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Which Films Did You See Last Week? Week 8, 2020

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sol
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Which Films Did You See Last Week? Week 8, 2020

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Post by sol » February 23rd, 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

Within Our Gates (1920). Raising funds for a school for African American children leads to much strife and hardship in this silent melodrama. As the earliest known surviving film by an African American filmmaker, the movie has quite a bit of historical interest and some of the issues with financing and the reality of lynching back then are fascinating. As a narrative though, this is rather unsatisfying. As with most early 1920s silents, the film relies far too heavily on title cards to drive the story along, and bouncing between several key characters with some convenient coincidences and way too many subplots, it is often hard to keep track of what is going on. There are ample heartwarming moments, including the generosity of a kindly Caucasian lady, but the school and the kids are always more interesting than the adult characters and yet they get far less focus. (first viewing, online) ★

Going My Way (1944). Frequently cited as one of the weakest Academy Award Best Picture winners, Going My Way has a great premise but tends go off on tangents too often. The initial friction between Bing Crosby and Barry Fitzgerald is wonderfully handled with Crosby having no idea how to tell to Fitzgerald that he has been sent to replace him rather than work under him. Fitzgerald's "ability to see the inevitable" speech is heartfelt too as he relates an encounter with the local bishop. The tension between the pair resolves too quickly though and all subsequent plot strands are underwhelming, from an aspiring eighteen-year-old singer going her way to a large group of boys unrealistically warming to Crosby in an instance. Fitzgerald is certainly amazing here, but with less screen time than I recalled, this was a disappointment upon revision. (second viewing, DVD) ★★

The Bells of St. Mary's (1945). Sent to a Catholic school in financial strife, the liberal-minded priest from Going My Way clashes personalities again, this time with a stubborn nun in this amiable sequel. With more comedy (a yawning dog and mischievous cat-in-the-hat) this time round and a couple of great supporting turns from Henry Travers and Joan Carroll, this is often regarded as superior to the original. It is not a massive improvement though, with the film once again tending to get lost in its subplots; there are also some iffy messages about praying for miracles over hard work and not turning the other cheek, but this is fairly likeable. The best bit comes in the middle of the film though with a charming first grade Christmas play; the remainder is a bit downhill, but the performances and intermittent comedy keeps things chugging along. (first viewing, DVD) ★★

Porgy and Bess (1959). Romance blossoms between a cripple and a scorned woman in this musical with an African American cast. Some of the songs are catchy, but this is one of those films whose history is more interesting than the movie itself, from the lack of an official home video release due to disagreements between the estates of producer Samuel Goldwyn and composer George Gershwin, to Goldwyn's insistence in shooting on soundstage, to director Otto Preminger's filming everything in long and medium shot in protest. The result is an incredibly distanced viewing experience, with the noticeably fake sets and lack of close-ups making it hard to really get immersed in the story, and the fact that over 90% of the dialogue is sang only makes it more difficult get on the same wavelength as the characters. This is only really worthwhile as a curio. (first viewing, DVD) ★

For Love of Ivy (1968). Reluctant to let their African American maid leave town to get an education, two privileged WASP teenagers try to entice her to stay by fixing her up with the only unmarried black man who they know in this indie romance. Co-written by co-star Sidney Poitier, the film is not quite as racially insensitive at it might at first seem with the two potential lovers taking things in their own direction after the awkward first date set-up. It still all feels a little in poor taste, what with everyone conspiring to prevent Ivy from bettering her career prospects, but the performances are very decent when one gets over the ickiness of it all - and Ivy does at least gain a voice towards the end. The film's Oscar nominated end credits theme song is also a pretty beautiful tune for the film to conclude on and the music by Quincy Jones is generally great. (first viewing, DVD) ★★

King: A Filmed Record (1970). Archive footage of Martin Luther King over a fourteen year period is edited together in this documentary. Getting to watch and listen to his "I have a dream speech" in its entirety is a rousing experience and the film has other strong bits and pieces in its final hour as MLK's words are heard over archive footage of White Power rallies and soldiers fighting in Vietnam. Clocking in at over three hours long, however, this is an exhausting experience and sometimes drifts into monotony with no voice-over narration and very few title cards to hold everything together. The film also rarely provides an insight into MLK the man beyond the rhetoric and the occasional poetic interludes by various celebrities are a mixed blessing at best. The content and presentation is certainly not uninteresting though and MLK's passion really comes through. (first viewing, online) ★★

The Great White Hope (1970). Inspired by the experiences of African American boxer Jack Johnson, this sports drama stars James Earl Jones as a prizefighter forced to confront racism as he makes it big in the boxing world. Travelling around with a Caucasian girlfriend, he makes an even bigger stir and the movie is largely about bitter white men conspiring to take him down, scared of what he represents. If thematically dense (he meets with disapproval from his own for dating a white woman too), the film is nevertheless a little hard to digest. Adapted from a successful play, it is very heavy on dialogue and features more scenes of characters talking than interacting or even boxing. The boxing matches are not especially well filmed either and often feel like an afterthought. Jones certainly gives it his best in the lead role though and simply oozes charisma. (first viewing, DVD) ★★

The Black Gestapo (1975). Tired of being leaned on and intimidated by white gangsters, a group of African Americans form their own army to protect and avenge, but what seems like a good solution to a problem ends up being an even greater problem as absolute power corrupts absolutely here. The lurid title suggests something schlocky and exploitative, and bits and pieces of the film do feel overdone and merely present for shock value. For the most part though, this is a gripping what-if rumination on what might occur if an oppressed minority took inspiration from the Nazis. There are dozens of striking images of Nazi iconography (especially the camera panning over some saluting soldiers) and from body parts being severed and flushed down toilets, to crash victims being gunned to death, the film is packed with memorable vengeance scenes. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Adam Clayton Powell (1989). Titled after its subject, this documentary looks at an African American preacher who was a civil rights leader before Martin Luther King's rise. Not a household name these day like MLK, it is curious to hear Powell's tale, and as the documentary starts by praising his achievements, it initially seems strange how forgotten he now is. As the film progresses though, mounting controversies are revealed, from Powell pledging bad cheques to encourage others to donate in line with his supposed generosity, to a campaign Powell almost launched to slander MLK's name, who he saw as a rival rather than a comrade. The documentary never quite settles on whether Powell was more of a pure egotist who enjoyed being the spotlight or someone genuinely interested in civil rights, but this suggested duality makes him a pretty fascinating subject. (first viewing, online) ★★★

