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Which Films Did You See Last Week? Week 3, 2020

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Which Films Did You See Last Week? Week 3, 2020


Post by sol » January 19th, 2020, 12:00 pm

Which Films Did You See Last Week?

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

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

This is what I saw:

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

Crime and Punishment (1935). Initially gleeful when he avoids police suspicion, a criminologist soon questions his justifications for committing murder in this US take on the famous Dostoevsky novel. Directed by Josef von Sternberg, the film comes with some excellent stylistic touches, most notably dissolves of imagined faces as he talks through the morality of his crime; there is also a Kafkaesque vibe to his first court appearance, not told of the charge and forced to listen to somebody else's plea. The film's best asset though is the casting of Peter Lorre in the lead role, running a whole gamut of emotions. Edward Arnold is equally as effective as a police inspector he befriends and who may or may not be out to entrap him. The film suffers from some weak female characters/performances and it concludes without a bang, but this is generally solid stuff. (first viewing, online) ★★★★

Too Late for Tears (1949). Intent on keeping a bag of payoff money tossed into their car by mistake, a bored housewife goes to great lengths to convince her husband not to hand in the loot to police in this nifty crime drama. Lizabeth Scott is stunning throughout as the femme fatale protagonist, so willing to manipulate everyone around her and with such ease, all in the hope of realising a childhood dream of being better "than the Joneses". Soon entering the picture, an equally cunning Dan Duryea matches her every step of the way as the desperate criminal who the money was intended for. Alas, the middle of the picture drags after a certain character's death, introducing and spending too much time on characters other than Scott and Duryea. The final 20 minutes are equally as intense as the opening stretch though and the penultimate scene is dynamite. (first viewing, online) ★★★

A Dance in the Rain (1961). An ageing actress and a moody younger man continue to see one another despite him yearning for someone younger and prettier in this glum yet dreamy film. While there is a lot of melodrama at hand (she is also sought after by another younger man who is too meek and mild to win her over), the dreamlike quality of the project makes it hard to pass up. From surreal flashbacks that plant trees inside apartment buildings, to window silhouettes illuminated by bright white light, to indeed shots in the rain as per the title, this is an incredibly good-looking film. Dusa Pockaj is also excellent in the lead female role balancing many insecurities, and if anything, the film is about the power of insecurities to keep mismatched couples together with the two leads so clearly wrong for one another and yet constantly drawn to each other. (first viewing, online) ★★★

The Bedford Incident (1965). Tensions rise between the authoritarian captain of a US naval vessel and two new arrivals in this Cold War thriller from James B. Harris. The new arrivals come in the form of Sidney Poitier, cast as a photojournalist, and Martin Balsam, cast as a new medical officer, both of whom become increasingly concerned with the dictatorial way that the vessel is run. While Poitier and Balsam make the most out of their thinly sketched do-gooder characters, it is Richard Widmark who steals every scene he is in as the captain with his stares and glares of contempt and utter certainty that what he is doing is correct. It is a deliciously complex character loaded with ambiguity as to whether he is megalomaniacal or realistically cynical. The scenes between all three leads simply simmer, while the conclusion to the tale is absolutely chilling. (first viewing, DVD) ★★★★

The Blood on Satan's Claw (1971). Unearthing a human skeleton with fur and an eyeball intact, a seventeenth century farmer inadvertently unleashes evil in this horror film. The skeleton discovery opening is excellent and there are some effective bits and pieces here, such as a man attacking an intruder in bed that ends up being his own hand. The film leaps and jumps between different characters and subplots though to the point that it is hard to become really immersed. Everything eventually seems to circle around a teenager recruiting others her age to be Satanists. Described in the film as children, this might have actually been creepy had the Satanists been half their age; as young adults almost into their twenties though, the whole idea feels far familiar. The film has a pretty terrific music score though that seems to taunt and tease the various victims. (first viewing, online) ★★

Suburbia (1983). Opening with a shocking scene in which a toddler is mauled to death by a wild dog at night, Suburbia feels more like a horror film than a human drama to begin with - and perhaps aptly so. While the film's focus is teenage runaways who live as a quasi-family together, the conditions that they have fled from are in some cases quite horrific, while their newfound life is no picnic either, victimised by the local adults in the area who see them as undesirables while the threat of wild dog attacks constantly linger. It is an interesting set-up, and yet the teens get up to so much mischief and cause so much havoc that it is easier to sympathise with the adults who want them out; only a couple of the teens are really sympathetic despite their troubled upbringings. This is nevertheless an interesting slice of life - and one that ends on a haunting note. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Chopping Mall (1986). Curiously released only months before RoboCop, this horror film plays out like a feature length version of the board room meeting in which the ED-209 goes haywire. As per the jokey title, the setting is a shopping mall, but the same principle applies as security robots designed to detain trespassers instead indiscriminately execute everyone, even if they have a security pass. While its satire is not quite a sharp as RoboCop's, the film treats the idea with a lot of deliciously dark humour; "smoking's bad for your health" comes in a cutaway after a janitor is left frying by a robot on the floor. The biggest issue weighing against the film is that 90% of it is just teenagers trying to blow robots up as opposed to crazy or imaginative death scenes, but this is still a pretty neat look at the dangers of placing too much faith in technology. (first viewing, online) ★★★

*batteries not included (1987). Programmed to fix and repair, a couple of miniature flying saucers help the residents of a dilapidated building to resist eviction and demolition in this amiable sci-fi comedy. It is a cute idea with some very funny moments as the flying robots help out in a lunch bar attached to the building and sabotage the attempts of a young thug, played by Michael Carmine, to coerce the residents. Mistaken by a dotty older woman for her son, Carmine actually has a pretty great character who really progresses and changes over the course of the movie. The residents themselves though are actually a lot less interesting. The film's shying over of where the flying saucers came from, how they actually have offspring and so on is disappointing too. Still, the film comes with ample charming even if it takes almost 25 minutes to warm up. (first viewing, Blu-ray Disc) ★★

Drop Dead Fred (1991). Alarmed when her mischievous childhood imaginary friend returns, a young woman struggles to convince others that he is real in this weird blend of childish humour (mud pies; nose picking) and sexual innuendo gags and swearing. With the protagonist's main problem being trying to win back her philandering husband before realising that he is no good, the central plot is never too interesting, but Rik Mayall brings a manic energy to his scattered appearances as the imaginary friend. The funniest parts though have lead actress Phoebe Cates interacting with someone not there, and yet this only occurs sporadically, while the most charming parts are easily her childhood flashbacks, which occur even less often. Mayall, Cates and Ashley Peldon (as young Cates) sort of make the film work, but it is only ever mildly amusing at best. (first viewing, DVD) ★★

Man's Best Friend (1993). Unaware of its genetic modifications, a reporter's life is turned upside down when she rescues a dog from a laboratory in this horror film that could be considered a precautionary tale for animal activists. The pseudoscience at hand is fascinating with the dog's DNA blended with animals varying from owls to chameleons to give it choice characteristics, though the filmmakers also thrown in random, unexplained stuff (acid urine) too. Whatever the case, the film has some intense moments as the dog squares off against a scared boyfriend, a boy doing his newspaper rounds, etc. The movie never achieves a consistent tone though. Several incidents (a romantic fling with another dog) are goofy and comical, while much of the movie is grim and serious... but it is not every day that you can see a live cat devoured whole on screen. (first viewing, online) ★★

