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Which films Did You See Last Week? 30/12/18 - 05/01/19

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sol
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Which films Did You See Last Week? 30/12/18 - 05/01/19

#1

Post by sol » January 6th, 2019, 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 (if you're like me, "real life" sometimes gets in the way, so no need to feel obliged).

This is what I saw:

★★★★ = loved it / ★★★ = liked it a lot / ★★ = above average; has interesting elements / ★ = average or below; did little to impress me

The Hustler (1961). Opening with an intense scene in which the title character and his mentor successfully hustle some unsuspecting bar patrons, The Hustler gets off to a very good start. Paul Newman is excellent as the conceited and arrogant though charismatic protagonist who manages to remain somewhat charming despite being hotheaded and never knowing when to call it quits. Piper Laurie is also appealing as his girlfriend with enough spunk to match wits with him, as well as some personal demons of her own. The real star of the film though is Dede Allen's dissolve-heavy editing design that brings dreaminess to the earlier pool matches in the film. The plot derails for a little bit as the romance takes centre focus and the film does not conclude on the strongest of notes, but there is enough of interest here to keep things plodding along. (first viewing, Blu-ray Disc) ★★★

A Dream Come True (1963). Also known as Encounter in Space and Toward Meeting a Dream, this Soviet science fiction film involves a team of cosmonauts who travel to one of the moons of Mars to rescue friendly alien space travelers who have crashed landed there. Apparently, the aliens enjoyed hearing the radio waves of Russia so much that they just had to go there, however, the songs here are pretty irksome and the characters are downright irritating. The film is blessed though with some amazing visuals, captured in glorious, vivid colour; both the alien's planet and future Russia (with giant public televisions) look gorgeous. It is hard to bask in the visuals with a narrator who tends to over-explain everything and a nary a scene without dialogue, but the technical craft and imagination is difficult to deny. Edited into the superior Queen of Blood. (first viewing, online) ★★

Mary Poppins (1964). Hired to look after two rascally kids, a magical nanny mends the fractured relationship between the kids and their workaholic father in this energetic Disney comedy. It is a perfectly likeable film if treated as a mere piece of whimsy with memorable tunes, impressive special effects and lots of imaginative adventures. As narrative though, the film has its gaps. While described as "beasts", the children never seem mischievous enough to have run out several nannies. The film also never gets under Mary's skin, nor does it explore how she knows the chimney sweep. The movie does have a very nice message though and the performances are solid. Dick Van Dyke gets especially good mileage from a dual role under heavy makeup, while David Tomlinson has the film's funniest and most poignant moments as the children's oft befuddled father. (first viewing, Blu-ray Disc) ★★★

Mary Poppins Returns (2018). An unexpectedly excellent belated sequel to the classic Disney musical, Mary Poppins Returns recaptures the spirit of the original (and pays tribute to it at several points), while at the same time spinning a refreshingly different story. Meryl Streep's unnecessary subplot aside, the adventures that Poppins takes the kids on here are less random this time, with everything working towards a plot with solid foundations. This does invariably lead to a cardboard cutout antagonist, something that the original never had, but everything else works so well here that it is hard to complain. The film combines song, dance and inventive animation in the exact same manner as the original, the special effects are more practical (rather than CGI-based) as per the original, and the kids are more appealing (with far more dimension) this time. (first viewing, cinema) ★★★

Test Pilot Pirx (1979). Assigned to test the viability of androids in space travel, a cosmonaut is given a part human, part android crew and not told who is who in this intriguing East European sci-fi venture. The film is based on a short story by Stanislaw Lem, and as per Solaris and Ikarie XB-1, it is at its best when exploring the mystery and deep space uncertainties. As various crew members begin to confess their identity to the pilot, he has to weigh up both their testimonies as well as the evidence that they collected on others, playing sleuth. There is some great dialogue in the mix too ("it's better to be a machine than not exist at all") and eerie sets. The special effects vary in quality with an asteroid shoot-out looking like video game footage, and the film does not quite milk all the suspense potential of the central mystery, but this is quite a nifty little thriller. (first viewing, online) ★★★★

Kin-dza-dza! (1986). Transported against their will to a foreign planet in another galaxy, a kleptomaniac and a businessman struggle to communicate with the humanoid alien population who talk in coos in this strange sci-fi movie from the USSR. The film certainly gets to a promising start with a bouncy music score and much zaniness in the crafts that the aliens travel in, as well as their linguistic difficulties. Things get less interesting though as they manage to communicate in Russian and the novelty of the premise soon evaporates with many repetitive scenes of them traversing the planet's deserts in search of supplies to return home. The resolution leaves a bit to be desired too. The film is seldom short on imagination though, and from ferris wheel alien homes, to bizarre singing rituals to an alternative lush green planet, there is lots to like here even if it runs a little long. (first viewing, online) ★★★

High Hopes (1988). Two siblings with opposing political views struggle to cope with their mother's increasing forgetfulness as her 70th birthday approaches in this comedy-drama from Mike Leigh. While the siblings are certainly central, this is actually a bit of an ensemble piece, and if there is one thing to hold against High Hopes, it is the limited time that Leigh dedicates to two sets of neighbours (one snobbish; the other sexually overactive), with the couples only appearing sporadically, and chiefly as comic relief. The drama involving the siblings, their partners and their mother resonates well though, thanks largely to Edna Doré's solid performance as the matriarch. There is a great moment in which Leigh lingers on Doré's face in closeup while the others argue around her. Phil Davis and Ruth Sheen are superb here too as the film's most likeable characters. (first viewing, online) ★★★★

Oh, What a Night (1992). Desperate to lose his virginity to someone with "experience", a teenager sets about romancing a housewife twice his age in this morally bankrupt comedy full of sleazy characters. Corey Haim is convincingly curious in the lead role, but it is hard to buy into his decision to break up the woman's marriage, and the two other main characters are obnoxious. His best friend is even more obsessed with sex and then there is Robbie Coltrane as a disgusting pervert who admires the panties of teenage girls and tells the boys that what matters most about a woman is whether or not she "puts out" - a sentiment that the film never once challenges or subverts. Keir Dullea has a couple of solid moments here as Haim's father, but amusing as some incidents (car ditch) are, this is a disappointingly unfunny film from Hot Millions director Eric Till. (first viewing, DVD) ★

Groundhog Day (1993). Caught in a time loop in which he infinitely relives the same day, a grumpy weatherman eventually learns to make the best of his unique circumstance in this Harold Ramis comedy. While the basic idea has cropped in many films since (i]Repeaters[/i], Source Code, Happy Death Day etc) - the full-out comedy approach that Ramis applies has never really been redone, and certainly never with so much charm. For what gradually becomes a rather dark comedy (with him committing suicide multiple times), the film eventually turns full circle and ends on a heartwarming note with lots to think about in terms of the power of human decency. Neither Bill Murray nor Andie MacDowell is especially likeable here and their initial romancing is certainly borderline creepy, but in general this is a great concept excellently executed. (first viewing, Blu-ray Disc) ★★★★

Public Housing (1997). Frederick Wiseman follows around the residents of a Chicago public housing estate in this observational documentary. Rather than focus on crime, poverty or squalid living conditions, Wiseman shows many passionate and caring individuals who try from day to day to make the best with bureaucratic restrictions in place. Vignettes include one resident trying to enroll in drug rehabilitation, building board meetings, a drug awareness lesson in a kindergarten class and social workers explaining their opposition to foster care. The biggest highlight though is a lesson on condoms given by a resident whose own babies will not stop crying in the background. Clocking in at over three hours, some episodes (the lettuce lady in particular) run a little long, but Wiseman concludes things on a nice note of hope with a speech from a motivational speaker. (first viewing, online) ★★★

The Dead Girl (2006). Five unrelated women find their lives shattered as the result of a young woman's murder in this indie thriller that plays out as five distinct and individual stories. The film begins on an intriguing note as introvert Toni Collette discovers the cadaver, annoys her overbearing mother by drawing media attention to her home and then goes out on a date with a young man who is a little too fascinated with serial killers and murder. Unfortunately, the rest of the stories pale by comparison. The part dedicated to the killer's wife has a lot of interest merely due to the unique perspective, but it is really only in the fifth tale, focused on the victim's lover, which actually satisfies as things start to tie together. It is certainly easy to admire the ambition here as the film deliberately concentrates on 'effect' rather than 'cause', but the overall experience is uneven at best. (first viewing, online) ★

The Union: The Business Behind Getting High (2007). Marijuana and its history of prohibition in North America is the subject of this insightful Canadian documentary. Compromised of interviews with dealers and politicians, plus well-sourced archive footage, the film paints an interesting look at a substance that does less harm than tobacco and alcohol but which is illegal in many places. We get some intriguing economic arguments towards legality (tax revenue) as well shots inside some of the basements where hemp is grown and so forth. While more informative than something like Grass - an earlier Canadian documentary on the subject - the film nevertheless becomes rather preachy and agenda-heavy towards the end as it keeps drilling the same pro-legalisation points home. Still, this is fairly engaging and eye-opening for the most part. (first viewing, online) ★★★

I'm Not There. (2007). Five actors and one actress play Bob Dylan at various ages in this unconventional biopic. Outlandish as it might be, there is a lot to like in the premise as it parallels how Dylan kept changing and redefining himself throughout his career. Cate Blanchett is superb here, and not because she is playing a man but rather since she is him at his most rambling and philosophical with several great rants. And yet, the overall film feels like a mess, cut between the various personae in a haphazard manner, none of whom are quizzically called Dylan, and as such the film never really lets us under his skin. It looks gorgeous though, with a black-and-white carnival turned underwater sequence sticking out especially, and the way the title varies between 'He' and 'Her' in the opening credits is great. For a biopic though, we learn precious little about Dylan. (first viewing, Blu-ray Disc) ★★

Cruel & Unusual (2014). Sentenced to purgatory for accidentally killing his wife, a milquetoast teacher searches frantically for a way out in this Canadian thriller. With a decent premise, the initial scenes are highly intriguing here as he finds himself stuck in rooms in which all exit doors lead back to the room, and as he finds himself reliving his wife's death on infinite time loop. He also has to attend group therapy sessions rather comically run by persons only viewed on television screens. The novelty of the film sadly dissolves as it progresses along and while there is a cool bit late in the piece that switches point-of-view, the movie gradually becomes more focused on tiresome ideas of morality and acceptance rather than the paradigm of purgatory itself. There are quite a few gaping unanswered questions too, though the film certainly at least ends on a strong note. (first viewing, DVD) ★★

Loveless (2017). Too busy planning their futures away from one another, a divorcing couple fail to notice that their son has run away in this Russian drama. With lengthy, lethargic shots of the country's cold exteriors, director Andrey Zvyagintsev establishes much bleakness from early on, and after a powerful moment in which we suddenly realise that the son has eavesdropped on a fight, his choice to flee is always understandable. The film is more about his parents though who are a little too narcissistic and self-absorbed to like. The pacing feels off too; while it is thematically appropriate that they do not realise he has disappeared until nearly halfway in, the drawn-out explicit sexual scenes and very long conversations lead to the film only really becoming intense when they begin to look for him - and as we realise how little they might actually care about him. (first viewing, DVD) ★★

Sorry to Bother You (2018). Using his "white voice", a young African American quickly becomes a successful telemarketer, but at what cost? With quirks such as as the protagonist 'crashing' into the homes of those who is speaking to on the phone, this indie comedy is full of energy and imagination from early on, though it is in the film's final half-hour that things start to really get interesting with a science fiction plot turn. When push comes to shove, the film does not exactly make the most of this twist, always playing up the comedic (rather than dramatic) potential of it, but it is certainly a fascinating turn of events and Armie Hammer is excellent as an evil mastermind who declares that he is anything but. Whatever the case, the overall project works well as a tale of ethics, integrity and being proud of one's own ethnicity, as well as the dangers of greed. (first viewing, DVD) ★★★

