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Which Films Did You See Last Week? Week 12, 2020

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sol
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Which Films Did You See Last Week? Week 12, 2020

#1

Post by sol » March 22nd, 2020, 12:00 pm

Which Films Did You See Last Week?

Please share with us which films you saw last week. It would be great if you could include some comments on each film. It would be awesome if you could also take some time to comment on everyone else's viewings. Unfortunately, it has reached the point where it is no longer viable for me as host to comment on everyone else's viewings every week (especially since some people like to use the weekly thread to log their viewings and nothing else). I am always keen to promote movie discussion though, so if you comment on my own viewings, I will comment on yours at my earliest convenience.

Please also note that this is intended as a movie discussion thread, not a large image posting thread. Having too many large images makes this thread difficult to navigate through. If you wish to include more than five images in a reply, please use spoiler tags - [spoiler][/spoiler] - to hide extra images.

This is what I saw:

★★★★ = loved it /// ★★★ = liked it a lot; ~7/10 /// ★★ = has interesting elements; ~6/10 /// ★ = did very little for me; ~5/10 and lower

Very good movie-watching week despite all of the panic going on IRL.

Distant Thunder (1973). Amid food shortages and soaring prices, an Indian nobleman is conflicted between giving to the poor and making sure that he has enough to eat in this grim drama that eerily foreshadows some of the Covid-19 panic buying in 2020. The backdrop here is World War II, with British confiscation of rice apparently the cause of the misfortune, and while it is disappointing that the film does not delve into the cause here, the lack of context gives the tale a very universal quality. Just how does one cope with life-threatening shortages? Striking images include women scouring lakes for "pond snails" and a badly assaulted man who only cares whether his stashed rice has been stolen. The film concludes on a memorable final image too with Ray ultimately emphasising the power of the crisis to bring folks together as opposed to the resulting deaths. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Dirty Mary Crazy Larry (1974). Complications plague the getaway plans of a couple of supermarket robbers when a headstrong young woman tags along in this car chase thriller. While he is weirdly omitted from the title, Adam Roarke comes off best here as the more subdued and methodical robber, and the brazen hostage situation that they engineer to give themselves access to the supermarket safe is riveting. The vast majority of the film is spent on their escape though, which is sadly less engaging, full of tiresome banter between the title characters amid sporadic chase scenes. The significant attention given to the cops pursuing them is odd too, as it only further dilutes tension. The film is topped off by a pretty terrific ending and Peter Fonda and Susan George are of course highly watchable, but for a film titled after them, it is a shame that it is not more about them. (first viewing, DVD) ★★

To Live and Die in L.A. (1985). Angry when his partner is killed by the counterfeiters he was tracking down, a government agent becomes increasingly reckless as he continues the case with a new partner in this thriller from William Friedkin. From an airport run (and bathroom hold-up) to driving the wrong way along a freeway to elude pursuit, Friedkin crafts some terrific action scenes. The intriguing counterfeiting process is also shown in detail. This is not the easiest film to warm to though since the reckless William Petersen is hardly the most likeable lead, but this is arguably deliberate with the film gradually becoming more about his new partner who faces increasing moral dilemmas. The new partner's character arc could have been smoother, but John Pankow is excellent in the role with his every anxiety and apprehension felt along the way. (first viewing, Blu-ray Disc) ★★★★

Salaam Bombay! (1988). Living on the streets of Bombay, a homeless boy befriends a drug dealer, the daughter of a local prostitute and a new teen prostitute whilst trying to save up enough money to return to his village in this gritty look at poverty in India. In the lead role, young Shafiq Syed does well and his hopefulness in such dire circumstances is touching. Very little in the film happens narrative-wise though and the film feels rather long and drawn out at close to two hours given that the basic idea seems to be that poverty is unrelenting and never-ending for these unfortunate kids. More focus on the young prostitute or older prostitute's daughter may have helped or at least broken up some of the life-is-terrible monotony. With fine performances all round and its heart in the right place, this is a difficult film to dislike, but it is also not easy to warm to. (first viewing, DVD) ★★

Conspiracy Theory (1997). Obsessed with conspiracy theories, a New York taxi driver has trouble convincing his only friend that there are actually people after him in this thriller starring Mel Gibson and Julia Roberts. The film peters out towards the end as the plot turns grow ridiculous and the movie concludes rather weakly. For the most part though, this is a gripping ride with Gibson in very fine form as an obsessive compulsive man with paranoia issues and a tendency to ramble (outside of Ransom, it is probably a career-best turn). Gibson's ability to evade and foil others leads to some neat scenes too - a homage to Torn Curtain in a packed theatre in particular. Carter Burwell also provides a solid score, making this a very classy film, if one that gives too much attention to plot twists and romance over its portrayal of overwhelming paranoia. (first viewing, DVD) ★★★

28 Days (2000). Ordered to attend rehab for four weeks after causing an accident while under the influence, an alcoholic resists the treatment until repressed memories of her mother's drunkenness come flooding back in this drama starring Sandra Bullock. While Bullock's trajectory is very obvious from the get-go, she does well with the role and the film manages to subvert the romantic comedy road that it initially seems to be going down (with Viggo Mortensen seemingly pitched as an alternative boyfriend). There is still quite a bit of comedy though and very little of it works, playing off the quirks and eccentricities of the other individuals in rehab, many of who cannot help their unusual behaviour. Still, the drama is solid despite the familiarity of it and the fact that stuff like Clean and Sober with Michael Keaton has explored similar issues far better. (first viewing, online) ★★

Paul Blart: Mall Cop (2009). Ridiculed for his clumsiness and obesity, a well-intentioned mall cop gets a chance to prove his worth when his shopping centre is taken hostage in this comedy starring Kevin James. The first half-hour is a bit of a chore to get through with formulaic loneliness and lovesickness stuff and James embarrassing himself at every opportunity. Things improve once the hostage situation develops with the unarmed James finding different ways to get one-up on the more nimble baddies. There is, however, still a lot of groan-inducing humour at the expense of his weight and it is never credible how his love interest and daughter end up both being in peril. Had the film begun to focus on the action, like James whacking baddies into tanning salons, this may have been something, but the thrills are always cut short by unrelenting goofy comedy. (first viewing, DVD) ★

The Whole Truth (2015). Baffled by his client's refusal to talk to him, a Louisiana lawyer struggles against the odds to defend a teenager accused of killing his father in this courtroom drama from Courtney Hunt of Frozen River fame. The plot has some curious and unexpected developments in its second half, but it is hard not wonder whether the story would have been juicier with such information revealed earlier on, and with on/off mournful narration from Keanu Reeves throughout, the whole thing feels surprisingly languid for a movie about a young man whose livelihood is on the line. Gabriel Basso is good as the withdrawn teen though, and Jim Belushi also makes quite an impression in a supporting role only seen in flashback, but it is a bit hard to know what to make of the film when it only really comes alive as the plot thickens towards the end. (first viewing, Blu-ray Disc) ★★

Suburbicon (2017). His mother killed in a home invasion gone awry, a preteen resident of an 1950s planned community begins to suspect something sinister in this black comedy written (but not directed) by the Coen Brothers. The film taps into many trademark Coen themes with fate, sardonic coincidences and characters undone by their own greed, though this is not nearly as funny or polished as the average Coen outing. The film pulls back and forth between being about the boy/home invasion, being about the persecution of a new African American family in town, and being about communities that are not as idyllic as they appear, with very jarring tonal shifts as focus changes back and forth. Oscar Isaac and a pre-Honey Boy Noah Jupe are at least excellent though, and Alexandre Desplat provides yet another amazingly atmospheric score. (first viewing, Blu-ray Disc) ★★

Andhadhun (2018). Unusual circumstances lead to a blind pianist learning about a crime but unable to report in this insanely intense thriller from India. Loaded with several twists and turns, not much more can be said about the plot of the movie without ruining a fresh experience, but suffice it to say that the film really places the concept of human decency in question, weaving a tapestry of morally conflicted characters, some of whom act less honorably than others. There are several suspenseful moments throughout, especially as the protagonist's life comes in danger and as things spiral further and further out of control. Some of the comic relief is a little goofy and the songs early on feel a little out of place in a Hitchcockian thriller like this is, but this is a generally riveting watch from start to finish, topped off with a killer final shot and ending. (first viewing, online) ★★★★

The Red Phallus (2018). Teased at school due to her father's phallic carvings, the daughter of a carpenter has trouble adhering to the expectations of both her father and her much older boyfriend in this drama from Bhutan. The film nicely showcases Bhutan's beautiful natural scenery with several breathtaking shots of valleys and mountains obscured by clouds. As a narrative though, it is less successful. The teenager's humiliation, shame and repression is curious, but the very slow pacing (lots of elongated shots of the landscapes) dilutes the intensity of the drama. It is a full 50 minutes in before the narrative becomes more than a just a repetitive look at her daily routine and then the movie concludes so soon afterwards that the ramifications never feel properly explored. This could have been great though with less build-up and more denouement. (first viewing, online) ★

American Honey (2016). Unhappy with her home life, a teenager runs away and gets a job selling magazine subscriptions while fighting off the urge to earn a living by less honorable means in this rambling and unfocused but very well acted drama starring Sasha Lane. At its best, the film channels Paper Moon with Lane and her colleagues conning and manipulating potential customers with everything from sob stories to fake sympathy. Alas, most of the film is not about this but rather a romance between Lane an co-worker, plus her male clients who would prefer if she sold them something else. We also get precious little of Lane's back-story and how her home life ended up so bad, but given that it all feels too long at close to three hours as it is, this might be for the better. Lane is superb throughout here but the high points are sporadic at best. (first viewing, Blu-ray Disc) ★★

