Thursday, August 31, 2023

Lost in Translation

Lost in Translation is a 2003 genre-defying comedy-drama film with Bill Murray starring as a fading American movie star in Tokyo to do ads for Suntory whisky. There, he befriends another estranged American, a young woman and recent college graduate played by Scarlett Johansson. The film explores themes of alienation and disconnection against a backdrop of cultural displacement in Japan. I remember when this came out but had never seen it as it struck me as a movie I couldn't possibly like. I was encouraged to give it a chance, and I'm glad I did. Delightful. It would reward re-watching. I saw it on Netflix.


Roger Ebert has it on his list of Great Movies. 95% of Rotten Tomatoes critics give it a positive review.


Today is the last day of summer -meteorological summer- and the flowers are just barely hanging on.

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

65 (2023)

65 is a 2023 American science fiction action thriller film starring Adam Driver. He is a spaceship pilot who crashes on an unknown planet and attempts to escape with his one surviving passenger. I enjoyed this one and may even re-watch it sometime. We need more science fiction movies, and this one's a fine way to spend a couple of hours.


Reviews are mixed.


Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Wit (2001)

Wit is a 2001 American television (HBO) drama film directed by Mike Nichols and starring Emma Thompson. A powerful film, I find myself tearing up as I think back on it. It's on Max.


Roger Ebert calls it "a drama both intelligent and heartbreaking, starring Emma Thompson as a woman dying of cancer" and says because of his history with cancer he couldn't finish it. 91% of Rotten Tomatoes audiences give it a positive review.

I'll be having a comforting cup of tea:

and joining Elizabeth and friends at the T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering.

Monday, August 28, 2023

American Graffiti

American Graffiti is a 1973 award-winning American coming-of-age comedy-drama film directed by George Lucas and starring Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard, Harrison Ford, Cindy Williams, Mackenzie Phillips, and Wolfman Jack. I saw this in the theater when it was released and hadn't seen it since. It was fun to re-watch it. "Where were you in '62?" (I was in 1st grade.) I watched it on Netflix.


Roger Ebert gives it 4 out of 4 stars and says, "“American Graffiti” is not only a great movie but a brilliant work of historical fiction; no sociological treatise could duplicate the movie’s success in remembering exactly how it was to be alive at that cultural instant." 96% of Rotten Tomatoes critics gave it a positive review.

I'm seeing more butterflies now in late summer than I've seen before.

Sunday, August 27, 2023


Metropolitan is a 1990 American romantic comedy-drama film about the lives of a group of wealthy young socialites during debutante season in Manhattan. I didn't care for this one even though it was nominated for and won some awards and reviews are almost always positive. I watched it on Max.


Criterion calls it "One of the great American independent films of the 1990s". Robert Ebert gives it 3.5 out of 4 stars. 93% of Rotten Tomatoes critics give it a positive review.


We don't see them on the patio, of course, but we do see them circling overhead:

Saturday, August 26, 2023


Senso a 1954 Italian historical melodrama film directed and co-written by Luchino Visconti. Set during the Third Italian War of Independence, the film follows an Italian contessa (Alida Valli), who has an affair with an Austrian Lieutenant (Farley Granger). It's interesting to watch Farley Granger while hearing someone else dub his lines. This film is yet another in my Max watchlist.


Roger Ebert has it on his list of Great Movies. 88% of Rotten Tomatoes critics give it a positive review.


Friday, August 25, 2023

The Ruthless Four

The Ruthless Four is a 1968 spaghetti western starring Van Heflin, Gilbert Roland, Klaus Kinski, and George Hilton. I like this sub-genre, and I like these actors. It's a win as far as I'm concerned. I watched it free on Tubi.

via YouTube:

The Spaghetti Western Database has a positive review.

There's always enough spearmint to let most of it bloom.

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is a 2023 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics superhero team Guardians of the Galaxy. I'm a fan and like these characters. I watched it on Disney+.


Roger Ebert's website gives it 3 out of 4 stars and says, "“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” is a reminder that the best blockbusters don’t just sing along to a well-known tune like “Creep”; they make the song their own. After all, we’re all the weirdos." 94% of audience reviews at Rotten Tomatoes are positive.