Annihilation (2018). Her husband noticeably changed and unstable after returning from a mysterious zone, a biologist volunteers to venture there as part of a research team in this cerebral science fiction from Alex Garland. The film has aptly been compared to Tarkovsky's Stalker and Solaris, and like those movies, the power of Annihilation lies in its build-up and central mystery. In fact, the film becomes less interesting once it begins to offer answers. The emotional crux of the film is the fact that each of the protagonists have volunteered for the "suicide mission" because of voids in their life, yet Garland focuses on fleshing out the sci-fi content to the point that the film only mildly resonates a drama. The ambiguous ending is nifty though and the overall project nicely addresses how we as human beings change, not just due to age but also factors like grief. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Solaris (1968). Produced for Soviet television, this black and white version of Lem's tale was the very first filmic incarnation and it is intriguing to watch with the others fresh in mind. The special effects are pretty cheap, however, the set design is quite innovative and the filmmakers frequently use shadows and dark lighting to excellent effect - in particular the way shadows cross over the wife's face upon sudden appearance. The conclusion here is less powerful than in the other two versions and the on/off nature of Kelvin's voiceover narration always seems a little weird. On the other hand, having him narrate his thoughts aloud leads to some great bits, like an initial solid conviction that he must be dreaming upon seeing his wife. Quite a few ideas here (the visitors described "thoughts embodied in flesh") are pretty interesting too and certainly unique to this version. (first viewing, online) ★★★

REVISIONS

Solaris (1972). Combining the mysteries of deep space with themes of grief, loneliness and what it means to be human, Andrei Tarkovsky's Solaris is a riveting watch. It is very deliberately paced, yet has seldom a boring moment as Tarkovsky makes his film about mood, tension and uncertainty as opposed to the thrills and chills. The film also benefits from a memorable melancholy ending that highlights just how vulnerable we as human beings are due to our inability to control our own thoughts. (sixth viewing, DVD) ★★★★

Solaris (2002). If inferior to Tarkovsky's version with so much time dedicated to the romance and a less haunting ending, Steven Soderbergh's take on Lem's story improves with every viewing. Soderbergh tackles lots of angles unexplored in the 1970s version, with a focus on the cause of his wife's suicidal nature, a surprise revelation regarding a crew member and more focus on how dreams influence the incarnations. Cliff Martinez's score is also almost as powerful as the Bach music in the Tarkovsky take. (third viewing, DVD) ★★★
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Perception de Ambiguity
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#2

Post by Perception de Ambiguity » January 6th, 2019, 12:00 pm

여행자 / A Brand New Life (우니 르콩트/Ounie Lecomte, 2009) 7/10
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鏡心 / Mirrored Mind (extended cut) (石井聰亙/Sōgo Ishii aka 石井岳龍/Gakuryû Ishii, 2005) 8+/10
Image

Grandmother (Yuki Kawamura, 2010) 7/10

かもめ食堂 / Kamome Diner / Ruokala Lokki / The Seagull Diner (荻上直子/Naoko Ogigami, 2006) 7/10

レンタネコ / Rentaneko / Rent-a-Cat (荻上直子/Naoko Ogigami, 2012) 6/10
viewtopic.php?p=554110#p554110

Nude Area (Urszula Antoniak, 2014) 5+/10

海と毒薬 / The Sea and Poison (熊井啓/Kei Kumai, 1986) 4/10

銀嶺の果て / Snow Trail (谷口千吉/Senkichi Taniguchi, written by 黒澤明/Akira Kurosawa; 1947) 4+/10


shorts

A Day on(?) the God Island ("Mirrored Mind" bonus; 22 min) (石井聰亙/Sōgo Ishii aka 石井岳龍/Gakuryû Ishii, ????) 8-/10

Deliquium (Julie Murray, 2003) 7/10

Käptn Peng - Drawkcab (KreisFilm, 2013) ++


RiffTrax & MST3k

Rescueman (Chuck Ungar, 1982) 1/10

Goodbye, Weeds (1946) 1/10

When Should Grown-Ups Stop Fights? (1955) 1/10

Story-telling: Can You Tell It in Order? (1953) 1/10

Maintaining Classroom Discipline (1947) 2/10

Fashion for Young Go-Getters (Hartley Productions, Inc.) [by Josh Way] 1/10


music videos

shaban & Käptn Peng - werbistich (KreisFilm, 2009) (been there before) ++


didn't finish

Sorry to Bother You (Boots Riley, 2018) [56 min]
The Dead (Jhon Huston, 1987) [15 min]
Ryûji (Tôru Kawashima, 1983) [8 min]


notable online media

top:
Louis C.K. Monologue - SNL [rewatch]
石井聰亙作品集DVD-BOXⅡ~PSYCHEDELIC YEARS~
Louis CK 2018 SET PLEASE SUPPORT LOUIS CK AT https://louisck.net
Steven Wright on Mulray
rest:
The Video Essay: Lost Potentials and Cinematic Futures [by Kevin B. Lee, on vimeo]
Why Strangers Can Seem so Attractive
Steven Wright on Letterman: 1990
Quick-witted Craig Ferguson + More
Louis C K on Jeopardy! May 18, 2016 [rewatch]
Tom Waits Interview Banned From The YMCA.
Tom Waits Take One Last Look 2015
Eisenstein's Methods of Montage Explained | Russian Montage Theory | VIDEO ESSAY
Slavoj Zizek — The Difference between Communism and Fascism
Professor Slavoj Žižek | Full Address and Q&A | Oxford Union [partly]
Charlyne Yi - Who Is Weirder, She Or Craig? - 2/2 Visits In Chron. Order
Teacher Fell Down - SNL
Alcohol 101 | National Geographic
[approximately a thousand Happy New Year wishes by "Content With Jeremiah" that weren't awkward at all]

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Carmel1379
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#3

Post by Carmel1379 » January 6th, 2019, 2:18 pm

sol:

Groundhog Day - It's a very rewatchable film too, whenever I see its title I want to rewat.. ok, let's talk about it next week.

Solaris with George Clooney - I'll probably see it once/if I reread the book.


PdA:

Hip! Trip! Cosmic! I got a whole bunch of Ishii films from the CG thing; say, is the extended cut of 'Mirrored Mind' 61 minutes, or longer?


Carmel:

Skins (series 1&2 / first gen.) (2007-08, created by Bryan Elsley & Jamie Brittain) 8/10

The Favourite (2018, Yorgos Lanthimos) (theatrically) 8/10

The Clock: 2:33pm-7:33pm (2010, Christian Marclay) (theatrically)
[W]hen he reached and opened the clock it was empty. The abnormal ticking went on, beating out the dark cosmic rhythm which underlies all mystical gate-openings.
Last edited by Carmel1379 on January 7th, 2019, 12:54 am, edited 1 time in total.
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whom shall we find
Sufficient? who shall tempt with wand’ring feet
The dark unbottom’d infinite Abyss,
And through the palpable obscure find out
His uncouth way, or spread his aerie flight,
Upborn with indefatigable wings,
Over the vast abrupt, ere he arrive
The happy Ile?

Nur dein Auge – ungeheuer / Blickt michs an, Unendlichkeit!
Close the world. ʇxǝu ǝɥʇ uǝdO.
t o B e c o n t i n u e d

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#4

Post by viktor-vaudevillain » January 6th, 2019, 2:41 pm

Il postino / The Postman (Michael Radford, 1993) - 6

버닝 / Burning (Lee Chang-Dong, 2018) - 8+ theatrical
Caught between fascism and capitalism, the mother and the father, man and woman.

Que le diable nous emporte / Tempting Devils (Jean-Claude Brisseau, 2018) - 8

Iguana (Monte Hellman, 1988) - 7++

+

Top of the Lake: China Girl (Jane Campion, 2017) ep. 1-5
I'd just say that it's sadly quite mediocre, though it stills follows some interesting tropes that the first season laid out, but you know a lot can happen in a series' last episode which I still have yet to watch.

Also finished watching season 7 of Gillmore Girls.

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#5

Post by Teproc » January 6th, 2019, 2:57 pm

I've lurked enough around here, let's participate a bit (even though I didn't watch much this week)

Spider-Man 2 (Sam Raimi, 2004) - 6/10

Not entirely sure whether or not that was a rewatch, as this felt less familiar than Spider-Man, though certain scenes did. Anyway, it's a very uneven film. The Dr. Octopus stuff is quite good, with Molina chewing the scenery appropriately, and this is very notably much better shot than the first one, but everything involving Mary Jane doesn't work, and generally I don't think Maguire is very good in this role. Kirsten Dunst does what she can, but she's possibly miscast, and the role is painfully underwritten anyway.

Astérix: Le secret de la potion magique (Alexandre Astier & Louis Clichy, 2018) - 4/10

Big fan of both Astérix and Alexandre Astier, not a very big fan of this. I was worried about the 3D animation (this is a sequel but I didn't see the first one), it turns out that works fine, but the script is just a big bowl of meh. There's some funny stuff, but the whole thing reeks of laziness more than anything else.

The Red Shoes (Emeric Pressburger & Michael Powell, 1948) - 7/10

Had high expectations for this one, but it didn't quite get there for me. I mean it's good and I do like it, but not as much as I hoped I would, and I'm not entirely sure why. It looks great, Moira Shearer is impressive in the ballet scenes and her acting is fine, and Anton Wolbrook is great... maybe it's because I wasn't as taken with the ballet sequence. I usually really go for this kind of thing (love the ending to An American in Paris, and the somewhat similar fantasy sequences in A Star Is Born and Singin' in the Rain), but it didn't quite wow me here, maybe because the summary Wolbrook makes of The Red Shoes (the ballet) before we see it is kind of all we need, and the representation doesn't add much aside from "wow, Moira Shearer sure is a great dancer". I never really get the sense of the shoes taking control there, and while the cinematic touches are interesting, I don't know that I was fully on board with them. The rest of the film feels somewhat predictable from there, though again, it's all quite well done, just not as grand as I had hoped.

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#6

Post by joachimt » January 6th, 2019, 2:59 pm

sol wrote:
January 6th, 2019, 12:00 pm
Loveless (2017). Too busy planning their futures away from one another, a divorcing couple fail to notice that their son has run away in this Russian drama. With lengthy, lethargic shots of the country's cold exteriors, director Andrey Zvyagintsev establishes much bleakness from early on, and after a powerful moment in which we suddenly realise that the son has eavesdropped on a fight, his choice to flee is always understandable. The film is more about his parents though who are a little too narcissistic and self-absorbed to like. The pacing feels off too; while it is thematically appropriate that they do not realise he has disappeared until nearly halfway in, the drawn-out explicit sexual scenes and very long conversations lead to the film only really becoming intense when they begin to look for him - and as we realise how little they might actually care about him. (first viewing, DVD) ★★
Totally agree with you on this one. I watched it a few months back. The first half I was often thinking "GET ON WITH IT!!". It spends too much time on the viewers not liking the two parents. Got better in the second half. It gets much better when two parents who hate each other have to work together in order to find their son. That's when the two get scenes with much more interesting human interactions.
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#7

Post by joachimt » January 6th, 2019, 4:26 pm

12 features and 4 shorts

Features:
La main du diable AKA Carnival of Sinners (8/10)
Nice spooky atmosphere.
The Slender Thread (8/10)
Enough tension and good pace to keep me focused.
Do widzenia, do jutra... AKA Good Bye, Till Tomorrow (7/10)
Beautiful b&w cinematography. Story was a bit forgettable though.
50/50 (6/10)
Not enough depth for a subject like this. Not funny enough to work as a comedy. But still decent and the lead was okay.
My Girl (6/10)
Cute kids movie.
Peter Rabbit (6/10)
Cute movie for kids. Watched this with mine. Otherwise I wouldn't have. Watched the Dutch dub, which was weird, because it contains real actors as well. Been a while since I watched dubbed actors.
Slam (6/10)
Fine, but nothing that has been done in lots of other movies as well. The camerawork felt very amateurish as if it was a project by a film student.
Time and Dreams (6/10)
Nothing special.
My Girl 2 (5/10)
Pointless sequel that I wouldn't have watched if Time Out hadn't made that typo in their book. It was part 1 after all that should have been on the official list. Error fixed because I watched this one. Thanks Knaldskalle for checking the book.
The Mist (5/10)
Surprised by all the high ratings I see from my kumpels on Criticker. It has a lot of fun and spooky moments, but it also has lots and lots of unrealistic choices, stupid coincidences, facepalm moments, movie pet hates and CGI that looks like it was from the early 90's.
A Happening of Monumental Proportions (4/10)
Why did both jvv and I watch this unofficial check that's hardly known at all? We both have a long lasting crush which results in completionism. She watched this because of Keanu Reeves, who stars mostly on the phone except for one scene in which he is utterly ridiculous. I watched this because of Katie Holmes, who stars in two scenes for not more than two minutes. What about the rest? It's a failed attempt to create a black comedy. Just skip it.
The Ugly Truth (3/10)
Just awful. Not a single likable character. Not a single funny joke. Terrible theme. Predictable plot. Even more predictable ending.

