What We're Watching - February 12, 2021

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► Arnie: "Now that the MCU has expanded (WandaVision viewers know what I mean) I’ve decided to remind myself of some other areas. So I watched both Tim Story Fantastic Four movies (2005 and 2007) and the first Blade (1998). I can’t wait for Chris Evans to return to the MCU as Human Torch, and maybe Stephen Dorff’s blood god can be in Ant-Man 3!" 

► Brock: "Finally watched The Intouchables (2011), the original French movie, currently on Netflix (with subtitles). A wonderful movie that plays so well thanks to the strong direction and terrific performances. You believe the relationship between these two men. I am now curious to see how the Bryan Cranston/Kevin Hart remake plays and may check that out soon. Also checked out The Little Things (2021), a movie that excels because of terrific performances. Denzel is great, as always; just love watching him work. His scenes with Michael Hyatt and Judith Scott are standouts. Jared Leto did so much with a thankless role with his voice, his physicality, his choices - he makes it look so easy. Rami Malek was inconsistent, strangely indicating something mysterious was going on in the first half of the movie for no apparent reason. When he got rid of that unnecessary caginess he was so much better." 

Marjorie: "Pushing Daisies is on HBO Max and there isn’t a better show to watch for romance. The show is romantic without being sappy, and the characters are great. Kristin Chenowith’s version of 'Birdhouse In Your Soul' is touching. My only complaint about this show is that it was canceled too soon."

Stuart: "I'm eager to know if Tom Hanks and his Captain Phillips director Paul Greengrass can approach True Grit greatness with their lookalike Western News of the World (2020). And I hope Daniel Kaluuya is well suited to play real life Black Panther Fred Hampton in the Stan Lee-free biopic Judas and the Black Messiah (2021)."  

Jakob: "My passion for good bad movies was once again inflamed with the discovery of the South African 80s karate action duology Kill or Be Killed (1980) and Kill and Kill Again (1981). Both feature actual martial artists, which is glaringly apparent from their complete lack of acting skill. But the real stars are the completely insane plots. From fighting a Nazi (with a castle in the desert) who is recruiting a karate team or beating up evil-doers for kidnapping a scientist who discovered potatoes can solve our energy crisis (but also be used to control minds, of course), the filmmaking may be inept but I was never bored."

Heath: "I revisited what might be one of the most underrated Aussie films of all time - a terrific little drama called One Perfect Day (2004). While the plot revolves around a young classical musician who becomes swept up in the dance scene of Melbourne following the overdose death of his sister, it’s really just a framework for the film’s incredible soundtrack, which features Fatboy Slim, Underworld, The Dust Brothers, Orbital and even an amazing electronica remix of Queens of the Stone Age’s "No One Knows." It doesn’t quite hold together as a story and works best if you view it as an elongated music video, but I’ve rarely seen a film so vividly illustrate the hypnotic power music can have over us."

Adam: "Revisited Doctor Strange (2016). The effects are simply brilliant and each time I watch it I seem to like it more and more. Though one of the weaker efforts in the MCU thus far, I am looking forward to the sequel the most of all the Phase Four projects. I also plan to catch up on some animation this week, with two offerings in A Whisker Away (2020) and Wolfwalkers (2020). Both films are from studios I love and so I can’t wait to see them."

Jason: "Peter Bogdanovich directed a screen version of Michael Frayn's stage play Noises Off back in 1992, and I have loved it since seeing it on cable in the mid-90s. Michael Caine, Carol Burnett, the GOAT John Ritter, Marilu Henner, Christopher Reeve, Nicollette Sheridan, Denholm Elliott, Julie Hagerty, and Mark "Cousin Larry" Linn-Baker star as a theater troupe staging a British sex farce called Nothing On. Rapid fire, innuendo-laden dialogue, great physical comedy, and that cast. I've never found it streaming free on my subscription platforms but this week I 'borrowed' it through a service called Hoopla that lets you stream flicks free from your local library. Serious recommend."

Note: This story appears in the February 12, 2021 edition of the Now Playing Podcast IN FOCUS newsletter. To subscribe, click here.