The Stranger (1991). Visited by a man claiming to an uncle who they have not seen for decades, an affluent couple are plagued by doubts about his true identity and motives in this intriguing drama from Satyajit Ray. As the imposing stranger, Utpal Dutt is excellent, and as he shows off his passport, only to immediately state that it could be fake, the film nicely toys with the ambiguity of who he is really is. The script is heavy on dialogue but often intense as the couple's friends grill Dutt while suspicious of the occidental customs he has picked up abroad. The final third of the movie is sadly less powerful than the first two thirds as ambiguity is resolved and tensions dries up with an offended Dutt disappearing in the night. Some of the comic relief feels odd here too (deaf old man?) but this works remarkably well in general given the slim is-he-or-isn't-he premise. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Tales from the Hood (1995). Paying a late night visit to a funeral parlor in search of a lucrative stash, three drug dealers are distracted by the mysterious funeral director who tells them tales of terror and woe in this African American themed horror anthology. Unlike most horror anthologies, all the episodes are written and directed by the same duo, which creates a consistent tone and ample narrative flow, and the fourth tale superbly segues into the wraparound tale. Each of the episodes comes with stinging social commentary and/or satire too, dealing with everything from racist cops to ghetto child abuse to racist politicians to black-on-black crime. The film also has some zany gooey special effects and Clarence Williams III is great as the eccentric raconteur. The rest of the performances vary a bit in quality, but this is remarkably effective for what it is. (first viewing, online) ★★★★

When We Were Kings (1996). Considered past his prime, Muhammad Ali still perseveres when given the chance to fight the world champ in the former Zaire in 1974 in this documentary about the historic event. The central fight is well filmed, intercut with interviews and ample commentary to explain the significance of everything to non-boxing savants. In fact, the passion that all concerned have when describing the fight is arguably more interesting than the match itself. The fight only lasts around ten minutes though and everything else is less engaging. We get to see just how boisterous and cocky Ali was and there are fleeting moments dedicated to his politics, though it is hard not to wish that this side to him was greater explored. The maudlin theme song feels like a bit of a bit misstep too, but this is admittedly quite electric whenever the fiery Ali is on screen. (first viewing, DVD) ★★

Prey (2007). Their tour guide mauled to death after inexplicably leaving their jeep in an area packed with lions, a stepmother and her stepkids use their wits (or lack thereof) to survive in this South African horror movie. The local landscapes look great, the lions are very well trained and the film mounts quite a bit of suspense, albeit at the expense of the characters making silly decisions, like leaving the vehicle and opening the windows at every opportunity. More irksome in any case is the film using the situation to fuel a story of two kids learning to bond with their stepmother under pressure, which does not quite work since the son actually always likes her and the daughter begins to appreciate her way too quickly. The daughter at least adds some cynicism to the part and the film is most curious as a clash of optimism versus pessimism in the face of adversity. (first viewing, DVD) ★★

Who Killed Captain Alex? (2010). Made reportedly for a couple of hundred dollars by a non-professional cast and crew, trying to objectively assess this Ugandan action film is hard to do. From the abrupt ending to the murky plot (with jokey voice-over narration sometimes contradicting the actual dialogue), the film hardly spins an airtight or satisfying narrative. The acting is also pretty amateurish, and yet the energy and enthusiasm from all concerned is impossible to deny. The film has some genuinely well choreographed kung fu action scenes too and while the gore splatter special effects are distractingly fake, there is something charming about the old school computer style special effects as buildings are recklessly blown up. Some of the narrator's humorous comments are quite funny too, though it would be interesting to see the film without his interventions. (first viewing, online) ★★

Kubo and the Two Strings (2016). Skeptical of his mother's tales of magic and vengeful relatives looking for him, a Japanese boy soon discovers that everything she has told him is true in this hero's journey adventure. The film is nicely animated in stop animation with some breathtaking Oscar nominated special effects, especially as origami creatures fly through the air, folding and unfolding themselves. The movie also begins as something very different to most US animation with little comedy and a foreign setting. Alas, as our hero is soon accompanied by a talking monkey and beetle, the film transforms into familiar comedy mode with tiresome banter. The Japan setting also feels interchangeable the further the characters journey. There are some great ideas (memories being the strongest magic) but this is nowhere near as unique as it initially promises to be. (first viewing, DVD) ★★

The Greatest Showman (2017). Loosely based on the career of P.T. Barnum, this is never much of a character study, and we see precious little of his confidence tricks, but the film survives well on account of its spirited choreography and memorable songs. The actresses who play Barnum's precocious daughters are great too; same goes for Zendaya as the only properly fleshed out performer in Barnum's troupe. Keala Settle has a few strong bits too, but the way the film is about Barnum giving voice to the physically different only for these characters to remain interchangeable and in the background never quite feels right. The film also shies over whether Barnum is genuinely interested in helping them express themselves or only wishes to exploit them. This is a fairly likeable film though if one avoids over-thinking it with some breathtaking circus routines. (first viewing, Blu-ray Disc) ★★

Roman J. Israel, Esq. (2017). His firm bankrupt from taking too many pro bono cases, an idealistic lawyer with a photographic memory has his moral fiber tested at a new firm in this sophomore feature from Dan Gilory. If not half as atmospheric as Nightcrawler, Gilroy once again takes a memorable swipe at humanity here with another outsider protagonist, though a social misfit with autistic tendencies this time, and Denzel Washington sublimely sinks into the role. The film's first half is a little slapdash, trying to be a lot of things at once, but it finds its way halfway in, and the final third is particularly powerful with paranoia-ridden scenes, echoic sound to capture tension in the air, and the protagonist forced to confront his supposition earlier that "each one of us is greater than the worst thing we've done". If a tad uneven, the film certainly ends strongly. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Richard Jewell (2019). Short on leads upon investigating a bombing, the FBI turn their attention to the security guard who found the package in this searing true story drama. Paul Walter Hauser delivers well as the cop worshipping protagonist who blindly assists the agents under the assumption that they are just doing their jobs, while Sam Rockwell is superb as his passionate lawyer. Tackling a large canvas, the film does not fully delve into the FBI's motives and whether they intentionally built a false case; Olivia Wilde's ruthless reporter feels undernourished too in a tale that deserved a three-hour runtime. Still, what Clint Eastwood manages to achieve in a mere 131 minutes is thoroughly compelling, and while Hauser's character sometimes seems to disappear into the backdrop, this feels thematically apt for a story of a hero losing control of his own story. (first viewing, cinema) ★★★