Shorts:
Cosmos (7/10)
World (7/10)
Death Day (6/10)
Amor (5/10)
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#8

Post by mightysparks » January 6th, 2019, 4:41 pm

Had a bit of a weird pattern going back and forth between 5s and 6s this week, with the first and last being the only exceptions :/

Babel (2006) 7/10
Four different families in four different countries are connected by an accidental shooting of a bus in Morocco. This is the only Annarritu film that I've really enjoyed so far. It was a frustrating and depressing watch, and I found myself wanting to turn it off at one point because it was making me feel so agitated and sad; particularly with feelings of helplessness with Susan and Richard's story (and one of the few good performances from Brad Pitt). The Japanese subplot felt a little out of place with the rest, particularly in how they connected with the shooting and this one only really resonated with the theme of communication. Sometimes the characters made ridiculous decisions that felt out of place, such as the 'Mexican' storyline which also interrupted the low-key-ness of the other stories, but overall it was a gripping drama.

The House That Jack Built (2018) 5/10
A serial killer recounts five randomly chosen stories of murders that he committed whilst discussing his views on art, architecture and philosophy. Part horror/thriller and part black comedy, the film is a muddled, boring and overlong waste of time with a few good moments scattered about. The film is basically Nymphomaniac but with killing instead of sex and lacking the great performances, themes and script. Jack's conversations with Verge that serve as the narration don't really offer much, and Jack himself is dull as a doorknob, and the murderous 'episodes' are about as interesting; it doesn't work as a horror film, a serial killer film or a ponderous reflection on life, death and everything between. It is just exceptionally boring and feels about twice as long as it is.

Roma (2018) 6/10
A live-in maid to a middle class family in Mexico City becomes pregnant and balances preparing for motherhood and looking after a family that is beginning to fall apart. The cinematography is clearly the film's strongest point; it looks beautiful and the quiet panning camera provides an objective, distant and reflective mood to each scene. The story is told episodically and is not a particularly interesting one. Cleo, too, does not stand out and whilst this is part of her charm - that she is 'no-one' - she is given very little personality and there's not much about her to really care about as she's really just playing a stock quiet maid character who lives for nothing but her job (and the family she works for). The 'disasters' that occur during various points of her pregnancy feel contrived and as is if she's channeling Jesus or something. It's not a bad film but, like Cleo, is nothing special.

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (2018) 6/10
A young man in the middle of developing a game based off a choose your own adventure book starts to find his own choices are out of his control. I don't like calling this is a film, as it's really a cinematic game. It is a fun experience, especially knowing that each choice you make is providing you with a different experience to anyone else who has watched it; even if you see all the same scenes, the information and story comes together differently with each different viewing. It has a good sense of humour and some of the choices lead to some really funny stuff. There's also a glimpse of The Young Ones 'Bachelor Boys' book which was exciting for me since that's my favourite TV show of all time (and I have a copy of the book somewhere). As a film however there's not really a lot there and depending on what ending you get, can end up having no real point. It only works as a choose your own adventure experience and not a linear narrative.

The Muppet Movie (1979) 5/10
Kermit the frog is living in a swamp when he’s approached by a Hollywood agent, and journeys to Hollywood in search of fame whilst also trying to avoid a frogs leg salesman. Muppets and Sesame Street and the like were never part of my childhood and are not really my type of humour. It’s a little too childish and silly, but is pretty harmless and seems to be full of references, cameos and in-jokes that may be fun for fans. As a non-fan, it feels stuffed full of random moments and annoying characters though it’s not as irritating as some of the other Muppets stuff that I’ve seen. The songs, and the singing, are pretty awful though and definitely turn it into more of a drag.

Ray (2004) 6/10
A dramatised look at the life and career of Ray Charles, from the traumatic death of his brother, going blind and learning the piano as a child, to the rise of his career, his troubled relationships and struggles with heroin. This is pretty standard biopic fare though Jamie Foxx does throw himself pretty hard into the role. As someone not too familiar with Charles’ music or life, I felt this celebratory film was out of place for someone who was a really terrible person. It shows his flaws, but seems to forgive them because he made music that other people liked and I guess that’s the problem with all celebrities because most people are terrible in real life and the audience only cares about their art. The film feels like it skims through moments of his life into an episodic and generic structure whereas it felt like it could’ve been more effective as a character study, or focusing on one or two parts of his life.

A Day at the Races (1937) 5/10
A sanitarium that’s losing money hires a veterinarian pretending to be a doctor, as the owner’s boyfriend attempts to win a horse race to raise enough money to keep the sanitarium running. Each Marx brothers’ film I watched I liked a bit less than the one before so I’ve put off watching any more, but this one wasn’t too bad. The quick-witted dialogue and humour is no different to their other films and it’s mildly entertaining but there’s nothing that is really laugh out loud funny. It moves along a little sluggishly with some jokes and routines overstaying their welcome, but the last half hour really drags when they suddenly cram in some musical numbers which are always the weakest parts of the Marx brothers’ films.

Skammen (1968) 6/10
A married couple who were previously violinists in an orchestra struggle to keep their marriage together as the war closes in. Whilst probably the Bergman I’ve liked the most, the first half is much stronger than the latter. The first half focuses on their relationship, their conflicts with each other and the war is merely a backdrop that is beginning to affect them. Then the film becomes a bit of a mess and I found it difficult to understand what the the point of it all was because it felt so random and also had nothing to do with the title of the film. The performances from Ullman and von Sydow are both pretty good, and I think this would’ve been more effective as just a drama about a failing marriage, instead of all the random war nonsense.

Auntie Mame (1958) 5/10
A young orphaned boy is sent to live with his flamboyant and extravagant aunt and conflicts ensue with her love of 'living' versus the wishes of his stuffy father. The simplicity of the story and the events of the film do not warrant its 2 hour plus run time at all, when I thought it was about to end it still had an hour to go. It is bearable, but is not funny and is too gaudy and ridiculous to really be amusing or entertaining. The characters are all irritating, with Auntie Mame's loud screeching really getting on my nerves. They are all just really bad stereotypes and very unlikable with rushed relationships and confusing changes of character that never feel genuine. Auntie Mame isn't so much free-spirited but quite snobbish and off-putting.

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) 6/10
Peter Parker struggles with life as a highschool student and wanting to be taken more seriously as a superhero than just 'your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man' as he tries to foil a group of criminals selling hi-tech weapons. After the trash that was Infinity War I swore to never watch another superhero movie butttttt then I realised I would never be able to complete all these lists and goals. This was decently entertaining, but nothing out of the ordinary. I liked that it avoided the origin story stuff, but at the same time this ruined it because I had no reason to care about the main character. The film just assumes you know about Spider-Man, that you know this guy is Spider-Man since it starts off with just this random kid and then suddenly he's a superhero and there's no emotional core or backstory so he's just some kid. He was also laughably young (14/15???) and the highschool stuff and his stupid crush and friends were horrible and pointless. The action scenes are decently handled and it balances comedy and action pretty well, though it's never really funny or tense.

Captain America: Civil War (2016) 5/10
After an incident with The Avengers results in controversy over deaths and damages, a governing team is brought in to manage the team leading to disagreements between Steve Rogers, wanting The Avengers to remain free, and Tony Stark's acceptance of the change. I forgot this was a Captain America film and not another Avengers film because it's basically all about The Avengers and 'Captain America' is barely in it. This offers nothing new and the tensions and disagreements between characters lack any emotional resonance so when they're all crying and serious it's just stupid. Not being up to date with every superhero film and comic, everything is just skimmed past and the film, like Infinity War, is just full of characters that have no reason to be there; the Scarlet Witch character is the most pointless one that keeps turning up and adds nothing. Did we need Ant-Man or Spider-Man? The action scenes were pretty boring and full of shaky-cam to ensure you can't see anything happening.

Hell or High Water (2016) 6/10
Two brothers come together to rob branches of the Texas Midlands Bank to raise money to pay back a loan so that they can keep their recently deceased mother's property. Whilst its slower paced action is refreshing, it lacks real tension and the alternating between the brothers' and the cops on their tail doesn't really come together. Stronger characters and character development could've elevated this significantly but none of them feel fully realized and the chemistry is not there. It's hard to find someone to root for when they are just generic 'introverted and thoughtful vs extroverted and spontaneous' and 'jaded cop about to retire vs younger and less cynical partner'. Their motivations don't really feel heroic and the plan doesn't seem like they're making any difference (or commentary) on poverty and institutions, so the plot and its 'message' feels thin and flat.

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977) 4/10
A collection of short stories revolving around Winne the Pooh, his animal friends and his human companion, Christopher Robin. As someone who did not grow up with Pooh this was pretty bad and my rating is quite generous. The ensemble of characters is awful, particularly Pooh who is a fat lazy idiot who takes advantage of his friends and doesn't care about anything. Piglet is a spineless little loser. Christopher Robin is creepy AF and has a weird and disturbing overly sensual relationship with Pooh. Each story makes each character more unlikable and this feels much longer than barely more than an hour. I have no idea why this is in the musical list either. The meta stuff with the narrator was irritating too.
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#9

Post by Perception de Ambiguity » January 6th, 2019, 5:47 pm

Carmel1379 wrote:
January 6th, 2019, 2:18 pm
Hip! Trip! Cosmic! I got a whole bunch of Ishii films from the CG thing; say, is the extended cut of 'Mirrored Mind' 61 minutes, or longer?

The Clock: 2:33pm-7:33pm (2010, Christian Marclay) (theatrically)
[W]hen he reached and opened the clock it was empty. The abnormal ticking went on, beating out the dark cosmic rhythm which underlies all mystical gate-openings.
61 minutes, yes. The film was originally made for the anthology film 'Digital Short Films by Three Filmmakers 2004' where it is only 40 minutes long. It did revive my interest in Ishii again (especially some of those on the "Psychedelic Years" DVD, of course, although that seems more of a marketing ploy than a proper label of an artistic phase), but wouldn't particularly recommend this one to you. Not that I have seen very much of his work yet, but I reckon 'Electric Dragon 80.000 V' (probably the most popular Japanese cyberpunk film after 'Tetsuo', and in its own way just as radical and electrifying) and 'The Crazy Family' currently would be more your thing.

5 hours (to the minute, of course), pretty good. Were you courageous enough to pull it out this time for longer than 30 seconds in spite of possible watchers?
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#10

Post by Onderhond » January 6th, 2019, 7:02 pm

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01. 4.0* - Perhaps Love [Ru Guo · Ai] (2005)
Peter Chan's musical is a prime example of classic and modern influences reinforcing each other. The musical numbers mimic the heydays of Hollywood musicals, but the romance, the editing and Peter Pau's cinematography lift the film way above its peers. Easily one of the best musicals I've seen so far.

02. 3.5* - The Scythian Lamb [Hitsuji no Ki] (2017)
Another solid Yoshida, though not quite as good as the rest of his oeuvre. Six inmates are stationed in a small seaside town as part of a rehabilitation project, it's no surprise then that people start dying soon after. The film is dry yet funny, well acted and sports an interesting soundtrack, but lacks a touch of genius.

03. 3.5* - Deadful Melody [Liu Zhi Qin Mo] (1993)
Fun but absolutely manic and crazy martial arts film. A whole bunch of people are chasing a magic lyre, cue an onslaught of high octane fights, lots of deceit and some mad special effects. The editor probably burned his fingers on this one and while the film itself isn't all that solid, it's plenty entertaining. Good stuff.

04. 3.5* - The Laws of Thermodynamics [Las Leyes de la Termodinámica] (2018)
Quirky romantic comedy, featuring a young scientist who sees life through the laws of thermodynamics, applying them to the people and situations around him. It's a fun, fresh and concise film, but at times it tries a little too hard to keep everything chained to its central idea. Definitely worth a watch though.

05. 3.5* - Bird Box (2018)
Fine mix of horror and thriller elements. Not unlike Shyamalan's The Happening, though Bier's film is as much about the characters as it is about the events unfolding. The narrative structure is a bit forced and it could've been a bit more tense, but overall it's a nice, original take on a concept that's been beaten to death.

06. 3.0* - Kung Fu League [Gong Fu Lian Meng] (2018)
Jeffrey Lau is back and he's still doing the kind of comedy that made him famous. This time around we're getting a Grandmasters parody, with 4 of Hong Kong's prime martial arts talents reuniting in the present and kicking some ass for the kid that summoned him. It's silly, it's a bit random, but it's entertaining.

07. 3.0* - Sad Hill Unearthed [Desenterrando Sad Hill] (2017)
I dislike Leone's westerns with a vengeance, but this doc pays proper homage to The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. A fine story about several fans who restore one of the film's pivotal settings, supplemented by some stories of protagonists and fanatics alike. Recommended, even when you don't like the film itself.