American Animals (2018). Four young men who stole millions of dollars worth of rare books from their university library in a daring heist are interviewed while their experiences are reenacted in this fascinating documentary/narrative blend from Bart Layton. While none of the four individuals are as intriguing (or as oddly sympathetic) as the central figure of Layton's prior The Imposter, their meticulous planning definitely is and the whole thing is filmed with lots of style and flair. Particularly effective is Larton inserting brief shots of the men staring down in silent contemplation as the actual heist is reenacted before our eyes. The film intelligently plays around with subjective/selective memory too, with one interviewee even stating (with a sly smile) in the midst of an early reenactment, "if this is how Spencer remembers it, go with it". (first viewing, DVD) ★★★★

American Factory (2019). Tensions rise as the American workers of a Chinese operated factory in Ohio push for a worker's union in this documentary. The film explores the resulting clash of cultures with the Chinese viewing their US workers as lazy, making jokes about duct taping their mouths to stop them from talking and getting distracted, while the Americans are concerned about their long hours, safety and lack of recognition for their efforts. The film does not, however, stay neutral and feels very slanted towards supporting the Americans. The overall outlook is a bit icky too with an unsubtle suggestion that China and US cultures are so different that they can never effectively work together. If sometimes repetitive, the documentary is seldom boring, but it is hard not to wonder what this may have looked like if produced by Chinese filmmakers instead. (first viewing, online) ★★

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Deliverance (1981). Seeking a nobleman's help to arrange the marriage of his daughter, a humble tanner agrees to work for him without meals or pay, which has unforeseen consequences in this brief feature from Satyajit Ray. This was clearly made as an indictment of India's caste class system, but the film works fine as a more universal exploitation tale. There are some great images (axe handle illuminated by lightning), yet the short duration works against the story. The ending is very abrupt while the grueling penultimate scene feels like it should have lasted for longer. More focus on the daughter may have added further dimension too, but Ray evidently wanted to make more a film about class issues than a tale of a father requesting a marriage that his daughter may not want. The film leaves a quiet impact as it is, however the potential for more is striking. (first viewing, online) ★★

American Dream (1990). Barbara Kopple's 'other' film about a workers' strike, this lesser seen documentary from the Harlan County, U.S.A. director depicts the chaos and conflict as employees of a food company refuse to accept a drastic wage cut. An atmospheric Michael Small score is a big plus and the moral/ethical considerations are curious as interviewees debate crossing the picket line and risking being called a "scab" in order to provide for their families. This is less immersive than Harlan County, U.S.A. though as Kopple relies heavily on title cards and as several interviewees end up just saying similar things. The reason for striking (wages rather than safety) is also less encapsulating. The whole thing is pretty decent if viewed with memories of Harlan County, U.S.A. put to one side, but this pales against Kopple's landmark documentary. (first viewing, DVD) ★★

Roadside Prophets (1992). Two strangers encounter eccentric individuals as they travel Nevada to scatter an acquaintance's ashes in this motorcycle-riding road movie. The film bears similarities to Easy Rider but Joseph Minion's Motorama is probably a more accurate template, though the film actually awkwardly sits halfway between being something very serious and outright demented. While the likes of John Cusack offer energetic turns, the film is never kooky enough to exist in its own universe a la Motorama, Interstate 60 or Fear & Loathing. The drama does not quite work either since the whole scattering of a stranger's ashes always seems so random without the protagonist really reflecting on if he is using the ashes as an excuse to run away. If seldom boring, this feels like the work of filmmakers unsure of what they wanted. (first viewing, online) ★★

Monkey Business (1998). Not to be confused with the identically titled Marx Bros and Cary Grant movies, this family comedy focuses on four preteen kids who use their hacking and rapping skills to foil crooks who have been framing upstanding citizens. While the film boasts the novelty of a young Shia LaBeouf hacking into NASA in the early days of the internet, this is far less engaging than it might sound. All of the child actors are decent, but most of the adults are incredibly stilted and the film has several inept and clumsy action sequences, set to silly sound effects no less. The music, which sounds a lot like the Seinfeld theme, is no help either. Perhaps most disappointingly, there are barely any animal actors all. Even the titular monkey is given nothing to do other than share a single dance with the kids in an odd and out-of-place montage sequence. (first viewing, online) ★
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Perception de Ambiguity
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#2

Post by Perception de Ambiguity » March 22nd, 2020, 12:01 pm

Impressionen unter Wasser (Leni Riefenstahl, 2002) 7/10

미몽 / Sweet Dream / Lullaby of Death / Mimong (Yang Ju-Nam, 1936) 7-/10

阿賀の記憶 / Memories of Agano / Aga no kioku (佐藤真/Makoto Satô, 2005) 6+/10

満山紅柿 上山 柿と人とのゆきかい / Red Persimmons / Manzan benigaki (小川紳介/Shinsuke Ogawa with posthumous help from 彭小莲/Peng Xiaolian, 2001) 7+/10
I'll go through the motions.Show
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プール / Pool / Pûru (Mika Omori, 2009) 6+/10
chillax, bruhShow
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The Gardener / Baghban (محسن مخملباف/Mohsen Makhmalbaf, 2012) 7/10

Cremaster 4 (Matthew Barney, 1995) 7/10

Cremaster 5 (Matthew Barney, 1997) 7/10

La drôlesse / The Hussy (Jacques Doillon, 1979) 2+/10

Анна: от 6 до 18 / Anna: From 6 Till 18 (Никита Михалков / Nikita Mikhalkov, 1994) 7/10
you knowShow
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Passengers 3D (Morten Tyldum, 2016) 7-/10

Meet Joe Black (Martin Brest, 1998) 6/10

Fanfare (Bert Haanstra, 1958) 5+/10

The Quiet Room (Rolf de Heer, 1996) 8+/10
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"This is how I feel... That's how you make me feel."

Le mani sulla città / Hands Over the City (Francesco Rosi, 1963) 7/10

Forbidden Zone (colorized version) (Richard Elfman, 1982) (2nd viewing) 8/10

Minority Report (Steven Spielberg, 2002) (3rd+ viewing) 8+/10

In the Mouth of Madness (not the Carpenter again(!), 1995) (10th+ viewing) 10
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the pixies: viewtopic.php?p=629672#p629672


shorts

Postcards from the End of the World (Konstantinos Antonopoulos, 2019) 6+/10

The Great Toilet Paper Scare (Brian Gersten, 2020) 7/10

Density 1 (Defasten, 2005) 6/10

Untitled 3 (Stone Killer) (Solomon Nagler, ????) 5/10

schau ins land (Bastian Clevé, 1975) 3/10

Fatehpur Sikri (Bastian Clevé, 1980) 6/10

Hitting My Head On The World (Anna Vasof , 2019) 6/10

Hymn to Pan (François Miron, 2007) 6/10

Words, Planets (Laida Lertxundi, 2018) 3/10

Українська література: посібник для мудаків / Ukrainian Literature: Guide for Assholes / Ukrayinska literatura (Dmytro Kolomoytsev & Anatoliy Lavrenishyn, 2009) 6/10

O Matylde s náhradní hlavou / Matylda and her Spare Head (Adolf Born & Jaroslav Doubrava & Milos Macourek, 1985) 1+/10

Matou (平林勇/Isamu Hirabayashi, 2011) 5/10

Textism (平林勇/Isamu Hirabayashi, 2003) 5/10


RiffTrax & MST3k

Hijacked: Flight 285 (Charles Correll, 1996) 1+/10


music videos

System Of A Down: Boom! (rewatch)

Marilyn Manson: Long Hard Road Out Of Hell (umpteenth viewing)


series

Curb Your Enthusiasm - S10E08 - "Elizabeth, Margaret and Larry" (2020) 7/10

Curb Your Enthusiasm - S10E09 - "Beep Panic" (2020) 6/10


other

Legbreaker (VG)


didn't finish

White Heart (Daniel Barnett, 1975) [22 min]
A Vingança de Uma Mulher / A Woman's Revenge (Rita Azevedo Gomes, 2012) [8 min]
The Last Days of Disco (Whit Stillman, 1998) [6 min]


notable online media

top:
The Prodigy - Phoenix Festival 1996 [partly]
Red Hot Chili Peppers - Federation Square Jam [partly]
Amazing techno street drummer Dario Rossi [partly]
Coronavirus: What Has It Revealed? | Russell Brand
My State of Consciousness: Lucid Dreaming | Habiba Awada | TEDxPhoeniciaU
Best TV News Bloopers Of The Decade
"Spring Dawn" Classical Poem | Learn Chinese Now
Deichkind - Keine Party (inkl. Lars Eidinger - Werner Herzog - Intro) - live in Zürich 27.2.2020
rest:
Minority Report: Existentialism Vs Romanticism [partly]
Interview: Matthew Barney’s River of Fundament
THINKING, FAST AND SLOW by Daniel Kahneman | Core Message
WE GOT TOILET PAPER! A SHOPPING HORROR GAME!! [NIGHT OF THE CONSUMERS] [partly]
Toilet Paper [by 2ndLakeProductions]
Rammstein - DU HAST - live in Bern, 5. Juni 2019
Deichkind - Richtig gutes Zeug - live in Zürich 27.2.2020
Tappi Tíkarrass - Dúkkulísur + Hrollur - Rokk í Reykjavík (1981-1983) [Edited/Remastered]
Eminem ENDS Mumble Rap
Best TV News Bloopers Fails #2
Quarantine [by Sebastian Maniscalco]
Am Schauplatz: Die unheimliche Stille [partly]

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Last edited by Perception de Ambiguity on March 22nd, 2020, 1:51 pm, edited 9 times in total.
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sol
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#3

Post by sol » March 22nd, 2020, 12:11 pm

Perception de Ambiguity wrote:
March 22nd, 2020, 12:01 pm
The Quiet Room (Rolf de Heer, 1996)
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"This is how I feel... That's how you make me feel."
Thanks for watching one of my DTC nominees. :poshclap: I assume all the screenshots mean that you liked it enough to support it when it comes to submitting your ballot? This was, by the way, the film that I was going to submit if I ended up managing Australia for the World Cup.
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#4

Post by Onderhond » March 22nd, 2020, 12:22 pm

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Seen a bit extra this week, not too surprising considering the state our world is in. This allowed me to catch up on some high-profile "official" films, which is always good for a few low rating. On the other hand, very happy to see Ki-duk is still alive and kicking, while the other prominent Asian directors I've checked this week seem to have lost some of their shine.


