rule.  And it’s especially relevant because it’s one of the few movies that bucks all the stupid trends that have cost Hollywood its audience.  It’s patriotic.  It doesn’t pound away at woke tropes.  It doesn’t replace entertainment with an agenda.  It doesn’t denigrate its audience.

So, with Hollywood marching into the ocean and at the same time starving audiences for wholesome content.  And with streaming and the lower price of computer-generated imaging making fantasy and other genera movies orders of magnitude cheaper than just a few years ago, this is the perfect time for small production companies to provide people with entertainment choices they sorely lack.

And I think it’s finally, finally beginning to happen.  I’ve watched some short sci-fi movies on YouTube that come close to Hollywood level special effects.  And because of how Hollywood is using “diversity, inclusion and equity” there are many unemployed straight, white, male actors, writers, directors and other creatives that could use work.  In such an environment I think we’ll start seeing more and more breakout productions that owe their success to giving people the entertainment that Hollywood refuses to produce.

But here’s the point.  All of these people trying to produce this content didn’t get into it because they always wanted to build their own movie studios.  They’re doing it because the movie studios told them that the content they wanted was wrong and shouldn’t exist.  So, they had to become movie makers.  Same thing with book authors.  The books we like are so evil that the publishers are retroactively changing the text of old classics like Roald Dahl’s children’s books.  Same for music, same for art.  Same for education.  If we want what we think is right we’re going to have to make it ourselves.  Internalize that and employ it as needed in your life and you’ll start changing things for the better.

If you don’t like the crap on display in woke world then search out something better at the fringes.  And if that doesn’t exist, then do it yourself.  That’s the lesson.

I intend to start looking for some of these movie projects and try them out.  I’ll report back on what I find.

Blow-up (1966) – A Movie Review

I usually include a spoiler warning with my reviews.  But this movie is so awful that if I can stop you from seeing it by giving away the plot, I would consider that an act of mercy.

The only claim to fame I will grant this movie is as a source for the homage that Mike Meyers did of it whenever he did his photographer bit in the Austin Powers movies.  The absurd behavior that he displayed as he photographed the groovy models in those movies is almost an accurate portrayal of the Thomas character in this movie.  And that is the only good thing I can say for Blow-up.

The movie represents about a day in the life of London photographer “Thomas.”  He’s played by someone named David Hemmings whom I don’t recognize.  There are two actresses in the movie that I have heard of Vanessa Redgrave and Sarah Miles but the only notable part of their performances is they take off their shirts.  In fact, most of the main female characters end up topless at some point.  But I’ll tell you right up front it didn’t help much.  Now I’m not one to disparage the female form in cinema but these attempts at partial nudity were painful.  This was during a time (the 1960s) when fashion models were expected to have the physique of famine victims.  You can literally count their vertebrae when they turn away from the camera.  This is not erotic.  It’s mostly silly and at times annoying because of how clumsy these scenes are.  I never thought I’d fast forward through a female nude scene but so help me, I did.

Anyway, the plot.  Thomas moves around photographing in a working-class area of London then to his home studio then to an antique store where he is attempting to buy an old wooden propeller then to a park where he photographs a man and woman kissing.  This last scene is the center of the plot.  The woman sees him taking her picture and demands that he give her the film.  He refuses and heads back home.  Eventually she finds him and demands the film again.  When he refuses, she, of course, takes off her shirt.  Now for the next twenty minutes we mostly see Vanesa Redgrave’s back.  Eventually he takes his shirt off and then he gives her what she thinks is the film of her in the park and she leaves.

Now we find out that he kept the roll of film from the park.  He prints it and after a very, very long sequence of him blowing up portions of the photos we can tell that there was a man hiding in the trees with a gun and eventually we see that the man who was kissing the girl was shot by the gunman.  Now why Thomas didn’t hear a shot isn’t explained but then again who cares.

Then Thomas goes to visit a friend whose wife is in love with him.  Then he goes to see the body that’s still in the field.  Then he comes home and finds that his house has been ransacked and his film and prints of the park have been stolen.  Then he goes to a party where the Yardbirds are playing and then he goes to another party where his agent is smoking pot.  When he wakes up the next morning in the party house he heads over to the park and the body is gone.

After that he watches some mimes pretending to play tennis on an actual tennis court.  Thomas even throws their pretend tennis ball back to them when it goes over the fence.

The End.

This movie is purported to be an iconic cinematic masterpiece.

It ain’t.

If I can convince you to never watch this movie, I will feel that I have struck a blow for humanity.  You will have saved two hours of your life.  If in the course of this website’s existence a hundred people decide not to watch Blow-up two hundred precious hours of human life will have been saved.  I will count that as my great gift to mankind.  Instead watch the first Austin Powers movie and enjoy his parody of Thomas.