08. 3.0* - The Sword [Ming Jian] (1980)
Patrick Tam's first film is a nice showcase of his talents. It's a pretty basic martial arts film, but executed with considerable attention to detail. What it gains in proper cinematography and acting though, it loses in pure adrenaline. The drama in between can get pretty cheesy, but apart from that this is a solid effort.

09. 2.5* - The Dirty Dozen (1967)
Pretty decent war flick, though the introduction is better than the payoff. It's not a very original film and it does drag in places, but the 12 are a rather fun bunch and even though it's war-themed, the film itself is quite light-hearted. Better than I expected, but could've been a fair bit shorter without losing much of its appeal.

10. 2.5* - Wildlife (2018)
Rarely have I seen a film that is so evenly plain. From start to finish, it's just merely okay. Decent actors, cinematography is proper, the soundtrack is not too overbearing. But not a single moment of warmth, humanity or emotion. I really expected a lot more from Dano, but he simply forgot to make a good film.

11. 2.0* - A Midsummer Night's Dream (1999)
A weird and quirky adaptation of Shakespeare's play that is at times fun and original, but is mostly just cheap and boring. The casting is a little off, the comedy only works during the final act and the cheap stage-like setting is no doubt deliberate, but doesn't work very well. It's a complete mess with some fun moments.

12. 1.5* - The Mummy, Aged 19 [Ng Goh Haak Gwai Dik Siu Nin] (2002)
Early Wilson Yip film that fails in the same way most Hong Kong horror/comedies do. The comedy is simplistic and dull, while the horror is cheap and unconvincing. For some reason these films did well enough on the local market, but it's not much of an export product. At least Yip improved tremendously over time.

13. 1.5* - Asperger's Are Us (2016)
Human interest doc about a group of four diagnosed Asperger boys who are going on an extended comedy tour. It adds very little to the autism docs already out there though, the boys really aren't that special (nor funny I'm afraid to say) and there's little here beyond the basic concept of the film. Poor.

14. 1.5* - Give Me a Home [Ge Wo Yi Gejia] (1991)
Another made-for-TV Tsai film. Without Tsai's usual focus on style and minimalism, his films are little more than social criticism. Fine if that's your thing, but this rather bleak and unattractive peak into the lives of poor immigrant construction workers didn't really do it for me. I prefer his more cinematic work.

15. 1.0* - Unaccompanied Minors (2006)
A comedy squarely aimed at children. The kids are annoying, Lewis Black's performance is terrible and Feig's direction is uneventful. It's poor filler, the only fun comes from recognizing now famous actors in smaller parts and Brett Kelly reprising his Thurman Merman part from Bad Santa. That's just not enough though.

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#11

Post by Carmel1379 » January 6th, 2019, 8:20 pm

Perception de Ambiguity wrote:
January 6th, 2019, 5:47 pm
Carmel1379 wrote:
January 6th, 2019, 2:18 pm
Hip! Trip! Cosmic! I got a whole bunch of Ishii films from the CG thing; say, is the extended cut of 'Mirrored Mind' 61 minutes, or longer?

The Clock: 2:33pm-7:33pm (2010, Christian Marclay) (theatrically)
[W]hen he reached and opened the clock it was empty. The abnormal ticking went on, beating out the dark cosmic rhythm which underlies all mystical gate-openings.
61 minutes, yes. The film was originally made for the anthology film 'Digital Short Films by Three Filmmakers 2004' where it is only 40 minutes long. It did revive my interest in Ishii again (especially some of those on the "Psychedelic Years" DVD, of course, although that seems more of a marketing ploy than a proper label of an artistic phase), but wouldn't particularly recommend this one to you. Not that I have seen very much of his work yet, but I reckon 'Electric Dragon 80.000 V' (probably the most popular Japanese cyberpunk film after 'Tetsuo', and in its own way just as radical and electrifying) and 'The Crazy Family' currently would be more your thing.

5 hours (to the minute, of course), pretty good. Were you courageous enough to pull it out this time for longer than 30 seconds in spite of possible watchers?
Both 'Burst City' and 'Angel Dust' I seem to have found rather underwhelming, but I have had the two you mentioned and 'Labyrinth of Dreams' in my watchlist for forever now. Meanwhile I also downloaded a few more, so I have a good selection to go for.

Didn't record anything, there was a museum security guy sat on my left-hand side the whole time (I was furthermost left of the front-row). Moreover no phone recording would ever be worth anything, it's something one has to see for oneself for as long as possible (I'm still missing ~10 hours (more counting whatever I dozed off at during my night sitting (only to be woken up by the countless alarm clock within the film^^)) which I most likely won't be able to complete whilst this London exhibition is still running).
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whom shall we find
Sufficient? who shall tempt with wand’ring feet
The dark unbottom’d infinite Abyss,
And through the palpable obscure find out
His uncouth way, or spread his aerie flight,
Upborn with indefatigable wings,
Over the vast abrupt, ere he arrive
The happy Ile?

Nur dein Auge – ungeheuer / Blickt michs an, Unendlichkeit!
Close the world. ʇxǝu ǝɥʇ uǝdO.
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#12

Post by Onderhond » January 6th, 2019, 9:07 pm

Perception de Ambiguity wrote:
January 6th, 2019, 12:00 pm
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One of my all-time favorite shots ever. The film is also top 20 material.

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#13

Post by Perception de Ambiguity » January 6th, 2019, 11:23 pm

Carmel1379 wrote:
January 6th, 2019, 8:20 pm
Perception de Ambiguity wrote:
January 6th, 2019, 5:47 pm
Carmel1379 wrote:
January 6th, 2019, 2:18 pm
Hip! Trip! Cosmic! I got a whole bunch of Ishii films from the CG thing; say, is the extended cut of 'Mirrored Mind' 61 minutes, or longer?

The Clock: 2:33pm-7:33pm (2010, Christian Marclay) (theatrically)
[W]hen he reached and opened the clock it was empty. The abnormal ticking went on, beating out the dark cosmic rhythm which underlies all mystical gate-openings.
61 minutes, yes. The film was originally made for the anthology film 'Digital Short Films by Three Filmmakers 2004' where it is only 40 minutes long. It did revive my interest in Ishii again (especially some of those on the "Psychedelic Years" DVD, of course, although that seems more of a marketing ploy than a proper label of an artistic phase), but wouldn't particularly recommend this one to you. Not that I have seen very much of his work yet, but I reckon 'Electric Dragon 80.000 V' (probably the most popular Japanese cyberpunk film after 'Tetsuo', and in its own way just as radical and electrifying) and 'The Crazy Family' currently would be more your thing.

5 hours (to the minute, of course), pretty good. Were you courageous enough to pull it out this time for longer than 30 seconds in spite of possible watchers?
Didn't record anything, there was a museum security guy sat on my left-hand side the whole time (I was furthermost left of the front-row). Moreover no phone recording would ever be worth anything, it's something one has to see for oneself for as long as possible (I'm still missing ~10 hours (more counting whatever I dozed off at during my night sitting (only to be woken up by the countless alarm clock within the film^^)) which I most likely won't be able to complete whilst this London exhibition is still running).

Aw, you're a cunt...you're a cunt...you're a cunt...you're a cunt-inuous source of disappointment to me.
Being "a museum security guy" at this gig seems a rare corporate-type job almost worth it, at least provided that like me you get something out of the exhibited art. All the interruptions one surely has to deal with at the job are OK because one has plenty of opportunities to watch it again, yet there is enough footage to not get easily tired of the film. Although even in that case being cunt-stantly reminded of how many hours and minutes you still have to work could make for a job experience that is as much stimulating as it is frustrating.
Seeing it "the way it's meant to be seen" is preferable to a bootleg, no argument there, but I always was very much engaged in any crummy video recordings that I got a chance to see of 'The Clock', personally, always watched at the right time of day, naturally, so even if I shun "screeners" usually, I'm not quite with you on the worthlessness-of-phone-recordings philosophy in this particular case where I know that for me there is maybe no other way to see this film for a very, very long time to come.
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#14

Post by Carmel1379 » January 7th, 2019, 12:43 am

Perception de Ambiguity wrote:
January 6th, 2019, 11:23 pm

Aw, you're a cunt...you're a cunt...you're a cunt...you're a cunt-inuous source of disappointment to me.
Being "a museum security guy" at this gig seems a rare corporate-type job almost worth it, at least provided that like me you get something out of the exhibited art. All the interruptions one surely has to deal with at the job are OK because one has plenty of opportunities to watch it again, yet there is enough footage to not get easily tired of the film. Although even in that case being cunt-stantly reminded of how many hours and minutes you still have to work could make for a job experience that is as much stimulating as it is frustrating.
Seeing it "the way it's meant to be seen" is preferable to a bootleg, no argument there, but I always was very much engaged in any crummy video recordings that I got a chance to see of 'The Clock', personally, always watched at the right time of day, naturally, so even if I shun "screeners" usually, I'm not quite with you on the worthlessness-of-phone-recordings philosophy in this particular case where I know that for me there is maybe no other way to see this film for a very, very long time to come.
You're a cunt, you've always been a cunt, and the only thing that's gonna change is you're gonna become an even bigger cunt... have some more cunt kids... I retract that bit about your cunt fucking kids. Still leaves you being a cunt.
- Yeah I know, it's my defining characteristic.

The thing about it is that even 10 minutes is like nothing. And me recording a scrap of it (even if it would be like at least 30 minutes such that you'd feel any effect) is no good, because you'd have the explicit knowledge the video is going to end, whereas during a real screening it's supposed to be a 24 hour loop testing the properly-absorbed viewers' limits, viewers who know, at the point of leaving, there's still so much more (eternally recurring) footage ahead of them. So yeah, even after 5 hours -- when I was already all jittery and depleted -- it was painful to leave the still-running screening.

If my life got stuck on repeat on Groundhog Day you can safely bet I'd spend at least a 1,000 years just watching 'The Clock' [though February the 2nd it's going to be available in Australia, so I'd have to fly in every day, where I could -- eventually, on a long enough timeline -- perfectly record it and then send it to you too (though to get the full 24 hours I'd need to invent a teleporting machine I could instantaneously assemble and use in my room too, which would probably take a few more millennia)].

Wow, the parallels between 'The Clock' and 'Groundhog Day' actually run pretty deep. I'm gonna have to think about that analogy more...

very, very long time to come - Maybe you should stare at some clocks and count the time until it does, it's basically the same as watching the film. :D Nein, aber ich bin sicher dass es soll früh genug in deine Österreichische Filmmuseum kommen. :thumbsup:

And yeah, I was basically wondering the same during my viewing yesterday, re: security guards.


How did you come across wishing Tentenko - All You Need Is Cat? :lol: 🐈
IMDb, letterboxd, tumblr
Image
whom shall we find
Sufficient? who shall tempt with wand’ring feet
The dark unbottom’d infinite Abyss,
And through the palpable obscure find out
His uncouth way, or spread his aerie flight,
Upborn with indefatigable wings,
Over the vast abrupt, ere he arrive
The happy Ile?

Nur dein Auge – ungeheuer / Blickt michs an, Unendlichkeit!
Close the world. ʇxǝu ǝɥʇ uǝdO.
t o B e c o n t i n u e d

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#15

Post by outdoorcats » January 7th, 2019, 4:03 am

Just three this week, but three good ones. I'll get to everyone else's later this week.

Touki Bouki (Djibril Diop Mambéty - 1973) 7.5
A landmark cinematic milestone from Senegal, with it's free-form, experimental approach to narrative channeling the spirit of late '60s Godard and the Czech New Wave but with its own flavor. It's a satirical narrative about two lovers and their repeatedly failed attempts to raise enough money for boat tickets to Paris, where they are certain as long as they dress finely they'll become rich. Criterion did a good job restoring this one so I could better appreciate the striking compositions and jarring jump cuts. The use of footage from a slaughterhouse and the heavy symbolism of the protagonist's favorite motorcycle give the otherwise amusing film a darker touch.

King & Country (Joseph Losey -1964) 7
A downer but an effective anti-war film. Dirk Bogarde and Tom Courtenay both give excellent performances, with Courtenay playing a WW1 private accused of desertion and Bogarde playing the officer tasked with defending him at a muddy military tribunal held in a house falling apart just by the trenches. Despite the many similarities to Stanley Kubrick's Paths of Glory, it develops its own style, and while not all of Losey's choices stick (I didn't like how awkwardly stock footage and photographs were edited in, for instance) the film is a pretty tight affair with a compelling story which doesn't overstay its welcome.

