I like to have a good variety on this blind spot series. After all only watching prestige films would get boring. It is for that reason I decided to pick 1988’s romantic comedy-drama Mystic Pizza for my June blind spot selection. It’s a classic of the genre perhaps best remembered for introducing us all to Julia Roberts but for some reason I had never seen it until today.
I’m also really excited about the new musical version of the film just introduced last year at the Ogunquit Playhouse. I wonder if it will end up on Broadway eventually?
As for the movie I enjoyed the friendship between the 3 young women (Roberts, Lili Taylor, Annabeth Gish) working at Mystic Pizza (where the pizza has a magic combination of ingredients only known by owner Leona played by Conchata Ferrell). Each of the girls has different dreams with Kat (Gish) being the boldest wanting to get out of town and become an astrophysicist.
Where the movie was less interesting was in the various romances. They were all fine but very generic and I would have preferred it just be a movie about 3 friends. Jojo (Taylor) is struggling to commit with her fiancé Bill (Vincent D’Onofrio). Kat is falling for her married employer Tim (William Moses) and Daisy (Kat’s sister) is seeing rich kid with a Porsche Charles (Adam Storke).
One odd aspect of the film I found distracting is Bill and Charles looked a lot alike to the point where I thought Jojo and Kat were dating the same person early on in the script. They even dressed the same with similar beige colored coats.
There is also a subplot with the pizza parlor struggling and a food critic coming to judge the pizza that was cute. All the women have nice chemistry and there are nice performances particularly from Gish.
In the end, Mystic Pizza is a pleasant watch, but I enjoyed it more when it was focused on the girls and less on the romance. I think it has the ingredients to make a good musical so it will be interesting to see where that goes.
What do you think of this film? Is it one you have nostalgia for? Would love to hear in the comments section
There’s always something intimidating about a Stanley Kubrick film. You know you aren’t going to get something run-of-the-mill or mainstream. It’s going to challenge me and be fresh and inventive. He’s an impressive director because he tackled so many different genres from comedy (Dr Strangelove) to scifi (2001: A Space Odyssey) to the film we are talking about for this blind spot choice Barry Lyndon– a historical period piece.
To be honest, as a big fan of period pieces I expected to like this film more than I did. I came away from it feeling it is handsomely mounted and well-made, but emotionally distant and bland.
I’m not saying Barry Lyndon is a bad movie. It just didn’t do a lot to excite me or draw me into the story. I think it is one of those classics I’m glad I’ve seen but can’t ever imagine watching again.
It tells the story of Barry Lyndon who is a rogue in 18th century England who fights in war and then woes a rich widow to take advantage of her social status and connections.
Barry Lyndon is over 3 hours which usually isn’t a problem for me with period pieces. I recently watched the 2006 Jane Eyre and the 1995 Pride and Prejudice which are both over 4 hours with enthusiasm. The problem was I just didn’t feel that attached to Barry or any of the other characters. Again, it wasn’t bad. Just not that engrossing or interesting.
I can see why it won Oscars for score, costumes, art direction and cinematography. All of that is exemplary and very well done. The acting is also excellent by Ryan O’Neal, Marisa Berenson, and more.
I appreciated the intermission, and I did enjoy the second half more than the first because war movies aren’t my favorite but again the characters and story left me flat. Someday they should do a movie from Lady Lyndon’s perspective because she is treated terribly by Barry and others. The narrator (Michael Hordern) sometimes gives us insight into her and other characters, but I could have used even more.
I had read Barry Lyndon is “one of the best and most influential films ever made” so maybe my expectations were too high? I guess I can see production-wise but the characters and story were nowhere near on that level in my opinion. If it’s a favorite of yours let me know why and what I missed.
Those who are familiar with my reviews know I’m not a fan of garish violence. It can be used well but it’s usually not something I am drawn to or love. This is part of the reason I never saw the 2017 film Logan. At the time of its release I also wasn’t a full time critic so I didn’t see films that didn’t appeal to me. This is why Logan made for a good blind spot pick and one I can finally check off my watch list!
Logan tells the story of Wolverine (or Logan) played by Hugh Jackman. The year is 2029 and mutants have mostly been eliminated and Logan’s powers of self-healing are dwindling. One day he is responsible for taking a girl Laura to Canada who has special powers. He and Professor X (Patrick Stewart) take the journey and have all kinds of problems along the way.
My initial impressions of Logan as being an incredibly violent film are accurate. It’s one of the most violent films I’ve ever seen. However, I do think the violence is needed for the plot and it captures the spirit of a western well. The west was a brutal place and so is 2029 in this film.
I liked the bond between Logan and Laura especially as she became more animated throughout the film. Their fights with her talking in Spanish are really funny and the chemistry between the 2 works.
