Miracle

Miracle. Walt Disney Pictures 2004.
Before watching the movie: I’ve heard many references to the “Miracle on Ice”, but only ever the broad strokes, that the US men’s hockey team in the 1980 winter olympics was not expected to beat the Soviet team, but they did. Those broad strokes leave out why anyone would still care about what happened then, and the closest I’ve seen to any explanation past the cold war rivalry has been “it’s an underdog story. The Russians were known for fielding dominant teams.” So here’s an underdog movie. Continue reading
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Small Time Crooks

Small Time Crooks. Sweetland Films 2000.

Before watching the movie:

From what I’m seeing, this is basically the story of criminals who accidentally go into legitimate business. It also looks like it builds increasing farce until it implodes, and has a focus on letting the actors be zany and possibly improvisational. I always think of Woody Allen as a very script-oriented comedian, but the rest of the cast seem like they could riff.

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Movies of My Yesterdays: Meet the Robinsons

I remembered this movie as having come out a little earlier. Spring of course, but I didn’t remember that it was my final spring as a high school student. I do remember that spring and summer being significant to me in a lot of ways that made me feel like I was growing up and defining my own tastes. Placing it in that year, I know that I had a car that was mine to use rather than borrowed when I needed it for the first time. It was a good year for listening to songs on the radio, which is something I rarely chose to do. I think I was making occasional trips to bookstores by myself to browse.

However, this was not a movie I found all on my own. I knew it was coming, I was looking forward to seeing it, but soon after its release, my grandfather wanted to take me to a movie. Looking at what was coming out around that time, I can see that this was pretty much the only option for us.

Meet the Robinsons. Walt Disney Pictures 2007.

Sometimes I talk about movies coming out at the right time for me. Usually that probably just means they were things I’d have liked anyway reaching me at an age when I was old enough to think about it a little more deeply than a child, but still simply enough to easily generate nostalgia for it later. I suspect that’s the case with Tarzan, though it did introduce me to the music of Phil Collins. But I feel like Meet the Robinsons was perfectly suited for my mindset at the time, and considering that I was about to graduate high school, it’s easy to see how a story about a bright kid dropped into a colorful future that turns out to be of his own making might’ve particularly spoken to me.

Lewis, a 12-year old abandoned at an orphanage as a baby, is already an inventor capable of revolutionizing modern science when he sets his mind to it. Still unable to get adopted at his advanced age, he decides to invent a memory scanning machine to help him find the mother who left him years ago. However, at the science fair, Lewis encounters a teen claiming to be from the future, and a mustache twirling saboteur with a sentient bowler hat. In order to get Lewis back on track, Wilbur Robinson takes him to the future to prove that he is a time traveler, and Lewis gets mixed up with Wilbur’s eccentric family. If meeting his mother doesn’t work out, surely Lewis could find a home with the Robinsons.

I still love the fanciful spin on classic futurist design. Robots, another William Joyce-inspired movie, was made in a similar style, but I like the results here better for some reason. The music doesn’t grab me now like it did at the time, both the neo-swing I was very into back then and the 00s Disney boy band songs that did a lot of the work of opening me to modern pop.

I’m always impressed with how well the non-destructive time travel is set up and paid off. The Cornelius loop as well as the orphanage steps and Bowler Hat Guy’s origins are meticulously detailed and make repeat viewings rewarding. It’s so well done that the rewritten timeline begins to seem like an illusion that Cornelius somehow arranged in order to get Lewis set on the right path. After all, Cornelius did invent the evil hat that started it all.

It’s probably never going to be as good as the first and second time I watched it, but Meet The Robinsons will always hold a special place with me for when it came to me, and as long as I like time travel stories, it will stand among the better ones for me.

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. Filmauro 2004.

Before watching the movie:

This is such a bizarre movie on the face of it. It ostensibly takes its influences from pulp adventure and German Expressionism, but it comes off like it’s part of a franchise that doesn’t exist (which may be part of the artistic intent of imitating pulp serials), and the audacious scope has a hint of Anime plotting to me (as well as the man being called “Sky Captain” sounding like a translation beating out the subtlety of it).

The origins remind me of how Lucas created Star Wars because he wanted to do a Buck Rodgers movie, only this looks more successful at that idea in some ways. This seems like more of an update of the pulp feel than Star Wars achieved. (Perhaps it’s because I’ve always lived in a world where it existed, but that franchise has always seemed more like its own thing of its own time than something that could screen next to Buck Rodgers, but I’ve already digressed too much.)

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Nacho Libre

Nacho Libre. Paramount Pictures 2006.

Before watching the movie:

I’m fairly confident this was the first time I’d heard of Jack Black. I’d heard a lot about Shallow Hal, but since Malcolm in the Middle was such a big presence in my life at the time, my brain kept putting Bryan Cranston in the title role. So with Nacho Libre, Jack Black entered my consciousness as someone new, yet someone I apparently should have already known about.  So I was completely lost later when Tenacious D got a movie and was apparently a well-established band already. And this time it was real, unlike my early confusion about Galaxy Quest.

Anyway, here’s a cult movie about a white guy rising to the top in a Mexican cultural institution from the age where taboo topics were permissible, but insensitivity was in fashion. So I’m hoping this will be fun, but it’s got some hurdles to clear.

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Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

 

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. Mutual Films Company 2001.

Before watching the movie:

The video game was very popular, possibly even for reasons beyond the audacious character model, so of course Tomb Raider got a movie fairly quickly. I’m not sure why the title of the successful franchise with five years of brand recognition was prefaced with the character’s name for the movie, but I assume if I look it up, I’ll see something about “Lara Croft” being the name known more by the mainstream audience, again because of the character model.

I was surprised to see Daniel Craig’s name in the credits for this 2001 movie, and then I looked up when Casino Royale came out (2006) and shriveled to a skeleton and turned to dust like the villain in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. I also found that my impression that Angelina Jolie hasn’t done much lately is very much not true.

It’s also surprising to me that the rebooted Tomb Raider series got a reboot movie before the Uncharted franchise, which I suspect the Tomb Raider reboot owes some of its success to, was able to get its movie out of development hell.

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How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days

How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. Paramount Pictures 2003.

Before watching the movie:

I thought this came out later. I seem to remember a poster for this movie being up like it was new when I was in college. Maybe I was mistaken about why it was up, or maybe a movie with a similar poster was out at the time. It’s not a very original poster design.

Anyway, there are few better ways to manufacture conflict in a romantic comedy than to have the romantic leads have opposing goals they’re hiding from each other, and this is one of the most basic forms of that. He’s made a bet that he can make her love him in 10 days, she’s trying out a relationship destruct plan for an article she intends to write. And there’s a lot of quirkiness along the way I guess.

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