See that pretty little white butterfly on the salvia?

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Saturday Night Fever

Saturday Night Fever is a 1977 American drama film starring John Travolta as Tony Manero, a young Italian-American man who spends his weekends dancing at a local disco and dealing daily with social and family tensions and disillusionment in his working-class ethnic neighborhood in Brooklyn. The music! Ah, the 70s! You can listen to the soundtrack on YouTube. I watched the movie on Amazon Prime.


Roger Ebert has it on his list of Great Movies. 81% of Rotten Tomatoes critics give it a positive review.


That volunteer coneflower is doing well.

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

The Barefoot Contessa

The Barefoot Contessa is a 1954 drama film written and directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz about the life and loves of fictional Spanish sex symbol Maria Vargas. It stars Humphrey Bogart, Ava Gardner, and Edmond O'Brien. The film focuses on social positioning and high-powered politics within the world of film and high society. According to Wikipedia (they provide footnotes to sources) The Barefoot Contessa is considered one of Mankiewicz's most glamorous "Hollywood" films, and one of the most glamorous of Golden Hollywood, but it was produced out of Cinecittà Studios in Rome. I watched it free on Tubi.


100% of Rotten Tomatoes critics gave it good reviews.


One of the pothos has escaped its pot and begun wandering.

Join me for a drink and soak up some of our hot steamy summertime sunshine:

Thanks to Bleubeard and Elizabeth for hosting this long-running weekly blogger gathering.

Monday, August 21, 2023

John Carpenter's Vampires

John Carpenter's Vampires is a 1998 American neo-Western action horror film. This isn't a film that'll stick with you long-term. Maybe that makes it re-watchable... Maybe keep it in mind for mindless Halloween viewing. At any rate it was fun to watch. I saw it on Netflix.


Reviews were mixed.

The hydrangea should bloom much earlier, and now it looks like it may not bloom at all. Our last winter may be to blame. 

Sunday, August 20, 2023

The Ice Storm (1997)

The Ice Storm is a 1997 American drama film directed by Ang Lee featuring an ensemble cast including Kevin Kline, Joan Allen, Tobey Maguire, Christina Ricci, Elijah Wood, Katie Holmes, and Sigourney Weaver. Set during Thanksgiving 1973, the movie is about two dysfunctional New Canaan, Connecticut, upper-class families who are trying to deal with tumultuous social changes and personal and family trauma. This was hard to watch in some places -an emotional film, but I'm glad to have seen it. It is on Max.


Deep Focus Review concludes with this:
The Ice Storm contains a deeply human authenticity and willingness to portray, but not resolve, its characters’ collective alienation. That the viewer must interpret and feel the silences between these characters establishes the ambiguous and investigatory mode of watching the film, thus challenging the viewer with prolonged consideration.

Criterion says, "Ten years after it was made, The Ice Storm looks like the best American film of the nineties." Roger Ebert gives it 4 out of 4 stars. 86% of Rotten Tomatoes critics give it a positive review.

Chipmunks are a common sight on the patio.

Saturday, August 19, 2023

Shetland 42

This 42 is on a building in Norway visited by Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez and Detective Sergeant Alison "Tosh" Macintosh as part of their investigation into a murder. Shetland is an excellent award-winning British television series, and we get them on DVD as they are released so we can re-watch them as the mood strikes us. This screen shot is from the third episode of the fourth season. The series should be watched from the beginning.

Friday, August 18, 2023

Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Close Encounters of the Third Kind is a 1977 American science fiction drama film written and directed by Steven Spielberg, starring Richard Dreyfuss, Melinda Dillon, Teri Garr, Bob Balaban, Cary Guffey, and François Truffaut. I remember when this one came out and I saw it in the theater. I loved it then, and I love it now. I found it free online somewhere but can't remember where. I have the DVD.


The British Film Institute says, "Close Encounters of the Third Kind is the first of the new breed of science fiction film, which approaches the best in the literature". Empire Online says, "Years ahead of it's time in terms of SFX, it's a masterpiece of wide-eyed whimsy." Roger Ebert's website gives it a full 4-star review and says, "It is as good as you remember it and serves as a reminder of a time when blockbuster entertainments were still willing to show real ambition." 94% of Rotten Tomatoes critics gave it a positive review.


