Video Roundup – July 2012

First off, a preview:
Here is a link to the trailer for “5 Hour Friends”, a new movie with Tom Sizemore, Musetta Vander, and Kimberlin Brown. “A lifelong womanizer gets a taste of his own medicine.” My niece Rebecca Jade writes: “This is the film I’m in, playing a singer [typecasting!], keep an eye out for it… Final edits should be done in late August and then working to get major distribution and inclusion at Sundance.”

Here are some movies I’ve seen on video recently.

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

I was surprised to find that I thoroughly enjoyed this picture. It told a credible re-imagining of his origin as a scrawny Steve Rogers (Chris Pine) who wants to serve his country, even if it means being a guinea pig for a machine that, theoretically, at least, would make him stronger. Those critics who did not find this exciting enough confuse me. It had the pacing not out of place with the dramas I’d seen from the 1940s. When Cap became nothing more than a costume, I found that particularly compelling.

All of this said, there were one glaring thing that I found less than believable. One was selecting of a particular baseball game; one would have thought that mistake would not be made by…whomever.

And can someone please explain the Marvel Movie Universe to me? Presumably, the Fantastic Four, featuring the same Chris Pine, is NOT in the universe, and neither are the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man films? But what of the new Spidey flick? I suppose I could look it up, but I expect a comic geek out there can explain it to me better.

Sidebar: Thom Wade on Understanding the Value of Power?
Thor (2011)

I found this a bit confusing and muddled. I listened to director Kenneth Branaugh’s discussion of the deleted scenes, and I’ve become convinced that the insertion of one or two, including one featuring the Warrior Three and Sif, would have clarified things somewhat for me, though it might have been at the expense of the pacing.

Still, I found I liked the film more as it went on. Chris Hemsworth was a quite decent Thor, though I think Tom Hiddleston as Loki and even Idris Elba in the relatively small role of Heimdall stole the show. Natalie Portman was fine as Jane Foster, though I kept thinking that the role didn’t need someone of her acting pedigree.
The Princess Diaries (2001)

I saw this originally in the theater and liked it well enough. Anne Hathaway, in her first starring role, was credible as the nerd who would be royalty, and Julie Andrews was perfect as her grandmother, and, not incidentally, the queen of an obscure land. Watching it again with an eight-year-old who believes she’s practically a royal herself – she IS distantly related to the late Princess Diana – I realized what FUN it must be for the target audience.

I spent most of my time watching the extras, which included director Garry Marshall’s recollections of the film, trying to create a fun movie set, celebrating birthdays. He noted that on his birthday, he was serenaded by Julie Andrews and one of the producers, Whitney Houston. Houston and one of her colleagues practically gushed at snagging Andrews for her role. Seeing a happy and confident Whitney was actually a bit sad, given what happened subsequently.
On HBO, watching in a hotel room:

The Big Year (2011)

As the intro says: The characters played by “Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson are at a crossroads — one is experiencing a mid-life crisis, another a late-life crisis, and the third, a far from ordinary no-life crisis…. three friendly rivals who, tired of being ruled by obligations and responsibilities, dedicate a year of their lives to following their dreams.” And the “cross-country journey of wild and life-changing adventures” is…birding.

This is a pleasant enough diversion. Not a lot of big yuks, even though it was billed as a comedy. It isn’t great cinema, but, having dealt with comic book obsessives, I found the players totally in keeping with behavior I’ve seen.
Harrison Ford turned 70 on July 13, and I realize I’ve only seen him in American Graffiti (1973), The Conversation (1974) – fairly recently, Witness (1985) – probably my favorite of his roles, Working Girl (1988), Presumed Innocent (1990), Regarding Henry (1991) – my least favorite, The Fugitive (1993), Sabrina (1995), and Six Days Seven Nights (1998). Nothing since, though he’ll be playing Branch Rickey in 42, a story about Jackie Robinson, so I may watch that. I’ve seen no Jack Ryan roles or Air Force One. I did probably see him in various TV shows early in his career.

OK, I did see him in three Star Wars and two Indiana Jones (1, 3) movies, but that’s pretty much a given.

Ernest Borgnine died July 8. I’m not sure I really enjoyed watching the early 1960s TV show McHale’s Navy. But there was a character played by Joe Flynn named Captain Binghamton, and since I was FROM Binghamton, NY, I was compelled to watch. I saw him as a guest in LOTS of TV series. The first movie I saw him in was The Dirty Dozen (1967), which I viewed at a drive-in theater (remember those?) The only other theatrical movie of his I saw was The Poseidon Adventure (1972). Need to see Marty and From Here To Eternity, at bare minimum.
Celeste Holm died on July 15. I know her better for TV shows (Archie Bunker’s Place, especially) than her movies. For instance, she played two different characters on the program Medical Center, a show I watched regularly, which starred Chad Everett, who died on July 17.
Steve Bissette reviews the apparently terrible, new Oliver Stone movie SAVAGES, so I know I don’t have to go. (Language NSFW.)

0 thoughts on “Video Roundup – July 2012”

  1. Captain America was good – not genius, but really solid. Really what I’m looking for in a comic book movie. Thor was fun. The script was below-par (imho), but it was a lot of fun and Chris Hemsworth is… gorgeous.

    Two comic book movies that I saw recently that you might enjoy: V for Vendetta. Not genius, but very solid and I liked the main characters a lot. Also Wanted. That was great; I think you’d love that one if you’re cool with kung fu physics.

    The Understanding the Value of Power was interesting. Christians are a good example. The Holocaust vs. Israel is another one.

    Good roundup!


  2. You know Celeste Holm from television? She was in All About Eve, for crying out loud!!!! 🙂

    Spider-Man, the X-Men, and the Fantastic Four aren’t in the “Marvel Movie Universe” because they were farmed out to different studios back when Marvel didn’t have its own production company. The only reason we got a reboot of Spider-Man is because Sony didn’t want the rights to revert to Marvel. 20th Century Fox owns the rights to the X-Men and FF, and with the performance of the last two FF movies, maybe Marvel WILL get the rights back soon enough!

    I’m always ready to be a comic geek just for you, sir!


    1. Greg-
      Yes, but she was in a LOT of TV. All About Eve I saw years afterwards.
      And thanks for being the comic geek I expected you to be.


  3. It keeps popping in my head: ever since I saw Captain America, I’ve been wondering how much they do that “fake body” thing for regular actors in movies.

    It was pretty flawless. If I didn’t know that actor didn’t look like that I’d assume that was his body. So… are many Hollywood bodies CGI fake to one level or another?


    1. Not just bodies, but crowds – such as in 300 and Invictus. There’s a lot of CGI where you wouldn’t even THINK CGI was needed.


  4. Oh man… nothing is real!!! 😀

    It is something to keep in mind. I noticed that pictures of female athletes in ESPN’s body issue and the Maxim issue look really, really different.

    I remember reading about when National Geographic caught it for moving a pyramid with CGI on their cover. Pictures aren’t reality anymore, even in the news, National G, etc.

    It’s disturbing. It also makes me wonder if it makes people work out and take care of their bodies less. “I’ll never look like THAT!!!” Well, no, but nobody really looks like that.


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