Laila's Birthday (Rashid Masharawi - 2008) 7.5
A small-scale but excellent film about a Palestinian taxi driver's very bad day (which also happens to be his daughter's seventh birthday). A former judge reduced to driving his brother-in-law's taxi for income, Abu Laila's strict code of ethics and upper-class demeanor make him an object of ridicule to many, but he sticks to his own code...until an increasing series of annoyances and obstacles seemingly designed to challenge his dignity start to wear him down. Besides being a simple moral fable, it acts as a brilliant snapshot of people trying to live normal lives in the midst of a country in chaos, as each of Abu Laila's passengers or encounters reveals a different aspect of Palestinian society. At 71 minutes, it also ends before you know it, which is something more films should strive for.

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#16

Post by sol » January 7th, 2019, 4:33 am

PdA:

56 minutes in? Dude, you gave up on Sorry to Bother You only a few minutes before it took a whacky turn and started to become really interesting. Give this one another try down the line.

Carmel:

Um, the George Clooney version of Solaris is a perfectly fine film, but Tarkovsky's version is a flat-out masterpiece and by all means the incarnation that you should making priority for instead. And if you're going to watch the 2002 version, you might as well give the 1968 one a spin though. Watching it on YouTube with auto-translated auto-generated subtitles was a one-of-a-kind experience and only made the film ever the more otherworldly.

Only seen The Favourite from yours, which I already waxed poetic about on last week's thread. My second favourite film of 2018 with terrific turns by all three key actresses and some of the best fish eye lensing this side of Terry Gilliam.

viktor:

Seen none. Intrigued by Burning.

Teproc:

I was even more disappointed by The Red Shoes than you were. Sure, the film looked pretty but it did absolutely nothing for me and is, to date, the only Archers film that I have down as a 'dislike'.

joachimt:

Very nice to see that I am not alone on Loveless. It got some really good notices last year, but it is by far my least favourite of 2017's Foreign Language Film Oscar nominees. The film has also put me off exploring any further work by its director; I was originally considering watching The Return and Elena also this month. Now I'm not so sure.

Yours:

Seen The Slender Thread, Slam, and The Mist. Definitely liked the last one a lot more than you; I think it helped watching it in its black-and-white version - the way Darabont always intended the film to be seen. And damn, what an ending.

mighty:

Seen Ray, Skammen and Auntie Mame. All too long ago to comment in any depth, but all of them were 'likes'. Seen A Day at the Races more recently, which yeah, is not quite vintage Marx Brothers and Hell and High Water, which was pretty impressive when viewed theatrically at least.

Onderhond:

Only seen The Dirty Dozen. Decent enough, and yeah, a lot funnier than I expected too.

outdoorcats:

Only seen King & Country, which I liked a lot at the time. A film made during the career peaks of Bogarde, Courtenay and Losey.
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#17

Post by joachimt » January 7th, 2019, 7:06 am

sol wrote:
January 7th, 2019, 4:33 am
Seen The Slender Thread, Slam, and The Mist. Definitely liked the last one a lot more than you; I think it helped watching it in its black-and-white version - the way Darabont always intended the film to be seen. And damn, what an ending.
About the ending:
SpoilerShow
I don't think it made sense. The whole movie he had such an urge to survive and kept trying to think of solutions. At the end he made that decision in a heartbeat. I don't think it fit the character. And after he did it, the army showed up within a minute?! Too coincidental if you ask me. And how can the army make the mist go away? That didn't make sense at all.
Or should I really look at all this from a biblical point of view? That wouldn't make it better for me.
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#18

Post by mightysparks » January 7th, 2019, 7:14 am

joachimt wrote:
January 7th, 2019, 7:06 am
sol wrote:
January 7th, 2019, 4:33 am
Seen The Slender Thread, Slam, and The Mist. Definitely liked the last one a lot more than you; I think it helped watching it in its black-and-white version - the way Darabont always intended the film to be seen. And damn, what an ending.
About the ending:
SpoilerShow
I don't think it made sense. The whole movie he had such an urge to survive and kept trying to think of solutions. At the end he made that decision in a heartbeat. I don't think it fit the character. And after he did it, the army showed up within a minute?! Too coincidental if you ask me. And how can the army make the mist go away? That didn't make sense at all.
Or should I really look at all this from a biblical point of view? That wouldn't make it better for me.
The book has been my favourite short story since I was a kid and the film ending totally ruins the whole story. The film was an awful adaptation but the ending definitely made it completely meaningless. Felt like contrived, tacked on Hollywood nonsense.
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#19

Post by sol » January 7th, 2019, 7:32 am

joachimt wrote:
January 7th, 2019, 7:06 am
sol wrote:
January 7th, 2019, 4:33 am
Seen The Slender Thread, Slam, and The Mist. Definitely liked the last one a lot more than you; I think it helped watching it in its black-and-white version - the way Darabont always intended the film to be seen. And damn, what an ending.
About the ending:
SpoilerShow
I don't think it made sense. The whole movie he had such an urge to survive and kept trying to think of solutions. At the end he made that decision in a heartbeat. I don't think it fit the character. And after he did it, the army showed up within a minute?! Too coincidental if you ask me. And how can the army make the mist go away? That didn't make sense at all.
Or should I really look at all this from a biblical point of view? That wouldn't make it better for me.
I agree that the ending was highly coincidental now that you mention it. All that I can say is that it left quite an impact on me at the time. Just went back to my original review (from 2013) and I like what I wrote at the time: "the ending more sobering than one might expect, really getting to the heart of the matter in terms of the film's overarching theme of irrational behaviour in the midst of a crisis".
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#20

Post by peeptoad » January 7th, 2019, 2:19 pm

Hi sol... bit late since I've been sick for the past week and a half, but I'm gratefully still alive.

Only seen 4 of yours:
The Hustler- 7
Mary Poppins- 7 (maybe 6, been awhile)
Groundhog Day- 7 (from memory- saw this on release in the cinema... loooong time ago)
Annihilation- 8


mine (managed to watch more than my norm since I was sick and couldn't do much else):
Alice ou la dernière fugue (1977) Alice, or the Last Escapade 8
The Brain That Wouldn't Die (1962) 5
The Island of Dr. Moreau (1977) 6
Let Me In (2010) 7
The Empire Strikes Back (1980) 9*
La polizia brancola nel buio (1975) The Police are Blundering in the Dark 4
The Woman in Black (2012) 5
Empire of the Ants (1977) 4
Frogs (1972) 4
Behemoth the Sea Monster (1959) 5
Revenge of the Creature (1955) 6

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#21

Post by sol » January 7th, 2019, 2:47 pm

peeptoad wrote:
January 7th, 2019, 2:19 pm
Hi sol... bit late since I've been sick for the past week and a half, but I'm gratefully still alive.

Only seen 4 of yours:
The Hustler- 7
Mary Poppins- 7 (maybe 6, been awhile)
Groundhog Day- 7 (from memory- saw this on release in the cinema... loooong time ago)
Annihilation- 8


mine (managed to watch more than my norm since I was sick and couldn't do much else):
Alice ou la dernière fugue (1977) Alice, or the Last Escapade 8
The Brain That Wouldn't Die (1962) 5
The Island of Dr. Moreau (1977) 6
Let Me In (2010) 7
The Empire Strikes Back (1980) 9*
La polizia brancola nel buio (1975) The Police are Blundering in the Dark 4
The Woman in Black (2012) 5
Empire of the Ants (1977) 4
Frogs (1972) 4
Behemoth the Sea Monster (1959) 5
Revenge of the Creature (1955) 6
Hi peeps - sorry to hear about the sickness. I hope it wasn't as serious as it sounds!

I would recommend rewatching Mary Poppins before seeing the sequel if you have plans to do so this month. There are some very cool references to the first film and the casting and makeup team have done a great job getting two actors to resemble the kids from the first film grown up very well. I also liked the newer version more than the original.

Groundhog Day was unexpectedly sweet and heartwarming. I usually can't stand Andie MacDowell (unless she's opposite James Spader) but even she was decent here. Our ratings match on The Hustler - a film in which I would have liked to have, er, seen more pool hustling as per the precredits sequence.

I have no idea how you rated Ex Machina, but I found Annihilation to be a definite step down myself, even if the Tarkovsky fanboy in me enjoyed the set-up and altered reality ideas.

Of your viewings this week, I adore Chabrol's Alice - probably my favourite film of his with a pretty terrific ending. I don't know if you participate in the 500<400 exercise, but this could use your support.

I've also seen The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Empire Strikes Back, The Woman in Black and Frogs, but I'm too tired to really comment on them now. If you want to though, ping me later and I'll try to elaborate some thoughts.
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#22

Post by morrison-dylan-fan » January 7th, 2019, 3:23 pm

Hi all,I hope everyone is having a good 2019,and @Sol,for being a TV movie (that I suspect did not have a mega budget) Solaris sounds like an ambitious TV film. I kicked the year off by watching a flick from this studio for the first time:

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New Years Evil (1980) 6

Cracking open with a whiff of the 80's from the moody dark-synch score, co-writer/(with Leonard Neubauer) director Emmett Alston & cinematographer Thomas E. Ackerman pull welcomed strings of Cannon cheese on the screen, as the New Year celebrations are fired up with the raging flames of big hair New Wave bands performing at every New Year countdown, and the nutter seamlessly blends in while wearing a mask,along with successfully taking on a biker gang at drive-in filled with teens getting hot and heavy. Lighting the final firework with an ominous rumble from the synch-score, Alston matches the fun Cannon antics with a stylish, knife-edge Slasher atmosphere of the psycho timing events to the midnight hour, and the final taking place around a lift, which Alston zooms down to the floor, following the would-be victim attempt to escape.

Setting the timer off when the stranger calls Sullivan to let her know that a "naughty girl" will be murdered when each US time zone hits midnight, the screenplay by Alston and Neubauer wisely put the Slasher action aside for the majority, and instead builds very good tension via the race against time set-up, from Sullivan having to break the dismissive attitude of the police over her TV broadcast getting nasty phone calls, to a frantic search be Sullivan and the cops to stop the killer before 10 to midnight. Hanging on the telephone with little option of a helpline, the cute Roz Kelly gives a lively turn as Sullivan, whose initial "Final Girl" fear is hardened up by Kelly into determination to stop the killer before the New Year's evil day.

X-Mas flicks & shows:

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El Camino Christmas (2017) 5

Making the Christmas seasonal setting feel like a needless bolt-on, director David E. Talbert displays his playwriting origins in working with cinematographer Tim Suhrstedt, as the convenience store hostage centre-piece is covered with stilted camera moves up the shop floor which fails to crack laughs or tension. Targeting a Red Neck, Black Comedy atmosphere, Talbert takes aim with enjoyable encounters from Eric Roth's run-in with the trigger-happy cops, but misses once entering the store. Taking 10 years (!) in development, the screenplay by Theodore Melfi and Christopher Wehner introduce Eric with a rough and tumble rogue charm, and Larry in a washed-up, bitter laughs haze. Stumbling everyone into a hostage situation, the script dries up fast with the revelation about Eric and Larry being easy to predict, along with attempts at punch-lines falling flat. Not helping the cops (must be first time he did that!) Tim Allen gives a good crusty turn as Larry, while Luke Grimes chips into the guy from the wrong tracks vibe, whilst spending Christmas at El Camino.

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Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas (1999) 7

Made by the teams behind the Disney animated TV shows of the late 90's/early 2000's, the directors give this anthology the same slick animation polish as the TV series, with the characters being given a rubbery appearance, which rubs some of the warmth in the hand-drawn style away,but inflates a lively atmosphere when everyone is jumping with excitement for Christmas. Despite being dropped straight to video, the feature breaks from the stigma of low-grade Disney STV with a touch of class, first from the excellent voice cast, (which includes Alan Young voicing Scrooge McDuck for the first time since DuckTales ended in 1990) and second in the maturity of the screenplay. Loosely linking three X-Mas tales together with an unrelated wrap-around/narration on the joy of Christmas, the writers wonderfully have the legendary charters display a level of melancholy to the occasion, brimming in Goofy and his son Max having doubts over Santa being real, (thanks for no difficult questions after viewing guys!) and Mickey being penniless, but finding in his heart the joy of spending the holidays with Minnie, once upon a Christmas.