Ladybird Ladybird (1994). Her first four children taken away by Social Services, a British woman finds herself in the agency's radar again when she becomes pregnant by a different man in this working class drama from Ken Loach. While not playing a very likeable character with her quick temper and penchant for profanity, Crissy Rock provides a powerful central performance as the woman wronged by a system meant to protect her. Vladimir Vega is also solid as her new lover and the film mostly works on account of their performances. The portrayal of Social Services as thoroughly incompetent does not feel right with the film seldom exploring the perspective of the agency workers. The title cards at the end also provide an unsatisfactory conclusion to the story. Still, it is a powerful tale in general - and absolutely emotionally shattering at times. (first viewing, DVD) ★★★

Thalassa, Thalassa (1994). Having never visited a beach, a group of prepubescent children agree to drive a stolen car to the Black Sea this coming-of-age Romanian comedy. The film benefits from a decent premise and is heavily invested in the sense of awe and mystery that the sea brings, while surprises come as they find "water" (actually vodka), spare adult-sized clothes and so on. The film awkwardly wedges conflict into the narrative though with the boys vying for the attention of the sole girl. The symbolism is really on-the-nose with the girl not distinguishable at first; her long hair is initially hid under a cap, only for the boys to become super competitive as soon as she literally lets her hair out. Fortunately, this is not the main focus of the film because whenever it examines the kids longing for the sea - and the adventure that awaits - it rarely missteps. (first viewing, online) ★★★

The Nutty Professor (1996). Rather than turning from nebbish to smooth-talker as in the Jerry Lewis original, Eddie Murphy goes from massively overweight to fit and trim in this remake of The Nutty Professor. It is an okay idea with magnificent makeup and general special effects, not only as Murphy transforms but as he plays five relatives too. Unfortunately, all of his relatives are obnoxious and we are treated to not one but two excruciating family dinners as they embarrass and belittle him in between competing in flatulence contests. Murphy also has a lame dream in which he imagines himself as a farting Godzilla. There are some solid moments here as Murphy gets his own back at a stand-up comic and as he has to hide unexpectedly early transformations, but the film feels very juvenile - and as a rom-com, the romance is too generic to work. (first viewing, DVD) ★

Small Soldiers (1998). Installed with military grade computer chips, a line of robotic toy soldiers respond to their programming with full force in this lively Joe Dante action comedy. The film works far better in comedy than action mode though; the satirising of American's obsession with violent toys is great and there are a lot of fun moments early on as the soldiers mistake dogs for their mortal enemies and use instruction manuals to place themselves back together -- plus there is awesome neon-infused scene in which they begin placing chips in other dolls like mad scientists. The battle and attack scenes though are very formulaic and chaotic. The film is also populated by some very one and two dimensional human characters. Jerry Goldsmith's rousing score rocks though and the visual and audio effects still stack up very decently more than twenty years later. (first viewing, DVD) ★★

Galaxy Quest (1999). Mistaken by an alien race for real space travelling heroes, the washed-up cast members of a Star Trek-like television show are recruited to fight an actual intergalactic battle in this vibrant comedy. While Star Trek devotees are likely to get the most from the humour with lots of parallels to the show, the audience-winking dialogue is generally amusing with Sigourney Weaver criticising the engineering logic of the spaceship design and so on. That said, the first stretch of the film is the funniest in which a hung-over Tim Allen does not realise that he is on an actual spaceship fighting a real war. The film still works once he catches on with a running motif of the disheartened actors realising the potential that they still have and learning to overcome differences, but nothing is ever quite as funny as Allen thinking that it is all fake. (first viewing, Blu-ray Disc) ★★★

The Forgiveness of Blood (2009). Though set in modern day Albania, this drama concerns itself with ancient traditions, looking at a blood feud that ignites between two families, leading to a teen boy having to stay under effective house arrest since the other family can legally kill him in the streets. It is a curious set-up and the film is fascinating for the insight it provides into a very different culture. Some expected tension comes as he questions the old ways; the film feels a tad repetitive too since mostly it involves him moping about. There are, however, breaks in the monotony with danger very much lingering in the air as he sneaks out at night. The film also shows the effects on his similarly housebound brother who is too young to understand it, while Sindi Lacej is phenomenal as their sister who suddenly finds herself forced into being the breadwinner. (first viewing, DVD) ★★★

Gentlemen Broncos (2009). Hoping to make it as a sci-fi writer, a teenager has his latest story simultaneously stolen by an esteemed author with writer's block and amateur filmmakers in this comedy from Jared Hess of Napoleon Dynamite fame. Throughout the movie we see cutaways to three different takes on his story (his and the two other versions) and while there is some kookiness in all incarnations, including surveillance does and battle stags (!), his story never really seems good enough to steal and very juvenile. Michael Angarano also tends to play it glum and sullen in the lead role, mostly watching things go by rather than taking action. Playing against type, an eloquent Jemaine Clement is pretty electric here though and most of the supporting characters (and a vomiting snake) are wacky and weird enough to keep the film chugging along. (first viewing, DVD) ★★

Before I Wake (2016). Discovering that their adopted son's dreams inexplicably manifest in reality, a young couple struggle with how to best handle the situation in this Mike Flanagan horror film. With elements of Solaris and the 'It's a Good Life' episode of Twilight Zone: The Movie, the film benefits from an intriguing premise and the first half is fascinating with ethical shades of grey as the adoptive parents manipulate and exploit their new son to bring memories of their recently deceased prior son to life. The second half of the film is a whole lot less interesting though as the horror takes full swing with the boy's nightmares beginning to manifest too. There are standard jump scares, formulaic CGI monsters and the like, all of which come with level of creepiness, but it makes for a less interesting tale than the dream exploitation initial story that we get. (first viewing, DVD) ★★

Isn't It Romantic (2019). Along similar lines to director Todd Strauss-Schulson's earlier The Final Girls, this movie involves a cynical architect who discovers that her life has turned into a Hollywood romantic comedy. The results are not quite as fun as The Final Girls since Rebel Wilson does not have anyone to debate the rules of romcoms with once in the seeming parallel universe. Her description of the world as "The Matrix for lonely women" is very funny though and the dialogue is generally amusing as Wilson slams montages and finds that she cannot swear or have relations since "it's PG-13". The film does not offer any particularly great messages while following an obvious trajectory, yet perhaps the predictability is on point. This is a pleasant enough watch though with a self-awareness that elevates it beyond the romcoms that it targets. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Bombshell (2019). Based on true events, the Roger Ailes Fox News scandal is told through multiple perspectives in this highly ambitious if not entirely successful motion picture. The acting certainly cannot be faulted, with Nicole Kidman and Margot Robbie doing very well as they face harassment and remain composed despite noticeable discomfort. Under heavy makeup, John Lithgow also shines as a paranoid Ailes, while everyone from Charlize Theron to Kate McKinnon have some great moments as they open up. The semi-documentary approach with some Adam McKay touches (Fox News logo humorously burnt into the screen, etc) does not quite do the material justice though, and filtered through the experiences of the three different women who seldom interact together, the film never provides a key character to really cling to or get under their skin. (first viewing, cinema) ★★