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01. 4.0* - Running Scared by Wayne Kramer (2006)
Flashy, high octane action/crime flick. Performances are a bit basic and the plot is nothing special, but Kramer's direction keeps the tension high and is showy in all the right places. It's a shame Hollywood eventually backtracked on this edgier type of action films, but at least they left us with some prime genre films.

02. 3.5* - Ip Man 4: The Finale [Yip Man 4] by Wilson Yip (2019)
A fine ending to the series, though not quite as good as the earlier entries. The move to America isn't doing the film any favors and the bad guy lacks charisma. Luckily Yen is impressive and Yip's direction is solid as ever. But this fourth part isn't really pushing the boundaries anymore, which is why it felt just a little lazy at times.

03. 3.5* - Chasing Dream [Chihuo Quan Wang] by Johnnie To (2019)
Decent To/Ka-Fai collaboration, but a little too safe and expected to compete with their high profile work. It's obvious the film was made by competent people with a long history in the business, but maybe that's finally starting to work against To, as there are very few surprises left. Still, the execution was top-notch, so To fans should surely seek it out.

04. 3.5* - The Man Without Gravity [L'Uomo senza Gravità] by Marco Bonfanti (2019)
Cute and quirky film about a man who floats. The low-key fantasy elements are fun and the romantic drama that stems from them is effective. The actors do a solid job, there's a welcome visual charm and while a tad predictable, the film was engaging enough to keep my attention. A very sweet and commendable film.

05. 3.5* - The Invisible Man by Leigh Whannell (2020)
A decent reboot of the Universal classic. There are some moments where it feels a little too much like a 90s TV thriller, but Leigh Whannell's direction is solid and the film is tense when it needs to be. Maybe a bit long and at least one plot twist too much, but there's some good fun to be had with this one.

06. 3.0* - The House Where the Mermaid Sleeps [Ningyo no Nemuru Ie] by Yukihiko Tsutsumi (2018)
A decent medical drama that tries to touch on some sensitive subjects (i.e. the divide between life and death and the dark side of hope), but turns to sentimentality later on. Tsutsumi is a decent director and keeps his film on the rails at all times, it's just a shame that the potential wasn't used to the fullest.

07. 3.0* - Almost Human by Jeppe Rønde (2019)
Interesting documentary on the recent, accelerated evolution of humankind. The presentation is nice, the film touches on some very interesting ideas and there's a welcome variety of angles. Sadly it's also a very short doc and there isn't enough time to really dig into any of the subjects. This should've been twice or three times as long. Good though.

08. 3.0* - Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress: The Battle of Unato [Kotetsujo no Kabaneri: Unato Kesse] by Tetsurô Araki (2019)
Decent anime feature. Part of a bigger franchise, but works well as a stand-alone film. The animation is pretty solid and the action sequences are cool, the characters, art style and plot on the other hand are a bit basic and could've used a little extra attention. Pretty good filler for when you're short on anime films.

09. 3.0* - City Hunter: Million Dollar Conspiracy [City Hunter: Hyakuman Doru no Inbô] by Kenji Kodama (1990)
Goofy, fun and pleasantly short City Hunter special. All the familiar ingredients are present, but I'm certain people unfamiliar with the franchise will have little trouble catching on. A fine blend of action and comedy, decent animation and an explosive finale make for an easy and entertaining diversion.

10. 2.5* - Ace Ventura: Pet Detective by Tom Shadyac (1994)
Goofy comedy that rests completely on the shoulders of Jim Carrey. It's a good thing Carrey goes completely over the top then, because that's exactly what this film needed. It's still not the greatest comedy ever, but it's amusing, short and good for a couple of chuckles. A solid option if you're desperate for some laughs.

11. 2.5* - Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls by Steve Oedekerk (1995)
Pretty much on the same level as the first film. It's all very silly and easy, not to mention a little cheap, but Carrey's commitment saves the film. Not too long, good for a few chuckles and well over-the-top. It's a carbon copy of what made the first film work, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

12. 2.5* - Knock Down the House by Rachel Lears (2019)
Fun but rather basic documentary that follows the rise of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her fight against the establishment. Three other women were being followed too, but they're getting notably less air time. It's nice to see director Lears sticking to pure documentation (so no direct interviews), but in the end it's just not that special.

13. 2.0* - The Lighthouse by Robert Eggers (2019)
Eggers' choice to make this look like a classic arthouse film will no doubt please many, but I didn't appreciate the 4:3 and somewhat muddy black and white cinematography. Dafoe is great, Pattinson is not, neither is the tepid story that develops. The first half, which was actually quite light in tone, is by far the best part of the film. Not ideal for a mystery/thriller.

14. 2.0* - Society by Brian Yuzna (1989)
The final 20 minutes provide some crazy, over-the-top horror fun, it's just that the 75 minutes leading up it weren't half as entertaining. The film is too easy to read, the actors are pretty bad and the wait for the finale is tiresome, but at least this film delivers at the end. Sadly it's not enough to fully redeem this mess.

15. 1.5* - Ravers by Bernhard Pucher (2019)
Cheesy, cheap and dull horror flick. Poor performances, lame kills and a random not-quite-zombies meets rave plot fail to get this film off the ground. Also, an absolutely trite soundtrack for a film like this, you have to wonder if director Pucher ever came close to an actual rave. Pretty bad across the board.

16. 1.5* - On Fire [Wan Foh] by Clarence Yiu-leung Fok (1996)
Some familiar faces (Man-Tat Ng and a very young Louis Koo) can't save this cheesy and juvenile comedy. The acting is well over-the-top, the situational humour isn't funny and the film looks incredibly cheap. At least it's short and upbeat, which makes it somewhat watchable, but unless you're a hardcore HK comedy fan it's probably better to stay away from this one.

17. 1.0* - A Man for All Seasons by Fred Zinnemann (1966)
A clear play adaptation, for which they only switched out the stage with some real settings and left it at that. If you care for the characters, the dialogue or the central moral conundrum that's probably not too big of an issue, if not then this is a dire, dull and lifeless production that lacks any kind of cinematic appeal.

18. 1.0* - Shoah by Claude Lanzmann (1985)
Extremely long and repetitive doc that drowns in inconspicuous details. The idea is nice enough (let people who lived through the ordeal tell their story), but the interviews are tedious, the translator/overdub is maddening and the pacing is absolutely sluggish. You could probably edit it down to a solid 2-hour doc, but this was excruciating.

19. 0.5* - #cats_the_mewvie by Michael Margolis (2020)
I love cats, but his documentary was absolutely dreadful. Full of people who talk unironically about "content creation" and "building the brand", failing to grasp the utter bullshit they are proclaiming. There's a little info about the history of internet cat fame, but it's mostly just senseless Instagram masturbation. Disgusting.

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#5

Post by peeptoad » March 22nd, 2020, 12:38 pm

Hi sol... woke up earlier and I was waiting for you to post this thread. ;)
Hope all is as sane as possible in your neck of the woods...


Firstly, I have not seen Dirty Mary/Crazy Larry, but I will watch asap since it's part of a double feature on a blu ray that I have (that I bought for Race with the Devil, which is great if you haven't seen it). Anyway, thanks for the reminder on Mary/Larry. :thumbsup:

only seen 2 of yours-
To Live and Die in L.A. (1985) 7 maybe a weaker 8, with my ratings-revamping project that is starting to get out of hand
28 Days (2000) 5 I like Bullock okay, actually, but the type of films she typically frequents are not my style... from memory this one wasn't terrible though.

mine-
*rewatch
Tomboy (Céline Sciamma, 2011) 9
The Beguiled (Sofia Coppola, 2017) 6
The Krays (1990) 7
Targets (1968) 9*
Baise moi (2000) Rape Me 6*
Palo Alto (Gia Coppola, 2013) 7
The Birds (1963) 8*
Needful Things (1993) 6

shorts (got hooked on Maya Deren)-
Meshes of the Afternoon (Maya Deren,1943) 9
At Land (Maya Deren,1944) 9
Witch's Cradle (Maya Deren,1944) 7
Ritual in transfigured Time (Maya Deren,1946) 7
Ensemble for Somnambulists (Maya Deren,1951) 6
The Private Life of a Cat (Maya Deren,1946) 9
Meditation on Violence (Maya Deren,1949) 7
The Very Eye of Night (Maya Deren,1958) 7
Possibly in Michigan (Cecilia Condit,1983) 4

Tomboy is one fo the best films I've seen in awhile and the best part is it's a library dvd that I checked out right before the libraries near me all closed for a month due to covid19. So now I get to keep it until May 4th and that means I can rewatch it more easily next month. yay! Seriously, I am going to watch all of Sciamma's films now; I was that impressed. The bummer is her new film was playing at the arthouse cinema right up the street form me... which is also now closed for awhile, so that one will have to wait.
I also loved some of the Deren shorts I watched... At Land, in particular, was fantastic; partly the music that was over the video I saw on you tube was perfect, but it was very well done. Second is Meshes of the Afternoon, which was also fantastic and then the Cat film. She got some great, intimate shots of cats interacting... right up my alley (cat,oop).
My best rewatch this week was Targets... love that one. Probably have seen it nearly 6-7 times now, but I don't keep track of that.