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Christmas Evil (1980)4

Taking a decade to get filmed, the changes writer/director Lewis Jackson (who does an excellent commentary with fan John Waters) made to dice the flick into production during the Slasher era are visible, via the merry use of Christmas decorations/ toys for murder having a crisp style in the set-pieces which are out of place with the rest of the film. Jingling all the way as the "Greed is good" era begun, Jackson cast a cynical atmosphere over the holiday season by slinging loose cannon Harry into a gutter of sharp suited scum and acid-tongue office parties. Attempting for this to be a study of someone on the fringe of society, the screenplay by Jackson feels incredibly forced with handling the Slasher elements, which discharge the chance for the complexities offered by loner Harry to crack to the surface, as Harry wishes all a Merry evil Christmas.

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The Royle Family at Christmas (2000) 10

Featuring future star Sheridan Smith in her third, and final very good guest appearance as Emma Kavanagh, the ensemble cast continue to give superb performances, with them all showing restrain in knowing when an awkward silence and uncomfortable glances can be a winning punch-line. Joining the regulars, Sharon Duce and John Henshaw fit right in as visiting couple Roger and Valerie Kavanagh, with co-writer/(with Craig Cash)/co-star/ director Caroline Aherne keeping the camera lingering on the Kavanagh's realisation of how different they are to the Royle's. Making this a blissful family gathering, the script by Aherne and Craig Cash finely balance hilariously earthy humour of family members attempting difficult conversions, with a festive warmth over looking towards the new year during this Royle Christmas.

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BoJack Horseman: BoJack Horseman Christmas Special: Sabrina's Christmas Wish (2014) 7

Breaking the 4th wall by the episode being wraparound by BoJack watching the X-Mas special of his cancelled TV show, the script by Raphael Bob-Waksberg slyly rolls out deconstructions on the TV Comedy X-Mas specials, from recurring gags falling to land,to the (possibly Married with Children inspired?) rowdy crowd yelling out at the cast/characters. Along with the very good voice work from the main cast,Kristen Schaal gives a funny, fittingly sickly sweet voice as Sabrina, who pushes around the less than subtle "message" of the ep, sharply satirising Comedy shows which force a moral message in,as Bojack celebrates Christmas with his past X-Mas specials.

Other flicks:

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OSS 117: Lost in Rio (2009) 7


Undressing the tailor-made jokes on 60's Bond of the first film, returning co-writer/(with Jean-François Halin) director Michel Hazanavicius continues his collaboration with cinematographer Guillaume Schiffman in patterning this entry to the Euro Spy genre of the 60's in general, and to "happening"/ hippie flicks of the swinging 60's. Dotting OSS 117's introduction with criss-crossing spilt-screens,Hazanavicius spies on a slick chic atmosphere of steamed-up dissolves sinking 117 into the "Free Love" of the era. Going in more of a slap-stick rather than kitsch direction for the quick-paced jokes in this second entry,Hazanavicius sweetly plays up the clichés of the Euro Spy genre with funny gun battles where every shot the baddies take at 117 randomly misses, and gives the beautiful women agents a sparking appearance.

Loosely inspired by OSS 117: Mission for a Killer (1965), the screenplay by Hazanavicius and Halin is less defined on the goals of the mission compared to the first, but serves up a delirious mix of cheeky Euro Spy weirdness of double-dealing agents, booming CIA bosses, dirty hippies,cackling Nazis, and a wonderful final packed with Hitchcock tributes. Keeping 117's dialogue politically incorrect, the writers draw sharp one liners from 117 being completely out of step with the hippie era, via 117 stumbling in offending fellow (Jewish) agent Koulechov each time he tries to create a bond,and his straight-lace macho outlook rubbing up against the Free Love surrounding 117. Joined by a terrific, dead-pan Louise Monot as Koulechov,Jean Dujardin gives an excellent, hilarious return spin as 117,whose devilish cad charms Dujardin carries with a swagger match by a fitting look of being unaware of the hilarity when delivering one liners whilst agent OSS 177 finds himself a fish out of water lost in Rio.

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#23

Post by GruesomeTwosome » January 7th, 2019, 3:59 pm

Hey sol. Yours:

Mary Poppins and Groundhog Day- not seen Poppins since being a young kid; saw Groundhog Day later but was still quite young, definitely wanna re-watch that sometime.

I'm Not There - yeah this was certainly an interesting approach to exploring the life and music of Bob Dylan; a rather experimental and thankfully very different way to do a sort of "biopic" without the staid, formulaic approach that so many musician biopics seem to take. Lots of lovely images in this one, for sure. I do agree that on the whole it wasn't great, but I still seem to have liked this more than you.

Sorry to Bother You - yeah just saw this recently too, as you'll see. I can't add much to what you already said really, we seem to be on the same page on this one. A delightfully weird comedy/satire of capitalism/sci-fi film.
SpoilerShow
I liked the initial twist with the reveal of Armie Hammer's true motivations with the "equisapiens", but not sure that the further twist right at the end with Cash turning into one of them really being necessary
. But yeah, cool to see something this imaginative and oddball get a somewhat mainstream release.

Annihilation - this was pretty fascinating for me throughout. The scene with Portman and...you know...at the lighthouse towards the end has to be one of my favorite scenes of last year.

Solyaris (1972) and Solaris (2002) - Tarkovsky's is great of course. I liked Soderbergh's take well enough too, but it's no match.



My viewings over the last two weeks, as I was a bit too busy with the holidays again to post here last week:

Jungfrukällan / The Virgin Spring (1960, Ingmar Bergman) - 8.5/10

White Boy Rick (2018, Yann Demange) - 5/10

Life During Wartime (2009, Todd Solondz) - 6.5/10

Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009, Wes Anderson) - 8.5/10

Anchiporuno / Antiporno (2016, Sion Sono) - 5/10

Sorry to Bother You (2018, Boots Riley) - 8/10

Bacalaureat / Graduation (2016, Cristian Mungiu) - 8/10

Nattvardsgästerna / Winter Light (1963, Ingmar Bergman) - 8.5/10

Vice (2018, Adam McKay) theatrical - 6/10
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#24

Post by Good_Will_Harding » January 7th, 2019, 4:17 pm

Oof, harsh take on Loveless. I personally adored it and still have it as my favorite film from 2017, though I''m curious to see how it holds up on repeat viewings.

The Happy Breed (1944) - Understated, yet moving and visually colorful post wartime drama. Another small scale charmer from David Lean, who truly was a master of all scales, large and small.

Daughters of Darkness (1971) - Missed out on this for the '18 October challenge, but ultimately I found this to be rather underwhelming. Tonally it had a decent amount to offer, but otherwise I couldn't really get into this one.

Police Story (1985) - Pretty effective and well done Hong Kong crime actioner. Definitely would like to check out the sequels sometime, though I doubt they measure up.

Summer 1993 (2017) - Touching summertime coming of age fare. More naturalistic than cloying or conventional, and I appreciated the change of pace from most US fare of a similar vein.

Mary Poppins Returns (2018) - Yeah, sure. There's some visually spectacular setpieces herein and Emily Blunt is a perfect fit in the title role, but none of the songs are really all that memorable, and the whole structure of the film is basically just a beat for beat retread of the original, with little to offer in terms of originality or surprises. Overall fine, but I can't help feeling like there's was a big missed opportunity to turn this belated sequel into something truly special, instead of just an OK homage to the first one.

Mary Queen of Scots (2018) - Pretty typical historical costume drama fare. Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie are both good and the production values are well crafted, but otherwise there's not much here we haven't already seen an umpteen number of times before.

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#25

Post by peeptoad » January 7th, 2019, 5:09 pm

sol wrote:
January 7th, 2019, 2:47 pm
peeptoad wrote:
January 7th, 2019, 2:19 pm
Hi sol... bit late since I've been sick for the past week and a half, but I'm gratefully still alive.

Only seen 4 of yours:
The Hustler- 7
Mary Poppins- 7 (maybe 6, been awhile)
Groundhog Day- 7 (from memory- saw this on release in the cinema... loooong time ago)
Annihilation- 8


mine (managed to watch more than my norm since I was sick and couldn't do much else):
Alice ou la dernière fugue (1977) Alice, or the Last Escapade 8
The Brain That Wouldn't Die (1962) 5
The Island of Dr. Moreau (1977) 6
Let Me In (2010) 7
The Empire Strikes Back (1980) 9*
La polizia brancola nel buio (1975) The Police are Blundering in the Dark 4
The Woman in Black (2012) 5
Empire of the Ants (1977) 4
Frogs (1972) 4
Behemoth the Sea Monster (1959) 5
Revenge of the Creature (1955) 6
Hi peeps - sorry to hear about the sickness. I hope it wasn't as serious as it sounds!

I would recommend rewatching Mary Poppins before seeing the sequel if you have plans to do so this month. There are some very cool references to the first film and the casting and makeup team have done a great job getting two actors to resemble the kids from the first film grown up very well. I also liked the newer version more than the original.

Groundhog Day was unexpectedly sweet and heartwarming. I usually can't stand Andie MacDowell (unless she's opposite James Spader) but even she was decent here. Our ratings match on The Hustler - a film in which I would have liked to have, er, seen more pool hustling as per the precredits sequence.

I have no idea how you rated Ex Machina, but I found Annihilation to be a definite step down myself, even if the Tarkovsky fanboy in me enjoyed the set-up and altered reality ideas.

Of your viewings this week, I adore Chabrol's Alice - probably my favourite film of his with a pretty terrific ending. I don't know if you participate in the 500<400 exercise, but this could use your support.

I've also seen The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Empire Strikes Back, The Woman in Black and Frogs, but I'm too tired to really comment on them now. If you want to though, ping me later and I'll try to elaborate some thoughts.
Thanks sol... it wasn't a really "serious" illness, but it involved a high temp for 2 days and a lot of lingering discomfort (which has since abated, thankfully!)
No worries on being too busy to respond, but I'll fill in comments for some of the other films I saw-
Oh, and one more word on Alice 77... it's so far very easily my best FTV this month. The ending was fantastic and the entire film had me engaged throughout. Visually I appreciate a bit more of the surreal and weird for this type of subject matter, and maybe a little more variation in Alice's "escapade", but otherwise it was great. I did participate in the 500<400 last year (I think) so I'll hopefully remember this one for that.

The Woman in Black I found lackluster, not bad but bland. I'm not generally a fan of ghost stories, unless they are done in an unusual or novel manner. I also hate most (not all) jump scares as I find them to be a cheap way of eliciting a thrill. And this one had too many for my liking.
Frogs and Empire of the Ants were both pretty weak (again, not absolutely terrible) imho. They had some similarities with regard to production and content, so maybe not surprising.
Behemoth I was sure I had seen as a kid (used to watch all those old Toho flicks and 50s-60s sci fi horrors on the local Saturday afternoon double feature on TV), but I hadn't. I was probably recalling Reptilicus. Behemoth wasn't bad and I always appreciate Harryhausen to some degree.
I don't rec the Italian film (Police Blundering) at all really. Again, not terrible, but I found it meandering, and sort of "disorganized" for lack of a better term. It did qualify for sci fi since there was some sort of mind control device that the antagonist was using, but it was pretty lame in structure.
OK, that's all for now... back to work.

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#26

Post by Perception de Ambiguity » January 7th, 2019, 6:49 pm

Carmel1379 wrote:
January 7th, 2019, 12:43 am
How did you come across wishing Tentenko - All You Need Is Cat? :lol: 🐈
🐈💩 - I "researched" scat on Google and this way discovered "All You Need Is Cat"... The actual story is less glamorous, I saw the album on the rym homepage that day and it caught my attention for obvious reasons - the Japanese characters...and also scat - listened to two songs from it which I quite enjoyed, but couldn't find the album in full, hence I wishlisted it.
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#27

Post by sol » January 8th, 2019, 1:31 am

m-d-f:

Yes, the Solaris telepic is certainly worth checking out if you're fan of the other two versions. I'd only rate it slightly below the 2002 take.

Only seen the OSS sequel of your viewings this week, which I'm sorry to say that I disliked even more than the original.

Gruesome:

Heh - you missed our discussions on The Favourite last week in which outdoorcats and myself could not for the life of us see the greatness that you and OldAle found in the last shot of the film. ;) Make no mistake, I loved the film myself, but I was expecting a powerhouse final cut to black as in The Lobster from the way Ale and yourself were going on about the ending. :ermm:

I thought that I might have seen Mary Poppins when I was younger (1990s), but I had no memory of any of it. Groundhog Day on the other hand had familiar bits and pieces; some thematically appropriate déjà vu there!

