Captain Marvel, Orson Wells and more! Movies viewed

I finally found time to see CAPTAIN MARVEL (2019) and thoroughly enjoyed it. Brie Larsen plays Vers, an amnesiac Kree warrior whose efforts to stop the Skrull’s terrorist attacks on the Kree Empire lead her to 1990s Earth. The Skrulls have infiltrated us using their shapeshifting (it would fit perfectly into Screen Enemies of the American Way) and are searching for an ultimate weapon. Vers allies with Fury (Samuel Jackson with hair!) only to discover that being on Earth jogs strange memories that are quite impossible for a Kree warrior … This was a really good adventure film, and Larsen is immensely likeable as the lead (and I don’t mean likable as a euphemism for “hot” — Carol Danvers seems like someone who’d be fun to hang out with). The cast includes Annette Benning as Mar-Vell and the face of the Supreme Intellience while Jude Law plans Yon-Rogg (I can see why they didn’t name him until late in the movie, as that gives the game away to comics fans). “I’d say you’re delusional except we were just shot down by a spaceship and you’re bleeding blue blood.”

When Orson Welles died, he left behind his unfinished comeback film, THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND (2018), which he’d been shooting for years. Now thanks to Netflix putting some money into it, we can see the finished version of Welles’ story, which combines surly director Hannaford’s (John Huston) 70th birthday party with scenes from his new art film, The Other Side of the Wind. The party scenes were watchable but didn’t work for me, a random assortment of snarking quips, gossping and hostile interactions; the film-within-the-film is a fun parody (however other reviewers have had the opposite reaction). The cast includes Peter Bogdanovich as Hannaford’s latest protege, Lili Palmer as an ex-wife, Susan Strassberg as a hostile interviewer and other famous faces such as Claude Chabrol. I’d suggest double-billing this with Robert Altman’s Hollywood-set comeback film, The Player, though that’s definitely the better film. “The camera doesn’t like an actor — it just stares at him.”


LIFE, ABOVE ALL (2010) has a twelve-year-old black girl in South Africa struggling to hold her blended family together after her baby sister’s death fractures them, a situation complicated by their stepfather’s death and Mom’s mysterious disappearance. A good drama. “Even in death, your mother brings shame upon this family.”

ASSASSINATION NATION (2018) that wants to say something about the dark side of social media and about privacy in the Internet age but as one critic put it, the film is buzz words offered up as deep thoughts. The protagonist is a restless, rebellious teen who in between exchanging insights with her friends, texting a mysterious lover, getting naked and smoking dope, watches as repeated hacks of her town’s secrets set citizens against each other. That has some promise (an updated version of poison pen letters, as in the movie Le Corbeau) but the movie’s just pretentious crap. “What kind of person sees a picture of a naked girl on the Internet and thinks ‘hey, I’ve got to kill that bitch.’

BATMAN: Return of the Caped Crusaders (2016) is an animated film that has Adam West, Burt Ward and Julie Newmar recreating their roles from the Batman TV series (there’s one scene where a dazed Batman hallucinates Newmar also becoming Meriweather and Kitt) for a story in which Riddler, Catwoman, Penguin and Joker join forces to steal a duplicating ray — which an increasingly erratic Batman then uses to take over Gotham City by cloning himself to infinity. More fun than I expected, with a lot of in-jokes, including most of the series’ Rogue’s Gallery showing up for one climactic fight. “I thought I dressed as a bat to inspire fear in the hearts of criminals — but in reality, I just like attention.”

#SFWApro. All rights to images remain with current holder. Ms. Marvel cover by Dave Cockrum.

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