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#6

Post by peeptoad » March 22nd, 2020, 12:46 pm

Onderhond wrote:
March 22nd, 2020, 12:22 pm

13. 2.0* - The Lighthouse by Robert Eggers (2019)
Eggers' choice to make this look like a classic arthouse film will no doubt please many, but I didn't appreciate the 4:3 and somewhat muddy black and white cinematography. Dafoe is great, Pattinson is not, neither is the tepid story that develops. The first half, which was actually quite light in tone, is by far the best part of the film. Not ideal for a mystery/thriller.

14. 2.0* - Society by Brian Yuzna (1989)
The final 20 minutes provide some crazy, over-the-top horror fun, it's just that the 75 minutes leading up it weren't half as entertaining. The film is too easy to read, the actors are pretty bad and the wait for the finale is tiresome, but at least this film delivers at the end. Sadly it's not enough to fully redeem this mess.
I liked both of these more than you did... esp. Society. That was ballistic. I haven't seen it in years, but I recall being glued to the screen during parts, for better or worse.
Re: Pattinson in The Lighthouse- to me this is prob the best film I've seen him in to date in terms of his acting, but that has only been (Lighthouse aside) 2 Twilight films (ugh), Good Time and High Rise, which I disliked somewhat, but not because of Pattinson. I have to say I am impressed by his acting skills post-Twilight. Agree on Dafoe though for sure...

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#7

Post by Perception de Ambiguity » March 22nd, 2020, 1:05 pm

sol wrote:
March 22nd, 2020, 12:11 pm
Perception de Ambiguity wrote:
March 22nd, 2020, 12:01 pm
The Quiet Room (Rolf de Heer, 1996)
Thanks for watching one of my DTC nominees. :poshclap: I assume all the screenshots mean that you liked it enough to support it when it comes to submitting your ballot? This was, by the way, the film that I was going to submit if I ended up managing Australia for the World Cup.
Not as a rule, could also just be a moment/quote that stuck out for me/resonated with me in a film. In any case, I just forgot to add the rating here in my rough draft of the post, which, now added, should speak for itself. It's certainly way up there as one of my very favorites of the 40+ films I've watched so far as a result of the DtC nominations this year. It surely got my support, as a film that is so rigorously committed to putting one in a child's headspace to tell a mundane "story" of modern urban life it's absolutely my jam. On top of that it had more things going for it as well.
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#8

Post by sol » March 22nd, 2020, 1:15 pm

peeptoad wrote:
March 22nd, 2020, 12:38 pm
I have not seen Dirty Mary/Crazy Larry, but I will watch asap since it's part of a double feature on a blu ray that I have (that I bought for Race with the Devil, which is great if you haven't seen it). Anyway, thanks for the reminder on Mary/Larry. :thumbsup:

only seen 2 of yours-
To Live and Die in L.A. (1985) 7 maybe a weaker 8, with my ratings-revamping project that is starting to get out of hand
I also have Race with the Devil and Dirty Mary Crazy Larry in a movie set, but it a 2-disc DVD in my case. Must be released by the same company. Anyway, yeah, I have already watched Race with the Devil and agree that it is pretty great. Dirty Mary Crazy Larry isn't quite in the same league. I read someone somewhere compare it to The Sugarland Express, but it is nowhere near as classy or character-focused as that, while I saw somebody else compare it to Smokey and the Bandit, but it is nowhere near as funny as that either. Still, the principal cast do well with what little they have to work with - basically a lot of filler in between car stunts.

My ratings could also do a revamp, but with 8000+ films seen and rated, it's not really worth the effort to do. I've just come to accept that I give out far too many 6s, a few too many 7s, and not nearly enough of every other rating.

I'm not usually a fan of William Friedkin, so I was surprised by how much I liked To Live and Die in L.A.. Really well crafted as an action thriller, some great performances an amazing insight into the whole counterfeiting process. It is also always interesting to see Willem Dafoe so young.

28 Days was a film that I had put off for ages because the idea of a romcom at a rehab centre always sounded icky to me. Thankfully, this is not what the film is. Would agree about Sandra Bullock too, I guess. I never used to be much of a fan, but over the past few years I have found some stuff (Miss Congeniality; Ocean's Eight) in which she has really had a chance to strut her stuff.

Yours:

Agreed about Tomboy being a very solid film - with an exceptional lead performance. The Beguiled didn't do a lot more either and I definitely prefer the Don Siegel/Clint Eastwood version. Targets is a classic. Boris Karloff's finest performance outside of The Body Snatcher. Seen this one a few times too over the years. I have also seen The Birds two or three times, but this is one that has decreased in my estimation upon revision. The editing is exceptional (all of the terror caused by birds in mere reaction shots) but the narrative left me wanting a lot more last time that I saw the film and I found the lack of explanation to be a real cop-out. And Baise-moi is the only other feature film of yours that I have seen. Didn't really like it.

On the shorts front though, it is cool to come across somebody else who prefers At Land to Meshes; the images in the latter are certainly more iconic, thanks in no small part to GruesomeTwosome, but the dreamy aesthetics of At Land worked better for me, or maybe I just had less idea of what to expect? I should probably rewatch both this month, but tons of other stuff to see. And seen nothing else from Deren, though I thought that Rituals was meant to be her third best? Never even heard of the cat one...
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#9

Post by sol » March 22nd, 2020, 1:18 pm

Perception de Ambiguity wrote:
March 22nd, 2020, 1:05 pm
I just forgot to add the rating here in my rough draft of the post, which, now added, should speak for itself. It's certainly way up there as one of my very favorites of the 40+ films I've watched so far as a result of the DtC nominations this year. It surely got my support, as a film that is so rigorously committed to putting one in a child's headspace to tell a mundane "story" of modern urban life it's absolutely my jam.
Ah, very nice to hear. This is what I wrote about the film when I watched last year, should anybody else be intrigued and feel inclined to check it out:

The Quiet Room (1996). Unable to cope with her parents constantly bickering, a young girl decides to cease talking to them in this potent drama from Rolf de Heer. While she does not utter a single word out loud during the first half of the film, de Heer successfully uses voice-over narration to give us an insight into the girl's thought processes with some very striking moments in which she has 'conversations' with her parents - just without responding out loud. Graham Tardif's thriller-like music score suits the project well too, capturing her constant unease and uncertainty. The two sisters who play the protagonist at different ages are also excellent. Bits and pieces of the film feel repetitive, but this is a generally fascinating glimpse inside the mind of a child with more than a couple of things to say about the importance and value of open communication. (first viewing, DVD) ★★★★
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#10

Post by peeptoad » March 22nd, 2020, 1:49 pm

sol wrote:
March 22nd, 2020, 1:15 pm
My ratings could also do a revamp, but with 8000+ films seen and rated, it's not really worth the effort to do. I've just come to accept that I give out far too many 6s, a few too many 7s, and not nearly enough of every other rating.
My 8s are actually the issue currently... I got into this position when I eliminated the 0.5 (half) from the scale I use. It means that the partition between "favorite" and "non-favorite" currently is 8.5 and I have no real mechanism on either ICM or IMDB to track half-ratings. So the 8.5s will now be 9s and the 8s below that stay at an 8.This sounds simple, but it's time-consuming to rectify on the databases. All of this is meaningless, except that I may not have my favorites list ready for the poll on Wednesday when the deadline is.
sol wrote:
March 22nd, 2020, 1:15 pm
The Beguiled didn't do a lot more either and I definitely prefer the Don Siegel/Clint Eastwood version. Targets is a classic.

On the shorts front though, it is cool to come across somebody else who prefers At Land to Meshes; the images in the latter are certainly more iconic, thanks in no small part to GruesomeTwosome, but the dreamy aesthetics of At Land worked better for me, or maybe I just had less idea of what to expect? I should probably rewatch both this month, but tons of other stuff to see. And seen nothing else from Deren, though I thought that Rituals was meant to be her third best? Never even heard of the cat one...
Definitely agree on the Eastwood version of Beguiled being superior... far superior. That one I do have as an 8 (though whether it's a favorite actually or not now eludes me because of what I posted above).
The specific sequence when the woman is scaling the precipice in At Land enthralled and mesmerized me... in a similar fashion that Akerman's From the East did when I saw one a few weeks ago. The "cat one" (from Deren) is essentially an intimate documentary of house cats and their daily activities. I liked it less than At Land or Meshes, but it hit home for me because I adore cats and consider them my "spirit animal" if you believe in that sort of thing. At any rate I have a full and pretty complete understanding of cat behavior, including vocalizations, body language, etc that I have been developing (not necessarily intentionally) since childhood. If humans disappeared and all that wereleft were cats... I think I'd actually do okay.