Sicario (2015) – A Movie Review

Sicario is about a United States law enforcement team’s efforts to capture the head of a Mexican drug cartel.

(Spoiler Alert – Skip down to last paragraph to avoid spoilers and read recommendation)

Kate Macer (played by Emily Blunt) and Reggie Wayne are FBI agents who discover a cartel safe house in Arizona filled with corpses.  They become drawn into a task force headed by CIA Operative Matt Graver (played by Josh Brolin).  But also involved is a Mexican national, Alejandro Gillick (played by Benicio del Toro) whose precise role is unexplained.

The task force heads into Juarez, Mexico to bring into US custody Guillermo Diaz whose brother Manuel is a lieutenant in the Sonora cartel.  During the return drive a contingent of cartel foot soldiers attempts an ambush but is overwhelmed by the special forces soldiers assigned to the task force.  But Macer is troubled by the unorthodox and secretive aspects of the operation.  She surmises that Gillick is not a legitimate law enforcement agent and she suspects that the operation is really a CIA hit squad that will be violating US laws by operating in the United States.

Macer and Wayne meet a local policeman they know named Ted in a bar.  She invites Ted into her room but she discovers he’s on the cartel payroll and attempts to arrest him.  He overpowers and begins to strangle her.  But Gillick appears in the nick of time and after some “persuasion” Ted provides the task force with the names of the other American policemen on the cartel payroll.

The “interrogation” of Guillermo reveals that a tunnel is used by the Sonora Cartel and a mission is planned to capture Manuel Diaz there.  During the operation Macer witnesses Gillick executing Mexican nationals and taking a cartel-owned Mexican federale as prisoner.  When she attempts to stop him, he shoots her twice on her body armor and warns her to never point a gun at him again.

Macer is outraged by Gillick’s actions but when she complains to Graver, he warns her that the war against the drug cartels had become a real war and the CIA uses extreme tactics.  He also tells her that Gillick’s wife and daughter were executed in a horrible manner by Manuel Diaz’s boss, Fausto Alarcón.  Gillick is intent on revenging himself on Alarcón and Graver intends to use this revenge to accomplish the destruction of the Sonora Cartel.

And that’s exactly what Gillick does.  He uses the captured Mexican policeman to pull over Manuel Diaz’s car and then he uses Diaz to get himself into Alarcón’s guarded compound.  Finally he finds Alarcón eating dinner with his wife and young children.  Gillick talks about the murder of his family and then murders Alarcón’s family.  After a decent interval for his victim to suffer the loss, he shoots him too.

Sometime after this mission Gillick sneaks into Macer’s apartment and at gunpoint he orders her to sign a document confirming that Gillick’s team had followed all US laws during its mission.  At first, she refuses but when he puts the gun to her head, he tells her that to refuse would be to commit suicide.  She signs the paper.  He tells her to find a small town to live in where the law still exists.  He says, “This is a land of wolves and the wolves will kill you.”  Or something like that.

Gillick leaves and when he is across the street she comes out on her balcony with a gun.  Gillick turns to her to give her the shot but she lowers her gun and he walks away.

This movie has several problems.  The biggest one is the actress playing Macer.  She probably weighs seventy pounds sopping wet but she’s part of an assault team taking down narcotrafficantes left and right.  It’s patently absurd.  Next, the episode with Ted, the rogue cop is too contrived.  Also, Macer seems at the same time drawn to this highly unorthodox mission but also shocked to see commando operations used against foreign nationals attacking the United States.  But putting all those things aside, this is a very exciting action film.  The acting and action are highly entertaining and the plot resolution is satisfying.  I highly recommend this movie to fans of action films.

Worst Movies of the 21st Century List

The Hollywood Reporter is a rag that’s been around forever and purports to know something about film.  They’ve put out a list of what they claim are the “best” films of the 21st Century.  If you go through this list from start to finish you’ll most say, “Huh?”  Which is a good thing.  Most of this dreck explores the neuroses of sexual deviants trying to figure out why they are desperately unhappy and at odds with normal human experience.  Good luck with enjoying that with a tub of popcorn.  There are one or two movies that were entertaining or meaningful but as a list to choose entertainment it’s a joke, a bad joke.

One of these days I need to publish some best movie lists by categories and put these professional critics to well deserved shame.

Hud (1963) – A Movie Review

What kind of movie should Hud be called.  It’s not a clear thing.  I guess I’d call it a character driven story about an amoral man.  Paul Newman plays Hud Bannon the son of a small-time Texas cattle rancher Homer Bannon (played by Melvyn Douglas.  They live in a small house on their ranch along with Hud’s nephew Lonnie.  And rounding out the cast is the housekeeper Alma Brown played by Patricia Neal.