I wanted to like I'm Not There much more since the film does indeed have such striking images and I loved the concept of having different actors inhabit the one character to show change and progression over time. I left the film though feeling like I knew nothing more about Bob Dylan than I did before, which is really very little outside of a few of his key songs.

Would agree with you about the final twist in the last minute of Sorry to Bother You. In fact, I could have done without that whole last sequence at the house. Armie Hammer was great though, wasn't he? I really ought to have him in my acting line-up for the 2018 poll.

Yes, the lighthouse sequence is certainly one of the highlights of Annihilation. I just wish that Garland was more interested in fleshing out his characters as opposed channelling all of his energy into the concepts. I felt way more connected to the main characters of Ex Machina.

Yours:

Vice was definitely a major disappointment coming on the heels of The Big Short. I reviewed it on last week's thread. A summary of what I wrote: "Amidst all the audiovisual pizzazz, McKay struggles to tell a compelling tale as he keeps dodging back and forth between two polar extreme suggestions. One suggestion is that Cheney was an evil, evil man who only ever cared about power. The other is that he was a mere puppet for his Lady Macbeth of a wife who wanted to push her extreme views on the world. Whatever the case, McKay never lets under the skin of Cheney the man - though Christian Bale does look convincing". I'm frankly rather baffled by all the film's awards season success. I guess it comes from those who agree with the film's politics because it certainly wasn't particularly entertaining or insightful.

Not a fan of The Virgin Spring. I definitely prefer Winter Light. Also seen The Fantastic Mr. Fox, which is probably my favourite Wes Anderson movie after Moonrise Kingdom.

Good Will Harding:

Loveless doesn't even crack my top 30 for 2017. :ph43r: In all fairness, I did like what the director was trying to do with depicting just how unimportant the kid was in his parents' lives. Both just want to move on from that marriage and the son is, in a way, an undesirable reminder for them that the unhappy marriage existed in the first place, so his disappearance is almost symbolic of their desire for him to vanish. I just didn't think we needed an hour of hardcore extremely explicit sex scenes and narcissistic talk before his disappearance for the film to drive the point home. I did like though how...
SpoilerShow
...he is never found as such. Or maybe he was? His parents seem to be a little too emphatic about the cadaver not being that of their son's, as if they are in self-denial that he has been killed, or maybe just denial that he ever existed as a part of their unhappy marriage?

I couldn't really get into Daughters of Darkness either, so you're not alone there. This Happy Breed was decent enough, but fairly weak amongst the Lean canon. As for Police Story, yes the first was pretty good with a great mix of action and comedy. The humour is not half as effective in the second entry, but the action sequences are as well coordinated as ever.

Did we see the same film, re: Mary Poppins Returns? Maybe it's just the fact that I watched the original a couple of days before the sequel, but "a beat for beat retread of the original" does not describe the film at all to my mind. There are some similarities in structure, with Lin-Manuel Miranda's character talking to us as man of the town a la Dick Van Dyke in the original, but whereas the 1964 film was a series of random adventures for the kids, the 2018 version actually has an antagonist to overcome and a race-against-time. The original is also about "saving Mr. Banks" from being a workaholic, whereas the latter film is about saving a house. Quite different stories if you ask me. The only homage elements that I felt were in the dance choreography and melding of animation and live action without an overload of CGI. Emily Blunt was okay, but I didn't find Julie Andrews particularly remarkable in the first place.

peeps:

Frogs isn't an amazing film (Long Weekend did the nature's revenge thing much better half a decade later), but it does have Ray Milland in quite fine form. Wouldn't argue with your comments on The Woman in Black.
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#28

Post by GruesomeTwosome » January 9th, 2019, 5:36 pm

sol wrote:
January 8th, 2019, 1:31 am
Gruesome:

Heh - you missed our discussions on The Favourite last week in which outdoorcats and myself could not for the life of us see the greatness that you and OldAle found in the last shot of the film. ;) Make no mistake, I loved the film myself, but I was expecting a powerhouse final cut to black as in The Lobster from the way Ale and yourself were going on about the ending. :ermm:

I thought that I might have seen Mary Poppins when I was younger (1990s), but I had no memory of any of it. Groundhog Day on the other hand had familiar bits and pieces; some thematically appropriate déjà vu there!

I wanted to like I'm Not There much more since the film does indeed have such striking images and I loved the concept of having different actors inhabit the one character to show change and progression over time. I left the film though feeling like I knew nothing more about Bob Dylan than I did before, which is really very little outside of a few of his key songs.

Would agree with you about the final twist in the last minute of Sorry to Bother You. In fact, I could have done without that whole last sequence at the house. Armie Hammer was great though, wasn't he? I really ought to have him in my acting line-up for the 2018 poll.

Yes, the lighthouse sequence is certainly one of the highlights of Annihilation. I just wish that Garland was more interested in fleshing out his characters as opposed channelling all of his energy into the concepts. I felt way more connected to the main characters of Ex Machina.

Yours:

Vice was definitely a major disappointment coming on the heels of The Big Short. I reviewed it on last week's thread. A summary of what I wrote: "Amidst all the audiovisual pizzazz, McKay struggles to tell a compelling tale as he keeps dodging back and forth between two polar extreme suggestions. One suggestion is that Cheney was an evil, evil man who only ever cared about power. The other is that he was a mere puppet for his Lady Macbeth of a wife who wanted to push her extreme views on the world. Whatever the case, McKay never lets under the skin of Cheney the man - though Christian Bale does look convincing". I'm frankly rather baffled by all the film's awards season success. I guess it comes from those who agree with the film's politics because it certainly wasn't particularly entertaining or insightful.

Not a fan of The Virgin Spring. I definitely prefer Winter Light. Also seen The Fantastic Mr. Fox, which is probably my favourite Wes Anderson movie after Moonrise Kingdom.
Regarding the ending and last shot of The Favourite, this article decently breaks it down and puts it into words better than I can. I also just really liked the last shot on a purely aesthetic level too, when the rabbits were woven into the repeating image of Queen Anne's and Abigail's faces, for a kaleidoscopic, collage-like effect.

Sorry to Bother You - oh yeah, Armie Hammer was good indeed, he seemed to really enjoy playing this type of character.

Vice - yeah, to me this just felt like Adam McKay using the same formula from The Big Short (which I didn't much care for), with very mixed results. Bale and Adams make it worthwhile enough I guess. McKay's take on Cheney and what he represented for American politics did seem to be a bit too muddled by the end.

Fantastic Mr. Fox safely enters my top 3 from Wes Anderson, as I've now seen all his films. Rushmore and The Grand Budapest Hotel occupy the top two spots.
I’m to remember every man I've seen fall into a plate of spaghetti???

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#29

Post by OldAle1 » January 13th, 2019, 12:16 am

OK, so
SpoilerShow
what with having family here for a week, then being sick, etc etc, I am once again offering lame excuses that nobody cares about but

I promised myself that I'd contribute every single week for this year, so here it is - though it contains material from the last week as well. And it's posted way late. Sue me - it's all just for my own pleasure anyway.

This Film ROCKS
This Film SUCKS

A Christmas Story (Bob Clark, 1983) (re-watch)

Likely somewhere around the 10th-11th viewing; the only Christmas feature that I also watched last year, as it turns out. Most of this review is from last year's viewing: Like many people I know, I was unimpressed the first time I saw this, I'm thinking probably Christmas 1990 on VHS. For whatever reason I missed this on the big screen when it came out; I was in my first year in college at the time but I wasn't working all that hard and I was certainly still seeing movies and I believe I was just as enamored of some of the holiday trappings then. But I missed it. The first viewing was with my second girlfriend, who *LOVED* it and had seen it several times before; she strongly disliked It's a Wonderful Life, my favorite, so maybe that was part of it. And she had more of a taste for broad comedy (she also loved John Candy who I detested at the time), and our relationship was always problematic - so for these and other reasons the film did nothing for me at the time. I don't know if I watched it again in the 90s but since 2000 it has become a fixture for me and I love it more every time.

This was the first viewing of the BD I got, to replace the DVD which died last year. It's not one of the best BDs ever - little improvement in resolution or color over the DVD - and the extras I think are identical to the DVD, so if you've got the DVD, don't bother upgrading until/unless they restore/remaster this further. One of the great appeals for me is the beautiful, nearly perfect depiction of time and place. I wasn't around in 1939-40 (I think in most respects these are the most likely years it could've taken place though it's not trying to be completely accurate in that sense) but I did have older relatives who lived in suburban Chicagoland in a house much like the one in the film (just a little nicer and larger) in a neighborhood that looked like it was built at about the same time (1900-1920); and I spent my first 7 years and years 17-30 in and around Chicago, and though this was filmed in Cleveland and Toronto it gets the feel of the older suburban Chicago are just right. And there are certainly other personal elements for me - I wanted a BB gun as a kid also, though my parents were even more over-protective than Ralphie's and I didn't get one until much older. But mostly it's just impeccably put together, very funny, and anchored by great performances with Darren McGavin doing once-in-a-lifetime work as The Old Man.

Screaming in High Heels: The Rise & Fall of the Scream Queen Era (Jason Paul Collum, 2011)

Continuing in the vein of #s 2 and 3 above, this is another documentary about a segment of shlock/b-movie/exploitation cinema, and the title pretty much tells the tale. It's not a bad little intro to it's subject, but it's probably one of the weaker films on this area - mostly low-budget straight-to-video horror/sf made in the 80s and early 90s - that I've seen overall, in part because it seems to function more as a promo reel for the careers and filmographies of it's three principal subjects - Linnea Quigley, Brinke Stevens, and Michelle Bauer - than as any kind of in-depth or even in-shallow exploration of the whole scream queen phenomenon. There are brief mentions of earlier iterations of the archetype - Janet Leigh and Jamie Leigh Curtis and a couple of others, and nearly as brief mentions of later sirens like Julie Strain, but it's mostly focused on these three - rather like a documentary purporting to be about the British invasion that only focuses on the Beatles and Stones. And it deals more with the commerce side of things - how the films became popular, made money, how these actresses' careers worked - rather than delving in any way into the content of the films or why they were popular. And no mention is made of Bauer's fairly significant hard-core porn career that preceded her legit b-movie years. There are also interviews with "major" directors of these mostly straight-to-vhs films, like Fred Olen Ray and David DeCoteau, but apart from learning that Brinke Stevens left a PhD program to pursue a path involving screaming while topless and covered with syrup-gore, I can't' say I found much of it all that involving.

Fubar (Michael Dowse, 2002)

Mock documentary - it gives itself away before it begins, so no spoiler here - about a couple of tiresome, stupid assholes whose lives consist of drinking and smoking and trying to pretend they're in a band I guess. I dunno, I really never connected with this at all, though I have a certain affection for the kinds of low-rent characters we see here - reminiscent in certain respects of Clerks, or Anvil which I watched earlier this month. Terry and Dean, the main characters, are lifelong friends but that friendship is put to the test both through the documentary they're participating in (why? one question that kept recurring in my mind - why would anybody make a doc about these guys?) and through Dean's illness which dominates the latter part of the film. Neither particularly funny nor insightful to me though there were moments of recognition occasionally that made me smile. Ehh.

Juste la fin du monde / It's Only the End of the World (Xavier Dolan, 2016)

Not surprised to learn that Dolan's 6th feature is based on a play - it's all conversation and has the feel of discrete scenes and acts to it, and to me at least it felt pretty stagy and artificial much of the time. Despite having the biggest-name cast he's had to date - Nathalie Baye, Vincent Cassel, Marion Cotillard, Léa Seydoux and Gaspard Ulliel - and a very distinctive and bold stylistic change from his earlier work - most shots are close-ups of faces, and nearly all of them just one face in the frame at a time, as we explore a dysfunctional family reunion of sorts - this has to be counted for me as the director's first failure. I have no problem with unsympathetic or unpleasant characters normally, but I have to say that apart from Cotillard's Catherine - married to Cassel, and meeting Ulliel for the first time - the one outsider to the family unit (Baye's brittle mother, Cassel's angry, older brother, Ulliel's younger, successful playwright brother and our protagonist who is home after a dozen years with bad news, and Seydoux' daughter who is clearly still finding herself and wanting some way out of the family drama), I just couldn't connect to or care about anybody here. Maybe that was the point, but it was a tough slog even at under 100 minutes and I never felt like I was getting any new insights or anything special in this story of frustrated non-connection. I can't really fault the acting but the three women in particular are all actresses I really love and I'd rather see any of them in anything else.