OtherShow
A Chip Glass for Ruby (1982). Highly critical of the then South African government, this film was apparently shot and financed in nearby Lesotho despite its Johannesburg setting. The plot involves an Indian immigrant who has trouble understanding why his wife and teenage son are so strongly and vocally opposed to apartheid, with the basic message seeming to be that turning a blind eye to any form of racism is wrong, even if such discrimination does not directly affect one's livelihood. The whole thing is very decently acted, especially by Kessie Govender as the conflicted male protagonist. The film's agenda is really obvious though, the ending is abrupt, and clocking in at less than one hour, the film has limited chance to explore its characters. Govender has some excellent thoughts-aloud moments though as he considers what to do when his wife is arrested. (first viewing, online) ★★

More Time (1993). Three teenage girls deal with boyfriends who want them to go all the way and parents who would rather not see them sexually active in this high school drama from Zimbabwe. The film feels a lot like the better known Yellow Card from the same co-writer, but More Time is more subtle with its agenda. There are less propaganda style speeches about the dangers of unprotected sex and one of the best sequences has the girls squaring off with a pharmacist who refuses to sell them condoms because they should not be having sex at their age... even though everybody is. Sprinklings of light comedy (like spying on boys bathing) provide a bit of an inconsistent tone to the project, but for the most part this is a nicely earnest film with its heart in the right place, and the end credits song is catchy even if the lyrics lack subtlety. (first viewing, online) ★★

The Legend of the Sky Kingdom (2003). Based on a popular children's book, this animated film from Zimbabwe depicts the experiences of three kids who flee an evil orphanage in search of a brighter future. The film has some very simplistic messages in terms of optimism and self-belief, however, the look of the project is anything but simple. All of the sets and characters are made out of trash and junk - something that leads to some very innovative character designs which are filmed in near flawless stop animation. The characters are less interesting than they look though, with whiny personalities and high-pitched voices; there is also a tiresome highly stereotyped Italian supporting character. At its best, the film brings to mind Jan Svankmajer with evil-looking lizards and knife-handed antagonists, but the film is unfortunately only sometimes at its best. (first viewing, online) ★★

Universal Remote (2007). Fiddling with their new universal remote, two friends accidentally send themselves into a world of un-PC television programs in this sketch comedy from Gary Hardwick of The Brothers fame. Full of random, (mostly) unrelated episodes designed to push the boundaries of good taste, the film is perhaps best thought of as a precursor to Movie 43, but whereas the wraparound segment of Movie 43 was better than its tales within, the wraparound is pretty useless here (and often forgotten for long stretches). Fortunately, several of the episodes are entertaining, though outside of a most offensive song sketch, all the best bits come pretty early in the proceedings. A Beastie Boys music video spoof and a crazy game show are particular highlights, yet the film ends with lamer skits about being thugs and travelling inside a rectum. (first viewing, online) ★★

Deep Roots Malawi (2011). Malawi's vibrant music culture is depicted in this documentary filmed entirely in the picturesque African nation. The music makes for great listening as one might expect, but the musical instruments themselves are unexpectedly intriguing. With no dedicated shops in Malawi, all instruments are either imported from neighbouring countries - or more commonly, made from leftovers, plants/trees and junk. It is really quite amazing how great the sounds coming from some of the oil canister guitars are. We are also shown a traditional routine involving dancers and musicians who keep their identities secret while performing. The film sometimes feels random as it jumps from one topic to the next and most of the showy video effects (large animated borders etc) are a nuisance, but this is a generally interesting look at native music. (first viewing, online) ★★
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#2

Post by Perception de Ambiguity » February 23rd, 2020, 12:00 pm

Forces occultes (Jean Mamy as Paul Riche, 1943) 6/10
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Тише! / Hush! / Tishe! (Виктор Косаковский/Viktor Kossakovsky, 2003) 7/10

ファンシイダンス / Fancy Dance / Fanshî dansu (周防正行/Masayuki Suo, 1989) 7+/10

さよならぼくたちのようちえん / Goodbye to Our Kindergarten / Sayonara bokutachi no youchien (Nobuo Mizuta, 2011) 7-/10

南方车站的聚会 / The Wild Goose Lake (刁亦男/Diao Yi'nan, 2019) 8-/10

Monty Python: The Meaning of Live (Roger Graef & James Rogan, 2014) 6/10

Timestalkers (Michael Schultz, 1984) 4/10

Back to the Future (Robert Zemeckis, 1985) (10th+ viewing, last seen: 2009) still dope

Back to the Future Part II (Robert Zemeckis, 1989) (10th+ viewing, last seen 2009) not so dope anymore

Primer (Shane Carruth, 2004) (6th viewing, last seen 2015) sure, I'm down with that trip

Twelve Monkeys (Terry Gilliam, 1996) (7th viewing, last seen 2017) hell yeah...humans...hell...yeah...
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future past screeniesShow
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Krisha (Trey Edward Shults, 2015) (2nd viewing, last seen 2017) 9/10


shorts

Harbour (Audrius Stonys, 2001) (2-3 viewings) 4/10

Bricolage (David Rimmer, 1984) 3/10

Cue Rolls (Morgan Fisher, 1974) 3/10

Rabbit (Run Wrake, 2005) 6+/10

The Tesla World Light (Matthew Rankin, 2017) 5+/10

Flow (Han Hoogerbrugge, 2001) 3/10

Neo-noir (Kirill Savateev, 2019) 2/10

Cheese Chasers (Chuck Jones, 1951) (probable rewatch) 5/10


RiffTrax & MST3k

Building an Outline (1948) 1/10

Finding His Voice (Max Fleischer & F. Lyle Goldman, 1929) [by Josh Way] 4/10


series

Curb Your Enthusiasm - S10E05 - "Insufficient Praise" (2020) 6/10


music videos

Björk: isobel (Michel Gondry, 1995) (2nd viewing) 7/10


didn't finish

The Children of Theatre Street (Robert Dornhelm & Earle Mack, 1977) [29 min]
The Fifth Estate: Made in Bangladesh (Lysanne Louter, 2013) [8 min]
Seven Years in Tibet (Jean-Jacques Annaud, 1997) (would-be rewatch)[10 min]


notable online media

top:
When You’re Smiling… [and other "new" David OReilly snippets]
rest:
Virtual Insanity - Jamiroquai / Cover by Yoyoka, 10 year old
#219 The Prodigy - Breathe - Drum Cover
What Does Your PEE Say About You?
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Last edited by Perception de Ambiguity on February 23rd, 2020, 7:52 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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#3

Post by mightysparks » February 23rd, 2020, 12:15 pm

Yeah, well my plan to watch 15+ films this week didn't exactly happen..