Hud is a handsome, personable young man who spends his time drinking and sleeping with the various unfaithful married women of the small town they live near.  In the opening scene Lonnie is searching around town for Hud to come look at a dead cow at the ranch.  When he finds him at the house of one of his women the husband shows up and Hud tells the man that Lonnie was the one who was with his wife and Hud quickly escapes with Lonnie while claiming that he will punish Lonnie for his behavior.

(Spoiler Alert – Skip down to last paragraph to avoid spoilers and read recommendation)

This sets the tone for the whole movie.  Hud is completely irresponsible and selfish and he really doesn’t care how his behavior effects anyone or anything.  The movie shows Lonnie learning about his uncle by following him around and experiencing how exciting, reckless and dangerous his uncle is.  We gather from his speech that Homer has long ago written off his son as a hopeless case and shows cold distaste for him.  Part of this is based on Hud having killed Lonnie’s father in a drunken car accident years ago.    Alma is somewhat charmed by Hud’s attentions but she is careful not to encourage him because she senses his callousness and irresponsibility.

By the end of the movie the depth of Hud’s selfishness and disloyalty is on full display.  When the ranch is in crisis because the herd has to be destroyed because of disease, Hud immediately calls on a lawyer to have his father declared incompetent so he can turn the property into cash.  And in another scene, in a drunken debauch, Hud attempts to rape Alma and is only stopped when Lonnie pulls him off of her.  Hud barely restrains himself from beating Lonnie to a pulp.

The story ends with Homer dying from a fall from his horse but it seems the case that he no longer wanted to live.  Alma has already left town to escape Hud and in the final scene Hud comes back from the funeral to see Lonnie walking away down the road to continue his life without his heartless uncle.

I will admit that this doesn’t sound like a promising plot.  But the four principals provide truly excellent characterizations and the plot draws you in to see how this fraught situation will resolve.  Newman’s character is both unsympathetic and mesmerizing.  Patricia Neal’s Alma is humorous and bittersweet.  Hud’s father and nephew are also played very convincingly.  When the movie ends, and it ends abruptly, I guess the feeling you’re left with is anger.  Now that’s a strange way to leave an audience but at the same time there’s an honesty about the ending.  Many people have probably known someone like Hud, a charming sociopath who leaves a path of destruction in his wake.

This movie may not be everyone’s cup of tea.  I’m recommending it because I think it’s a good film.  If my description hasn’t scared you off give it a try.

Master And Commander – The Far Side of the World (2003) – A Movie Review

I’d heard a good deal about this movie from a friend of mine who was of old Yankee blood and a sailor.  I finally got a chance to see it last week.

(Spoiler Alert – Skip down to last paragraph to avoid spoilers and read recommendation)

The story follows the adventures of the crew of the HMS Surprise during the Napoleonic Wars as its captain, Jack Aubrey, (played by Russell Crowe) chases a French privateer, the heavy frigate Acheron, from the coastal waters of Brazil, around the Cape Horn and into the tropical waters of the Pacific.

Because the Acheron has a much more substantial hull the Surprise is heavily damaged during their first engagement off Brazil while the Acheron is virtually undamaged.  Aubrey foregoes a lengthy refitting in port and instead makes hasty repairs at sea while doing his best to pursue the Acheron.  But because of the Acheron’s superior battle capability it becomes a cat and mouse game where the Surprise is sometimes the pursued.

And while all this goes on, we meet the rest of the crew.  The ship’s surgeon, Stephen Maturin is played by Paul Bettany.  The doctor not only can saw off a midshipman’s arm as needed but he’s also the captain’s accompanist in their musical string duo.  I kid you not.  The crew and the officers have a complicated relationship with strict discipline and primitive superstition both playing a part.

Eventually through luck and guile Aubrey engineers the attack on the Acheron and we get an epic sea battle with the Surprise’s crew boarding the Acheron.  And the Surprise is victorious and captain and crew prepare for the business of bringing the captured Acheron to port.

So, what’s the story with this movie?  Why do some people rave about it?  The first thing I noticed was that the movie successfully captured the claustrophobic crowdedness of these sailing ships.  You can feel the lack of air in the hold where the crew sleeps cheek to jowl.  It feels real.  Less like Hollywood’s version of the 19th century English navy.  Right down to some of the midshipman being essentially boys of twelve years or so.  Then there’s Russell Crowe’s portrayal of Aubrey.  Crowe is a damn good actor.  He makes the captain a real figure.  You can believe in him.  And Aubrey and Maturin’s friendship and clashes also ring true.  The man of action and the man of science confronting their conflicting priorities as best they can.  And lastly, the battle scenes are very well done and highly exciting.  The only part of the story that I had trouble with was the final battle.  The boarding scene was intentionally chaotic.  Such an event would have to be.  But honestly at many points I couldn’t tell which side was doing what to whom.  It didn’t ruin the film but I thought it could have been a little less indecipherable.  I enjoyed the movie and would recommend it to lovers of adventure and students of history.