Jazz on a Summer's Day (1959). True to the title (if mostly shot at night), this documentary depicts a summer jazz music festival in Rhode Island, which has since become a tradition. With performances from Louis Armstrong, Dinah Washington, Thelonious Monk and others, this is often a treat to listen to and we get some fun shots of the musicians practising. As a documentary though, this is pretty conventional stuff despite a promising start. Initially, the camera curiously refuses to focus on the singers, instead looking at the various spectators, water distortions, shots of washing lines and kids playing in the sun - suggesting an ability of the music to transcend the concert itself. As the film wears on though and day turns to night, focus pretty much stays on the musicians though, and occasionally the crowd - but as mentioned the music is at least great. (first viewing, online) ★★

The Trojan Women (1971). All the men in their city killed in the Trojan War, the leftover women break into overlong soliloquies as they wait to find out whether their conquerors will use them as slaves or concubines in this melodrama from the director of Zorba the Greek. While the grim situation is pretty tragic and the film does its best to highlight the plight of women in (or more so, after) war, the highly theatrical treatment here feels entirely wrong. The overly poetic dialogue constantly comes across as unnatural and Katharine Hepburn and Vanessa Redgrave both act like they are in a stage play in which they have to make a lot of noise in order to be heard. Geneviève Bujold gives a fairly interesting performance as Cassandra, but mostly because her character is meant to be losing her mind. Also, she avoids trying to shout the house down. (first viewing, online) ★

Cursa (1975). Tasked with hauling an enormous piece of machinery across the country, two truck drivers give a lift to a young woman and soon develop feeling for her along their long journey in this drama from Romania. The film gets off a neat start, beginning as a pseudo-documentary about the warehouse where the piece of machinery has been built; the rest of the film is more routine as far as road movies go but with a few surprises in store. There are some particularly intense points at which their truck seems at risk of falling off the side of steep cliffs, while the anecdotes (and bad kangaroo jokes) that the trio share are sometimes amusing. Where the film ultimately ends up heading is a lot less interesting than how it starts out, but each of three leads deliver solid turns as they try to keep their slowly developing feelings for each other under wraps. (first viewing, online) ★★

Microphone Test (1980). As a television reporting team intrusively grill train passengers caught riding without a ticket, this Romanian drama begins well, looking at the depravity of news reporting to sensationalise such trivial matters. As the film continues, one of the reporters ignites a romance with an interviewee, intrigued by the dictionaries in her luggage, yet all she ever seems interested in is draining him for money. The film could perhaps be thought of as about the dangers getting to close to the subjects one is filming, yet the film never fully coalesces. While the two leads have chemistry, the film is far more interesting when looking at the reporting side of things, whether it be filming a dog at a beach without permission for a television commercial, or the reporter faking interest in interviewing a dolphin trainer who he suspects is a romantic rival. (first viewing, online) ★★

Croaziera (1981). Rewarded by the government with an all-expenses-paid cruise, various upstanding citizens struggle to relax aboard and keep themselves entertained in this Romanian comedy. With an extensive itinerary laid out including prescribed bedtimes and all cooking and cleaning left up to them, the film could perhaps be read as an attack on the government maintaining control over its citizens even when on vacation, never providing a break. What else the film has to offer beyond this satire is unclear though. A running gag of sorts has the cruise passengers all obsessed with a spooning game (not in the sexual sense) but the plot is pretty episodic with very little driving it. With several dozen main characters, it is also very difficult to get under anybody's skin - and we never even learn what most of them have done to deserve the cruise in the first place. (first viewing, online) ★

The Flying Luna Clipper (1987). Opening with a disclaimer that "Everything is true in your dreams", this bizarre computer animated film from Japan involves the winners of a dreaming contest taking a plane trip that promises to challenge their imagination. Or something like that. While the 80s computer game graphics are charming and all of the talk of the importance of dreams is intriguing, the plot here is pretty hard to decipher, not to mention incredibly random. On the plane trip they see some bizarre and wacky animated stuff thanks to a seahorse oceanographer, but there are some live action sections bits too (baby rolling about; a woman swimming) that feel totally at odds to the otherworldly universe that the film otherwise seems to be going for. As something daringly different, this is very hard to dismiss, but Cat Soup or Dead Leaves this is not. (first viewing, online) ★★

Goodbye, 20th Century (1998). Conceived around the notion that "the future is as screwed up as the past", this Macedonian feature consists of three segments set in the future, beginning of the twentieth century and end of the century respectively. Each story is a little weird and outlandish, but they do not flow very well off one another and are barely related with only the briefest suggestion that one character is the same. The strongest segment at least comes last like icing on a cake, with lots of wackiness as a man in a Santa suit attends a wake with unusual mourners. The other two tales are far less engaging though; the second is too brief, while the first long outstays its welcome - if perhaps aptly so like its protagonist who finds out that he cannot die. If a little too offbeat to totally dismiss, it is really only the Santa tale that leaves a vivid impression here. (first viewing, online) ★★

The Milagro Beanfield War (1988). Convincing others to support him when he stands up against a greedy corporation proves challenging for a farmer in this magic realism themed fable. This is one of those films that tries to be a few too many things. It is partially a comedy about the quirky townsfolk, partially a grueling drama about big corporations killing small towns, and also partially a fantasy film in which a "coyote angel" watches over the town and intervenes. While some of the fantasy bits are fun (bought-out newspapers flapping themselves into the wind), the stakes are never especially high; the film feels like less a tale of divided townsfolk rallying together and more a tale of a guardian angel doing its job. David Grusin's multi-instrumental Oscar-winning score (which even incorporates concertinas) is at least neat, and the performances are very decent. (first viewing, DVD) ★★

The Laramie Project (2002). Keen on writing a play to honour the memory of a gay youth killed in a hate crime, a theatre troupe visit his Wyoming town and interview the locals in this telepic. The performances are generally fine, yet the film is a bit all over the place: it is partially about them writing the play, part them reacting to the stories they are told, part them being told off by the locals - and ultimately, mostly flashbacks. As one might expect, the flashbacks work the best since they capture the immediacy of the situation with some especially gripping court scenes. The structure of the film though makes the project feel like more about the theatre troupe themselves, and solid as performers such as Clea DuVall are, it is a focus that seems entirely misplaced, not so much paying tribute to the murdered youth but more using his death as a launching pad. (first viewing, online) ★★

The Shaggy Dog (2006). Bitten by a dog with unusual genes, a lawyer begins to transform into a dog himself in this live action Disney comedy. The film is a remake of an earlier Disney film and as with the best remakes, it does its own thing rather than trying to ape or outdo the original. Much of the humour is juvenile and Tim Allen's catalogue of dog-like behaviour (shaking himself dry; lapping bowls) tires quickly, yet this is also a film daring enough to throw an old lady up a tree and slam an innocent dog into a car window. The film also gets much mileage out of various genetically mutated animals that all interact well with Allen; the special effects for the critters are excellent. The movie ends with a heavy-handed message about the importance of family over work and listening to your kids, but this is more enjoyable than its lowish rating might suggest. (first viewing, DVD) ★★

The Childhood of Icarus (2009). Sometimes known as The Way Beyond, this Swiss-Romanian drama focuses on an amputee who undergoes an experimental process for regenerating lost limbs. With lectures on how some animals re-grow limbs and laboratory tour where the medical researcher shows mice that have re-grown legs, the film comes with intriguing pseudoscience and real-life amputee Guillaume Depardieu is perfectly pensive. The focus here though is what happens when the treatment goes awry with a new organ forming. While this plot turn be ripe for a Cronenberg horror film, it does not add a lot to this tale of longing and regret. The film also neglects to resolve some key plot points (what exactly is wrong with the researcher's ill daughter?) but this is a fairly engaging look at experimental medical research with all its unpredictability. (first viewing, online) ★★

The Discovery (2017). Skeptical of his father's research into the afterlife, a neurologist tries to convince the ageing scientist to stop experimenting on himself in this speculative sci-fi drama from Charlie McDowell and Justin Lader - the team behind the fascinating The One I Love. This unfortunately emerges as a lesser work. The content is certainly intriguing and the scenes of people hooked up to have their afterlife experiences recorded are great, but the story soon becomes less about the 'what if?' and 'why's and more about the protagonist as an individual. Jason Segel is well cast, but his romantic flings and ramblings about his mother are only ever mildly interesting. The film's notion that mass suicide is on the rise because of a proven afterlife never quite rings true either since nobody knows what the afterlife is like, only that it apparently definitively exists. (first viewing, online) ★★
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Post by peeptoad » January 19th, 2020, 2:18 pm

Hi sol...