The Nice Guys (2016) 6/10 Best of Rotten Tomatoes, gold 3/3
The 70s aesthetic is enjoyable, but it takes some time to warm up to the characters and the story, which is a pretty tired neo-noir kind of plot. Gosling's character is quite annoyingly slapsticky, but he starts to feel more genuine as it goes on, and his chemistry with Crowe also improves. The kid character was also pretty good. It lacks the wit and spunk of Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, but it is still decent fun. It's not really that funny, and it does drag and feel muddled at times. The two big shoot-out scenes are very good though; when the guy comes to their house, and the climax. The pool 'splat' shot was wonderful. And it was really awesome - as someone who was born with no sense of smell - to have a character with no sense of smell, even if he lost it and wasn’t born that way.

Leave No Trace (2018) 6/10 Reddit Top 250, platinum 3/4
A slow paced anti-talky drama revolving around a father and his teenage daughter living in a public park until they are caught and sent to social services. The characters and acting are great, and their story is really interesting. It was refreshing that there are no real 'villains' and that, though they are initially treated with suspicion and are forced into a society they don't really want to be in, the people are just doing their job and actually do their best to provide them with a place they'll feel comfortable. I felt that we didn't really get to see enough of them in their day to day lives before they were taken from it (particularly as the shots of them in the woods and interacting with nature are quite beautiful), and their relationship and 'fish out of water' scenario didn't really feel developed enough.

Tih Minh (1918) 5/10 IMDb 1910s, silver 2/2
Firstly, this rip has a distracting blurred out timecode in the middle of the screen which, while not the film's fault, is nevertheless annoying. The lack of a score makes the film feel a little incomplete and possibly adds to the tediousness. It lacks the charm and snappy pacing of Judex, and the story is not particularly interesting either. The characters are all terribly bland - heroes and villains alike - and it makes it difficult to get involved in it. The spy gimmicks are also not nearly as entertaining as they should be. It has some visually interesting moments (eg, the dude in the suitcase, the zombie women in the basement) and the set pieces are decent. The last few episodes were the better ones. Episode 8 was the most fun, with the fake nuns and the dude chasing them off with the hose. Ep 10 was ok too; the 'fake' sleepy tea party was kinda cool, and the guy just lobbing a huge rock at the woman's head made me laugh.

Phantom Thread (2017) 6/10 Reddit Top 250, platinum 4/4
A beautifully crafted film which is perhaps even 'too' crafted at times in order to capture the artificial life of its characters, and while it's great to look at I generally prefer films that are a little more raw and naturalistic. The music and cinematography of the first half feels like a romantic fairy-tale. I haven't really liked any of PTA's films, but this is by far his strongest. The dialogue is also very good. Despite also not liking Day-Lewis very much, he gives his best performance here and Reynolds is a wonderfully horrible character; a snobby, childish and controlling asshole, but fascinating to watch. It's hard to believe that anyone actually likes this guy though. Though Krieps gives a good performance, their relationship and its changing power dynamics were never convincing to me. While a good and well-made film, it fails to connect with me on any real level and its strongest element is Day-Lewis and his character.

Pengabdi Setan (2017) 6/10
Has a few creepy moments and does a decent job at keeping the mood and tension up, but is overly reliant on jump scares. At times it feels a bit like Hereditary, except with almost no focus on grief and more interested in jump scares. The explanations are a bit lame and predictable, especially with the 'twist' conveniently being revealed moments before the final climax. It really could've used some more subtlety and less exposition. Although it obviously had an Asian flavour, it felt like a pretty typical Hollywood haunting film overall, though it was better than most. The accident scene made me physically cringe though, geez that was nasty.
"I do not always know what I want, but I do know what I don't want." - Stanley Kubrick

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#4

Post by mightysparks » February 23rd, 2020, 12:18 pm

@sol:

Within Our Gates (1920) 6/10
Going My Way (1944) 5/10
The Black Gestapo (1975) 3/10
Tales from the Hood (1995) 5/10

Don't remember any of these well enough to comment :shrug:
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#5

Post by sol » February 23rd, 2020, 12:51 pm

mighty:

I wouldn't feel bad about remembering little of Going My Way. It was my only repeat viewing this week and I remembered little from it beforehand, other than Bing Crosby singing a lot, interacting with a teenage girl and clashing with a delightful Barry Fitzgerald. Turns out that there is actually very little more to the film than that - one of the less substantial Oscar Best Picture winners for sure.

Regarding Within Our Gates, I can imagine forgetting most of it in a few weeks time. I would classify The Black Gestapo and Tales from the Hood as more memorable ventures though. I guess the 3/10 for the former is understandable since exploitation films tends to be divisive, but there was enough cool imagery and ideas to keep me engaged. I thought that Tales from the Hood was pretty wonderful though. I can't think of many (any?) other horror anthologies in which every segment is equally as strong.

Yours:

I liked Leave No Trace quite a bit at the time and would happily echo the positives that you cite. I was less enthused by Phantom Thread, but it is a respectable effort. Interesting that it is your favourite PTA film because it would probably be one of his weaker efforts for me, largely carried through by the dark turns that their relationship takes in the second half of the movie. I have never been particularly big on DDL, but I would concede that this was a more layered performance than the ones that he actually won Oscars for this century.