The patio still has blooming asters, spearmint, zinnias, phlox, sosmos, coneflower, bee balm, catmint, coreopsis, black-eyed susans, pentas, abelia, honeysuckle, salvia, lantana... Some of it has gone to seed, but I don't dead-head my flowers.

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Quo Vadis, Aida?

Quo Vadis, Aida? is a 2020 internationally co-produced war drama film. from Wikipedia:
The film dramatizes the events of the Srebrenica massacre, during which Serbian troops sent Bosniak men and boys to death in July 1995 led by Serbian convicted war criminal Ratko Mladić. Named for its protagonist, Quo Vadis, Aida? exposes the events through the eyes of a mother named Aida, a schoolteacher who works with the United Nations as a translator. After three and a half years under siege, the town of Srebrenica, close to the northeastern Serbian border, was declared a UN safety zone in 1993 and put under the protection of a Dutch battalion working for the UN.

I came across this film on a list of recommended films or I'd never have watched it. I saw it on Hulu.


Roger Ebert's website opens a positive review with this:
Jasmila Zbanic’s “Quo Vadis, Aida?” is a razor-sharp incrimination of failed foreign policies from around the world embedded in a deeply humanist and moving character study of the kind of person that these policies leave behind. It’s a very specific story of war crimes in 1995, but it feels also like a modern commentary on how often foreign policy and U.N. intervention fails to see the human lives caught up in their decision making, and so often in their inability to make those tough decisions quickly and empathetically. Taut and intense, this is the kind of film that a critic hopes finds a broad enough audience to provoke conversation and insight about how we fix these broken systems. It truly feels like Zbanic’s work here could effect change if seen by the right people.

100% of Rotten Tomatoes critics give it a positive review.


Hummingbird perched in the redbud tree:

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Come On In My Kitchen

Come On In My Kitchen:

by Robert Johnson, who died on this date in 1983. He grew up in Memphis, and depending on which legend you believe, that fabled crossroads might actually be here.

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

The Young Girls of Rochefort

The Young Girls of Rochefort is a 1967 French musical comedy film written and directed by Jacques Demy. The ensemble cast is headlined by real-life sisters Catherine Deneuve and Françoise Dorléac, and features Gene Kelly. The director's The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is one of my all-time favorite films and this doesn't top it, but this is still a beautiful film and a sweet story. And you can't go wrong with Gene Kelly. I watched it on Max.


98% of Rotten Tomatoes critics give it a positive review.


Join me in sharing a drink over at Elizabeth's T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering. Here's mine:

Monday, August 14, 2023

Brahmāstra: Part One – Shiva

Brahmāstra: Part One – Shiva is a 2022 Indian-language fantasy action-adventure film. I have enjoyed every Hindi film I've seen so far, and this is no exception. I watched it on Disney+.


Reviews are mixed, seemingly depending on whether or not the reviewer likes or approves of Bollywood films. I like them.

Sunday, August 13, 2023

Living (2022)

Living is a 2022 remake of the 1952 Kurosawa masterpiece. I was afraid I'd be disappointed in this movie, since I'm such an admirer of the original, but I can't praise this film highly enough. Highly recommended. I watched it on Netflix.


Reviews are universally glowing. Seriously, watch this movie the first chance you get.


The feeder is about empty, and I'll refill it later, but there's a hummingbird there now if you zoom in:

Here's a 6-second video:

Saturday, August 12, 2023

Avatar: The Way of Water

Avatar: The Way of Water is a 2022 American epic science fiction sequel film directed and produced by James Cameron. It is pretty -very, very pretty- but that's all it has going for it in my opinion. I thought it would never end! But it is pretty.


Roger Ebert's site has a positive 3.5 out of 4 stars review. 92% of Rotten Tomatoes audience reviews are positive.


This is my several years old redbud tree that I'm trying to grow in a pot. So far, so good, but I wish I could find a larger pot.