The Blood on Satan's Claw (1971) 8
Suburbia (1983) 9
Chopping Mall (1986) 6
Drop Dead Fred (1991) 3
Man's Best Friend (1993) 4
Galaxy Quest (1999) 7

Suburbia is one of my favorites of all time; first saw that film when I was about 13 years old and it had a big impact on me since I was already into the punk scene where I lived (Providence had a pretty big scene back in the early-mid 80s, considering its small size as a city). Unfortunately punk is now officially dead in the 21st century. My friends and I had fun picking out "Jack Diddly" in a few other films he featured in after Suburbia (Night of the Comet, Platoon, etc). I also met Maggie Ehrig (one of the TR girls) years later when I was living in SoCal. Good memories...

High Life (2018) 5
Chikyû Bôeigun (1957) The Mysterians 6
The Medusa Touch (1978) 7
Pink Floyd: The Wall (1982) 8*
Star Trek: First Contact (1996) 7*
Star Trek: Insurrection (1998) 6*
Highway to Hell (1991) 7
Day the World Ended (1955) 6
Circle of Iron (1978) 5
Leviathan (1989) 5


Best view of the week for me was prob The Wall revisit... The Medusa Touch featured a pretty good story and good acting, while Highway to Hell had some excellent surreal visuals that vaulted it above the rating I usually give these VHS-style, late 80s- early-90s genre-mashups. At least Ben Stiller was not that visible since I hate him. Other than those... eh for my week. I wasn't really enthusiastic about much and work is starting to stress me out again.

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Post by Onderhond » January 19th, 2020, 2:39 pm


Had some time for myself, which means it was catch-up week. A couple of longer and/or older films that had been piling up for a while. It's not too surprising then that there are quite a few lower scores this week, still there were a couple of films that plainly disapponted me. On the other hand, an Oscar-nominated film that's actually quite interesting is so rare that it made up for the mediocrity this week.


01. 4.0* - A Tree of Palme [Parumu no Ki] by Takashi Nakamura (2002)
A beautiful and imaginative fantasy film that takes a surprisingly dark turn. The premise sounds a lot like Pinocchio and there are some jolly sidekicks accompanying Palme on his quest, but this is more fantasy Akira than it is Japanese Disney. It's a film that requires some effort, but the payoff is fully worth it.

02. 3.5* - 1917 by Sam Mendes (2019)
Exceptional war flick. Mendes' approach is perfect for this type of film, though in the end I wished he'd gone even purer, with less chance encounters and more solitude still. Technically amazing, visually arresting, overall very captivating and only a smidgen too long. One of those rare occasions Hollywood gets it right.

03. 3.5* - The Assent by Pearry Reginald Teo (2019)
Though the characters and drama are a little overdone and the exorcism genre isn't exactly my favorite niche, The Assent turned out to be another fine Teo film. Stylish, atmospheric, dark and that slightly more twisted finish that make Teo's work stand out from the rest. Not quite a classic, but definitely one of the better films in the genre.

04. 3.5* - Ultimate Secrets by Jeff Zhou (2019)
Capable, short and amusing Detective Dee knock-off. Three mysterious deaths, a young detective and plenty of people without a workable alibi. This clearly isn't the most original film, nor the most expensive one, but director Zhou makes good use of his budget, the pleasant pacing and colorful cinematography do the rest.

05. 3.0* - The Courier by Zackary Adler (2019)
A pretty solid action film that offers just that little extra in the bad-ass department. Some solid fights and gruesome kills set it apart from its peers. The acting is mediocre and the plot is barely enough to keep the film rolling, but if you're looking for a simple action flick that offers decent entertainment, look no further.

06. 3.0* - Jay and Silent Bob Reboot by Kevin Smith (2019)
Smith and Mewes are way too old for this, but the rest of the film is pretty zany and fun. Some decent meta jokes, a couple of funny pop culture references and solid pacing make this an amusing, though slightly dated comedy. Not quite up there with Smith's better films, but if you're looking for a silly diversion this is a pretty solid option.

07. 3.0* - The Blossoming of Etsuko Kamiya [Kamiya Etsuko no Seishun] by Kazuo Kuroki (2006)
A solid, but extremely static and talkative drama. If you want something dynamic or fast-paced, don't even think of watching this one, because most of the film is filled with living room conversations. The superb performances and nuanced drama kept my interested, but running 110 minutes long you better know what you're getting yourself into.

08. 3.0* - Who Is Running? [Ta Fa Likit] by Oxide Pang Chun (1998)
A solid start to Oxide Pang's career. The colorful cinematography and sharp editing are already present, but the level of execution isn't quite there yet. A decent but somewhat predictable and episodic plot keep the film advancing at a steady pace, making this an enjoyable, though slightly forgettable film.

09. 3.0* - The Truth About Jane and Sam [Zhen Xin Hua] by Tung-Shing Yee (1999)
A fine romantic drama. The setup, about two very different people who happen to bump into each other and fall in love, is pretty standard for this type of film, but solid performances by Ho and Wong and confident direction by Yee made this into something more. Not Yee's best, but worth a try when you're in the mood for something romantic.

10. 3.0* - Legend of the Mountain [Shan Zhong Zhuan Qi] by King Hu (1979)
A fine King Hu film with some surprising fantasy elements. It's clear that he was a better director than his Shaw Bros pals, his film aren't really in the same league as theirs, sadly they're not that good that they warrant a 3-hour running time. It's a shame, because if you would cut a full hour out of this one, you'd probably end up with a much better film.

11. 3.0* - Muscle Heat [Masuuruhiito] by Ten Shimoyama (2002)
Vintage Shimoyama. The man is an expert in making something interesting out of very little. The actors are bad (Aikawa being the exception) and the plot is silly, but the film looks pretty bad-ass. Whether you'll like this film will depend on how lenient you are towards its faults, if you can look beyond them this is a pretty solid action flick.

12. 3.0* - Proud Mary by Babak Najafi (2018)
A decent action flick. The background story isn't all that original, but there's a sliver of drama that is pretty effective and makes this film a little easier to stomach. The action scenes are nice, the soundtrack on the other hand felt terribly out of place and takes away from the impact. Not enough to kill the film, so if you're looking for solid action filler, look no further.

