Lisa’s Week In Review: 2/26/18 — 3/4/18

Yes, I did watch a lot of movies last week but I had a reason!  Starting Monday, Jeff & I are going to be on vacation for the next two weeks!  So, I wanted to make sure that I watched and wrote up reviews of a lot of films so that I could schedule them to publish while I’m gone.

(Admittedly, there were a few times last week when I found myself watching two or more movies at the same time.  Fortunately, I’m the Queen of Multi-tasking.)

Expect to see reviews of some of the films listed below over the next two weeks and the rest, I’ll get when we return on March 19th.

Movies I Watched

  1. 15:19 to Paris (2018)
  2. 49th Parallel (1941)
  3. Annihilation (2018)
  4. Bad Tutor (2018)
  5. The Betsy (1978)
  6. Black Panther (2018)
  7. Cimarron (1931)
  8. Common Law Wife (1963)
  9. The Dallas Connection (1994)
  10. Day of the Warrior (1996)
  11. Death Wish (2018)
  12. Devious Nanny (2018)
  13. Do or Die (1991)
  14. Enemy Gold (1993)
  15. Fit To Kill (1993)
  16. The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake (1959)
  17. Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)
  18. Game Night (2018)
  19. The Grasshopper (1970)
  20. Guns (1990)
  21. Hamlet (1948)
  22. Hard Hunted (1992)
  23. Hard Ticket To Hawaii (1987)
  24. Jonestown: The Women Behind the Massacre (2018)
  25. Lost Horizon (1937)
  26. Malibu Express (1985)
  27. More (1968)
  28. Mr. Billion (1977)
  29. No Down Payment (1957)
  30. Once Is Not Enough (1975)
  31. Overcome (2008)
  32. Picasso Trigger (1988)
  33. Red Sparrow (2018)
  34. Return to Savage Beach (1998)
  35. Roller Boogie (1979)
  36. Savage Beach (1989)
  37. Shane (1953)
  38. Son of Godzilla (1967)
  39. True Confessions (1981)
  40. Zorba the Greek (1964)

Television Shows I Watched

  1. 60 Days In
  2. The 90th Annual Academy Awards
  3. The Alienist
  4. American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace
  5. Ash vs Evil Dead
  6. Atlanta
  7. The Bachelor 22
  8. Channel Zero
  9. The Chi
  10. Crashing
  11. Divorce
  12. Ghost Whisperer
  13. Good Girls
  14. Homeland
  15. Intervention
  16. iZombie
  17. King of the Hill
  18. Living Biblically
  19. The Magicians
  20. Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD
  21. McMafia
  22. The Office
  23. Survivor 36
  24. Undercover High
  25. UnREAL
  26. Waco
  27. The Walking Dead
  28. The X-Files

Books I Read

  1. The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor (2018)
  2. The Man With The Golden Gun by Ian Fleming (1965)
  3. Pimp by Ken Bruen and Jason Starr (2016)
  4. You Only Live Twice by Ian Fleming (1964)

Music To Which I Listened

  1. Above & Beyond
  2. Afrojack
  3. Allison Wonderland
  4. Alt-J
  5. Anna Speller
  6. Au/Ra
  7. Bear’s Den
  8. Blanck Mass
  9. Blur
  10. Bob Dylan
  11. Brie Larson
  12. Bright Eyes
  13. Britney Spears
  14. Carlos Rivera
  15. Caroline Says
  16. Carly Simon
  17. Cedric Gervais
  18. Chappel Roan
  19. The Chemical Brothers
  20. Decade
  21. Dillon
  22. Dillon Francis
  23. Dropkick Murphys
  24. FAD
  25. Hometown
  26. Jakalope
  27. James Blunt
  28. Icona Pop
  29. Laeticia de Valer
  30. Lexi James
  31. Little Ashes
  32. Little Texas
  33. Marta Sanchez
  34. Moses Uvere
  35. Radiohead
  36. Robert DeLong
  37. Robert Koch
  38. The Roling Stones
  39. Spree Wilson
  40. Spice Girls
  41. Taking Back Sunday
  42. Taylor Swift
  43. Thirty Seconds to Mars
  44. Tina Arena
  45. The Ting Tings
  46. Van Pi
  47. Victoria Beckham
  48. The Who

Links From Last Week

  1. Camille Paglia on Movies, #MeToo and Modern Sexuality!
  2. Over on her photography site, Erin shared a picture of a Neighborhood Storm!
  3. From John Reiber, check out Oscar’s X-rated Past!
  4. On Horrorpedia, check out my review of Close Calls!

