After a solid Loch Ness Monster open, the movie spends ten long minutes watching men with big egos converse in fancy rooms, and never really recovers. I mean it’s an overall good time, and Hugh Jackman does better as the explorer than most celebrity voice actors can manage – it’s just a hard comedown after Laika’s masterpiece Kubo. The missing link is lonely, writes a letter to summon a famous adventurer, they collect a bustley Zoe Saldana and go on adventures, chased at times by bounty hunters, rival explorers and a race of abominable snowmen. Mostly we came for the armatures, which were just fabulous. What cool dude was in charge of all those armatures?

For a two-hour movie it sure starts fast – there’s a “sea eruption” as the coast guard examines an abandoned craft, and a gushing leak in an undersea traffic tunnel, then a flurry of government workers reacting to the news, each worker rapidly introduced via subtitle, and this is all in the first two minutes. Little did I realize we’d mostly stick with these government workers for the next 118 minutes – this is a Godzilla movie told from the POV of the bureaucrats trying to devise a solution to the kaiju problem. I meant to watch this two years ago as part of a double-feature, but was so disappointed by the American remake, I cancelled. Should have carried on with the plan – despite its insistent focus on meetings, this is unique and excellent.

While the government works on their undersea-volcano theory, Godzilla’s tail shows up on the TV news, then as the PM is assuring the public there’s no danger of it coming onshore, it comes onshore. The fate of humanity may depend on the government’s response, but the higher-ups only listen to high-ranking officials, not anyone with actual knowledge or ideas. A scrappy young voice-of-reason deputy cabinet secretary named Rando (Hiroki Hasegawa, lead Fuck Bomber of Why Don’t You Play In Hell?, also in Before We Vanish) forms an impromptu committee of underrated functionaries to brainstorm solutions the old-guard leadership isn’t coming up with, making this the most Colonel Blimp-like of Godzilla movies.

Back to the giant monster movie at hand, the thing that comes onshore is… not Godzilla? I thought it might be a monster that G ends up fighting, but after struggling through the city and splashing blood everywhere, it collapses then suddenly evolves into the G we all know. Every time it stops and then rises again, it’s more powerful with new abilities – the fin-glowing, fire-breathing, purple-energy-releasing sequence is especially impressive.

When purple energy beams destroy the prime minister’s chopper, a know-nothing with seniority is made PM, and pretty easily convinced by the U.S. to let them nuke Tokyo. Sure he feels awful, but he has no ideas or power of his own, so it’s up to Rando, his team and his negotiations with the talented half-Japanese daughter of a U.S. senator. The movie is obvious about its politics and complaints – and again, it’s mostly meetings – but it’s also excellently paced and has outstanding monster-devastation scenes.

There are a million actors in this, each introduced with onscreen name and title, and I only kept track of a few. The PM is Ren Osugi, who shows up in every other Japanese movie I watch, and died last year. Kayoko is Satomi Ishihara of the Ring sequel Sadako 3D. Rando’s team includes Mikako Ichikawa of Anno’s live-action cartoon Cutie Honey, and Shinya Freakin’ Tsukamoto.

Not really horror, a disaster movie – made in response to the American version, which wasn’t good at all. This got a limited release in the US, where it mostly appealed to nerds on fansites, while in Japan it won best film and best director and was only outsold by Your Name. Hideaki Anno made this as a mental break between Evangelion films, the fourth of which is now five years delayed. Codirector Shinji Higuchi made Attack on Titan with some of the same cast, and directed sfx for the 1990’s Gamera movies. Anno might be following up with an Ultraman movie, and if he never finishes making the theatrical Evangelion series, I’m never gonna start watching it.

Great opening titles, the credits created from an array of redacted documents. I took a note when pausing to grab snacks: “no way will the movie live up to these opening titles” – and it didn’t!

but it’s thrilling when G’s laser-breath is finally unleashed:

It doesn’t go the full Cloverfield, but sticks close to the ground, glimpsing giant monster battles from a panicked human perspective, much of the action unreadably dark on my screen. Bomb disposal expert Col. Witwicky must be cursed, he and each of his family members getting right in the path of monster attacks, until he breaks the curse at the end by torching the bad-guy monsters’ eggs before they can overrun the planet. And oh yeah there are evil monsters here, and Godzilla’s the good guy. And Juliette Binoche dies horribly after only 15 minutes, and Bryan Cranston is the star but he dies too, and Sally Hawkins gets three lines, and Ken Watanabe plays the Japanese scientist, and David Strathairn plays the serious military one, but mostly we’re left with Witwicky (Aaron Taylor-Johnson, lead rapist of Nocturnal Animals) trying to get home to his Olsen wife before the world ends.