13. 2.5* - Ten Years Japan [Jû-nen: Ten Years Japan] by various (2018)
Japan's take on the "Ten Years" anthology project. It should've been a good chance to discover some new talent and dissident voices, but the result is way too safe and expected. Produced by Koreeda, but it mostly feels like a project directed by lesser skilled Koreeda knock-offs. The shorts themselves aren't terrible, but there is lots of wasted potential here.

14. 2.5* - An Elephant Sitting Still [Da Xiang Xi Di Er Zuo] by Bo Hu (2018)
Chinese arthouse being Chinese arthouse. It looks quite nice compared to Jia's films and the actors do a good job, but the film is rather one-note and the 4-hour running time is extremely hard to defend. If sluggish Chinese poverty porn is your thing that this film is a dream, otherwise it's sure to get on your nerves, regardless of its technical qualities.

15. 2.5* - The Boxer [Bokusâ] by Shûji Terayama (1977)
A more tempered Terayama that feels like a precursor to Kitano's Kids Return and Tsukamoto's Tokyo Fist. The scenes in the bar are amusing and the matches are energetic, the drama on the other hand is a little less intriguing. All in all not a bad film, but just a little too plain to really stand out from its peers.

16. 2.5* - Magnificent Wanderers [Jiang Hu Han Zi] by Cheh Chang (1977)
A decent Cheh Chang film. Nothing too out of the ordinary, but Shaw Bros addicts are sure to get their fix from this film. A couple of solid martial arts fights, some light comedy and a limited runtime so there's little time to get bored. It's remarkable how many of these films Chang directed, but they provide solid entertainment so who am I to complain.

17. 2.5* - The Mad Masters [Les Maîtres Fous] by Jean Rouch (1957)
Strange and somewhat unsettling documentary that challenges the boundary between fiction and reality. The ritual is real, but the overt presence of the camera is bound to have had an influence on what is shown. The form makes it difficult to take it fully serious, but the footage is pretty fascinating nonetheless.

18. 2.5* - The Nocturnal Demon [Yeh Moh Sin Sang] by Ricky Lau (1990)
Silly but fast-paced and amusing Hong Kong comedy. No vampires this time for Ricky Lau, just some daft gags and wild overacting, but the result is pretty decent. Some affinity with 80s HK comedies is probably needed to get any enjoyment out of this film and high art this is not, but if you're looking for comedy filler that are worse options out there.

19. 2.0* - Terminator: Dark Fate by Tim Miller (2019)
A sizable improvement over the last episode, then again that was an enormous atrocity. Hamilton and Davis aren't really suited for their parts, Schwarzenegger's return feels superfluous and whenever the film slows down it gets painfully clear that there's really nothing left to tell in the Terminator universe. At least the action is decent.

20. 2.0* - Varan the Unbelievable [Daikaijû Baran] by Ishirô Honda (1958)
A very simple Godzilla knock-off by Honda, the Kaiju master himself. If you like giant lizards with spiky backsides and grueling howls, destroying Japanese villages (small and large), this film has everything you need. The monster is somewhat pointless though and the film is extremely predictable, but it's fun enough while it lasts.

21. 2.0* - Live Flesh [Carne Trémula] by Pedro Almodóvar (1997)
Almodóvar's film looks quite accomplished and rich without being overly pretty. Sadly the drama isn't half as convincing, neither are the actors. A rather construed story about three couples and their complex relationship that never really finds its footing. It's not terrible, but it really didn't do all that much for me.

22. 1.5* - Judy by Rupert Goold (2019)
Judy Garland's fall & fall story. Garland's tale is a dramatic one, then again so is every biopic about the rich and famous. Zellweger does a good job but can't escape her own persona, the drama is more than a little overbearing and the limited focus makes it difficult to get a solid impression of Garland's off-stage self. A missed opportunity.

23. 1.5* - The Lion King by Jon Favreau (2019)
Technically impressive, but that's about all I can say about this remake. Just as tepid, soulless and boring as the original Disney classic. The soundtrack is excruciating, the comedy doesn't work at all and the longer runtime is in no way justified. As a tech demo it's pretty cool, as a film it's a full-on disaster.

24. 1.5* - The Singing Killer [Xiao Sha Xing] by Cheh Chang (1970)
Chang trying to make it in the crime/thriller genre. There are almost no fights here, instead we get a singer who becomes a murder suspect and has to prove his innocence. Chang isn't really cut out for this material though and the film feels a little sluggish and expected. It's best to stick with his martial arts films.

25. 1.5* - Close-Up [Nema-ye Nazdik] by Abbas Kiarostami (1990)
Poorly shot documentary about a guy who got caught impersonating a famous Iranian film director. The story itself is pretty interesting and definitely worth documenting, but the overly long courtroom scenes and the re-enacted inserts don't really make it all that compelling. Not worthy of all its critical praise.

26. 1.5* - The Greatest Lover [Gong Zi Duo Qing] by Clarence Yiu-leung Fok (1988)
Silly but overly long 80s Hong Kong comedy. Not really Chow Yun-Fat's strong point, not really an outstanding niche to begin with. At nearly two hours long, this film really started to drag and annoy during the final 30 minutes. A fun cameo by Jing Wong and a decent performance by Eric Tsang couldn't save this one I'm afraid.

27. 1.5* - The Anonymous Heroes [Wu Ming Ying Xiong] by Cheh Chang (1971)
Cheh Chang trying out a different kind of action cinema. And somewhat predictably, it doesn't end well. The focus on plot kills the first part of the film, the overreliance on gunfights weakens the second part. Chang is a very solid martial arts director, but he should stick to what he knows best. This was a pretty disappointing film.

28. 1.5* - Call Me by Your Name by Luca Guadagnino (2017)
A tepid romance. Some very annoying characters spend their summer vacation in Italy, boy falls in love with friend of the family and that's about it. The setting didn't really do it for me, Guadagnino's direction is pretty plain and the romance could've used some extra sparks. And of course it doesn't help that the film crosses the two-hour mark.

29. 1.0* - Land Without Bread [Las Hurdes] by Luis Buñuel (1933)
The shoddy black and white cinematography feels lacking, the narrative doesn't inspire any trust in the subject matter. Of course the approach by Buñuel, known as a surrealist, is vehemently defended by his fans, but I simply failed to see the point of this documentary. At least the footage might have some historic relevance, the rest feels nonsensical.

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Post by sol » January 19th, 2020, 4:01 pm


I think I would have liked The Blood on Satan's Claw better had I not inadvertently read the IMDb plot summary beforehand - "the children of a village slowly converting into a coven of devil worshipers" sounded really promising until I realised that by children, they meant teenagers played by actors who could pass for 24 or 25.

Interesting comments on Suburbia. I don't think I have ever really been into punk culture (in films that is; it was probably too late for me in real life). I actually didn't think too much of the middle section of Suburbia and I was kind of like "these kids are asking for it by ruining that convenience store, etc" but damn, that horror movie opening and chilling final scene were enough to make the film a solid 'like' for me.

Nice to see a positive score for Chopping Mall, though going through other reviews, I seem to rate it more highly than most. Then again, I am a big RoboCop fan and it is hard for me not to believe that this was an inspiration in some way, shape or form.


