Friday, August 10, 2018

Media Notes: Roundup for July 2018

These are the movies and series on DVD and/or online I watched during July 2018.

Movies and films (links to for basic information unless noted otherwise). Some of these I watched via or other online source. The DVDs come from the public library (unless noted otherwise):

  • John Wick (2014. Action. Thriller. Crime and mob). An entry in the genre of "fucking with the wrong guy who was just minding his business." A bunch of punks decide to steal John Wick's very nice muscle car. They also beat him up, and they kill his new puppy dog. Did we mention Wick is also recently widowed, and the dog was the last gift from her to him? Well, soon, the lead punk, son of a Russian mafioso who knows Wick very well, finds out who Wick really is, and the hell on earth that is now coming because Wick, an extremely skilled hitman, is coming for them all for killing his dog. Great action film. Very well done. Keanu Reeves performed a great character, and the cast is memorable too including appearances by Willem Dafoe and John Leguizamo. Overall, I enjoyed this one. I will be looking for the sequel. DVD borrowed from Madison County (KY) Public Library. 
  • Mr. Holmes (2015. Mystery. Drama). Sherlock Holmes is retired now; he is now 93 years old, and his last case made him decide to retire to the country to do beekeeping and live a quiet life decades ago. Around this time, he takes a trip to Japan seeking a medicinal plant. However, the memory of the case still haunts him, and he gets to work on solving it, remembering it in the right way, and not just as another story Watson wrote.  In this story, the great detective is portrayed by Sir Ian McKellen. The movie is bittersweet, very well made, and it captures the spirit of the great detective well. Overall, a great film. DVD borrowed from the Madison County (KY) Public Library.
  • Curandero (2005. Horror. Mystery. Spanish language film). Based on a script by Robert Rodriguez, the Curandero is the son of a small town healer (curandero) who struggles with accepting his gift and fate after his father passes away. Reluctantly, he gets involved in a case chasing a drug lord who is also a black magic master. The premise sounds pretty good, but it is a fairly slow film at times.  The gore is actually fairly minimal. However, I found the ending to be pretty satisfying. It was OK. Via
  • Class of 1999 (1990. Action. Horror. Science Fiction). By 1999, public schools in major cities are controlled by gangs, and some of those cities become free fire zones where not even cops go in. A Department of Educational Defense forms, and they intend to retake the schools with the help of Megatech. They send new teachers to one of the schools, cyborgs, programmed to teach and discipline. And then things get way out of hand as the students need to save themselves. A very 90s kind of film with a silly premise (though maybe not that silly up to a point). The movie had a decent cast including Malcolm McDowell, Stacy Keach, and Pam Grier. It was entertaining enough, especially in the early parts. Via 
  • Carnivore (2000. Horror.) This is bad, and I do not mean "so bad it is good" bad. It is just plain bad. Here is the IMDB description: "A government experiment goes totally wrong as a creature confined in a hidden lab inside and abandoned house escapes. Afterwards, some teens show up to have a little fun in the house, not knowing that the beast is loose and watching them." The acting was bad. The plot was total nonsense, and overall the setting was as cheap as you can get. The creature is not particularly impressive neither. The end does leave an opening for a sequel, but it is not one I would look forward to. This is one to skip; whoever ordered this for the library should be shamed. By the way, the sound quality on the DVD leaves a lot to be desired too. Via DVD from Berea branch of Madison County (KY) Public Library.  
  • 7 Assassins (2013. Action. Adventure). The movie description: "When gold goes missing in ancient China, royal guards entrusted with its recovery realize they are not the only people in pursuit." Plot is a bit more complex. Gold gets stolen by Tie Yun, a rebel leader opposing the Qing dynasty. He gets ambushed by a bandit who may or not be working for the Qing Prince; her loyalties are not totally well placed. Tie Yun manages to escape capture, and with the help of some retired assassins and warriors, goes on the offensive to take down the prince, get back the gold, and rid the land of the prince's corruption. A very nice story, even if some parts take a bit to follow. Good action and martial arts sequences. Solid characters. Note movie is in Chinese, but you can get subtitles in English or Spanish. Overall, I liked this one. Via DVD from the public library. 

Television and other series (basic show information links via Wikipedia unless noted otherwise). Some of these come in DVD from the public library. Others may be via YouTube, which, as noted before, I keep finding all sorts of other old shows in it, often full episodes.

  • Supermarket Sweep (Game show. 1965-2003). I continue watching the 1990s run hosted by David Ruprecht, which ran on Lifetime Channel, on YouTube this month. You can see last month's roundup for my additional comments on this show. An interesting thing of watching this is some of the products and promotions they feature are very 90s kind of things, references some younger folks might miss now. It is still nice easy clean fun to watch. Watched 7 episodes.
  • Iron Chef (Japan). (1993-2001). I keep watching these via YouTube. This month I watched:
    • Tuna Battle 2. Featuring Takashi Mera as challenger, a chef that wields "the longest knife in Japan." 
    • Tomato Battle 2. Franco Canzoniere, a Roman cooking specialist, challenges Iron Chef Italian Kobe.  
    • "The Legend of Michiba." Special episode highlighting the career of Iron Chef Japanese Rokusaburo Michiba. Michiba was the first of three Japanese cooking Iron Chefs the show had. The other two were Nakamura and Morimoto.  
    • "Ayu (Sweetfish) Battle 3." With Michiba out on health leave, Iron Chef French Hiroyuki Sakai cooks against Chef Omino, a young traditional Japanese cooking chef.  
    • "Ayu (Sweetfish) Battle." By now, Iron Chef Michiba as long retired. Iron Chef Japanese Morimoto is settling in, but this is early in his tenure, and he needs to focus more on Japanese elements versus just the neo-Japanese of New York. So to challenge, Michiba sends in his right hand man from his restaurant (who was also his assistant back in the days of Kitchen Stadium) Kenichi Miyanaga.  
    • "Swallow's Nest Battle." Li Jinlun, a Cantonese chef battles Chen Kenichi, the Chinese Iron Chef, whose specialty is Szechuan cooking. 
  • Mobsters (Documentary. true Crime. biography. 2007-2012). I continue watching episodes of this series via YouTube here and there. See the June roundup for previous commentary on the series overall. 
    • "Sam 'Mad Sam' DeStefano" (Season 4, Episode 3, 2012). A ruthless and very violent mobster with the Chicago Outfit. DeStefano was also a mentor to Tony "The Ant" Spilotro, the Las Vegas enforcer (portrayed by Joe Pesci in the film Casino). 
    • "Joseph 'Mad Dog' Sullivan" (Season 4, Episode 1, 2012). The Irish hitman who also lived a double life as a man walking the (mostly) straight and narrow with his wife and kids. He was a gun for hire, mainly for the Genovese crime family. Eventually put in prison for life, Sullivan is one of the few mobsters who lived to tell the tale, and he does speak from prison as part of the documentary. He passed away in 2017. 
    • "The Gambinos" (Season 1, Episode 14, 2007). An extra long episode (1 hour and almost 30 minutes) presenting the history of this Mafia family from Carlo Gambino, the man who made the family to Paul Castellano to John Gotti, who eventually brought it down with his attention seeking ways. 
    • "Sammy 'The Bull' Gravano" (Season 1, Episode 4, 2007). Profile of Gravano, who was the Gambino crime family underboss under John Gotti. Gravano went on to become government witness, helping the government to send at least 30 mafiosi to jail including John Gotti. 

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