Evil Mantis Monster:

Hidden Mothra reference on a fishtank:

Gareth made this between indie alien thriller Monsters and a Star Wars spinoff. I was planning to double-feature this with the even newer Godzilla movie from the creator of Evangelion, but after two disappointing action flicks in a row (this and Alien: Covenant) I couldn’t risk a third, so rewatched Fury Road instead. Normally I’d say “argh, why did I watch this bland multiplex junk,” not recalling why it ended up on my must-see list, but now thanks to Letterboxd I can look up exactly who recommended it… aha, Ehrlich with 4.5 stars. “One of the most satisfying, well-paced & beautifully directed blockbusters since Jurassic Park… genuinely registers as the first post-human blockbuster.” And MZ Seitz listed it as one of the century’s best. They are high.

First Nacho movie I’ve watched since Timecrimes – I missed his Extraterrestrial and didn’t hear much about Open Windows. Anne Hathaway, not a fraction as messed up as she was in Rachel Getting Married, a movie that has been on everyone’s minds lately, is still somewhat messed up, moving to her old town and hooking up with Jason Sudeikis (Floyd in 30 Rock), then with younger Austin Stowell (Whiplash), causing Jason to unfurl his rage and become a supervillain. Anne can become/control a giant beast stomping Korea by stepping into a local playground at a certain time in the morning, and Jason can become a giant robot, and they have drunken childish playground wars while real people die (we assume, all off-camera) across the world, until he gets fully out of control and she travels to Korea and turns the tables, her avatar now in America facing down the puny Sudeikis.

Tim Blake Nelson, who I’ve seen in six movies and never recognized, is a bar buddy who Jason badly offends then he never returns, and Matthew Crawley is Anne’s ex who returns to rescue her from this nowhere small town.

M. D’Angelo:

Colossal never quite decides whether it’s about the unwitting havoc caused by an alcoholic or the toxic behavior of a closet misogynist, and it veers uncertainly between goofy comedy and genuine ugliness. Furthermore, placing the giant avatars in another country suggests barbed commentary on collateral damage caused by American foreign policy — rich potential that the movie ignores … Even at its most muddled, Colossal taps into the universal secret conviction that one’s most trivial actions and emotions are somehow world-consequential.

Preceded by the Peter Huang short 5 Films About Technology – episodes about people’s lives being ruined by cellphone technology – which I guess fits thematically with Colossal in that Katy points out that ever since Certain Women she’s realized all modern movies are about alienation and peoples’ inability to connect.

I watched Raamat’s Lend a couple months ago, just getting to the rest of the disc.

Kutt / Hunter (1976)

More cross-fading animation. Whale-hunters dodge icebergs while tracking their prey. The whale wins. Nice water and Northern Lights effects.

Pold / Field (1978)

A black/white world, slow heavy labor, each frame crossfaded into next. Work horse dreams of a better life, escapes. I think he returns to the farm after getting hungry.

Varvilind / Colorful Bird (1974)

Bored future society starts to come alive with the addition of primary colors, as their world gradually becomes a groovy hippy paradise. A black cat threatens to make everything square and gray again, but the cool kids intervene, ending in a psychotic color trip. Maybe Estonia didn’t have the color green – the movie shows yellow and blue combining to make… blue. I like the silent-film opening titles, and how each of the Raamat shorts is so different-looking than the last.

Kilplased / Simpletons (1974)

White-suited loggers discover that logs roll downhill. A farmer tries to befriend some birds while his horse is eaten by wolves (he doesn’t see the wolves, so a cat is blamed). The men burn down their structure (silo?) and destroy their own fields while chasing a pig. At least they get to eat the pig. The cartooniest Raamat I’ve seen.

I like the way he draws bird feet:

Tyll the Giant (1980)

Tyll helps the puny humans rebuild after their towns are destroyed by demons, rescues them when rough seas overturn their boat and participates in brutal battles against their enemies. This doesn’t go over well with the devil lord who shoots boulders from his eyeballs, so he destroys Tyll’s home and murders his wife. In a final horrific battle (this is the most bloodshed I’ve seen in a cartoon since Metalocalypse), Tyll is beheaded, then a voiceover I didn’t understand (because I lack subtitles) gives an epilogue. A tremendous end to the Raamat party.

Not as packed with things as most movies are. It’s a comedy but the jokes don’t come fast and furious, and it’s an action movie but not full of action scenes. A pretty laid-back film. More movies should have theme songs. Good to see again in theaters.

I liked Helen Mirren’s dragon dean.

And the hissing vampire sorority, or whatever that was.

Sometimes hard work and following your dreams just isn’t enough.

The Blue Umbrella (2013, Saschka Unseld)

A remake of Paperman using photorealistic umbrellas with cartoon faces!