Haven't seen your others, but I did start watching The Nice Guys at some point only to decide after less than ten minutes that I was not in the mood. Never felt inclined to go back.
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#6

Post by Onderhond » February 23rd, 2020, 1:16 pm

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Another great week, with hardly any bad films and a whole stream of good ones. I'm a bit disappointed I wasn't able to catch Promare in theaters here (let alone the 4DX screening), but any perfect rating I can dish out these days is a reason for celebration. 2020 is so much better than 2019 already.


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01. 5.0* - Promare by Hiroyuki Imaishi (2019)
Imaishi's big return to the world of cinema. He's a little older, but still every bit as wild and dynamic. Promare is almost twice the length of Dead Leaves, but it's just as unrestrained. An onslaught of chaos and insanity, hammering away at breakneck speed. Some people will cave under the weight of the film, I just hope his next one won't take another 15 years. Promare is a dream come true.


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02. 4.0* - Drive by Hiroyuki Tanaka (2002)
Trademark Tanaka film. Drive is quirky and frivolous, not held back by rigid plot conventions and sporting a killer cast that knows how to deal with the dry comedy on display. The film has aged a little, but it still feels fresh and easygoing. Tanaka is one of Japan's hidden gems, Drive may not be his best film, but it's still better than most of its peers.

03. 3.5* - First Love [Hatsukoi] by Takashi Miike (2019)
Slightly disappointing, especially considering all the hype. The film feels a little tepid and too streamlined for a Miike film. There isn't enough craziness, there is too much focus on plot and it's just a little monotone. It's not a bad film really, but within Miike's oeuvre it is quickly eclipsed by much better films.

04. 3.5* - Detention by Joseph Kahn (2011)
Pretty weird, insane and over-the-top horror/comedy. Not really a fan of the American high school setting, but the absurd comedy, the bloody slasher elements and the exuberant presentation make this a damn fun and entertaining film. Probably too weird for many, but it has everything to be a worthy cult hit.

05. 3.5* - Lock Me Up, Tie Him Down [Wan Mei Jia Qi 168] by Jeffrey Lau (2014)
Fun and quirky little thriller. A less overt comedy from Jeffrey Lau this time around, but apparently that's not really an issue for this seasoned director. Solid performances from Vivian Hsu and Bo-lin Chen, pleasant pacing and snappy editing make this an entertaining film. A lovely and likable filler flick.

06. 3.5* - 8: A South African Horror Story by Harold Holscher (2019)
A very solid horror flick. The execution is stylish and on point, the actors do a good job and the local (South-African) folklore gives it a little extra shine. It's never truly creepy or tense, but overall the film is pretty atmospheric and there are definitely some memorable scenes here. A very fun and welcome discovery.

07. 3.5* - Dead Kids by Mikhail Red (2019)
Charming little film about a couple of unpopular boys planning to kidnap one of the school bullies. Mikhail Red's direction is solid, the film looks very nice and the action is on point. It's maybe a bit too plain to be a real stand-out feature, but Red is clearly growing as a director. Solid genre work and very nice filler.

08. 3.0* - Hello Ladies: The Movie by Stephen Merchant (2014)
A decent continuation of the series, wrapping up the loose ends of the first season. There's a bit more drama here, which was to expected I guess, but the awkward comedy is still very much present and both Merchant and Woods are great. A solid, funny romcom, though not quite as funny as I'd hoped.

09. 3.0* - Lust for Love of a Chinese Courtesan [Ai Nu Xin Zhuan] by Yuen Chor (1984)
Not long ago I completely dismissed Yuen Chor's ability to do romance, now I have to retrace my steps. In a typical history/Shaw Bros setting, it appears Chor can work his magic. De mix of romance and action is solid, the film looks nice enough and the drama actually hits. An interesting experiment that is a lot classier than I expected it to be.

10. 2.5* - Dolittle by Stephen Gaghan (2020)
Amusing adventure flick. The comedy is a little cheesy, the plot quite flimsy and Downey feels a bit stiff, but some decent set pieces and a general light-heartedness make this a pretty easy film to sit through. It's also rather short, which is always a relief with these kinds of blockbusters. Not as bad as I'd feared.

11. 2.5* - Table 19 by Jeffrey Blitz (2017)
The potential is there in the beginning, with a varied cast of quirky characters all gathered around the losers table at a wedding. But then the film gets swamped by poor drama, made worse by the cheesy ending. Actors like Robinson, Merchant and Kudrow keep the film from becoming a total disaster, but this could've been so much better.

12. 2.0* - Youth of the Beast [Yajû no Seishun] by Seijun Suzuki (1963)
An early Suzuki that show signs of a budding director. The film is little more than a typical Yakuza tale, but a more outspoken set design, decent use of color and the presence of Jô Shishido give the film some extra flair. It's not a bad effort, but a little too basic to be engaging, especially when comparing it to Suzuki's later films.

13. 2.0* - Brahms: The Boy II by William Brent Bell (2020)
Pointless and soulless sequel. I quite liked Bell's first film, but at least that one had something new to bring to the table. This is little more than a feeble haunted doll flick. Some decent scenes at the end, but the entire run-up to the finale is tame and derivative. And even though they left the door open for a third film, let's hope Bell will go on to direct something better.

14. 2.0* - Knives Out by Rian Johnson (2019)
Rather plain and stuffy whodunnit. The story isn't all that interesting, neither are the characters/actors and Johnson's direction isn't much to get excited about either. It's just a rather plain genre film that goes through the motions without adding anything original or noteworthy. Unworthy of all the hype.

15. 2.0* - Girls Unbutton [Bat Kau Lau Dik Lui Hai] by Taylor Wong (1994)
Pretty flimsy and cheesy comedy, not quite the film you'd expect from Taylor Wong. But the film is surprisingly upbeat and frivolous, making it a very each watch. It's also quite short and doesn't dwell too long on its drama. Definitely not the best film Wong has made, but it's somewhat decent filler, which is more than I expected.

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#7

Post by joachimt » February 23rd, 2020, 1:34 pm

No comments this week......