The Medusa Touch (1978) - mostly just remember Burton's icy cold stares

Pink Floyd: The Wall (1982) - oh yeah; this is highly rewatchable - especially the animated bits

Circle of Iron (1978) - I'm not big on Peckinpah, but I liked this quite a bit, especially that hallucination scene
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Post by peeptoad » January 19th, 2020, 4:37 pm

sol wrote:
January 19th, 2020, 4:01 pm
what's with the sudden formality? just curious...
sol wrote:
January 19th, 2020, 4:01 pm
Circle of Iron (1978) - I'm not big on Peckinpah, but I liked this quite a bit, especially that hallucination scene
I think you're thinking of Cross of Iron, which is also on my watch list actually. Circle of iron is Richard Moore and Carradine doing a weird, not entirely effective martial arts thing.

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Post by Cinepolis » January 19th, 2020, 5:34 pm

@sol Haven't seen any of your watches, but I plan to watch "Suburbia" eventually. Has been on my watchlist since forever.

My watches:

The Hunt (Fritz Kiersch, 2006) - Mildly interesting story, lackluster execution. Too boring and no real payoff. | 4/10

After... (David L. Cunningham, 2006) - The nauseating cinematography and wacky script are enough to make one frustrated, but there's a nice little twist at the end. | 5/10

Shed Your Tears and Walk Away (Jez Lewis, 2009) - Very humane and personal semi-documentary. Will surely touch one's heart, even if it drags a little at times. | 7/10

Woman of Tokyo (Yasujiro Ozu, 1933) - One of Ozu's first dramatic movies. Ahead of its time in some ways and very intense with a short runtime of about 50 minutes. | 7/10

The Jungle (Andrew Traucki, 2013) - Too uneventful and unoriginal in its execution to leave an impression. | 4/10

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Post by joachimt » January 19th, 2020, 7:28 pm

Kdo chce zabít Jessii? AKA Who Wants to Kill Jessie? (1966, 2 official lists, 135 checks) 8/10
Watched because it was FotW.
Silly, but loads of fun and quite original.
Man on Wire (2008, 4 official lists, 11123 checks) 8/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on Mubi.
Well structured. Great combination of interviews, reenactments and old footage. Tension is good. Philippe is a great storyteller. You could see him sitting at a campfire with his grandchildren and telling exciting stories about his daring actions.
28 Up (1984, 5 official lists, 1615 checks) 7/10
Watched because it used to be on TSPDT.
Because this edition was told one character at the time, it was better to follow, which was a bit of a problem with 21 Up.
First Blood (1982, 3 official lists, 14793 checks) 7/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on Amazon Prime.
I thought I was going into a war movie with just some mindless explotions and killing of people. Was pleasantly surprised. I watched a few Rambo's in the complete wrong order, btw. I first watched the 2008 edition. Then I watched Rambo II, then the first and then part III. Didn't matter a lot though.
My Summer of Love (2004, 3 official lists, 1592 checks) 7/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on Mubi.
Nice little movie. Could have used more depth and I'm not sure what the message was, but I enjoyed the interaction between the two girls.
21 Up (1977, 2 official lists, 1907 checks) 6/10
Watched because I was planning to see 28 Up and it doesn't make sense to skip a part.
Going back and forth from one to the other character made it too messy for me.
Le petit soldat AKA The Little Soldier (1963, 3 official lists, 1142 checks) 6/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on Mubi.
Lot better than recent Godard.
Madagascar (1995, 0 official lists, 26 checks) 6/10
Watched because it's in WC match 1B.
Interesting, but hard to connect.
Kompozim AKA Composition (1992, 0 official lists, 19 checks) 5/10
Watched because it's in WC match 1B.
This didn't do much to me …...and then it was already over.
Us (2019, 2 official lists, 3644 checks) 5/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on Amazon Prime.
So what was the point? We get the answer, but it was a very little answer. Wasn't worked out very well.
Rambo III (1988, 1 official list, 6419 checks) 4/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on Amazon Prime.
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Post by Perception de Ambiguity » January 20th, 2020, 12:55 am

"I just don't think that nature is using Pi."
- from Bill Viola's "Information"

Ein großer graublauer Vogel (Thomas Schamoni, 1970) 6/10

The Zero Years (Νίκος Νικολαΐδης/Nikos Nikolaidis, 2005) 3/10

1/3 des yeux (1/3 of the Eyes) (Olivier Zabat, 2004) 6/10

Μανία / Mania (Γιώργος Πανουσόπουλος/Giorgos Panousopoulos, 1985) 8-/10

Soft Self-Portrait of Salvador Dali (Jean-Christophe Averty, 1970) 6/10

سلام سینما / Salaam Cinema / Salam Cinema (محسن مخملباف/Mohsen Makhmalbaf, 1995) 8/10

Секс и философия / Sex & Philosophy (محسن مخملباف/Mohsen Makhmalbaf, 2005) 8+/10

Снежная королева / The Snow Queen (Лев Атаманов/Lev Atamanov, 1957) 5/10

The Big Easy (Jim McBride, 1986) 6-/10

The Last Days (James Moll, 1998) 4/10

(Peep Show:) The Lie Chair (David Cronenberg, 1976) 4+/10

(Teleplay:) The Italian Machine (David Cronenberg, 1976) 7-/10


Norman McLaren: The Master's Edition (2006) [Disk 1]:

7 Till 5 (1933) 6/10
A Little Phantasy on a Nineteenth Century Painting (1946) 6/10
A Phantasy (1952) 6/10
Camera Makes Whoopee (1935) 4/10
Blinkity Blank (1955) (2 viewings) 8-/10
Book Bargain (1937) 5/10
C'est l'aviron (1944) 5/10
Là-haut sur ces montagnes (1946) 5/10
Love on the Wing (1939) 6+/10
Mony a Pickle (with Alberto Cavalcanti & Richard Massingham) (1938) 2+/10
The Obedient Flame (1939) 6-/10
La poulette grise (1947) 8-/10
Spheres (with René Jodoin) (1946-1968, 1969) 6/10
The Flicker Film (1961) 7/10

Saul Levine:

Light Lick: I Saw the Light, Praise the Dark (2000) 6+/10
Light Lick: Get It While You Can (2000) (2 viewings) 7/10
Light Lick: Only Sunshine (2000) 6/10
Light Lick: Az Sent (Amazing Grace) (2000) 6/10
Light Lick: Detour (2002) 6/10
Light Lick: Born Under a Bad Sign (2002) 6/10

Whole Note (2000) 6/10
August Moon and Sea (1997) 5/10
All That's Solid (2000) 3/10
Melts Into Air (2000) 4/10
Toscanini's European Sidewalk Cafe (2000) 2/10

[imagine Persian letters here] / qu'est-ce qu'il voit de filma emami / What he sees (Fima Emami, 1999) 7/10
(runtime: 8mn50; Presented at the Kiev Molodist Festival, 1999; Awarded at the Unica Festival, 1999)

Wyspa R.O. (Jan Lenica, 2001) 2+/10

забор / The Fence (Лев Атаманов/Lev Atamanov, 1967) 2/10

Велосипедист / The Cyclist (Лев Атаманов/Lev Atamanov, 1968) 3/10

Скамейка / Skameyka / The Bench (Лев Атаманов/Lev Atamanov, 1968) 5/10

Inside the Machine (Richard Tuohy & Dianna Barrie, 2017) 8-/10

Information (Bill Viola, 1973) 5/10

L'épouvante / The Terror / Terror-Stricken / Der Schrecken (Albert Capellani, 1911) 5-/10