I also really enjoyed Richard E Grant as the villainous Dr Rice. Patrick Stewart is wonderful as Professor X as he always is but this time he is desperate and not the confident character we know and love.
All the production values are excellent in Logan and like I said it feels like a modern-day western, which is refreshing and original. The acting from Hugh Jackman is also the best we’ve ever seen from him portraying the character. It’s raw and intense and he does a wonderful job.
I still don’t think I’d ever watch Logan again because the violence is too much for my taste. However, I can see why it is considered a classic and why comic book movie fans love it so much.
Hey everyone! This month’s blind spot, Shaun of the Dead, is a film I have been wanting to check off my list for a while. I didn’t see it when it came out because I was on my mission in 2004 and didn’t watch movies during that time. Plus, I am admittedly squeamish when it comes to violence and I knew this was a bloody comedy. However, the whole point of this series is getting me out of my comfort zone and I did enjoy Anna and the Apocalypse, Pride and Prejudice and Zombiesand Warm Bodies so I figured let’s give it a go.
Well, maybe zombie romances are my thing because I quite enjoyed Shaun of the Dead. In fact, I have long felt Edgar Wright was a little overrated (thought hisScott Pilgrim and Baby Driver were just ok and really didn’t care for Last Night in Soho). Now after seeing this film I feel like i finally get it and the appeal of what he does.
The story centers around the title character Shaun (Simon Pegg) who begins the day getting dumped by his girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield) and putting up with his leach of a friend Ed (Nick Frost) who has been slumming on Shaun’s sofa for 5 years! To say Ed is high maintenance would be an understatement. Then a little thing called a zombie apocalypse happens to complicate Shaun’s life. Despite having been dumped Shaun goes to save Liz along with her friends and his Mum (Penelope Wilton- who is always great) and his step-dad Phillip (Bill Nighy). Together they make an eclectic team that is figuring out how to fight off zombies along the way.
You have to give a lot of the credit for Shaun of the Dead to Pegg who pulls of the comedic and more emotional moments quite well. He also has an easy chemistry with both Frost and Ashfield and the film has a nice message about the importance of friends even if they drive you crazy at times. Shaun of the Dead is also paced very well. The characters are constantly either fighting the zombies or figuring out a way to keep them out of whatever structure they are in. Shaun in particular is scrappy and figures out creative ways to kill the zombies- at one point they try to use his record collection to kill them without much luck.
There is also a very effective scene using Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” to perfectly punctuate the action. Wright is excellent at using his soundtrack to add energy and spice to his films and this no exception.
I actually think Shaun of the Dead would make a good date movie. It has a friendship and romance at its core and has humor and action to entertain everyone. I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would so if you can handle an R rated film (for language and violence) I’d say give it a watch!
When I announced this year’s Blind Spot picks probably the biggest surprise was my February pick of About Time. Being somewhat of a rom-com expert people are always caught off guard when I admit to some favorites I haven’t seen. A lot of times they are R rated films, which for a long time I didn’t watch. Such is the case with About Time. It’s an R rated film for sensuality and language, which I didn’t see when it came out and I just never got around to seeing it until now (the gift of this Blind Spot series!).
Well, now I’ve seen About Time and…
I loved it! It totally lived up to the hype! But now that I’ve seen it I wouldn’t describe it as a romantic comedy. It’s more of a family movie than anything else.
About Time tells the story of a young man named Tim played by Domhnall Gleeson who discovers on his 21st birthday that all the men in his family can travel back in time to moments they have lived before. This allows them to make tweaks in the timeline that can help their lives without causing too much of a space time continuum disruption.
The main romance of the film is when Tim meets Mary (Rachel McAdams) and falls hard for her. He then uses his time travel to help ensure he is in the right place at the right time to win Mary over. This could have been creepy (especially when Margot Robbie’s Charlotte enters the scene) but it’s played with just enough heart to be endearing.
Like I said, most of the film is about family more than romance. This is true for Tim’s family with Mary and his birth family. I loved Bill Nighy as his Dad (he is always the best). I also loved Tim’s relationship with his sister Kit Kat. The bond between a brother and sister is rarely explored in film, so I appreciated the tender scenes between them and how he tries to help her in any way he can.
About Time is one of those films which will tug on all the emotions. It’s very funny, sweet and a real tear jerker. It has a little bit of whimsy but then also feels grounded and easy to relate with. It will make you wonder what you would change if you could tweak a few little things in your own life?
I really enjoyed this one. What about you? Is About Time a favorite of yours? Let me know in the comments section
9 out of 10
If you appreciate what I do here please consider supporting my patreon here.
Hey everyone! I am going to take a break from Sundance 2022 to talk about one of the classics of the festival, 1994’s Clerks. This film was directed by Kevin Smith and really captures the raw quality of early indie films from the 1990s. It doesn’t work well as a modern comedy simply because it doesn’t have many laughs but I can see why it was fresh and appealing in 1994.