En rade (1927, 1 official list, 24 checks) 8/10
Watched because it's an official check shorter than 70 min (but then it appeared to be much longer and I had the runtime changed on IMDb).
Vera Drake (2004, 6 official lists, 3390 checks) 8/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on Mubi.
Carnal Knowledge (1971, 3 official lists, 1348 checks) 7/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on Mubi.
Green Book (2018, 10 official lists, 5535 checks) 7/10
Watched because it's on Amazon Prime and it's a must-see.
Toy Story 4 (2019, 5 official lists, 3845 checks) 7/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on Disney+.
Everest (1998, 1 official list, 201 checks) 6/10
Watched because it's an official short.
The Good Fairy (1935, 2 official lists, 167 checks) 6/10
Watched because it was FotW.
Total Recall (2012, 1 official list, 7427 checks) 6/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on Amazon Prime.
Urs al-jalil AKA Wedding in Galilee (1987, 4 official lists, 139 checks) 6/10
Watched because it used to be on TSPDT.
Forest of Bliss (1986, 2 official lists, 82 checks) 5/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on Mubi.
George of the Jungle (1997, 2 official lists, 11790 checks) 3/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on Disney+.
Touch Me Not (2018, 1 official list, 121 checks) 3/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on Mubi.
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#8

Post by mightysparks » February 23rd, 2020, 1:50 pm

Yay another lover of Detention. I liked it less on a rewatch, but still good fun. Not my usual kind of film (usually don’t like the hyper energetic stuff).
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#9

Post by mightysparks » February 24th, 2020, 1:49 am

sol wrote:
February 23rd, 2020, 12:51 pm
mighty:

I wouldn't feel bad about remembering little of Going My Way. It was my only repeat viewing this week and I remembered little from it beforehand, other than Bing Crosby singing a lot, interacting with a teenage girl and clashing with a delightful Barry Fitzgerald. Turns out that there is actually very little more to the film than that - one of the less substantial Oscar Best Picture winners for sure.

Regarding Within Our Gates, I can imagine forgetting most of it in a few weeks time. I would classify The Black Gestapo and Tales from the Hood as more memorable ventures though. I guess the 3/10 for the former is understandable since exploitation films tends to be divisive, but there was enough cool imagery and ideas to keep me engaged. I thought that Tales from the Hood was pretty wonderful though. I can't think of many (any?) other horror anthologies in which every segment is equally as strong.

Yours:

I liked Leave No Trace quite a bit at the time and would happily echo the positives that you cite. I was less enthused by Phantom Thread, but it is a respectable effort. Interesting that it is your favourite PTA film because it would probably be one of his weaker efforts for me, largely carried through by the dark turns that their relationship takes in the second half of the movie. I have never been particularly big on DDL, but I would concede that this was a more layered performance than the ones that he actually won Oscars for this century.

Haven't seen your others, but I did start watching The Nice Guys at some point only to decide after less than ten minutes that I was not in the mood. Never felt inclined to go back.
Nice Guys takes a while to get going, and I’d recommend it if you get in the mood for it but it’s not a must see. I didn’t mind the dark turn for Phantom Thread but it didn’t really have the development in the first half for it to work that well.

I had to look up Tales From the Hood to be reminded of the segments and I still barely remember them. Don’t think I liked any of them but yea anthologies usually suck. I remember watching Black Gestapo when I was completing the Deuce list (I think) and it kind of blurs with a few others. They’re pretty hit and miss for me.
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#10

Post by peeptoad » February 24th, 2020, 1:36 pm

Hi sol.... I hope you and everyone else in this thread is had a good week. I only saw 3 films last week and two were rewatches, so I'll post my views next week.


Also have not seen anything anyone else has posted here except for a couple of the rewatches that PdA saw (Back to the Future, et al) and:
Onderhond wrote:
February 23rd, 2020, 1:16 pm
14. 2.0* - Knives Out by Rian Johnson (2019)
Rather plain and stuffy whodunnit. The story isn't all that interesting, neither are the characters/actors and Johnson's direction isn't much to get excited about either. It's just a rather plain genre film that goes through the motions without adding anything original or noteworthy. Unworthy of all the hype.
I agree on this... not that I was looking forward to it all (a friend put it on when I was hanging with them a couple of weeks ago), and I am not big on murder-mysteries of any kind except for gialli and Hitchcock. In addition to the weaknesses you cited I'd add that is was way too damn long. In fact that's my biggest gripe. I can handle longer running times, but not for a film such as this. If I had a wrist watch (I dispensed with that atrocity back in 1995) I would have been checking it repeatedly. Editing is a virtue.

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#11

Post by Onderhond » February 24th, 2020, 1:58 pm

@sol:
Haven't seen to much from yours this week, but did see The Bells of St. Mary's (hah!). Didn't like it very much (1.5*), but my girlfriend loves Crosby, so we watched it this Christmas. Also seen Kubo and the Two Strings (2*, I love stop motion but this looks too much like CG animation for my taste, I just don't see the point) and The Greatest Showman, (2*, also well overrated).

@mightysparks:
Seen Phantom Thread, but disliked it a lot. PTA has been a constant disappointment since Punch-Drunk Love. I've rewatched some of his older films and still like them, so not sure what happened to him. He got so much more serious and his films have become considerably duller. I've also seen The Nice Guys (2.5*), which I kind of liked, but it's been going downhill for Shane Black since his first film.

And yeah, ran into Detention in a "Maximalist Films" list and didn't really know what to expect (it didn't really look all that weird from the trailer intro/poster), but it was a very nice surprise. The ratings/averages for that one are devastating, but I'm sure it was marketed to the wrong people. Very cool and funny film.

@peeptoad:
The running time was definitely a problem too, especially the reveal was excruciatingly slow. Probably because I didn't care much how it was going to end, I was just waiting for it to end :lol:

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#12

Post by Lonewolf2003 » February 24th, 2020, 3:11 pm

My viewings last week:

Ginza 24 chou [Tales of Ginza] (1955, Yuzo Kawashima) : 8.2
Fûsen [The Balloon] (1956, Yuzo Kawashima): 8.0
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945, Elia Kazan): 8.2
Jojo Rabbit (2019, Taika Waititi): 7.2
Good Boys (2019, Gene Stupnitsky): 6.8 - Think Superbad with 12y olds. It has its flaws, but I laughed plenty.
Il postino (1994, Michael Radford, Massimo Troisi): 7.2
Apocalypse Now: The Final Cut (1979, Francis Ford Coppola) (rewatch): 10 > 10! -This new 4k remasterd edition with 183 minutes clocks midway between the original theatrical (147 min) and Redux version (197 min). It did keep most of the controversial plantation sequence, but personally I never had much problem with this part, since it gives some historical background to the war. This remains a complete masterpiece. Like said many times; Apocalypse Now isn't about the Vietnam War, it is the Vietnam War. No movie comes close to depicting the insanity of that war. It also perfectly walks that tight confrontational line between the attraction and atrocities of war. Plus it looks and sounds better than it ever did. So I would recommend every lover to check out this version.