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#11

Post by Onderhond » March 23rd, 2020, 1:36 pm

@sol:
Saw Paul Blart: Mall Cop (1.0*) and Suburbicon (3.0*) from yours. The first one is best not talked about, but I seemed to have liked Suburbicon more than you did. I don't disagree with your review, but didn't really mind the tonal shifts and actually liked Clooney's direction quite a bit. Not up there with the best Coen films, but still a lot better than most Coen films.

I've also seen American Factory (3.5*), which is actually one of my favorite documentaries so far. It's weird to see you say it's slanted towards America, didn't get that at all from the film. I think it was quite honest in showing both cultures, warts and all. And yes, the fact that there are hurdles when different cultures need to work together.

@peeptoad:
From yours I've seen The Beguiled (1.5* - didn't get much out of this but not terrible I guess), Baise moi (1.0* - have to see this again but remember it to be ugly) and The Birds (1.0* - dullllll). Needful Things (3.0*) is the one I liked best from your watches. Fun King adaptation, bit long maybe but the King atmosphere is well present.
I liked both of these more than you did... esp. Society. That was ballistic. I haven't seen it in years, but I recall being glued to the screen during parts, for better or worse.
Re: Pattinson in The Lighthouse- to me this is prob the best film I've seen him in to date in terms of his acting, but that has only been (Lighthouse aside) 2 Twilight films (ugh), Good Time and High Rise, which I disliked somewhat, but not because of Pattinson. I have to say I am impressed by his acting skills post-Twilight. Agree on Dafoe though for sure...
I liked the ending of Society, but the rest was terrible. I'm not a big fan of 80s stuff, so that whole 80s highschool vibe didn't do anything for me. Liked the deformities and weirdness at the end though. And for what it's worth, I actually liked Pattinson best in Twilight, though that has more to do with the projects he's been chasing. It's the kind of arthouse I don't like very much, and he's not good enough of an actor to transcend the film he's in.

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#12

Post by sol » March 23rd, 2020, 2:12 pm

Onderhond wrote:
March 23rd, 2020, 1:36 pm
@sol:
Saw Paul Blart: Mall Cop (1.0*) and Suburbicon (3.0*) from yours. The first one is best not talked about, but I seemed to have liked Suburbicon more than you did. I don't disagree with your review, but didn't really mind the tonal shifts and actually liked Clooney's direction quite a bit. Not up there with the best Coen films, but still a lot better than most Coen films.

I've also seen American Factory (3.5*), which is actually one of my favorite documentaries so far. It's weird to see you say it's slanted towards America, didn't get that at all from the film. I think it was quite honest in showing both cultures, warts and all. And yes, the fact that there are hurdles when different cultures need to work together.
I quite like Kevin James an actor, so I had some hopes for Paul Blart: Mall Cop, but he has so little to work with. It's a shame, because he is excellent in 'The King of Queens'.

That's interesting. I didn't mean for my Suburbicon review to sound overwhelmingly negative. I actually liked it a fair bit, certainly more than the average punter given the low Letterboxd average of 2.5 - the film is a solid 3/5 in my books as well. I just didn't really take to the way the film dived between being about the African American family and about Matt Damon's family. But no, I wouldn't say that it was better than most Coen Brothers films. In fact, I don't think if there are any Coen films that I would rate lower since the duo have a pretty great batting average in my books.

I thought it was good that American Factory showed the hurdles that come when different cultures work together. I got a very pessimistic vibe from the film though, which to me seemed to suggest that China and America were simply too different to EVER work together. And yeah, I dunno, I think the film really threw the blame for this on the Chinese; lots of anti-American sentiments sprouted throughout by the Chinese, no such name-calling by the Americans, lots of interviews with downtrodden US workers, very little focus on the Chinese side of the equation (they come off as more greedy as opposed to worried about their bottom line). And the fact that some Letterboxd reviewers have compared the factory to a 21st century dictatorship makes me think that I was not the only person to get such an impression from the film.

Yours:

Didn't really like either Ace Ventura film, though I have never been a big fan of Jim Carrey's comic antics (his dramatic turns are a different matter).

Agreed about Dafoe being very good in The Lighthouse and I am probably with you on the story, but I really liked the aesthetics. Some of the monster imagery was pretty random but the 4:3 annoyed me less than I expected; for much of the darker shots, the corners of the frame merely faded into the black side-bars of the cinema screen in a really cool way that made it seem like the characters were surrounded by complete and utter darkness.

My recollections of Society are identical to yours. Great final few scenes; mediocre build-up. I don't remember A Man for All Seasons much at all though. Saw it half a lifetime ago when I was going through the BP winners. A middle-of-the-road BP winner for me, though all that I strongly recall of it is Robert Shaw's lively supporting turn. But I could say the same about a lot of films that Shaw made that decade and the decade before.
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#13

Post by Onderhond » March 23rd, 2020, 2:38 pm

sol wrote:
March 23rd, 2020, 2:12 pm
I quite like Kevin James an actor
Me too, but he is a little too dependent of the writing imo. Still, I'm always happy to try out a comedy with him in it.
sol wrote:
March 23rd, 2020, 2:12 pm
That's interesting. I didn't mean for my Suburbicon review to sound overwhelmingly negative. I actually liked it a fair bit, certainly more than the average punter given the low Letterboxd average of 2.5 - the film is a solid 3/5 in my books as well. I just didn't really take to the way the film dived between being about the African American family and about Matt Damon's family. But no, I wouldn't say that it was better than most Coen Brothers films. In fact, I don't think if there are any Coen films that I would rate lower since the duo have a pretty great batting average in my books.
The Coen Brothers are all over the place for me. The average is positive, but also quite a few on the lower end of the scale and no really high numbers. I guess I keep getting thrown off by your 2* ratings, which seem lower than they are in reality :)
sol wrote:
March 23rd, 2020, 2:12 pm
I thought it was good that American Factory showed the hurdles that come when different cultures work together. I got a very pessimistic vibe from the film though, which to me seemed to suggest that China and America were simply too different to EVER work together. And yeah, I dunno, I think the film really threw the blame for this on the Chinese; lots of anti-American sentiments sprouted throughout by the Chinese, no such name-calling by the Americans, lots of interviews with downtrodden US workers, very little focus on the Chinese side of the equation (they come off as more greedy as opposed to worried about their bottom line). And the fact that some Letterboxd reviewers have compared the factory to a 21st century dictatorship makes me think that I was not the only person to get such an impression from the film.
I've seen these sentiments too, but don't really agree with them. Maybe it's a cultural thing though, but showing the American show up in their T-shirts to a meeting in China felt like it was placing America in a very bad light. I also felt the docu made a real point about many factory workers in America lacking drive and inspiration, to the point of being lazy whiners. Again, could just be me :)

What I loved about the doc though is that it showed the difficult relationship between companies and human beings. They are saviors when people are out of a job and in trouble, but once things go well again, they become the enemy. In the end I felt there was no real right/wrong here, instead a look at a very complex situation without any easy answers.
sol wrote:
March 23rd, 2020, 2:12 pm
Didn't really like either Ace Ventura film, though I have never been a big fan of Jim Carrey's comic antics (his dramatic turns are a different matter).
I guess it might be the other way around for me, but I would never call myself a fan. I don't dislike his dramatic parts either, just never made a big impression on me, whereas his comedy parts at least have a very strong identity.
sol wrote:
March 23rd, 2020, 2:12 pm
Agreed about Dafoe being very good in The Lighthouse and I am probably with you on the story, but I really liked the aesthetics. Some of the monster imagery was pretty random but the 4:3 annoyed me less than I expected; for much of the darker shots, the corners of the frame merely faded into the black side-bars of the cinema screen in a really cool way that made it seem like the characters were surrounded by complete and utter darkness.
Maybe it would've worked better if I had felt actual dread from the darkness, but I really wasn't impressed with the cinematography altogether. I guess it ties in with my general dislike of classic cinema though.

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#14

Post by sol » March 23rd, 2020, 3:03 pm

Onderhond wrote:
March 23rd, 2020, 2:38 pm
I guess I keep getting thrown off by your 2* ratings, which seem lower than they are in reality :)
Well, I do include the following preamble every week:

This is what I saw:

★★★★ = loved it /// ★★★ = liked it a lot; ~7/10 /// ★★ = has interesting elements; ~6/10 /// ★ = did very little for me; ~5/10 and lower


There just doesn't seem to be much point to me in distinguishing between "loved it", "liked it", "decent" and "average or worse" when posting a review. 6/10 is certainly not an enthusiastic like though, so I guess the two-stars at least accurately reflects a level of reservation.
Onderhond wrote:
March 23rd, 2020, 2:38 pm
What I loved about the doc though is that it showed the difficult relationship between companies and human beings. They are saviors when people are out of a job and in trouble, but once things go well again, they become the enemy. In the end I felt there was no real right/wrong here, instead a look at a very complex situation without any easy answers.
I really like this take on the film. Unfortunately the documentary didn't quite make that impression to me; it always felt first and foremost like I was watching a pro-union and anti-Chinese movie, but it probably doesn't help watching the film at the peak of tensions between the US and China, each blaming the other for Covid-19. I guess I'm likely to naturally read something into the film regardless of whether it is actually there or not.
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#15

Post by Onderhond » March 23rd, 2020, 3:47 pm

sol wrote:
March 23rd, 2020, 3:03 pm
★★★★ = loved it /// ★★★ = liked it a lot; ~7/10 /// ★★ = has interesting elements; ~6/10 /// ★ = did very little for me; ~5/10 and lower[/color]
I know your scale, but because it's off-center (1 option for half the scale) it keeps throwing me off. It's a visceral thing more than a conscious thing I'm afraid.
Onderhond wrote:
March 23rd, 2020, 2:38 pm
I really like this take on the film. Unfortunately the documentary didn't quite make that impression to me; it always felt first and foremost like I was watching a pro-union and anti-Chinese movie, but it probably doesn't help watching the film at the peak of tensions between the US and China, each blaming the other for Covid-19. I guess I'm likely to naturally read something into the film regardless of whether it is actually there or not.
Much like fictional films, documentaries are also open to interpretation I guess. For me this was a rare doc that didn't feel like overt propaganda or trying to push an agenda forward, then again it's because I looked at both parties as strongly flawed. Maybe it's a different view from Europa, where we are somewhat in between China and the US :)

I think it's probably the pro-union thing where things are different for us, because it felt like the union thing was actively ruining it for people.