Le pain des petits oiseaux / Bread for the Birds (Albert Capellani, 1911) 4/10

L'intrigante / The Schemer / De Intrigante. (Albert Capellani, 1911) 2/10

La tana (Luigi Di Gianni, 1967) 2/10

Proleće je došlo u stan moga brata Čarlija / Spring Came to My Brother Charlie’s Flat (Ivan Rakidžić, 1966) 4/10

Igra ljubavi / The Game of Love (Vladimir Momčilović, 1967) 5/10

Gucci Cruise 2020 (Harmony Korine, 2020) -=

Kindless Villain (Janie Geiser, 2010) (2nd viewing) 6-/10 (from 5)

RiffTrax & MST3k

'Manos' The Hands of Fate - Outtakes (Harold P. Warren)

Honor and Glory (Godfrey Ho, 1993) 6/10

music videos

Lindemann: Ach so gern (various versions) (Zoran Bihac, 2019-2020) +=

Paradise Lost: Beneath Broken Earth (Ash Pears, 2015) (18th+19th viewing) 9/10 (from 8)


most of the extras on the Norman McLaren DVD

Joker: Vision & Fury (Making of)

Beauty and the Beast: A Fim Disappears (Albert Capellani & air, 1908-ca.2011)

didn't finish

Un soir après la guerre / One Evening After the War (Rithy Panh, 1998) [21 min]
The Gay Sisters (Irving Rapper, 1942) [whatever min]
I giorni dell'abbandono / The Days of Abandonment (Roberto Faenza, 2005) [4 min]
Alenkiy tsvetochek / The Scarlet Flower / The Crimson Flower (Lev Atamanov, 1952) [3 min]
Laulu tulipunaisesta kukasta / The Song of the Scarlet Flower (Teuvo Tulio, 1938) [3 min]

notable online media

Don't Worry, No One Cares
Alternate scenes 'Joker' Bonus Extras [+Subtitles]
[QT shit, Brad Pitt shit, and sometimes QT and Brad Pitt shit]
A$AP Rocky gets Roasted
Nuklear Fanboy by Kampfschall
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Post by sol » January 20th, 2020, 4:59 am


No idea re: the formality. It probably comes down to me posting that reply when I was tired and not fully awake. That would also account for me misreading "Circle" and "Cross", I think. :unsure:


Huh, and I thought that I was the only person who managed to avoid seeing Drop Dead Fred and The Nutty Professor for all these years. :pinch: Nothing really much great there; you aren't missing out on a lot. Another one that was in my "avoid" list was actually pretty good though and I would recommend Galaxy Quest even if you aren't big into or particularly familiar with 'Star Trek'.

Suburbia was interesting and not everything that I expected. I initially thought that I was watching the wrong film on YT based on the horror-like pre-credits scene until I checked out the film's iCM page and the very first comment was about it! Anyway, an interesting film especially given how far removed it is from the type of stuff that Spheeris would descend into later in her career.


Seen none either. ;) Interested in Woman of Tokyo; the only two early career Ozu films that I have seen are I Was Born, But... and Tokyo Chorus.
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Post by viktor-vaudevillain » January 20th, 2020, 10:31 am

Scissere (Peter Mettler, 1982) - 8
What I wrote on letterboxd:
“If Robert E. Fulton's "Reality’s Invisible" actually had a narrative that was rooted in the human perception (though a shattered one), then it could have been this film, Peter Mettler's debut feature... though "Scissere" doesn't really have a narrative either.
Cinematic schizophrenia par excellence."

洲崎パラダイス 赤信号 / Suzaki Paradise: Red Light District (Yuzo Kawashima, 1956) - 7

4:44 Last Day on Earth (Abel Ferrara, 2011) - 8+
I think I'm beginning to get what Ferrara is doing...

Der Gang in die Nacht / Journey Into Night (F.W. Murnau, 1921) - 6+
theatrical DCP - the newest and most complete restauration from Munich Film Museum

Metropolitan (Whit Stillman, 1990) - 7
"I don't read novels. I only read good literary criticism." - we all know that guy...

Dusty Stacks of Mom: The Poster Project (Jodie Mack, 2013) - 9

They Live (John Carpenter, 1988) - 7+

Death Becomes Her (Robert Zemeckis, 1992) - 2-


Multiple Orgasms (Barbara Hammer, 1976) - 7-

The Hummingbird Wars (Janie Geiser, 2014) - 5

The Red Book (Janie Geiser, 1994) - 6+


Fleabag - Season 2 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge, 2019) - 8+
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Post by mightysparks » January 20th, 2020, 1:29 pm

So far this year I've mostly been watching stuff according to my 'upcoming awards' section on iCM Enhanced. I get bored sticking to one list, but this means it keeps changing and I have a few going on at a time so it feels more fun. I'm having a lot of fun just jumping around exploring again. Some unexpected surprises, some rubbish I wasn't really interested in, and a getting through a bit of backlog.

*The Island (2005) 5/10 rewatch, first watched 28/9/05
Residents of an underground facility dream of winning the lottery and going to the last uncontaminated place on Earth- The Island - but Lincoln Six Echo discovers there's something else going on, he tries to escape. I hated this film when I first saw it and whilst I don't think it's quite deserving of such a low rating (I gave it a 3/10), it's a pretty poor film that is very mildly entertaining only because of its world. Its concept is a hook only and is not explored in any real depth; nothing about what makes us human/alive or identity or authority and power or what it means to be God etc. They're mentioned in passing, but it's really a disguise for a pretty bland action film. The writing is terrible and the characters are even worse. Johansson looks and acts about 15, the derpiest blond teen girl in the world, and McGregor looks about 30 and acts 15 and the 'romance' is just awkward and creepy. The dialogue is bad and they all sound like really dumb children; though this is actually explained in the film it doesn't work because they aren't complex or interesting 15 year olds, just generic film versions (and maybe actually make the characters 15 if you're going to make a young adult movie anyway, at least it would've made more sense). I was nearly the same age when I first watched this and it didn't convince me then, and it certainly doesn't now. It's also an ugly film, looking like a generic action film with a particularly offensive teal/orange palette.

Una Mujer Fantástica (2017) 7/10 Academy Award Best Foreign Picture Winner, 1/2 left for platinum
On paper, this sounds like a typical, overly sentimental concerning an unconventional relationship after one of them dies. Somehow, it manages to stay quiet and tender, and full of seething frustration. The title is terrible and gives the wrong impression about the film and it tries way too hard with some elements (like the reoccurring mirrors, it just didn't work), but mostly it's a pretty effective film about dealing with grief and being restricted from being able to express your grief in your own way. The opening scenes with Marina and Orlando feel so real and affectionate and make the family's attitude towards her even more frustrating. Daniela Vega gives a good restrained performance and the rest of the cast are good at being hate-able.

Knives Out (2019) 6/10 Needed for bunch of IMDb platinums
This is a decently entertaining mystery film and the story/mystery go in lots of directions that you might suspect, but not necessarily expect. It wasn't as fun and sharp as people seem to be claiming, but it's a good time filler. The characters are all kind of annoying and most aren't that fun to watch, though Ana de Armas creates a remarkably likable and sympathetic lead in Marta and she clicks with the entire cast. Daniel Craig's character was not as cool as they seem to think he is, though he and de Armas are a good team. The humour is hit and miss, the obvious jokes aren't funny and though the more 'subtle' ones create a good tone for the film, the tone is often interrupted by random and unnecessary silliness.