In the movie Brian O’Halloran plays Dante Hicks a man who manages a convenience store that’s next to a video rental place where friend Randal Graves (Jeff Anderson) works. One morning Dante gets called in when he isn’t even supposed to be working and interacts with a variety of wild characters.
Of all the people who come in and out of the store my favorite were the 2 women, Caitlin (Lisa Spoonauer) and Veronica (Marilyn Ghigliotti. While I didn’t think Dante was worthy of either of them they had some good lines.
Given they inspired an entire franchise Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith) aren’t in the movie that much. They were ok I suppose but didn’t make much of an impact on me.
I did enjoy the black and white of Clerks and its authentic lived-in feeling. We have all been in this type of store before and we’ve all had that kind of boring repetitive jobs before. They are the worst!
I just wish I had laughed more at Clerks. I chuckled off and on but nothing major. Maybe I missed something or maybe the jokes have fallen out of favor over time but it wasn’t a very funny movie.
Have you seen Clerks? Do you think I am underselling it as a comedy or maybe you like it for other reasons? Let me know in the comments!
Hey everyone! I hope you are doing well and having a terrific Christmas Eve! Tomorrow I will not only be celebrating Christmas but I will be heading off to Disneyland for a trip. I have actually caught up with my podcast and am able to take almost a whole week off! Wow! I can’t wait. Make sure you follow me on instagram to get all of my travel and other updates!
Before I leave I wanted to announce my Blind Spot picks for 2022. This will be my 7th year of reviewing ‘blind spots’ each month. These are popular or critically praised films that for whatever reason I have not seen. I love having a variety of Oscar films, cult classics and indie darlings. Sometimes I don’t enjoy the picks (Beverly Hills Cop…) and then other times I love films I didn’t expect to enjoy (Halloween).
So without further ado here are my Blind Spot picks for 2022:
With the Sundance Film Festival coming back in January (hopefully) it seems appropriate to check out one of the darlings of the festival, Kevin Smith’s Clerks. I know it is a pretty hard R so I haven’t seen it but I think you will find this year I am check off some more mature films in blind spot that I haven’t seen until now. Hopefully this indie comedy brings the laughs and I have a good time watching it.
I can see all of your shocked expressions now. Rachel, the rom-com girl has never seen About Time? It’s true! It’s not that I’ve been avoiding it. I’ve just never seen it for some reason. Now that will be solved because I will finally watch it for the February blind spot!
Shaun of the Dead
Again, because I didn’t watch many R rated movies in the past I have never seen Shaun of the Dead or any of the Cornetto trilogy. It’s only fairly recently I’ve started to get into horror comedy as a genre and I’ve enjoyed movies like Warm Bodies and Anna and the Apocalypse. So I bet I will enjoy Shaun of the Dead. We’ll see!
Most people are probably shocked to find I have never see Logan. I don’t in general love violent movies but I think it is time for me to check this gritty superhero movie off of my list. I hope I like it as much as everyone else seems to.
I don’t know a ton about Barry Lyndon, except it is a period piece from Stanley Kubrick based on the novel by William Thackerary. I love period pieces so that alone has me intrigued to see what Kubrick can bring to the genre. I hope it is a good one!
The beginning of summer seems like a great time to finally watch the 1988 film Mystic Pizza. It’s a film I’ve heard of for years because it introduced the world to Julia Roberts but I am intrigued to finally watch it because a Broadway show is coming based on the film.
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
I have seen most Wes Anderson films but I’ve never seen The Life Aquatic. I usually like his movies and I enjoy Bill Murray who is the star so hopefully it will be a fun time for me. What do you think of this quirky Anderson film?
In the Heat of the Night
I love Norman Jewison as a director so it is surprising I have never seen his 1967 Best Picture winner In the Heat of the Night. This film stars Sidney Poitier and went on to influence countless police procedurals and crime dramas. Plus, it inspired the line ‘they call me Mr Tibbs!’.
Recently I was with a group of critics who were shocked to find out a friend had never seen Purple Rain. I didn’t admit to the group I have also never seen Purple Rain. Probably because I am not as familiar with the music of Prince as I should be. Nevertheless, let’s fix that in September and watch this music themed film classic!
A Nightmare on Elm Street
As you all know I’m a big of a horror movie wimp but I’ve been trying to do better lately. I’ve seen and enjoyed Scream, Halloween and other scary films. Now I am going to watch one of the classics of the genre- the original A Nightmare on Elm Street. Hopefully it won’t haunt me too much in my dreams!
The Lost Boys
I’ve seen a lot of vampire movies but I’ve never seen the cult classic The Lost Boys. Directed by Joel Schumacher this should be a fun break for me in November when I am deep in Hallmark season of 2022. What do you think of this 80s favorite?