Friday, August 11, 2023

Soldiers of the Damned

Soldiers of the Damned is a 2015 British war horror film. Since war is horror, this picture of the hunt for Nazi gold where the result is many people die horrible deaths seems on-target. You can watch it with your Amazon Prime subscription or on Tubi or on YouTube.

via YouTube, but it's age-restricted so you'll need to click through and watch it at the YouTube website:

Reviews are scarce, but how can you go wrong with end of WW2 German Nazis vs the Russian Red Army blowing everything up in the search for gold. Mindless entertainment, which sometimes (often?) suits my mood.


I have a hummingbird feeder, but I also enjoy having flowers the hummingbirds will come to like this native honeysuckle.

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Three Colours: Red

Three Colours: Red is a 1994 romantic mystery film co-written, produced and directed by Polish filmmaker Krzysztof Kieślowski. from Wikipedia: It is the final installment of the Three Colours trilogy, which examines the French Revolutionary ideals; it is preceded by Blue and White. Kieślowski had announced that this would be his final film, which proved true with the director's sudden death in 1996. Red is about fraternity, which it examines by showing characters whose lives gradually become closely interconnected, with bonds forming between two characters who appear to have little in common.

It took me forever to watch this trilogy for some reason, and I'm so happy I finally committed to it. They're definitely worth re-watching. And my Max watchlist continues to provide daily movie viewing opportunities. Someday I'll watch all in my watchlist, but that won't be anytime soon.


Criterion calls it "an incandescent meditation on fate and chance". The Guardian has a positive review that closes with this: "The Three Colours trilogy is a highly wrought, intensely controlled and self-aware creation, high arthouse cinema of the sort that isn’t as fashionable as it was, but utterly distinctive and absorbing." 100% of Rotten Tomatoes critics give it a positive review.


The asters have been a revelation, with what looks to me like completely different kinds of flowers. Anybody know anything about asters?

Wednesday, August 09, 2023

Vivre sa Vie

Vivre sa Vie (1962) is yet another French New Wave drama film written and directed by Jean-Luc Godard and yet another from my Max watchlist.


Criterion says it "remains one of his most dynamic films, combining brilliant visual design with a tragic character study." FrenchFilms calls it "one of the most significant films of the French New Wave". Roger Ebert has it on his list of Great Movies. 89% of Rotten Tomatoes critics gave it a positive review, and the audience score is even higher.

Tuesday, August 08, 2023

Masculin Feminin

Masculin Feminin is a 1966 French New Wave film directed by Jean-Luc Godard. It's considered one of Godard's greatest films, but I'm glad I watched Breathless and Alphaville first. This is a very 60s thing. Another on my Max watchlist, I guess it's a good thing I have about 10 months left on my annual subscription.


Slant Magazine says Godard "champions a marriage between image and action, both personal and political. If American pop culture is the devil, Godard not only has sympathy for it, he also tries to navigate and empower it." FrenchFilms opens a positive review by calling it "as revelatory as it is incisive." Roger Ebert has a positive review and says, "Godard works with a bright style and a sense of humor and his pictures leave a cumulative impression." 96% of Rotten Tomatoes critics gave it a positive review.


My goal of posting photos of the patio has been foiled by the gray and dreary rain. Not much rain, mind you, but enough to keep things gray and damp. We did have a visiting hawk stop by, which always provides some excitement.

Sunday, August 06, 2023

Lola Montes

Lola Montes is a 1955 historical romance film starring Martine Carol and Peter Ustinov. It is the last completed film of German-born director Max Ophüls. Based on a novel, it depicts the life of Irish dancer and courtesan Lola Montez (1821–1861) -though her actual life was a much rougher tale than this- and tells the story of the most famous of her many notorious affairs, those with Franz Liszt and Ludwig I of Bavaria. A co-production between France and West Germany, the dialogue is mostly in French and German, with a few English-language sequences. This is another from my Max watchlist.


Slant Magazine says, "Lola Montès is Ophüls’s boldest vision of film as a medium that reveres beauty in order to both nurture and mock dreams." Criterion opens by calling it "visually ravishing, narratively daring". FrenchFilms has a positive review. Roger Ebert gives it 3.5 out of 4 stars, praising the director but criticizing the casting of Martine Carol in the lead. 82% of Rotten Tomatoes critics give it a positive review.