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#16

Post by Lonewolf2003 » March 23rd, 2020, 4:00 pm

The Stone Killer (1973, Michael Winner): 7.0 - Solid pre-Death Wish Michael Winner-Charles Bronson vehicle.
Il cittadino si ribella [Street Law] (1974, Enzo G. Castellari): 6.2 - It’s a familiar story; disillusioned citizens takes the law in his own hands. What this one had going for it is that Franco Nero really sells it as the citizens who starts out arrogant, but soon realizes he’s in over his head and the costs of his revenge might be too high. He gives one of his career best performances in this.
La polizia ha le mani legate [Killer Cop] (1975, Luciano Ercoli): 6.2 - A less action heavy poliziotteschi with an unusual intellectual detective in the lead.
Willie Dynamite (1974, Gilbert Moses): 5.5 - This Blaxploitation about the lives of a pimp tries to have its cake and eat it too by combining a crime doesn't pay plot while also still sympathizing or even glorifying the pimp life. Some see this as a satire on either the Blaxploitation genre itself or American capitalist society as a whole, but that's stretching it far in my view. Great costumes tho, like OldAle said a time ago.
The Fortune (1975, Mike Nichols): 5.5 - To avoid the Mann Act, which forbids the transportation of women across stateliness for immoral purposes, a guy (Beatty) lets another guy (Nicholson) marry his girlfriend so they can move to the West-Coast, arriving there the married couple lives together and trouble ensues... This was made with an massive unfinished script without an ending, which results in an aimless plot. On top of that the movie has the same underlying theme that Nichols also explored in previous movies like Carnal Knowledge; men treating a woman as an object, which results in Stockard Channing's character being a non-character and both male unlikeable. Making this a movie that despite its screwball dialogues, a funny Jack Nicholson and well-designed 1920s setting is hard to invest in.
Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India (2001, Ashutosh Gowariker): 5.5 - Everything leading up to it was horrible clichéd (It's not enough the antagonist is colonizing party overtaxing people, he also has to be a horrible human who shoots innocent rabbits) and I could have done without the love triangle, but the cricket game self was engaging. So basically the movie is okay when it just shows what happening, but completely falters when it tries to do any characterization or backstory.
Hitch Hike to Hell (1977, Irvin Berwick): 6.5 - A typical exploitation grindhouse movie about a laundry delivery guy who rapes and murders hitchhikers, when they tell him they are runaways and don't love their mommy. With the murderer being a smothered mamma's boy the influences of Psycho are evident (the final scene is a direct rip-off). Contrary to normal in such sleazy grindhouse movies the rapes and murders aren't shown for kicks and thrills, which result in a fitting but unusual anticlimactic climax. (Or maybe I'm just reading too much into choices made by budgetary constraints.)
Gendai yakuza: hito-kiri yota [Street Mobster] (1972, Kinji Fukasaku): 7.2 - A pivotal movie in Fukasaku's career and the development of yakuza genre in which he turns away from the more romanticized portrayal of criminals as chivalrous characters normal in the 1960s to his realistic depiction of them as violent, greedy and self-centered. The movie is highly energetic moving on a frantic pace which is enhanced by the camera work including a lot of dutch angles. Meanwhile Bunta Sugawara moves through the movie as a force of nature. Biggest flaw is that the story, as often in his yakuza movies, is hard to follow.
Kenkei tai soshiki boryoku [Cops vs. Thugs] (1975, Kinji Fukasaku): 7.0 - If you understand that the "vs." in the English title is not to be taken as an confrontation between the two but as an comparison, you know that this movie deals with corrupt cops and greedy but humanized yakuzas and is about the thin line separating those two in Japanese post-war society. Like always in a Fukasaku movie there is no simplistic black-and-white, only different scales of grey. On top of all that thematically ambiguity the movie also is entertaining.
Doberuman deka [Doberman Cop] (1977, Kinji Fukasaku): 6.5 - We leave the gritty realistic yakuza movies for some lighter manga-based entertainment with an asskicking Sonny Chiba wielding a Dirty Harry inspired .44 Magnum. The quirky comedy about a country bumpkin cop being a fish out of the water in the big city clashes tonally with the gritty crime aspect of the movie at times.
Il poliziotto è marcio [Shoot First, Die Later] (1974, Fernando Di Leo): 6.5 - Decent poliziotteschi about a corrupt cop who comes in (moral) problems when he has to get a favor of his honest dad, also a police man, to destroy some evidence.
The fantastic endingShow
in which the cop is shot dead by a unsuspected other corrupt cop after he think he's in the clear with the gangsters
sums the movie up greatly. The movie features some highly enjoyable car chases. There are some pacing issues tho, especially the middle part drags a bit.
Roma a mano armata [The Tough Ones/Assault with a Deadly Weapon/Brutal Justice/Rome Armed to the Teeth] (1976, Umberto Lenzi): 6.8 - Maurizio Merli is a Dirty Harry-esque though cop in this entertaining action-packed poliziotteschi from Lenzi. The biggest setback is the very episodic plot;, Merli seems to stumble on a crime being committed by a random criminal every time he turns a corner. But that he wastes no time to kick that random criminal's ass keeps the pace up.
La banda del gobbo [Brothers Till We Die] (1978, Umberto Lenzi): 6.2 - Apparently Thomas Milan's hunchback criminal from the previous movie was a big hit with audiences, cause Italians like an underdog as much as the next guy (even if he's a violent criminal), so Lenzi and Milan made another movie with this character with Milan simultaneous revisiting another succes role of him from other movies..... So yes this features Milan in a double role, which isn't as enjoyable as it sounds since Milan has a tendency to turn his characters in caricatures, the horrible wigs he wears don't help with diminishing this. After getting over Milan's annoying antics, the movie itself quite enjoyable.
Mughal-E-Azam [The Emperor of the Mughals] (1960, K. Asif): 5.0 - A prince falls in love with a servant girl and his father, the emperor, doesn't like that cause tradition and social status. While the grand production designs are something to be admired, there (again) is no reason why the simplistic fairy tale love story has to be told in a movie over 3 hrs long. The plot is very repetitive, with the prince constantly defying his father, including going to all out war, rehashing the same conflict over and over again, and the girl moving in and out of prison. It all ends
SpoilerShow
with the mother of the girl suddenly remembering the emperor owns her a favor, which he grants by freeing the girl, which somehow makes him the benevolent hero of this story :/
. The characters are as one-dimensional as one can expect from a fairy tale.

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viktor-vaudevillain
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#17

Post by viktor-vaudevillain » March 23rd, 2020, 10:24 pm

Stellar (Stan Brakhage, 1993)

The Secret Garden (Phil Solomon, 1988) - 8

Milla (Valérie Massadian, 2017) - 9

M. Butterfly (David Cronenberg, 1993) - 8+

Nhà Cây / The Tree House (Minh Quý Trương, 2019) - 7-

Coronatagion (Steven Soderbergh, 2011) - 6-

The Earrings of Madame de… (Max Ophüls, 1953) - 9

Space Dogs (Elsa Kremser & Peter Levin, 2019) - 7+

L'ordre / The Order (Jean-Daniel Pollet, 1973) - 7+

The Dead Don't Die (Jim Jarmusch, 2019) - 5
not everything is fish, but fish are teeming everywhere

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joachimt
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#18

Post by joachimt » March 26th, 2020, 6:40 pm

Korczak (1990, 0 official lists, 82 checks) 8/10
Watched because it's in WC 1F.
Pretty good.
Aelita AKA Aelita: Queen of Mars (1924, 4 official lists, 540 checks) 7/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
SciFi from the silent era is always fun to watch, even though it was pretty silly.
Apollo 11 (2019, 1 official list, 727 checks) 7/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on Amazon Prime.
Great footage. Nothing new told.
Billy Liar (1963, 6 official lists, 1441 checks) 7/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
Nice.
D.O.A. (1949, 5 official lists, 1825 checks) 7/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on Plex.
Well-paced race-against-the-clock crimeflick. Had some issues with the story though.
A Alma do Osso AKA The Soul of the Bone (2004, 0 official lists, 26 checks) 6/10
Watched because it's in WC 1F.
Nothing to say about this.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004, 9 official lists, 94154 checks) 6/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on Amazon Prime.
#3 and the best in the series so far.
Jane B. par Agnès V. AKA Jane B. for Agnes V. (1988, 2 official lists, 133 checks) 6/10
Watched because it was FotW.
I don't really know what to do with this one.
The Secret of Kells (2009, 1 official list, 3805 checks) 6/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
Some nice animation.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002, 3 official lists, 89718 checks) 5/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on Amazon Prime.
So far the first two episodes didn't really do it for me. I'm not bored to death, but most of the time the dialogue and characters annoy me. A lot of things don't make sense at all.
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Fergenaprido: "I find your OCD to be adorable, J"

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#19

Post by OldAle1 » March 28th, 2020, 7:32 pm

OK way late, just has been hard for me to focus this past week, but I still wanna keep doing this for now (and don't want to do two weeks worth tomorrow) so...

