Five Cool Things and Albert Finney

It has been cold here in Oklahoma. Like really cold. Like, well, not as cold as it’s been in places like Chicago, but it’s been below freezing and that’s cold enough for me. It’s the kind of cold that makes me want to stay inside, light a fire, and curl up with a good book. But since we don’t have a fireplace and my daughter doesn’t let me read for more than fifteen minutes at a time, instead I cranked up the heater and watched lots of movies. Here’s five of them that I enjoyed.

Phantom Boy

Last fall, it seemed like every night we were doing something as a family or the daughter had some activity she had to attend and so together-time tended to be pretty short. But so far this year has been a little more free, allowing us some more time to play games, read stories, and watch movies together.

Buy Phantom Boy Blu-ray

This one had been on my radar for awhile and we finally sat down to watch it. It’s about an 11-year-old boy who is dying of cancer. Somehow this gives him a superpower, which enables his spirit to leave his body for short periods of time. He uses this power to help a detective defeat a super villain with a face like a Picasso painting. The story is simple but charming, and the animation is really interesting. Well worth a watch, especially as it’s currently streaming on Netflix.

Ant-Man and the Wasp

After rewatching Black Panther and Infinity War a few weeks ago, I thought it would be fun to return to this one as well. Basically as a family we are rewatching all the recent Marvel films on Netflix before they head over to Disney+ once that launches.

Buy Ant-Man and the Wasp Blu-ray

I think I liked it better this time than I did when I saw it in theaters. It feels so inconsequential in terms of the MCU as all their films now seem to be about saving the entire universe from extinction. It’s really nice to watch a superhero movie where the stakes are basically wanting to find a long lost mother. Also it’s really funny, which is always a good thing.

Desert Fury

Such an odd little movie. It has a lot of the trappings of a film noir but takes place in the wide open desert and was shot in Technicolor. The story revolves around a young woman (played by the always wonderful Lizabeth Scott) with a hint of danger in her eyes who flirts with a gangster but isn’t conniving enough to be considered a femme fatale, and who isn’t innocent enough to be an ingenue. It’s full of homosexual undertones between the two gangsters and some slight incestual ones between the girl and her mom (played by the always great Mary Astor). Despite the great cast (which also includes Burt Lancaster as the good guy) and the very strange mix of genre and style, it never quite hits its mark. Yet I’d definitely recommend it just to watch all that strangeness in a movie that was made right in the middle of the Hayes Code. I’ll have a full review up soon.

Mary and the Witch’s Flower

Another rewatch for us (you can read my original review). I guess that’s the trouble with everybody being home night now, we want to watch something together but finding something new that is appropriate for the family and that we all agree on is difficult. We were all excited to rewatch this one. It was made by Studio Ponoc, which is basically Studio Ghibli after Miyazaki shut Ghibli down to retire (before he started it up again and came out of retirement). It’s about a little girl who moves to a new town and discovers that she’s a witch. It’s gorgeously animated and has all that Ghibli quirkiness and heart.

Horror Express

Christopher Lee is an archeologist who scores a terrific find in China that may actually be the missing link. He takes it onto the Trans-Siberian Express where he meets Peter Cushing’s very inquisitive doctor. Of course, the missing link is actually a shape-shifting alien who eats people’s brains with his eyes. Later, Telly Savalas, sporting a red smoking jacket, beats the crap out of a Rasputin-looking mystic while the monster red-eyes an entire troupe of Russian soldiers to death. It’s a dumb, ridiculous film that I absolutely loved watching. Grab some beers and some bad-movie-loving friends and give this one a go. I’ll have a full review up soon.

Albert Finney (1936-2019)

Albert Finney was a great actor who made a lot of great movies. He died today at the age of 82. He will be missed.

Mat Brewster

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