Movies, Jango’s Day for Fame

(Jango bagged–Ann bought me/us a new coffee maker; after the cut, non-demonic Jango.)

The movie watching continues. If you’re keeping score at home:

The Cleaner – B-minus thriller with Samuel L. Jackson as a crime scene cleaner.

Edmond – B-plus psycho-thriller with William F. Macy as a businessman on a crazy bender, from a Mamet script.

Across 110th Street – B-movie noir action thriller with Anthony Quinn, involving stolen mob money.

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day – A solid “A” for this dynamic comedy of errors with Francis McDormand set in London in the late 1930s. Stunning sets and even better acting. A truly refreshing romantic comedy.

X-Files Movie #2 – C+/B- thriller involving a supposed psychic, missing women, and some Frankenstein experiments that has its moments but comes up short.

Hancock -The first 2/3rds of this down-on-his-luck superhero movie are superb, but once we got to the explanations, it’s more like a B/B-. Which is a shame, because it had the potential to be amazing all the way through.

A Christmas Story – Still my favorite holiday film of all time. An A+ stone-cold classic. It’s wonderful to watch it again, after having seen it so many times, because you can focus on lots of different things. This time, I paid special attention to the pitch-perfect narration. The film’s a study in economy, in that there’re no wasted scenes, no wasted words, the narration perfectly integrated into the action. Still gets huge belly laughs from me.

Love and Death – A- Woody Allen 70s flick parodying Russian 19th Century literature. A laugh riot most of the way through.

Upcoming, Baby Mama, Wall-e, Kung Fu Panda, John Adams miniseries, Journey to the Center of the Earth.


  1. Steve Winer says

    Are you familiar with the radio monologues of Jean Shepard upon which A Christmas Story was based?
    That’s his voice on the narration and he has a cameo in the film. He told these stories five nights a week on his radio program and I used to listen to them regularly as a kid. Wonderful stuff. You can find various collections available, and he also wrote several books from them (good, but I miss the sound of his voice).

  2. Bill Ectric says

    I love A Christmas Story. It’s actually very similar to my own childhood in many ways.
    Do you like It’s A Wonderful Life?

  3. jeff vandermeer says

    Baby Mama – C-minus but decent Tina Fay performance.

    Wall-E – Sigh. I wanted to like this more but it is mostly a sentimental piece o’ crap with excellent post enviro apocalypse eye candy. Sorry, but there’s no logic to be found here, plot holes galore, and if Eve said Wall-e’s name one more time I was going to throw up. Not to mention the terrible effects of space travel that turn real humans into cartoon characters. What brain scientist decided that would be a good idea? I can’t help thinking that this appeals to the very soft humans sent up feebly in the flick.

  4. mastadge says

    I thought that John Adams was excellent at the beginning and end and dragged quite a bit in the middle episodes.

    Glad to see some more love for Miss Pettigrew.

  5. Jeff VanderMeer says

    Eeek! Not yet into the middle bits. And good to see you here, Mastadge–hope you’re having a fun holidays.

  6. JesseFord says

    Baby Mama is much better if you imagine Tina Fey and Amy Poehler kissing passionately all the way through. At least for me it is, but I’m kind of particular with these things.

  7. says

    That last comment almost distracted me enough to forget what I was going to say, which is that you’re so right about Hancock, Jeff. Great, great setup with a fizzling climax.

    I loves me some Jean Shepherd, too, and it’s tantalizing to know that his greatest work is probably lost. All those late-night, free-form radio shows vanished into the ether . . . .

  8. Jeff VanderMeer says

    I’m going to have to check out more Shepherd. (I’m making more spelling errors since I started using my phone for the internet, btw–leniency appreciated.) Glad I’m not alone on Hancock.

    James–next year I’d like to talk to you about doing a signing at your store. I will be out on the West Coast as part of the book tour. I know book tours are “out” at the moment, but I plan on doing a rather extensive one, trying out some innovative ideas on how to make them successful.


  9. says

    I found the dialogue in Edmond terribly stilted and jarring. More suited to stage than screen I think! To be honest I thought it was a nasty little film, wouldn’t recommend it for cosy Christmas viewing…