Links From The Site

  1. Jeff reviewed Death Wish II, Death Wish 3, Death Wish 4, and Death Wish V!
  2. Patrick updated us on when and where The Lullaby is going to be released!
  3. Leon the Duke returned with a review of Annihilation!
  4. Ryan reviewed My Entire High School Sinking Into The Sea and Compulsive Comics, along with sharing his weekly reading round-up!
  5. Gary reviewed My Favorite Year, Mister Roberts, Never Give A Sucker An Even Break, and Cat Ballou, along with sharing 4 Shots From 4 Oscar-winning horror films and the Oscar-winning short film, So This Is Harris!
  6. Erin shared this cute picture of a polar bear in its natural habitat!

(Want to see what I did last week?  Click here!)

Have a great week!

My favorite picture of Audrey Hepburn. This was taken after she won the Oscar for Roman Holiday!

Thank You For Joining Us For Oscar Sunday!

That’s a wrap!

Oscar Sunday is over!

Thank you everyone who joined us today for our Oscar coverage!  Thank you for your likes, you comments, your views, and — most of all — for your indulgence!  Y’all are the best!

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming….

Here Are Your 2017 Oscar Winners!

Here are the winners of the 90th annual Academy Awards!

Best Picture — The Shape of Water

Best Director — Guillermo Del Toro for The Shape Of Water

Best Actor — Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour

Best Actress — Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Supporting Actor — Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Supporting Actress — Allison Janney, I, Tonya

Best Original Screenplay– Jordan Peele, Get Out

Best Adapted Screenplay — James Ivory, Call Me By Your Name

Best Animated Feature — Coco

Best Production Design — The Shape of Water

Best Cinematography — Blade Runner 2049

Best Costume Design — Phantom Thread

Best Film Editing — Dunkirk

Best Hair and Makeup — Darkest Hour

Best Sound Mixing — Dunkirk

Best Sound Editing — Dunkirk

Best Visual Effects — Blade Runner 2049

Best Original Score — The Shape of Water

Best Original Song — “Remember Me” from Coco

Best Foreign Language Film — A Fantastic Woman

Best Documentary Feature — Icarus

Best Animated Short — Dear Basketball

Best Live Action Short — The Silent Child

Best Documentary Short — Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405

Lisa Reviews A Film That Was Not Nominated For Any Oscars: Mr. Billion (dir by Jonathan Kaplan)

The 1977 film Mr. Billion tells the story of Gudio Falcone (played by Terence Hill, whose real name is Mario Girotti).  Guido has got a pretty good life going in Italy.  Everyone in his village loves him.  He works as an auto mechanic.  When we first see him, he speeding around in a red sportscar.  When he returns to the garage, he smiles and says, in Italian, “Just like Steve McQueen.”  Guido may not be rich but he’s happy.

But that’s all about change!

Well, not the happy part.  Guido is pretty much always happy.  But he’s about to get rich.  It turns out that Guido is the last surviving relative of Antonio Falcone.  Years ago, Antonio immigrated to America and founded Falcon Motors.  The company eventually made Antonio one of the richest men in the world.  Unfortunately, the big Falcon Motors sign eventually fell off the company’s headquarters and it landed right on top of Antonio.

Everyone’s upset about Antonio’s death.  Well, everyone but the company’s vice president, John Cutler (Jackie Gleason).  John was naturally expecting that he would be named Antonio’s successor and that he would also inherit all of Antonio’s money.  Instead, Antonio’s will leaves everything to Guido!