Forushande 6/10 Academy Award Best Foreign Picture Winner, platinum got
This film was fine but nothing about it stands out. The husband was probably the least interesting of all the characters and it didn't really bring the story out in an interesting way. The wife's PTSD was pretty realistic, but we didn't get to see a lot of her and it seemed to be trying to force this questionable morality on the audience when there wasn't really anything to question. I don't know anything about Death of a Salesman, aside from its existence, so I'm not sure how that fits in or is supposed to elevate it. If it had been a little more gripping and involving, the frustrating (in a good way) ending would've been more effective too.

Kis Uykusu (2014) 6/10 IMDb 2010s Top 50, platinum got
This wasn't something I expected to like, mostly as I expected it to be an unnecessarily slow and stylized thing along the lines of a Bela Tarr film. Instead, it was a pretty great character study, with great acting, interesting dialogue and beautiful visuals. The last hour was when it started to drag with a weak ending and though it was never boring, it failed to get me emotionally hooked and thus, I had to settle for a lower rating. Every character feels fleshed out and real, with Aydin being a great example of a likable but unlikable character; a stubborn, condescending ass of a man who is enthralling to watch and listen to (also thanks to Bilginer's performance), even if not to wait for his realization of self.

Mies vailla menneisyyttä (2002) 4/10 Cannes Film Festival - Grand Prix, bronze
Out of the 4 Kaurismaki films I've now seen, I've yet to be impressed (Ariel is the only one I've liked). I don't really find this stylized, deadpan kind of humour entertaining or funny at all. At times it feels like an innocently silly childish film, reminding me of a dry, miserable Tati film, and it's hardly charming. There's nothing to care about, the main character has little personality and meets a woman with equally lacking personality. They are boring together, they are boring apart. They're all poor and miserable, no-one in the film seems to care and neither can the audience. It's an ugly, unpleasant, unfunny film that is only held together by a semi-interesting plot that goes nowhere.

Hidden Figures (2016) 5/10 IMDb History Top 50, platinum
Yet another mediocre, generic and overly dramatised addition to the 'hero geniuses' and 'people overcoming discrimination' types of films. There's a lot of equations being written on blackboards, mathematical jargon explanations and wow'd faces. Every white person is either exceptionally racist or fits the 'white saviour' position. The only interesting aspect of this film is it being based on real people, however almost none of the discrimination in the film or 'big' moments actually happened. All we know about the women is that they're super smart NASA heroes, instead of being given any complexity; a half-hearted attempt at some crappy, overly sentimental family stuff is chucked in with little effect.

Hud (1963) 5/10 IMDb Western Top 50, bronze
This is pretty unremarkable but has a handful of memorable moments. It feels too much like a play at times, with those monologues and stagey talky scenes. Paul Newman is pretty bland and seems miscast, he doesn't have the charisma to make the character charming enough nor is he a strong enough actor to be despicable at the same time. Patricia Neal is the most enjoyable actor, though her performance is still too theatrical and she doesn't have a lot to do. The dad and the nephew characters were kind of a waste; the teenage character was just silly and Hud and his father's relationship could've been developed further. The sheep scene was pretty sad, though.
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Post by mightysparks » January 20th, 2020, 1:39 pm


sol - Seen a handful but noteworthy; Drop Dead Fred, I randomly watched this because it was a friend of mine's favourite film (when I was 13), I thought it was ok but enjoyed it because I found Rik Mayall really hot lol. I don't really remember it now.. Love Galaxy Quest, been nearly 10 years since I last saw it but it's pretty damn funny, I want to rewatch it now. I keep seeing Trailers for Bombshell and it looks like the lamest movie ever. The last trailer I saw had them just staring at each other in the elevator for like 2 minutes and then they go separate ways. Aren't trailers supposed to make you want to watch the film? Watchlisted Suburbia..

Onderhond - I thought Call Me By Your Name was ok but pretty much agree with the assessment. And the end speech by the dad was so cringey. Don't understand the praise for that film.

joachimt - Loved Man on Wire a lot too, the guy was such a douche but so passionate and interesting to listen to. Also agree on Us.
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Post by peeptoad » January 20th, 2020, 2:48 pm

sol wrote:
January 20th, 2020, 4:59 am

No idea re: the formality. It probably comes down to me posting that reply when I was tired and not fully awake. That would also account for me misreading "Circle" and "Cross", I think. :unsure:
no sweat, sol... I was jus kiddin' except that it felt mildly like my mom calling me by my full name when I did something wrong as a kid. ;)

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Post by sol » January 20th, 2020, 3:54 pm


That elevator scene in Bombshell funnily enough sums up the film quite well given that the three characters barely interact or even acknowledge each other over the course of the movie. The film tries to be about how each of the three in their own right do something to stand up for sexual discrimination, but it doesn't really coalesce. Nicole Kidman is very good though, much better than would seem by the trailers alone; a bit bizarre that she was overlooked in the Oscar lineup. I would, however, be attempted to call John Lithgow the film's MVP. Everybody seems to be chalking up his performance to good makeup work, but he actually lets us see the vulnerable human beneath the makeup and boisterous personality too with all his paranoia and insecurities.

Galaxy Quest was much more enjoyable than I expected as non-Trekkie and a not-so-big Tim Allen fan.


I thought that Daniela Vega was excellent in A Fantastic Women too; probably agree with you about the title, but either way I liked this one quite a bit overall. I have no idea what Daniel Craig thought he was doing with his accent in Knives Out, but yeah, he worked well with Ana de Armas. The whole vomiting thing was a little silly, but I really enjoyed this one. I liked The Salesman more than The Past, but About Elly the film is not. Can't argue with most of what you have written about Hidden Figures, though it is always interesting to see Jim Parsons in a straight role. And I liked Hud a lot at the time. It has perhaps been 15 years, maybe longer, but the performances of both Patricia Neal and Melvyn Douglas really struck a chord with me and I seem to recall the film being exquisitely photographed too.
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Post by Onderhond » January 20th, 2020, 4:08 pm

mightysparks wrote:
January 20th, 2020, 1:29 pm
Kis Uykusu (2014) 6/10 IMDb 2010s Top 50, platinum got
This wasn't something I expected to like, mostly as I expected it to be an unnecessarily slow and stylized thing along the lines of a Bela Tarr film. Instead, it was a pretty great character study, with great acting, interesting dialogue and beautiful visuals. The last hour was when it started to drag with a weak ending and though it was never boring, it failed to get me emotionally hooked and thus, I had to settle for a lower rating. Every character feels fleshed out and real, with Aydin being a great example of a likable but unlikable character; a stubborn, condescending ass of a man who is enthralling to watch and listen to (also thanks to Bilginer's performance), even if not to wait for his realization of self.

For me it was exactly the other way around. I was hoping for a moody, stylized drama and I got some terribly dull character portrait I didn't care about one bit. Boring conversation from start to finish, not my thing at all.

Guess I'll have to check out Knives Out in the near future too, it seems like a complete dud but most people have had something positive to say about it.
mightysparks wrote:
January 20th, 2020, 1:39 pm
Onderhond - I thought Call Me By Your Name was ok but pretty much agree with the assessment. And the end speech by the dad was so cringey. Don't understand the praise for that film.
Yeah, that speech was terrible. It felt like an "I wish my intellectual, understanding father had told me this when I wasn't quite out of the closet yet" fantasy. I don't have kids, but if I had I'd never want to be that guy.

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