Back in 2015 an indie favorite was Sean Baker’s film Tangerine. He shot the film all on an Iphone and it starred trans actress Mya Taylor in the lead role. I didn’t know at the time it is set on Christmas Eve so it makes for the perfect December pick.
So there you have it! My Blind Spot picks for 2022. What do you think of these films? It should make for an eclectic and fun year catching up with these classics!
Every year when coming up with my blind spot picks I try to pick something holiday related for December that I haven’t seen. Given I host the Hallmarkies Podcast that covers holiday films it’s no easy task. For 2021 I decided to go with a film I heard about while watching a special on TCM profiling classic Christmas movies called Our Vines Have Tender Grapes. From 1945 this film stars Margaret O’Brien as a little girl in Wisconsin growing up in a Norwegian-American immigrant community. It’s actually not much of a Christmas movie but I thoroughly enjoyed it!
It has one of the strangest trailers I’ve ever seen…
Our Vines Have Tender Grapes is based on a novel by George Victor Martin and I think I will seek out the book because I really liked this old fashioned story. This movie will definitely not be for everyone. It lays on the sentimentality about as thick as possible and it will be too much for some but O’Brien is so cute that it worked for me.
It’s a very simple story about growing up and the ebbs and flows of childhood. O’Brien’s Selma plays with her friend Arnold and they squabble and learn life lessons. One of the best scenes is when she is scolded by her Pa played by Edgar G Robinson for not sharing her skates. He tells her she is a selfish little girl and her expression is devastating. Then you have sweet moments when he takes her see the animals on the circus train. You really get the feeling O’Brien was genuinely thrilled to see an elephant. It’s so cute.
Agnes Moorehead plays her Ma and I’m used to seeing her play more cantankerous characters (especially in Pollyanna which I love. I had no idea she was nominated for 4 Oscars!). This was a nice change of pace and she has great chemistry with Robinson (who also plays against type).
They probably explain it in the book but I have no idea why it has the title it does as there are no vineyards or grapes of any kind in the town. I guess the children and small town life are the tender grapes but it seems like a stretch.
There is also a romantic plot between James Craig and Frances Gifford. She is a city girl who has come to do her student teaching in the small town. He is the editor of the local paper. Will she fall for small town life? What do you think?
In many ways this feels like a precursor to the Hallmark movies of today but with more melodrama. A story about small-town America and the joys and heartaches of being a child in the country. It warmed my heart and I almost wished it was a series so I could keep spending time with these people.
The main Christmas element of the movie is a pageant Selma is asked to memorize a recitation covering the First Christmas. She is so nervous and does so well you can’t help but feel the Christmas spirit from her words. It’s so sweet and heartfelt.
Like I said, Our Vines Have Tender Grapes will be too sentimental for some but I loved it. If you haven’t seen it I recommend giving it a watch.
8 out of 10
If you enjoy my writing please consider supporting me at patreon. It would mean the world to me and we have some fun perks!
I think because I have never been a big horror movie person I have a ton of blind spots in that genre including the Universal monster movies. This is why I really wanted to include Frankenstein 1931 in my blind spot this year. Strangely I have seen Young Frankensteinwhich is a parody of this film but not seen the original. I have also read the book several times and seen the Kenneth Branagh version from 1994 (and I’ve seen Frankenweenie!). Now I have seen the1931 film and I loved it! It’s an extremely well made film with several scenes that really got to me.
Frankenstein 1931 is directed by James Whale and stars Colin Clive as Henry Frankenstein and Boris Karloff as Frankenstein’s monster. It’s a simple story and at 71 minutes it doesn’t waste much time. Dr Frankenstein creates a monster and that monster is misunderstood and mayhem results.
The film starts off with the iconic image of lightning bringing the monster to life. We of course get the doctor calling out ‘It’s alive! It’s alive’. I love the black and white in these scenes and the way director Whale uses light and shadow to create mood. They are scenes so often parodied they lose some of their impact but if you think about what it must have been like to see for the first time it is very exciting.
Karloff is great as the monster. He plays it almost like a zombie unaware of what he is doing but with just enough alertness to be cognizant of his actions. The most tragic scene is when he is playing with a girl named Maria and in the game he drowns the girl. That scene combined with the farmer bringing his dead little girl into the town is so sad. Devastating.
Like I said, Frankenstein 1931 is not a long movie so its elements are simple. However, I found it effective and very well made. It’s violent, tragic and exciting all at the same time and it has something to say about playing God and how we treat things we don’t understand. Is it a monster just because we are unfamiliar with it? Maybe? Maybe not?
I did think the film ended rather abruptly and I wanted a little bit more. I suppose I will need to watch the sequels one of these days.