Saturday, August 05, 2023

Rome, Open City

Rome, Open City is a 1945 Italian neorealist war drama film directed by Roberto Rossellini. Set in Rome in 1944, the film follows a diverse group of characters coping under the Nazi occupation, and centers on a Resistance fighter trying to escape the city with the help of a Catholic priest. The title refers to Rome being declared an open city after 14 August 1943. I watched it on Max as I clear out my watchlist on that service.


Senses of Cinema closes with this:
Rome, Open City is probably the most celebrated and representative example of neo-realism – perhaps because of its timing, but also because the power of its mythos and melodrama is given sanction by visual and geographical claims to “authenticity” (20). Its undimmed excitement is ironically achieved by techniques – strong plotting, dramatic episodes, fast cutting (21) – which aim for a visceral response from the viewer that would be displaced in Rossellini’s later work. But the film’s real importance was never in its “objective”, unmediated, “overwhelming truth”, its “moral outrage” or its “desire to testify” (22), but in its clashing modes of realism, genre and archetype, a liberating model that would influence filmmakers worldwide.
Slant Magazine opens a positive review by calling it a "legendary cinematic achievement". The Guardian describes it as a classic and a "Thrillingly real wartime drama" Criterion calls it a "revelation, a harrowing drama about the Nazi occupation of Rome and the brave few who struggled against it" and "a shockingly authentic experience". 100% of Rotten Tomatoes critics give it a positive review.

Friday, August 04, 2023

An Autumn Afternoon

An Autumn Afternoon is a 1962 Japanese drama film directed by Yasujirō Ozu and is considered one of his greatest films. It was his last, and he died the year after its release. This is another from my Max watchist.

via YouTube:

The British Film Institute says, "Exquisitely moving and truthful, An Autumn Afternoon is a fitting end to the great career of Yasujiro Ozu." Criterion closes with this: "There’s no sentimentality, only profound compassion." The Guardian calls it "equisitely tender". Roger Ebert has it on his list of Great Movies. 95% of Rotten Tomatoes critics give it a positive review.


This purple coneflower volunteered in the coreropsis pot:

Thursday, August 03, 2023

Three Colors: White

Three Colors: White is a 1994 French/Polish comedy-drama film, the second in the Three Colours trilogy, themed on the French Revolutionary ideals. from Wikipedia: White is about equality, with the film depicting Karol Karol, a shy man who, after being left by his wife in humiliating circumstances in Paris, loses his money, his residency, and his friends. As a deeply ashamed beggar in Paris, Karol begins his effort to restore equality to his life through revenge. I watched it on Max.


The Guardian closes a positive review with this: "What a strange confection White is – an opera of male agony and outrageously implausible picaresque adventure. Yet it succeeds amazingly on its own melodramatic terms." Roger Ebert gives it 3.5 out of 4 stars. 89% of Rotten Tomatoes critics gave it a positive review.


And there's another Trump indictment. Read this latest one here.

Wednesday, August 02, 2023

Red Hot

Red Hot:

by Billy Lee Riley, who died on this date in 2009. He did some of his recording in Memphis, and his last public performance was in June 2009 at the New Daisy Theatre on Beale Street here.

Tuesday, August 01, 2023

Breaking the Waves

Breaking the Waves is a 1996 psychological drama film directed by Lars von Trier and starring Emily Watson in her feature film acting debut, and with Stellan Skarsgård, a frequent collaborator with von Trier. Set in the Scottish Highlands in the early 1970s, it is about a mentally unstable young woman and of the love she has for her husband. I watched it on Max as I clear out my watchlist there.


Roger Ebert gives it a full 4-star review and concludes,
Not many movies like this get made, because not many filmmakers are so bold, angry and defiant. Like many truly spiritual films, it will offend the Pharisees. Here we have a story that forces us to take sides, to ask what really is right and wrong in a universe that seems harsh and indifferent. Is religious belief only a consolation for our inescapable destination in the grave? Or can faith give the power to triumph over death and evil? Bess knows.
Spirituality and Practice says,
Breaking the Waves comes across as a glorious paean to the mighty power of love. It provides a profound meditation on a line from "Les Miserables: "To love another person is to see the face of God."
85% of Rotten Tomatoes critics gave it a positive review, and the audience rating was even higher.


Please post something drink related and join me at the T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering. Mine's lemonade.