This film ROCKED
This film SUCKED

Komal Gandhar / A Soft Note on a Sharp Scale (Ritwik Ghatak, 1961)
Titas Ekti Nodir Naam / A River Called Titas (Ritwik Ghatak, 1973)
Jukti, Takko Aar Gappo / Reason, Debate and a Story (Ritwik Ghatak, 1974)

These three films present Ghatak moving in a somewhat different direction narratively from his earlier work; they are much more difficult to understand, at least for me, and more overtly political as well as indebted to various kinds of theatrical and filmic experimentation. While you might say that the earlier features belong to something of the same tradition that Satyajit Ray's early work occupies, and show a heavy influence from Italian neorealism, these three go off in very different directions from the earlier work and to a large extent from each other.

Komal Gandhar is the story of a clash between rival theater groups, from both the West (Indian) Bengali and East (Bangladeshi) traditions. Like Meghe Dhaka Tara it gives us the wonderful Supriya Choudhury in the lead role as Ansuya who spends much of the film trying to bring these groups together and deal with her own conflicting feelings about both the politics and real-life relationships. It's a tough film without a background in either the history or this kind of theater, and matters were made worse by a fairly mediocre print quality but the music (as always in Ghatak) is wonderful and overall it feels like another piece of the jigsaw puzzle of this world that I'm gradually starting to piece together.

Titas is a bit easier to grapple with, thanks in large part to the high quality of the Criterion copy that's now available, but the mixing of mythological elements into this story of poor village fisherman along the banks of the eponymous river still made for lots of challenges. It's an extraordinarily beautiful film, in fact one of the most beautiful b&w films I've seen, period, but I will certainly need another viewing to take it all in.

My favorite of the three on initial viewing is pretty clearly the Jukti, Takko Aar Gappo, the director's last feature, due in no small part to Ghatak's own lead performance as Neelkantha, a failed, alcoholic writer - very much a self-portrait - who, living only for drink, loses his wife and embarks on something of an odyssey travelling around the country with another, younger man and a young woman, and eventually a third man - a Sanskrit scholar who speaks mostly in that language, which alas was unsubbed. This also has plenty of challenges for those unfamiliar with Bengali history - really the subject of all of Ghatak's films in one way or another - or mythology, but it's quite beautiful, at times rather funny, and seems to me to represent the director/actor's quest to find his own place in his cinema in a radically self-critical way, exploring his own mistakes and failures and those of his contemporaries like Ray, and in particular their failure to deal with politics and the plight of the ordinary people. It might be Ghatak's most overtly Marxist film; it certainly feels like his most personal and singular work.

Street Corner (Muriel Box, 1953)
Eyewitness (Muriel Box, 1956)

Both of these films are on a couple of noir lists, which is how I came across them. Box was a British filmmaker - like Ida Lupino on the other side of the Atlantic, she specialized in social problem pictures dealing with women's issues and women protagonists, and like Lupino (during part of her directorial career) she had a producing partner in her husband, and wrote or co-wrote some of her screenplays. And like Lupino she is due I think for some re-evaluation and remembrance, though I can't say either of these films are on the level of Lupino's best.

Street Corner focuses on the women's police, and several stories - a couple of them related to each other in the end - involving women in trouble in one way or another. A young woman ditches her hubby and ends up with a gangster, who in turn becomes involved in a jewelry shop heist, and the wife of the jewelry shop owner begs the police for help when her husband refuses it; a woman in her 30s or so saves a young boy from drowning, but refuses any aid herself, prompting suspicion on the part of the cops, and revelations about two marriages and going AWOL from the army. I personally wouldn't call the film as a whole "noir", it's definitely a pro-police "just stay on the right side" sort of film, but it's fairly well done and nicely shot, and, being shot on location, there certainly are some good noir-like scenes of a city still recovering from the war, with vacant and desolate lots everywhere and buildings showing recent scars.

Eyewitness starts out great, and is more overall in the noir mode, though the second half's entirely hospital-set plot isn't nearly as interesting as the beginning, in which a young woman leaves her husband (as in the first film) because he's squandering their money, goes to the movies, sees a terrible crime being committed, then runs from the crooks and gets hit by a bus. The crooks - a fairly smooth but hard and nasty career criminal and a younger, mostly deaf amateur safe-cracker - are still around the cinema and want to see if the woman, who might identify them, is still alive, and when they find out she is spend the rest of the film trying to get at her in the hospital. This is about on the same level as the first film overall I think but certainly might have been more special had the hospital sequence not been so drawn out.

Mi vida loca (Allison Anders, 1993)

I've wanted to watch this for years because it features Salma Hayek's first film role - be warned that she's only in it for maybe 5 minutes, near the end. Anyway this is a pretty decent little drama with gang elements set in the Echo Park area of L.A., a mostly low-rent Hispanic neighborhood, at least at the time, and virtually all of the characters are supposed to be Chicano, though the whole film with only a few brief exceptions is in English. Mostly the story of two best friends/rivals, Mousie and Sad Girl, who both love the same guy, Ernesto, which for a while breaks up their friendship and is on the verge of making them fight each other when something tragic happens; the rest of the film explores other characters around this trio, with another tragic act of violence at the end. I think the film is making a statement about the place of Latinas in the male culture, and how fucked up this world of violence mostly committed by and for men is, but I can't say it's terribly interesting in it's social posture - better off really as an entertainment frankly, and as a visual portrait of this area of Los Angeles.

Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love (Mira Nair, 1996)

Filmed in India entirely in English with a principal cast of mostly British-born actors, this is one of those weird coproductions made by a liberal/left-wing director in and about a conservative country that realistically has no place in that country. According to IMDb this didn't show in India until 20 years after filming and had to be shot largely in secret; there are a few similar stories regarding Iranian films and I'd imagine others as well. It's a sumptuous, beautifully shot and fairly well-acted story that takes it's name from the ancient erotic Sanskrit text and it certainly seems like Nair wants this to be some kind of new-old tale of the relationship between sex and love, but alas it feels very cliched and ordinary in most respects outside of the sex scenes, which are fairly steamy even by conventional western standards (though far from porn) let alone those of south Asia. Essentially the story of a servant who becomes the courtesan to a seemingly powerful king, rivaling her girlhood friend who has become the queen, all after having falling in love with the king's sculptor who is naturally a rival to the kind in this love quadrangle. All four of the lead actors are attractive, especially Indira Varma as Maya, the courtesan, and it's not unpleasant to watch or anything but it really doesn't add up to much in the end.

The Third Secret (Charles Crichton, 1964)

Fox Movie Channel - wow, two scores inside a week on this channel! I guess being home all the time is making me pay a little more attention to what's on. Unfortunately in this case despite the director, cinematographer (Douglas Slocombe, most famous now for the first three Indiana Jones films, here working in b/w Cinemascope) and some terrific actors including Jack Hawkins, Richard Attenborough and Judi Dench in a small early role, it's much ado about nothing. This is another film mis-labelled noir in some sources but I'd call it a psychological thriller, involving an American TV host (played by Irish actor Stephen Boyd) investigating the death of his analyst, an apparent suicide whose 14-year-old daughter (Pamela Franklin) is convinced was in fact murdered. It plays out like a police procedural in many ways, with Boyd going around and interviewing various other patients of the dead doctor; and given that the daughter is convinced that it was in fact a patient who was responsible, we have to wonder about Boyd himself. It's all fairly obvious in the end and not that suspenseful, and Boyd isn't that compelling a presence and doesn't lift it up enough. Attenborough is, not surprisingly, the best thing about this as an art dealer and would-be-painter.

Raja Harishchandra (Dhundiraj Govind Phalke, 1913) + extras

So this is India's first feature, but in it's surviving form it's only the first reel (10 minutes or so). The YouTube video that's linked on ICM is 53 minutes, with a short documentary preceding the full reel, then another copy of that reel with some more footage - and I think some alternate shots - then more short fragments of work from the director; it's essentially a Greatest Hits of Phalke. This is some fascinating stuff and despite the poor condition of the works (all of them dating from the teens I think though some of the later pieces are unidentified) it's possible to see a real talent at work; the special effects in particular are pretty inventive and high quality for the time and compare well enough to what was being produced in the USA, France or Germany in this period. Definitely worth seeing for those interested in pre-WWI film history, in India or elsewhere.

Outbreak (Wolfgang Petersen, 1995)

O MY GOD is this a terrible, terrible film. In fact it's one of those films that is so bad I have to call into question my whole viewing/rating/thinking about film philosophy, particularly when it applies to dumbass American blockbusters, which I've always liked maybe more than I should. The plot gets to whole levels of stupid that few films ever dare to hit, and the acting - with one exception - is some of the worst I've ever seen from a talented cast. OK I guess Spacey isn't bad - he's pretty much what he always is; Dustin Hoffman, Rene Russo, Morgan Freeman, Cuba Gooding Jr - all terrible, with Donald Sutherland deserving singling out for one of the worst stereotypical villains I've ever seen. The exception though is J.T. Walsh as the WH Chief of Staff who is absolutely brilliant in his one little 3-minute harangue of the President's cabinet; he alone is responsible for a ratings point, and there are a few other moments here and there - some of the anti-military rage from Hoffman towards the end isn't bad. But on the whole this is just acres of stupid, and anybody who can't predict almost everything that's going to happen - including which of the main characters will die, and which will get sick but will get the newly synthesized-in-just-a-few-minutes treatment drug just in time - really hasn't watched enough movies.