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#13

Post by sol » February 24th, 2020, 3:14 pm

peeps:

Obviously I would highly recommend Tales from the Hood to you from my movie viewings this week. Not sure what else. Maybe Prey depending on your tolerance for the likes of Roar; it is somewhat better than its IMDb rating, but falls short of being really good on account of the characters making the stupidest of decisions to place themselves in the maximum danger of being attacked.

Onderhond:

That's too bad; The Country Girl is a far better Bing Crosby film, though I wouldn't recommend that to you either since pre-90s cinema does so little for you in general. Interesting that you and your girlfriend skipped Going My Way. While Bells of St. Mary's is a sequel, the pair probably make enough sense watched separately. I assume that you knew it was a sequel, though it of course came out way before Jaws 2 popularised the use of a numeral after the title to more clearly indicate (and cash in on) follow-up entries.

Kubo and the Two Strings - yep, totally get what you're saying. I love the rawness of Jan Svankmajer's stop animation style in particular in which you can tell that the objects aren't quite moving normally. I read somewhere that a lot of folks did not even realise that Kubo was stop animated until the end credits rolled. It does seem kind of pointless heavily disguising the fact to such a degree.

I didn't hear much good from cinephiles about The Greatest Showman at the time, so it actually massively surpassed my expectations. Agree that it isn't completely worthless or anything.

Yours:

I absolutely loved Detention as someone who has Scream in his all-time top 5. Very cool horror meta-cinema. I can't wait until mighty and Chris refix the formula so that Detention can regain its rightful place in the TSZDT canon.

Only seen Youth of the Beast and Tokyo Drifter from Suzuki, but I liked Youth a lot more.

Knives Out could have definitely done with more dynamic supporting characters (Jamie Lee Curtis and Toni Collette felt particularly wasted to me) but I do so love an Agatha Christie style murder mystery and I adored Johnson's attempts to shake things up by not presenting all of the facts in chronological order. Definitely my sort of film, but I seem to be in the minority. Not sure how much hype the film actually has; most folks who I have run into here think that it is somewhere between average and downright mediocre.
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#14

Post by Onderhond » February 24th, 2020, 3:43 pm

sol wrote:
February 24th, 2020, 3:14 pm
That's too bad; The Country Girl is a far better Bing Crosby film, though I wouldn't recommend that to you either since pre-90s cinema does so little for you in general. Interesting that you and your girlfriend skipped Going My Way. While Bells of St. Mary's is a sequel, the pair probably make enough sense watched separately. I assume that you knew it was a sequel, though it of course came out way before Jaws 2 popularised the use of a numeral after the title to more clearly indicate (and cash in on) follow-up entries.
Well, my girlfriend loves these films so I don't mind any recommendations. That said, we've already seen both Going My Way and The Country Girl. I've ranked them lower than Bells of St. Mary's, but I have to admit that I've built a little more resistance to these kind of films over time, so it's hard to fully trust these ratings/rankings.

My personal Crosby favs (if you can call them that :D) are the Road To ... films. Remarkably modern comedy, didn't expect that from films that are quite old.
sol wrote:
February 24th, 2020, 3:14 pm
Kubo and the Two Strings - yep, totally get what you're saying. I love the rawness of Jan Svankmajer's stop animation style in particular in which you can tell that the objects aren't quite moving normally. I read somewhere that a lot of folks did not even realise that Kubo was stop animated until the end credits rolled. It does seem kind of pointless heavily disguising the fact to such a degree.
Yeah. It probably should be a bit more refined cfr Svankmajer for me, but I do like it when stop-motion animation actually looks the part. Mary & Max is my personal favorite there, also looking forward to Junkhead a lot (if that is ever released over here).
sol wrote:
February 24th, 2020, 3:14 pm
I didn't hear much good from cinephiles about The Greatest Showman at the time, so it actually massively surpassed my expectations. Agree that it isn't completely worthless or anything.
+
most folks who I have run into here think that Knives Out is somewhere between average and downright mediocre.
Well, I do visit forums outside of the cinephile bubble, and both films are quite respected there. Knives Out in particular, it's even in the IMDb Top 250 I think. It's popularity surprised me, especially since the latest Orient Express film didn't do all that well. Can't really be bothered with the plots of these films, so direction is key for me, and in that respect Rian Johnson was too dull for my taste.

And glad to see you liked Detention, 100% agree it belongs in the TSZDT list!

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#15

Post by OldAle1 » February 24th, 2020, 3:53 pm

This film ROCKED
This film SUCKED

Jumanji: The Next Level (Jake Kasdan, 2019) (cinema)

I probably would have skipped this if there were more movies playing near me, and I didn't have the deep psychological need to get out of the house and go sit in a dark room by myself with a bunch of strangers fairly often. But overall I'm not sorry I did; though it's not as good as the first film, it's very much in the same vein, perhaps no surprise given that we have the same director and largely the same cast. These films are the closest I've seen lately to getting what was the magic of fantasy films in the 1980s right - closer in fact than the original film with Robin Williams. So I suppose they're nostalgia trips more than anything else but overall I think they're pretty well put together in their own rights, with a well chosen central cast (Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan, Kevin Hart, Jack Black) and solid new additions this time (Awkwafina, and Danny DeVito and Danny Glover in the real world setting) and a more varied set of locations - good thing they didn't just stick to the jungle. No this isn't anything that leaves a lasting impression, but if compared to other big-budget American franchise stuff I'd say it looks pretty good.