Meet John Doe (Frank Capra, 1941) (re-watch)

5th viewing or so, but the first in at least 10 years. Disappointing that this is still not available in a decent video version - I checked out a DVD from the library that looked atrocious and then checking through YT, Prime and a couple of other places found nothing better. My other 3 favorite Capras - It's a Wonderful Life, Lost Horizon, It Happened One Night - all have good to excellent BDs now but this still languishes. My standards have also gone up I suppose - 10-15 years ago I would certainly not have complained so much.

Anyway this, like the other films I mentioned, is pure Capra with all the pluses and minuses that his other greatest films have - yes, there's plenty of sentimentality, yes, there's a populism that can seem strained at times - given the director's own conflicted personality, no surprise - and yes this still works like magic on me. Of course a cast of Gary Cooper playing essentially an idealized Gary Cooper, if a down-and-out one, Barbara Stanwyck, Walter Brennan, James Gleason and Edward Arnold almost can't help ensure a great film, and the story with it's obvious echoes of both Nazism and Christianity is ripe for Capra's particular kind of mixture of screwball and pathos. The ending - when our John Doe, who has been through the emotional and political ringer, made an icon of the everyman American and then destroyed by the greed and corruption of the man behind him all along - is on the verge of suicide - is certainly imperfect, but it's just as certain that a proper ending for this story eluded Capra and probably everyone else involved. James Gleason's last line though is perfect for the film, and for Capra's career at it's best - if you can take the films as they seem to have been intended. I guess I still can.

Kawaita hana / Pale Flower (Masahiro Shinoda, 1964)

Pretty excellent Japanese noir with Ryô Ikebe as Muraki, an apparently career gangster newly out of jail after a murder, and navigating a typically claustrophobic world in which he's hemmed in by a longtime sort-of-girlfriend, a new flame who is a high-rolling gambler and in some ways competitor, and an organization where his only potential role seems to be to go back to the kind of violence that has kept him in jail for much of his life. This is notable especially for it's quite gorgeous b/w widescreen photography - it looks shot mostly on sets and certainly the driving scenes (there's a really fun chase sequence at about the halfway point) are all done with obvious rear projection - which somehow despite the 2.35 frame seems to make everything feel very closed in - and the mostly atonal music from Yûji Takahashi and Tôru Takemitsu, though the cast is certainly pulling it's weight as well. A film of ennui rather than paranoia, at a point in the noir cycle when the war is becoming a distant memory, and it's the hopelessness of the modern world of technology and large cities with faceless millions that is really getting to the noir protagonist.

Favorites to end the old year on a high note

Gold Diggers of 1933 (Mervyn LeRoy, 1933) (re-watch)

I had little memory of this, but seeing how it placed so highly in the recent music poll, had to give it another shot; I watched a lot of the "Gold Diggers" and "Broadway Melody" films back in the early 2000s and they all ran together really, but this one really is quite distinctive. Yeah, it's the pre-code naughtiness that's a big part of the appeal, the great cast of course dominated especially by Joan Blondell as the take-charge member of a quartet of struggling actresses (Aline MacMahon, Ruby Keeler and a pre-fame Ginger Rogers are the others) "gold digging" their way out of their own personal Depression sagas even while they end up in a musical that explicitly references the subject. One of the nice things here is that while the women certainly are (for the most part) angling for money and success in somewhat underhanded ways, the men they're working on (Warren William and Guy Kibbee specifically, but also in some ways Dick Powell and Ned Sparks) are quite clearly as much to blame for the breakdown in sexual-political honesty. It's all enormous fun, the songs are all at least good with the "Pettin' in the Park" number (staged like the other big sequences by Busby Berkeley) one of the greatest musical set-pieces of the decade.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit (Robert Zemeckis, 1988) (re-watch)

Probably 4th or 5th viewing. Saw this twice, or maybe three times first run, and I think on VHS once in the late 90s. I didn't remember how the plot hung together particularly, but almost every scene and line of dialogue was still familiar. This is very much a case of the sum being greater than the parts - not that the parts aren't pretty terrific for the most part, but I think if you add it all together you find a plot with a lot of little holes or areas that need a bit more development - in particular our villain character and his relationship to Toontown and his rationale for existence, really. But for a film that tries to shoehorn together a 1940s film noir plot and characters, the whole world of classic American animation, and the destruction of public transportation to make way for the freeway and interstate highway system, all in 104 minutes, this does pretty well, and the special effects still look pretty great to these eyes. And its wonderful that Mel Blanc and Mae Questel were still around to voice Bugs, Daffy, Betty Boop and others. Smile, Darn Ya, Smile!

La La Land (Damien Chazelle, 2016) (re-watch)

14th viewing, 2nd on BD. This is why I love movies.

Image

Shlock to make sure the New Year keeps getting better

Creature With the Atom Brain (Edward L. Cahn, 1955)

A gangster is at his safe putting away money when a huge zombie-like man breaks in through the window and kills him by breaking him in half - surprise surprise, it really is a zombie, manufactured by another gangster, Buchanan, back in town after Italian exile and accompanied by a German scientist he's using to turn dead people into indestructible zombies that he controls to go after all of his enemies. Only handsome Chet Walker (Richard Denning, the only vaguely familiar name here), a police scientist, can stop him! Ultra-cheap and generally pretty stupid but it doesn't wear out it's welcome at just over an hour and has it's moments. More overtly sexist than even most other SF films of this era - the way Walker treats his wife as someone who just isn't capable of understanding man's business - so be warned about that. Overall only worth it for 50s SF or zombie completists.

The Mole People (Virgil W. Vogel, 1956)

Director Vogel had become a fairly competent technician, working as an editor on some decent westerns in the 50s and the more than decent SF film This Island Earth in the previous year before getting this, his first film as director, and it shows in a pretty well put together cheapie that looks better than it's $200k budget, especially the excellent matte paintings (albeit all in b/w unlike the even better matte work in TIE) of the underground world. It's a fairly ordinary story all told, about a bunch of archaeologists led by John Agar and Hugh Beaumont who discover an underground world under a mountain while researching ancient Sumerian tablets. There are the titular mole people, who tunnel through the earth and attack them, bringing them to the city of the albinos who are descended from ancient Sumerians, live on a diet of mushrooms, rats and goats, and believe they are the only people on (in) Earth. Luckily the surface worlders speak ancient Sumerian (which sounds just like English) and have a flashlight that convinces the cavedwellers that they're messengers from the goddess Ishtar... for a while. And of course there's a beautiful girl who doesn't fit in and falls in love with Agar, and of course there are fights and if you've seen this kind of thing before you can guess the ending although there's one nice little surprise that I won''t spoil. A bit dull at times and there's a reason Agar never became a real star but pretty enjoyable overall.

One Million B.C. (Hal Roach/Hal Roach Jr, 1940)

Yesterday was the 100th anniversary of the birth of Carole Landis, whose short career really got going with this, her first starring role, so TCM dedicated the night to her. Like the Raquel Welch version a quarter century later this highlights the physical assets of it's leading lady (and leading man, Victor Mature, also getting his career going in his second film) and offers a pretty silly story of grunting cavemen battling dinosaurs and mammoths and such - done mostly with rear projection that can look pretty decent or pretty terrible scene to scene, but also with models, guys in suits, and miniatures - the whole gamut of what was available FX-wise at the time. I enjoyed this a lot more than I expected to, it's nothing truly memorable or anything but it's reasonably pleasant in it's storytelling and the simple message of working together and not resorting to violence first thing is presented without any real moralizing (I guess that would be tough with no intelligible dialogue). And the production design is pretty cool and compares well with most of the few other significant sf/fantasy films of this period.

In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (Uwe Boll, 2007)

Synchronicity. Last year I was doing the bad movie & sci-fi-fantasy challenges at this time, and I'd never seen a Boll film, and wasn't going to bother requesting one from my library system (local branch doesn't have any - requests take 1-2 weeks often), or finding a download, but one turned up at Goodwill in the first week in January. THE SAME FUCKING THING HAPPENED THIS YEAR and it was the same fucking kind of movie - sword & sorcery fantasy. And guess what? IT"S JUST AS FUCKING BAD. OK, maybe slightly more entertaining if only because this is closer to the typical LOTR type storyline and I have a weakness for that sort of quest thing even when it's badly done. And Ron Perlman gives what might almost be called a tolerable performance in the father figure/mentor role to young Jason Statham, our hero named "Farmer" (guess what he does for a living) who must rescue his wife and find his destiny and defeat the evil monstrous warriors and the bad magician and, oh fuck this.

Aquaman (Committee put together by giant multinational corporation to further stock performance in the 4th quarter, 2018)

RedLetterMedia gives almost EXACTLY the review I would give for this piece of crap, which I enjoyed sporadically for the first half or so despite the TOTAL lack of charisma/acting ability displayed by lead "actors" Jason Momoa and Amber Heard and the surprisingly poor jobs done by professionals like Nicole Kidman and Willem Dafoe - did they all just not give a fuck or is the guy who directed this (I ain't seen Saw or anything else he did so I dunno) just a terrible director of actors? The pluses are, it looks pretty - the first DC film that isn't mostly washed out or orange/teal (though Wonder Woman was an improvement over the earlier films), and...nah, that's it. I'm sorely tempted to re-rate this lower after thinking about it for a week, something I almost never do. Not as bad as Suicide Squad but maybe the worst next to that. Why do I keep throwing away my money on this shit?

It Came From Beneath The Sea (Robert Gordon, 1955)

First of a giant sea-monster double feature, both probably influenced by Gojira which came out just a year before this, though I don't know how many in America would have seen it by this point. In any case here we have a giant octopus, apparently brought up from the depths of a deep trench by atomic bomb tests, and for some reason the monster is made radioactive to the point where fish flee from it - so it's hungry - and yet not radioactive enough to kill it. Well, accurate science isn't what you're paying to see here, you're paying (or more likely not paying like me) to see Ray Harryhausen stop-motion effects of a humungous critter destroying ships and parts of San Francisco, and on that level it doesn't disappoint, though IMO this is far from the master's best work, though it's low budget is a big part of the reason, and after this Harryhausen typically worked on films with at least slightly more prestige that a Sam Katzman production.

Gorgo (Eugène Lourié, 1961)

And six years later - 7 years after that first Japanese giant-aquatic-lizard flick, we have this British production which is clearly very, very much influenced by Toho's #1 star. In this case we have a couple of British treasure hunters trolling the Irish Sea around the (fictional) island of Nara, coming across a 30-40' monster that lays waste to much of the small town on the island. They promise to take care of it, and they haul it off to London to make money from a circus that's going to display it in the heart of London. But wouldn't you know it, some scientists examine it and discover that it's actually only a juvenile - a baby as a matter of fact - and that it's mommy must be something like 200' high. I think you can see where this is going... pretty well done overall and exciting enough, and in color which lends it some novelty for a monster movie from this period. Also if I'm not mistaken it's an all-male cast, which is sort of weird - not that there would be time for the usual romance in around 75 minutes with 2 different monsters and locations, but it's still a bit weird. Cool and rather unexpected ending.

Radar Men From the Moon (Fred C. Bannon, 1952)

One of the last science fiction serials, from the biggest of the serial producers, Republic, in 12 parts lasting an excruciating 167 minutes - actually quite a short running time for a serial, but this probably would have felt long at a half hour. All of the faults and none of the virtues of this genre I'm afraid, with a standard generic fight in every reel, often with absolutely no explicable reason - they just had to program it in there - really poor acting, especially by newcomer and star George Wallace (heard of him? No? There's a reason - and no, he did not go on to become Governor of Alabama, Presidential candidate and personal hero of Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump), ultra-cheap sets, a ridiculous amount of repetition necessitated by the fact that they have at best that half hour's worth of story, and recycled FX, mostly from the much better King of the Rocket Men three years earlier. For hard-core serial fans only and I suspect I'm the only one of those on this forum so please don't watch this!


TEE VEE

Started watching The Naked City - first 5 episodes (1958). I re-watched the film during Noirvember and was mightily impressed, and I also finished watching M Squad earlier last year and so my desire for location-specific TV noir was at it's peak, and I broke down and got the box set of this show. It's pretty solid, though it's emphasis is much more on domestic drama and the small stories that cops get involved with, and while John McIntire as the wise older cop is a nice presence, he's no Lee Marvin in M Squad. The location work is good though and over 5 episodes you get to see bits of Staten Island and several areas in Manhattan, the Ferry, Grand Central, etc., and it's also fun if you know your American cinema and TV in general to spot the guest stars - Diane Ladd is the only name I knew from the first few episodes, unrecognizable to me at 22-23 when filmed here.

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