Movie Thoughts: Hotel Artemis Was Great But Needed to be 30-40 Minutes Longer

Hotel Artemis could have, and should have, and probably was, better than what came out and so I’m going to say I liked it based on what I speculate was cut.

Hotel Artemis felt like it had all the substance cut from it, and had its B&C plots tossed in a blender with the main plot to cut down running time.  Perhaps it was an exercise in efficiency, but my hope is that a director’s or uncut version will eventually be released to streaming or home video as this was a movie that was way too short…in my humble opinion. To that point, it was the product of Drew Pearce, a really talented writer who cleared earned the right to direct a movie based on his previous body of work. Hotel Artemis’  production design is gorgeous, everyone turns in great, if short performances (again it seems like so much was cut), and of course, I love the fact that it was shot in LA, and just as importantly, felt like LA. In many films now, Atlanta is doubling as LA, which is just silly and dumb and you can pretty much tell every time.

I don’t want to give away the ending, but the final shot just got me in the feels and I loved the notion that a franchise could come out of that one scene that, sure, maybe nobody but me (and every other intelligent moviegoer) would go to see. But it probably won’t and that makes me sad.

Anyway, a good movie with all the good stuff cut out. That’s The Hotel Artemis.

Past Thoughts: The MovieLand Wax Museum in Buena Park, California

In celebration of Flashback Monday (which isn’t a thing) I wanted to look back on the final days of the Movieland Wax Museum in Buena Park, California.

Movieland Wax MuseumNo I didn’t take this picture, it was from a postcard…and the lake later became a Starbucks

From 1961 to 2005 it was the goto place to feel like you were visiting the movies. This of course, was before many of the studios had their tours (apart from Universal’s…which was insanely awesome back in those days) and one nifty little thing to note was that, given its reasonably close proximity to the film studios of Los Angeles, stars had, in the past, visited and bestowed upon their namesake diorama’s genuine artifacts from what scene was depicted. So there was real Hollywood provenance there!

Unfortunately, in 2005, the MovieLand Wax Museum closed its doors forever, but, as is often the case with local fixtures going away, it drew ridonkulous crowds who had been procrastinating and putting off for years, a visit, which of course cost the museum and forced it to shut down. If you don’t support your local businesses, they can’t succeed. I’m not being sarcastic.

Buena Park was something of an oasis for amazing museums back in the day. The only one that pre-dates me (and which I regret being born too late for) was the Movie World museum which was dedicated to cars. It had a collection that will never be replicated as many of the cars wound up in private hands, or on display and eventually back out in the elements where they rotted away. Truly a sad tale.

The only two surviving amusement offerings in or near Buena Park are places you may have heard of: Knott’s Berry Farm, and Disneyland. And speaking of Disneyland, the line to get in during its closing weeks was longer than the line for an E-Ticket ride! But I did it, I succeeded in getting in, and took over a hundred photos for posterity. I can’t for the life of me, remember every film or star featured and some have the description plaques cropped out, but Wikipedia covers all of them, so you can certainly cross-reference.

Of course this was back in 2005 before digital cameras were the bomb-diggity they are today, and some of the JPGs have since corrupted in the intervening thirteen years, so please forgive me if one or two pictures looks a little off, but I hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane.

Movie Thoughts: Upgrade Is a $1 million Movie that Deserves $1 Billion in Ticket Sales

Yes, Upgrade is the kind of movie that should scare MoviePass (see because they pay full price for your tickets). You all saw Upgrade and remember who Leigh Wannell is right?

He’s the guy who wrote Saw. You remember Saw? No? It’s that Hitchcock-style thriller that didn’t actually show any gruesomeness and cost $1 million to make and went on to gross $100 million BECAUSE IT WAS EXCELLENT.

Welp Wannell’s done it again with Upgrade. Upgrade is just exquisite storytelling and you can tell this movie was made for [relative]pennies but comes out looking like a big budget film. I love Wannell’s work. It’s easy to follow, there are no plot holes, only justifiable ambiguities that persevere the suspension of disbelief, and Wannell’s endings are, unlike Shamylan’s sham twists, AWE-SOME. Don’t worry, no spoilers.

I also love that Upgrade, like Saw, didn’t rely at all on big name talent. Logan Marshall-Green, a very talented actor in his own right, but not a house-hold name (yet…), is the biggest star in the film, and it doesn’t matter because the story carries everyone (as does Wannell’s direction).

Seeing Upgrade makes me wonder what Wannell could do with a Disney tentpole budget, the possibilities abound, but I believe its fair to say that he deserves a spot next to James Cameron, if not for behavioral style, then at least chutzpah and energy in seeing his vision realized.

The ending though. Gosh what a great ending. No, no spoilers here.

Movie Thoughts: Solo – A Star Wars Story was GREAT!!

Ok I’m baffled at the bad press surrounding Solo: A Star Wars story. It was great. I absolutely loved it and I have to say that I’m really liking this whole Star Wars Anthology approach to things.

Now, as promised after seeing Deadpool 2, this was next on my list. Read on. Continue reading “Movie Thoughts: Solo – A Star Wars Story was GREAT!!”

Sad Thoughts: So Long Book Castle Movie World, Burbank, California

Well I suppose this one was inevitable: Book Castle Movie World is closing. The shop has been a fixture of Downtown Burbank for, oh geeze, it has to be 40 or 50 years at least.

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The shop had all the appearances of a film curios shop that might stock or display props, costumes, reproductions, movie posters, screenplays, and other ephemera to tickle a cinephile’s fancy. The shop front had the dilapidated Art Deco look of a repurposed clothing store from the 40’s that had gone long unoccupied until the Movie World tenant moved in. The displays featured faded movie posters for past great films and even the latest and greatest stuff in theaters, all showing an equal amount of fading and weathering.

But the reality inside was somewhat different. Continue reading “Sad Thoughts: So Long Book Castle Movie World, Burbank, California”

Movie Thoughts: Red Sparrow was a Slow Burn Espionage Thriller that Deserves More Credit

My mother saw Red Sparrow, and didn’t like it. A lot of critics saw Red Sparrow, and didn’t like it. I saw Red Sparrow, and I liked it. Which means I know more about movies than any of the people mentioned above.

No hear me out for a sec.

Continue reading “Movie Thoughts: Red Sparrow was a Slow Burn Espionage Thriller that Deserves More Credit”

Movie Thoughts: Annihilation is An Nihilistic Movie That’s Brilliant

Annihilation is a movie that should allow you to switch off, but it’s so cerebral you can’t help but switching on to 11, you become highly receptive to everything that is going on in this stunning picture, both good and bad.

Of course it’s also beautiful and brilliant and the premise is wonderfully cerebral, but much like the surface layer of the movie itself, my personal view of the movie is unfortunately dark.

To be clear: it’s an excellent movie but…

Continue reading “Movie Thoughts: Annihilation is An Nihilistic Movie That’s Brilliant”

Movie Thoughts: Call Me By Your Name Was Magnificent

I Saw Call Me By Your Name and the theater was full of guys who clearly couldn’t get their girlfriends to see it with them. Weird, right?

This movie was stunning on so many levels. I don’t even know where to begin: The film is technically flawless, the story just as much. Timothy Chalamet absolutely deserves an Oscar nomination as does Armie Hammer and even Michael Stuhlbarg in his small but incredibly important role, delivering a speech for the ages that every child deserves to hear from their father as they struggle to come to terms with their sexuality and humanity.

Continue reading “Movie Thoughts: Call Me By Your Name Was Magnificent”