“Maybe his head just got loose and fell off.”

Shitty scat-singing pianist turned incompetent diamond thief Jimmy Quinn stumbles across the nest of a winged monster that has been terrorizing New York, snatching up rooftop sunbathers and window washers, and tries to use this knowledge for profit. As in God Told Me To, Cohen shines in picking up crowd scenes seemingly out in public and not on a closed set. I like that Cohen casts skilled but unattractive actors – lead cop David Carradine (Kill Bill, Boxcar Bertha) and thief Michael Moriarty (The Stuff, Pick Me Up) don’t seem much like movie leading men, but they’re perfect for this story.

Moriarty is dwarfed by the city:

Murderous cultist takes a volunteer:

Moriarty is the fascinatingly doomed, black center of the movie, on the run from his partners in the jewel heist he botched, but Carradine and his partner Richard “Shaft” Roundtree kill time trying to solve a series of grotesque murders, apparently committed by a cult trying to appease the beast. I have to question the skills of the investigators when Moriarty is brought into the station for beating a security guard who works at the top of the Chrysler building, and they continue to bargain with Moriarty, offering him a million (which he never gets) to tell them which tall building hosts the monster. Besides that little plot hole, it’s a pretty great movie.

“I can’t imagine that the monster would want to kill YOU, Richard Roundtree.”

The monster, just after crushing Richard Roundtree’s spine and dropping him 200 stories:

Faith Domergue is a gorgeous scientist of the type you’re not likely to find in a real science lab, smirks Robert Osborne in his TCM intro. How would he know? His intro sounded like a description of Godzilla, and sure enough, a serious newsman-sounding voiceover at the very beginning invokes the atom and prepares us for the worst.

First off, there’s a stiff young fellow named Griff (which makes up for the lack of Griffs in Sam Fuller’s submarine movie one year prior) and hunky Kenneth Tobey (Thing From Another World, later a Joe Dante cameo regular), who doesn’t generally act much like a military commander. Disturbances are detected, people are disappearing – what could it mean? Enter marine biologists Dr. Carter (Donald Curtis of Spellbound) and Joyce (Faith Domergue, of This Island Earth the same year, with heavy-looking eyelashes – she can barely keep her eyes open) who excitedly study evidence and declare it might be a giant octopus. Finally, 20 minutes in, we get to see a real octopus, and after another ten we see the real prize, Ray Harryhausen’s giant animated tentacles.

The narrator returns frequently, and he is welcome since not much else is happening, to make statements like: “In the weeks that followed, the North Pacific was closed.” After explaining to the audience what octopuses are, in typically patient cheapie science-film fashion, the marine biologists, who should’ve really been sent home by now, start ordering the military around. Between lessons about cephalopods we get an instructive speech about how women can be as capable as men, proven when biologist Joyce invents a new kind of torpedo. In California they meet local plaid-jacketed sheriff Harry Lauter (Escape from the Planet of the Apes) who is killed by the monster minutes later.

“The coastal waters of the Pacific were mined,” declares the narrator. I hope the Navy plans on cleaning those up later. Needing a device to keep piling on the exposition, the Navy is surrounded by inquisitive reporters, culminating in a LOL moment when a short newsman asks Joyce a question she doesn’t know, so he follows dramatically with: “If you don’t know, who does?”

When the radio announces the ferries are closed then a mob of peeved suit-and-hat wearing men rush down, elbowing past police to assert their rights to ride the ferries, I am just rooting for them all to be eaten by giant fish. Tentacles crawl aground, looking like giant tongues, but only grab a few people, falling upon them Blob-style. Disaster flicks had disappointingly low body counts in the 50’s. Old Dr. Carter gets in trouble as the monster attacks the Golden Gate bridge, in the first scene really worth watching, and I thought he was a goner for sure. After all, the commander and Joyce have shared a hot beach-love scene, so it’s time to kill off the elder third-wheel… but surprisingly, he makes it back.

As we began in a submarine, so shall we end, as the navy takes the battle down below (not too far – the octo stays about 50 feet down). Unexpected meta-humor when the octo grabs their sub and Tobey says “this is where we came in.” Of course, now it’s personal, so he and Dr. John grab scuba gear and harpoons to finish the thing off. I don’t think Tobey ends up with Joyce, dedicated as they are to their careers, but I was sleepy and can’t be sure.

The only sci-fi flick made by Robert Gordon, a former actor (played Al Jolson as a boy in The Jazz Singer). I’m hoping he’s the younger brother of MST3K “fave” Bert I. Gordon. I can find no proof of that, but this film’s writer George Yates wrote five of Bert’s films (the other writer, Hal Smith, was a major voice actor in 1980’s cartoons).