Pather Panchali (Satyajit Ray, 1955) (re-watch)
Aparajito (Satyajit Ray, 1956) (re-watch)
Apur Sansar (Satyajit Ray, 1959) (re-watch)


In the summer of 1995 the travelling Satyajit Ray retrospective of 9 or 10 (I saw 9 but I think I may have missed one) came to Chicago. This was my first exposure to Ray, and probably to Indian cinema, and I believe I got exposed to Indian food - which has since become, no contest, my favorite world cuisine - at about the same time, or only slightly earlier. Given that I was almost 30 and had lived in Chicago or suburbs for almost 12 years and had been a pretty serious film buff most of that time, that may seem strange, but I watched most films in the cinema and there just weren't that many that played - if newer Bollywood films played anywhere, I wasn't aware of it, and the classics from Ray, Ghatak, Dutt, etc, weren't in the most regular rotation among the arthouses and revival theaters. So this was kind of a bolt of lightning to me and it was certainly one of the best retrospectives I saw during that period.

Seeing them again after 25 years in the new Criterion restorations brings back a lot of memories, many of them not surprisingly sad ones, for these are sad, even tragic films. I'm not going to SPOILER this because these films are so well known but if you don't want to know anything skip the rest of this paragraph at least. Apu loses in succession over the three films his "granny" (unclear the exact relation), his older sister, while both are still children, his father while an adolescent, his mother while a young man, and his brand-new wife just a few years later. And yet the films are also, no question, as much about the triumph over adversity - the emotional and spiritual triumph, for Apu's future as a writer or anything else for that matter is very much uncertain at the end of the last film. And they are certainly about the quiet moments in nature, and ecstatic moments - such as the first up-close sight of a train in the first film, or (most especially) the last scene in the last film, that give life it's meaning even in the face of constant disappointment and loss.

Pather Panchali is probably the highest-rated on most sites, and on the most lists, in large part because it was such a breakthrough and milestone film in a way the others couldn't be; at this point I cannot say easily which of the three films I prefer, they are all on the same very, very high level, but it certainly does hit one with it's lyricism and it's across the board qualities in every respect - the music by Ravi Shankar of course stands out, the natural beauties, particularly of water and lush vegetation that overgrows the house of Apu's parents, disintegrating back to whence it came just as the family's status has diminishes over generations, and the acting, particularly that of Karuna Banerjee as Sarbojaya, Apu's mother in the first two films. It is a film of childhood, but a childhood that will inevitably lead to a very early assumption of adult duties, as the family slowly disintegrates and Apu has to take on more and more responsibility.

Aparajito takes the story through Apu's teen years, largely in Calcutta; I liked this a little less than the other two originally but I'm not sure why in retrospect. Ray's lyrical, poetic qualities are just as present in the big city, and the bookending of the film by the deaths of the parents could not represent the struggles of becoming an adult better.

Apur Sansar introduces us and the world at large to Soumitra Chatterjee, Ray's main lead actor for many years, as the young adult Apu, and Sharmila Tagore as his young wife Aparna. If there's anything I dislike in the whole trilogy, it's that we don't get to see these two together enough - the way in which we see their love develop out of an improbable faulty arranged marriage is just brilliant, but there is one more tragedy in store for Apu, out of which at the end we get one of the most emotionally powerful endings in film history, so I guess it's worth it.

Every bit as great as their reputations, I'm pleased to be able to (still) say.

Parash Pathar / The Philosopher's Stone (Satyajit Ray, 1958)

Ray's third feature and first comedy is unfortunately suffered from a rather poor copy - perhaps I should have checked around more but what I had runs about 20 minutes short of the listed time on IMDb, and wasn't very clear. The subs were good though and it was easy to follow, though it's clear there were a couple of scenes missing. In any case, this is an enjoyable if fairly standard story of man-gets-treasure-and-it-ruins-his-life, a theme that was quite common in mainstream comedies all around the world at the time - last year I watched an Egyptian film from around 1950 and an American comedy from the early 60s with very similar magical themes - and conclusions. In this particular case a middle-aged clerk happens on a stone which will change other materials (I think just metals and other stones but that's not clear) into gold, and of course problems ensue. It doesn't quite go in the same direction as some of the similar western stories have - our clerk realizes on his own that this is not going to end well, for instance - but on the whole this was relatively predictable, if still engaging and moderately humorous. Definitely the weakest of Ray's early films I think.

Jalsaghar / The Music Room (Satyajit Ray, 1958) (re-watch)

I remembered this one only vaguely, until the last big musical number, the dance of Krishna - that was very familiar as was the wonderful music throughout by Ustad Vilayat Khan and Robin Majumdar. This is another story that is rather familiar on it's surface to me now, or anybody who has watched a fair number of Ray, Ghatak, etc films -- declining social fortunes of a once-wealthy and prestigious family. In this case the rich landowner Roy (Chhabi Biswas) is falling step by step through his own arrogance and laziness, and his inability to concentrate on or care about anything apart from his music - playing, but mostly listening in his music room, to the eventual detriment of his fortunes and his family. Another great film, an exquisite portrait of dissipation and a man's total inability to change and move with the times, or to recognize his own limitations and how they affect the world around him.

Subway in the Sky (Muriel Box, 1959)

The third, last, and least of Box's crime-noir dramas in the 50s, this has a semi-promising start as we witness a murder on the edge of a military facility, and the criminal escapes... switch to Van Johnson, who might be that criminal, a US military doctor (Van Johnson) in Berlin, who invades an apartment owned by his estranged wife only to find out that she's lent it out to a singer (Hildegard Knef) who he compels to hide him as the military police move in. Of course there are twists and turns to the story involving the wife, her son, etc, and it's reasonably fast-paced and not poorly made really, but the cheapness of the production in this case do hurt it a bit (all done in the UK on soundstages, this is never for a moment believable as taking place in Berlin) and Van Johnson just really isn't cut out for this kind of role. Meh.

Confessions of an Opium Eater (Albert Zugsmith, 1962) (re-watch)

Or, Vincent Price - action hero! First saw this just about seven years ago, mostly because of Rosenbaum's enthusiasm for it, and a growing obsession with the star. I didn't love it quite as much as JR, and I still don't - it's a little flat and slow in it's last 20 minutes I think, and I still find the opening just...strange and maybe unnecessary. But the middle 50 minutes or so after that opening are gold, working as something like a mix of Wild, Wild West, late noir, Fu Manchu and James Bond, with Price as our hero, Gilbert DeQuincey, the descendant of the writer whose work gives the title to the film, going on an increasingly bizarre quest through the bowels of Chinatown in San Francisco to save a girl from slavery and death and avoid it himself while a Tong war is going on. Hallucinatory and dreamy, there are moments here that anticipate David Lynch in Twin Peaks form, and this is one of the best depictions of an unending labyrinthine city-building I've ever seen. I don't know that it's Price's best film or performance, but it's definitely the most unique and original film he was ever involved in.

State Fair (Walter Lang, 1945)

Inoffensive, pleasant musical that is only slightly hurt by starring two distinctly non-musical talents (both dubbed in their song numbers here), Joel McCrea as the newspaper reporter covering the Iowa State Fair, and Jeanne Crain as the farm girl he falls for. Her brother is played by Dick Haynes and the girl HE falls for, Vivian Blaine, and they both do their own singing as do parents Charles Winninger and Fay Bainter. It seems weird in some ways to think of this film coming out in 1945, just at the end of the war - it's so mild and smooth, and apart from the vicissitudes of young love (and it's interesting and a point in the film's favor that one couple ends up together, the other not at the end) the only major drama is in seeing whether dad's prize hog will win the top prize, and whether mom's mincemeat will have too much brandy in it for the judges. But I guess people needed this kind of thing to take their minds off of the world sometimes...and I needed it last week myself. Nice but not terribly memorable music, above-average bright Technicolor photography by the great Leon Shamroy.

Sudan (John Rawlins, 1945)

One of my addictions is to these costumed period adventures from this period, and this one hits all the marks - it's in color (b/w is fine for sure but this kind of thing I usually prefer in color) and it stars not just Maria Montez, Jon Hall or Turhan Bey but ALL THREE OF THEM. You'd probably have to have bee a CFB regular to find that amusing but what the hell. Anyway Montez - maybe giving a slightly better performance than usual - is an Egyptian queen, daughter of a Pharoah who dies under somewhat mysterious circumstances in the beginning, who is tricked into slavery by her (obviously) evil vizier, George Zucco, and who finds love in the presence of one of the two guys I mentioned in the previous sentence (gotta have some suspense) while getting herself back to the throne she belongs on and of course freeing slaves and making the world safe for democracy or something. Silly fun and one of Montez' best films (which isn't saying a lot, but still).

Dakota (Joseph Kane, 1945)

This on the other hand is far from one of John Wayne's best films - heck it's not even one of his best films of 1945. Very mediocre honest guy fights the bad gamblers and speculator who want to defraud a town to make a killing on the new railroad story, with Wayne as the hero of course and bad guys including Ward Bond (surprising) and Mike Mazurki (not so surprising). Also with Hugo Haas as the comical hothead father of Vera Ralston, who Wayne marries against dad's wishes, and Walter Brennan as a steamboat captain. Despite the really terrific cast, and Carl Foreman as one of the screenwriters, this is dull stuff with little action, lots of predictability, and nothing much to say.

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