Five Cool Things and The House with a Clock in Its Walls

Cinema Sentries

My birthday was last Sunday. My wife made me a nice breakfast, we went to a couple of books stores, and let the daughter play at a park. We had planned to go to a movie but that fell through and instead we went home and watched some James Bond. I’ve never been the sort of person who wants to have a big party so this was pretty much perfect. Other than that, this week has been pretty standard. I watched some good movies, read some good comic books. and here we are.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

Much like the original film, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is not a particularly great film, but it’s entertaining enough. There are some really fun bits that play with the tropes of video games circa the 1990s, which is when I used to play. Watching Dwayne Johnson and Karen Gillan act like awkward teenagers was a lot of fun as well. Also like the original, it’s a film that will no doubt be put on as something relatively harmless that can entertain large groups of people while they are sitting around the house or the ski lodge or whatever waiting for the next adventure.

I don’t remember there being so many penis jokes in the original though…

Catwoman: When in Rome

Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale wrote two seminal Batman stores – The Long Halloween and Dark Victory. I read and loved both. Both of them deal with the Carmine mafia family. Both of them also involve Catwoman. In Dark Victory, Catwoman leaves for Italy and comes back with some information. When In Rome is about that trip.

She goes to Rome in hopes of proving that the Falcone’s are her parents. She takes The Riddler with her. When she tries to question the boss of bosses he accidentally drinks some Joker poison and dies. Gotham villains keep showing up trying to kill her. She is assisted by an Italian hit man. Action, romance, and some quick wit ensues.

Loeb and Sale have once again written an engaging story. Catwoman isn’t as good a detective as Batman but she’s a lot funnier. The art is quite beautiful. It’s a fairly short book but makes a nice companion piece to the other two stories.


Unbelievably, Studio Ghibli’s delightful film Ponyo turns ten this year. To celebrate, GKIDS and Fathom Events put it on the big screen and I got to see it. You can read my full review.


Since we didn’t get to go to the movies on my birthday, I decided James Bond would have to do. He always does. I’ve been periodically watching the classic Bond movies so I decided to watch a more modern one (I guess it dates me pretty well since I’m calling this movie released in 1995 “modern”).

In the ’80s, there were rumors that Pierce Brosnan was going to be the new James Bond. As a huge fan of Remington Steele, I was really excited about it. If memory serves, he actually signed on to be Bond when that series was canceled, but then fan letters brought the show back for a few TV movies and he lost the Bond gig. Luckily, he got it back in the mid-’90s.

My memory of the Brosnan Bonds are that while he made an excellent James Bond, the movies themselves were pretty bad. They became fairly generic action films in an era when we were collectively growing tired of generic action films.

My memory seems to be wrong, at least where Goldeneye is concerned (the other Brosnan films may very well be terrible). This is Bond at his best. Brosnan is sleek and debonair, funny and sly. The story is pretty ridiculous, but it wouldn’t be Bond without ridiculousness. The action holds up well and it all just flies by in a flurry of big set pieces, bigger explosions. and tons of fun.

Santa Clarita Diet

For some reason, I thought that this new Netflix series starring Timothy Olyphant and Drew Barrymore was going to be a silly, irreverent family dramedy. The first episodes starts out that way with the two dealing with typical household situations as married realtors with a teenage daughter living in the suburbs. Then about halfway through that episode Drew Barrymore gets sick and pukes. Then pukes some more. And then some more. So much puking. Then her personality changes, she becomes more id driven. She starts eating raw meat.

Oh, she’s a zombie. Not a gross, mindless, Walking Dead zombie, just a typical “suburban working mom who happens to eat human flesh” zombie. That was not at all what I was expecting. It’s a lot better than I thought it would be. I’ve got a weird funny bone and this tickles it to perfection. Timothy Olyphant is fantastic. His deadpan reactions to Drew Barrymore’s outrageousness is wonderful. I’m only a few episodes in and I’m not sure how they are going to be able to pull this off in the long run, but right now I’m loving it.

The House with a Clock in its Walls

Based upon the book of the same name by John Bellairs and Edward Gorey, this fantasy film about a young boy who goes to live with his uncle after his parents dies and discovers a world of magic. It stars Jack Black, Cate Blanchett, and Kyle MacLachlan. The trailer looks like a lot of fun. It was directed by Eli Roth, which makes me nervous, but maybe he’ll surprise me.

Mat Brewster

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