Because, apparently, Guido never asked Antonio for anything more than a “pair of American cowboy boots.”

Cutler and his sleazy attorney (William Redfield) are soon on the next flight to Italy.  When they find Guido, they make sure to compliment him on his cowboy boots.  They explain to Guido that he has twenty days to go San Francisco and sign the proper papers.  If he’s any later than 20 days he’ll lose the money.  Of course, that shouldn’t be a problem since Guido can fly over anytime that he wants…

Except Guido refuses to fly!  No, he says that if he’s going to go to America, he’s going to arrive there the same way that Antonio did.  He is going to take a boat to New York City and then ride a train all the way to California.

Did you guess that the very next scene would be Guido standing on the dock of a cruise ship, staring at the Statue of Liberty?  And did you also also guess that, upon disembarking, he would immediately find himself besieged by reporters, one of whom declares him to now be the world’s most eligible bachelor?  If so, good work.

But here’s the big question.  Did you also predict that John Cutler would attempt to sabotage Guido’s trip to California and that the sabotage would involve hiring a private detective (Valerie Perrine)?  Even more importantly, did you predict that the detective would eventually end up falling in love with simple but honest Guido?

Because that’s totally what happens!

At the time that Mr. Billion was made, Terence Hill was a huge star in Europe but was barely known in the United States.  He was best known for appearing in a series of comedic Spaghetti Westerns with Bud Spencer, the majority of which featured Hill as a lazy but likable ne’er do well.  In Mr. Billion, Hill is cast as the exact opposite, as an earnest man-of-the-people who is so nice that it’s almost painful.  Add to that some major tone problems (the film cannot make up its mind if it wants to be a comedy, an action film, or a romance) and you have a pretty forgettable movie.

And that’s kind of a shame because Terence Hill showed some legitimate charm in the lead role.  The role may have been underwritten but all Hill had to do is flash that winning smile and it didn’t matter.  It’s unfortunate that Hill didn’t get a more appropriate vehicle for his American debut.

Sick of Reading About The Oscars? Here’s the Son of Godzilla (dir by Jun Fukuda)

Hi!  Are y’all sick of reading about the Oscars yet?  I mean, here at the Shattered Lens, we love the Oscars but I’m sure, by this point, some of our readers are ready to move on.  Well, don’t worry!  We haven’t forgotten about you!

And neither has … Minya, the son of Godzilla!

Oh my God, it’s Minya!

Now, as you can probably tell from this picture above, Minya doesn’t bear that much of a resemblance to his father.  I’m going to guess that he got his looks from the mother’s side of the family.  We really can’t say for sure because we don’t really get the exact details of how Minya came to be.  We get to watch as Minya hatches out of an egg but we’re never sure who laid the egg.  For all we know Godzilla laid the egg.

Then again, there’s also some debate as to whether or not Godzilla is actually Minya’s father.  When Minya hatches out of the egg, Godzilla shows up on the island to protect him but, before that, it’s not like we ever saw Godzilla actually taking care of the egg or anything.  In fact, right before Minya hatched, a bunch of giant preying mantis things were on the verge of eating the egg…

That means that Godzilla is either a really crappy father or this movie is about Godzilla kidnapping a baby monster.

Oh well, it’s probably best not to think too much about it because Minya is absolutely adorable!  He can’t really roar that well.  And when he tries to breathe atomic fire, he just ends up producing some atomic smoke rings instead.  Fortunately, Godzilla does get off his lazy ass long enough to teach Minya how to create flame.

It’s a pretty good thing that Godzilla shows up because remember those giant preying mantises that I mentioned earlier?  Well, they are literally everywhere.  Minya is definitely going to need Godzilla’s help if he’s going to defeat those things!

Now, admittedly, 1967’s Son of Godzilla may be fun and cute but it shares a flaw in common with a lot of Godzilla movies.  There’s way too many humans involved!  Seriously, when you watch a movie like this, you’re watching because you want to watch the monsters go at each other.  No one cares if Tokyo gets leveled as a result.  You just want to see a rubber monster fight.

