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This movie was part of a series of films that Disney made in the ’60s that starred Kurt Russell as part of a team of students at a college.  Each one involved a humorous and sci-fi sort of scenario, and this one’s no different.  Russell’s character gets zapped while in contact with a computer and winds up with a super-powered brain that lets him ace various exams and scholastic tournaments.  The acting is not bad, and the story is told at a comfortable pace.  The humor arises largely from the situation and the absurdity of it all.  Of course, there’s a fundamental misunderstanding about how computers work, but that’s common even in today’s movies.  There’s only one female character with a name and dialogue, but that’s not unexpected for a movie from that decade.  Disappointing, but not unexpected.  The rest of the characters are sympathetic if somewhat basic.  There’s also a side-plot about the main character losing sight of his friends and himself and another plot involving some gambling gangsters.  It’s a light sort of fun little film, friendly and old-fashioned.  If you like old Disney movies, it’ll be right up your alley.

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This 1984 fantasy film takes stories of werewolves and wild dogs to a fairy tale extreme.  It’s hard to tell what’s real and what isn’t, even in the bookend pieces of the story that apparently take place in the real world.  The film is chock full of metaphors and analogies; everything means something else.  The main plot point is the use of animal transformation as a symbol for biological and psychological changes within a young girl.  Bits of other stories are woven into her dream-like tale as a way of exploring this theme.  The conclusion is left up to individual interpretation but seems to imply an acceptance of the wilder side of human nature, or at least a moment of being overtaken by it.  Whether that is representative of the move from childhood to adulthood or something else is up to the audience to decide.  And since most of it takes place within a young girl’s head, perception plays as important a role in the whole tale as the metaphors.  The acting is very good, the special effects are surprisingly excellent, and the music is mysterious but sweet.  Everything comes together in a dream-like way to tell a story that feels directionless but is quite mesmerizing.

Clue

This goofy comedy from 1985 is both silly and clever.  It’s full of famous names and faces, playing their roles to perfection.  The jokes range from highbrow to very low, but they are always presented perfectly.  There are callbacks to various famous fictional mysteries, as well as history.  The film skewers both popular culture and real life.  It’s all a great deal of fun, held together by excellent acting and directing.  There is always something humorous going on, even if it’s just in the background, and every character has something to do in every scene.  The whole thing is based nominally on a board game of the same title, but the entire plot is pure entertainment and originality.  You’ll get plenty of laughs out of it all and absolutely nothing that will make you think too hard.  Trying to figure out whodunit is a lot of fun, too.  You won’t regret this one.

This CGI comedy/adventure pair of films is entertaining for anyone of any age.  The humor is solid and a bit sneaky at times, the voice acting is excellent and full of big names, and the animation is well-done and fun.  Even the music is great.  The whole story is fun and insanely ridiculous.  It’s also fast-paced and frenetic.  The premise is easy to follow, with a food-making machine gone haywire, but the dialogue is quick and clever and there’s always something going on in the background that will hold your attention.  The second film has the added intrigue of moral questions about sentience and the right to life, but they are still handled in a humorous and fun way.  Both movies have great endings and are highly entertaining.

Clockwork Orange

I’m not sure how to categorize this twisted tale.  It’s well-known but not necessarily a classic.  The always brilliant Malcolm McDowell plays the main character, a violent, sadistic thug who accidentally kills someone during a heist gone wrong.  He undergoes an experimental therapy that hijacks his psyche and results in him getting brutalized by some of his former victims, as well as some of his former pals.  The ending could be described as both bittersweet and disturbing, but the whole movie is disturbing in different ways.  There isn’t a single likable character in sight, and it’s mostly just a tale of violence and discomfort.  There’s a focus on the failures of both the criminal justice system and society at large, questions about how to deal with violence and the people who follow it, and an unspoken discussion about the difference between a just punishment and simple revenge, not to mention the obvious concentration on personal and moral choices and their importance.  It’s a lot of heavy stuff, and it’s all looked at through some eye-catching cinematography and some truly bizarre dialogue.  There are a lot of made-up words in this movie, but it all somehow feels perfectly normal within the context of the story.  The acting is mostly good to excellent, the classical background music is well-chosen, and the visuals are very thought-out and well-arranged.  It’s a fascinating little psychological puzzle that is designed to make the viewer both uncomfortable and thoughtful.  It will leave you with the opposite of the warm and fuzzies, but if you’re looking for something more intellectual than your average film, this one will do.  Just be prepared for all the blood, violence, nudity, and genuinely horrible human beings.  Not for the faint of heart.

Cleopatra 2525

This short-lived action sci-fi series has many flaws but is a great deal of fun.  The story has a surprising number of unique and intriguing ideas and details.  There’s a great deal of background that goes largely unnoticed unless you’re paying attention, and it’s obvious there was a lot of work put into the set pieces.  Even the parts of the story and world that aren’t particularly original are done in an interesting and unique way.  The setting is five centuries in the future and involves aliens, robots, and a post-apocalyptic environment.  The acting is mostly acceptable to good, if a bit cheesy at times, and there is a lot of over-the-top combat, Hercules and Xena-style.  There are a few plot holes, but everything improves over time.  It’s a lot of fun, and while it doesn’t present any deep philosophical questions, it does touch on some very human drama.  There’s quite a bit of fanservice in pretty much every episode, aimed squarely at the young male audience, but even this is coyly addressed in the first episode.  In fact, the main characters may be dressed like party girls and strippers, but they own their own sexuality and never hesitate to objectify the scantily clad men in their vicinity, which may not be fair but is definitely closer to equality.  Unfortunately, the plug was pulled on the show too soon, and its final episode is an unresolved cliffhanger.  Just when it was getting really good too, with more in-depth storylines and better acting.  But the rest of it is well worth the watch if you’re craving something fun and action-y and don’t want to think too much.

Disney Rarities

This collection of Disney shorts, part of the Disney Treasures that were produced around 2005, is a random set of old cartoons and films from the 1920s to 1960s.  This includes some of the oldest Disney shorts, the Alice films.  Combining live-action with animation, these little silent shows starred a young girl and some cartoon companions that will look familiar to anyone who’s seen a silent cartoon from that era.  Also on this set are a number of full-color cartoons that will be nostalgic to anyone who grew up on Disney shows, such as Ferdinand the Bull, Morris the Midget Moose, and Lambert the Sheepish Lion.  There are a number of less well-known shorts, also, like The Truth About Mother Goose and The Saga of Windwagon Smith.  Most of these are entertaining and cute, although there are a few uncomfortable moments that are inherent in older cartoons that were made during an era of common racism, sexism, and classism in the world of Hollywood.  The Alice shorts are naturally slow, but they’re still humorous in their way.  The rest of them are typical Disney fun with memorable songs and music and stories.  Worth a look, even if you’re not a Disney historian.