But these later Godzilla films always seem to make the mistake of bringing in a bunch of humans who act shocked whenever the monsters show up.  With the number of times that Godzilla’s destroyed Japan, I would think that people would start taking a more nonchalant attitude towards him.  “Oh, it’s Godzilla again.  I’ll lock the door.  What’s for dinner?”  In this case, the humans are a bunch of weather scientists who are hanging out on the island.  There’s also a mysterious woman, a native of the island, who shows up because almost every Japanese monster movie made in the 60s and 70s had a mysterious woman living on an island.

Anyway, the humans aren’t important.  What’s important is the bond between Godzilla and his son, Minya!  Just check these two out!


Lisa Reviews An Oscar Nominee: Zorba The Greek (dir by Michael Cacoyannis)

The 1964 film, Zorba the Greek, tells the story of two very different friends.

Basil (Alan Bates) is a writer.  (“Poetry, essays,” he diffidently says when asked what he writes.)  Basil is British-Greek but, having been raised in the UK, he allows his British side to dominate.  In this film, that means that Basil is very polite and very reserved.  He’s not the type to attempt to flirt with someone who he doesn’t know.  He has never spontaneously broken into dance.  When he is offered a drink, he asks for tea and is shocked to receive rum instead.  If the film was taking place a few decades later, one gets the feeling that Basil would describe Love, Actually as being an okay movie “for people who like that sort of thing.”

And then there’s Zorba (Anthony Quinn).  Unlike the wealthy and well-educated Basil, Zorba is a peasant and he’s proud of it.  He works hard but he plays hard too and there’s nothing that Zorba loves more than the sound of good music.  Zorba not only drinks rum but makes sure that everyone else gets their fill as well.  Zorba dances whenever he feels like it.  Zorba is larger than life, an unfailingly enthusiastic man who is determined to enjoy whatever time he has left in his life.

When Zorba and Basil first meet, Basil is heading to Crete where he’ll be trying to reopoen a mine that was left to him by his father.  As for Zorba, he’s looking for work and, as he explains it, he has tons of experience working as a miner.  Though Basil is, at first, reluctant to hire someone who he’s just met, Zorba talks him into it.  As quickly becomes apparent, the exuberant Zorba can talk people into almost anything.

You can probably guess where all of this is going.  Zorba teaches Basil how to embrace life, which in this film means embracing the Greek side of his heritage.  It takes a while, of course.  Basil is an extremely reluctant protegé and a good deal of the film’s humor comes from just how uncomfortable Basil occasionally gets with his newfound friend.  That said, you don’t have to be a psychic to guess that eventually, the two of them will share a dance on the beach.  It may be predictable but that’s not to say that Zorba the Greek isn’t a good film.  It’s a very good and entertaining movie, featuring a justifiably famous soundtrack and also one of Anthony Quinn’s best and most exuberant performances.

In fact, Quinn is so perfectly cast as Zorba that he occasionally tends to overshadow Alan Bates, who is equally good but in a different way.  In fact, I would say that Bates probably had the more difficult role.  Whereas Zorba (and Quinn) spends the entire movie instigating, Basil (and Bates) spends the entire movie reacting.  It’s difficult to make passivity watchable but Bates manages to do it.

Of course, Zorba isn’t just a comedy about an unlikely friendship.  About halfway through the film, there’s a moment of shocking brutality involving a young widow played by Irene Pappas.  It took me totally by surprise and it left me a bit shaken.  (It also reminded me a bit of another European film featuring Irene Pappas, Lucio Fulci’s Don’t Torture A Duckling.)  It’s a scene that serves as a reminder that 1) not every peasant is Zorba the Greek and 2) friendship and love cannot end darkness but it can make it all a little more bearable.

Zorba the Greek was nominated for Best Picture but it lost to My Fair Lady.

Lisa Reviews An Oscar Nominee: Lost Horizon (dir by Frank Capra)

Long before there was Lost, there was Lost Horizon!

Much like the famous television show, the 1937 film Lost Horizon begins with a group of strangers on an airplane.  They’re people from all walks of life, all with their separate hopes and dreams.  When the plane crashes, they find themselves stranded in an uncharted land and, much like the Lost castaways, they are shocked to discover that they are not alone.  Instead, they’ve found a semi-legendary place that is ruled over by a man who has lived for centuries.  Much as in Lost, some want to return to civilization while others want to remain in their new home.  Both Lost and Lost Horizon even feature a terminally ill woman who starts to recover her health after becoming stranded.

Of course, in Lost, everyone was just flying from Australia to America.  In Lost Horizon, everyone is trying to escape the Chinese revolution.  Among the passengers on the plane: diplomat Robert Conway (Ronald Colman), his irresponsible brother, George (John Howard), a con artist named Henry (Thomas Mitchell), a paleontologist (Edward Everett Horton), and the very ill Gloria (Isabel Jewell).

While Lost featured a plane crash on a tropical island, Lost Horizon features a plane crash in the Himalayas.  In Lost, the sinister Others sent spies to infiltrate the survivors.  In Lost Horizon, the mysterious Chang (H.B. Warner) appears and leads the survivors to a place called Shangri-La.

Shangi-La is a lush and idyllic valley that has somehow flourished in one of the most inhospitable places on Earth.  The happy inhabitants inform the survivors that they never get sick and they never fight.  They’re led by the High Lama (Sam Jaffe), a philosopher who explains that he is several hundred years old.  The valley is full of magic and the Lama tells the survivors that Shangri-La is their new home.

Now, I’ve seen enough horror movies that I spent most of Lost Horizon waiting for the Lama to suddenly reveal that he was a vampire or an alien or something.  Whenever anyone in a movie seems to be too good to be true, that usually means that he’s going to end up killing someone about an hour into the story.  But that didn’t happen in Lost Horizon.  Instead, the Lama is just as wise and benevolent as he claims to be and Shangri-La is as much of a paradise as everyone assumes.  I guess we’re just naturally more cynical in 2018 than people were in 1937.

Of course, the Lama isn’t immortal.  Not even the magic of Shangri-La can prevent the inevitably of death.  The Lama is looking for a successor.  Could one of the survivors be that successor?  Perhaps.  For instance, Robert absolutely loves Shangri-La.  Of course, his brother George is determined to return to the real world.  He has fallen in love with one of the inhabitants of Shagri-La and plans to take her with him, despite the Lama’s warning about trying to leave…

Frank Capra was a huge fan of James Hilton’s book, Lost Horizon, and he spent three years trying to bring it to the big screen.  Based on Capra’s previous box office successes, Colombia’s Harry Cohn gave Capra a budget of $1.25 million to bring his vision of Shangri-La to life.  That may not sound like much today but, at the time, that made Lost Horizon the most expensive movie ever made.  The production was a notoriously difficult one.  (The original actor cast as the elderly Lama was so excited to learn he had been selected that he dropped dead of a heart attack.)  As a result of both its ornate sets and Capra’s perfectionism, the film soon went overbudget.  When Capra finally delivered a first cut, it was over 6 hours long.  Capra eventually managed to edit it down to 210 minutes, just to then have Harry Cohn order another hour taken out of the film.  When Lost Horizon was finally released, it had a running time of 132 minutes.

Seen today, Lost Horizon is definitely an uneven work.  With all the cutting and editing that went on, it’s hard to guess what Capra’s original vision may have been but, in the final version, much more time is devoted to the characters discussing the philosophy of Shangri-La than to the characters themselves.  (It’s always good to see Thomas Mitchell but he really doesn’t get much to do.)  Since you never really feel like you know what any of these characters were like outside of Shangi-La, it’s hard to see how being in Shagri-La has changed them.  You just have to take their word for it.  That said, it’s a visually stunning film.  Capra may have gone over budget creating the look of Shangri-La but it was money well-spent.  If I ever find myself in a magic village, I hope it looks half as nice as the one in Lost Horizon.

Despite all of the drama that went on behind the scenes and a rather anemic box office reception, Lost Horizon was nominated for best picture.  However, it lost to The Life of Emile Zola.