Willie Dynamite (Gilbert Moses, 1974)

I don't know about anybody else, but I look for specific elements when it comes to many genres - particularly fairly small and contained genres like blaxploitation. Got to have some funky music, got to have some cool threads, got to have at least one decent car chase or foot chase (preferably both); in the more serious films I also want to see some real exploration of the morality of drug dealing and pimping, and I always like to see some sticking it to the Man. Willie Dynamite has just about all of these things, and in one area - the wardrobe - it's absolutely top-notch. I'd have to look at 1974 overall but if there's a film with better costume design from this year I definitely want to be pointed towards it - and I'm hardly a costume fetishist. But jeez, this is just full of weird and cool suits of every color, fur-lined (or maybe fake fur or wool sometimes - not always easy to tell) capes, mini-skirts and high heeled boots in every color of the rainbow, etc. Best pimp threads ever.

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Pretty cool cars too and a good if not exceptional soundtrack - and at least a small helping of all those other elements. And that's enough to make it worth watching IMO, though the overall plot - top pimp Willie (Roscoe Orman) brought successively lower and lower over the course of the film by the cops, by the IRS, by his competitors, and by his own hubris, isn't anything you haven't seen before if you've seen a bit of the genre. There are some other interesting elements - the interactions with the two main cops, one white and one black, and the very ending - simultaneously more realistic and more hopeful than most of the rest of the film would lead you to expect. Not top-drawer but overall above average for sure.

Black Dynamite (Scott Sanders, 2009) (re-watch)

3rd or 4th viewing. This gets better every time; like most of the best parodies, this does have some value even if you're not that familiar with what's being parodied - when I first saw this new I was in that category of viewer. But now after probably 60 or more blaxplo films seen it's even better and the specific references to films like the one I saw just before it, to The Mack and Truck Turner, are funnier than ever, and star/co-writer Michael Jai White's combination of Jim Brown and JIm Kelly (with maybe a small touch of Fred Williamson, at least in the mustache) and co-writer Byron Minns' Bullhorn, a dead-on imitation of Rudy Ray Moore, help to make this one of my all-time favorites in this category. Spinal Tap is probably the only film at all comparable that I might - just might - like more. I do wish they had done more with Salli Richardson-Whitfield's Gloria - the film is missing the tough Pam Grier female lead and she's the closest thing to it, and just doesn't get any real standout scenes - but with the limitations of budget and everything else it's no surprise - if you listen to the commentary it's clear that they wanted better female-led kung-fu action among other things, but it wasn't in the cards, and alas there never was a live-action sequel; I still haven't watched the animated TV series, probably should get to that sometime. If I have a single highlight it's probably the diner-set scene where Black Dynamite explains the origin of Anaconda Malt Liquor and why it's being so aggressively marketed to black men - a plot point that comes out of a number of conspiracy-minded blaxplo films like Darktown Strutters; this reminds me of the Holy Grail sketch where Sir Bedevere is explaining how you can spot a witch, only it goes much farther in the extreme silliness and convolutions of the arguments.

Répertoire des villes disparues / Ghost Town Anthology (Denis Côté, 2019)

Côté is one of the better-known younger Québecois directors, and being somewhat interested in Canadian cinema I've known the name for years though I haven't gotten around to seeing any of his films until now. Always good to go into a few films every year totally blind - it's difficult for me outside of festivals but it's been rewarding as often as not. This one I knew nothing about besides the title - so maybe it's a ghost or horror film? - and the snowy landscape. In a nutshell it's about the inhabits of a small (pop 200 or so) rural town that is dying - people moving away mostly, but also a town filled with elderly people and not getting much new blood, so dying more naturally. At the beginning of the film one of the young residents dies in a car crash - probably a suicide but that's never answered for sure and doesn't really matter. Point is soon he reappears to his grieving brother and mother, and soon other dead people start to reappear. So it's a ghost/zombie/something film but... nothing much happens really, certainly nothing that could be meaningfully called "horror" or "fantasy". The dead appear, the living talk about it. I think there is something here being said about the meaning of the term "ghost town" - about how when all the living go away, only the dead will want to live there - but it never gets much beyond that fairly shallow and obvious premise, and this is ultimately pretty dull with no intellectual payoff (it's obvious early on that there won't be any meaningful plot resolutions). Nice wintry landscapes but that's about it.

Transit (Christian Petzold, 2018)

A fairly simple and oft-told story: a political refugee from Germany and the oncoming war makes his way from northern to southern France, along with another man, a writer, who dies along the way. Taking the dead man's papers he winds up in Marseilles, and attempts to get a ship to Mexico - while there he contacts the dead man's wife and falls in love with her, but she is in a relationship with another man, a doctor, and the decision as to who is going to get out, and how, makes up the meat of the film. There are side plots involving a north African woman and her young son who at one point needs the doctor's assistance, and a Jewish woman also trying to escape, more fatalistic and depressed than any of the other characters in this downbeat drama. It's gorgeously shot in something not far from old Technicolor and the feel of place and the political-cultural desperation is palpable, but the most interesting element to my mind is
SpoilerShow
the deliberately anachronistic choices of adapting a WWII era novel about the Nazis, but placing it visually in a 21st century timeframe. Well, mostly 21st century - the cars and some of the costumes and technology are those of today - other artifacts point not just to 1940 but to other eras in between; I think the typewriter we see belongs to the 50s for example, the visual palette and some of the costumes strike me as more 50s-60s at times, and the Talking Heads' "Road to Nowhere" from 1985 plays over the end credits. The intent is obvious, not just the overt juxtaposition of out modern-day crises in immigration and increased authoritarian governments in many "democracies" but the very real possibility of a recycling and repetition of history.
For me this strategy totally works, and added to this a layer of almost Hitchcockian mystery and obsession - our protagonist keeps seeing the young woman over and over before finally getting to meet her, and the waiting, and the hope without hope - and you end up with a wonderful re-working of old themes. This is my third Petzold film and while I didn't like it quite as much as Phoenix, and liked Barbara a little less than either, I think this is the point where I see enough in his work as a whole that I'm going to have to go through all the older films.

Nan Fang Che Zhan De Ju Hui / The Wild Goose Lake (Yi'nan Diao, 2019)

Watched this because of the attention it was getting in the 2019 poll, and generally positive comments elsewhere. Haven't seen anything from the director but as a huge fan of noir both this and his previous and better known Bai ri yan huo from 2014 look right up my alley. And "alley" is an operative word here as it seems like half of the film takes place in alleys, stairwells, really grungy apartment buildings or the kitchens of cheap restaurants. It's a fairly - I should say extremely - typical noir storyline, with a criminal on the run from the law after shooting a cop, meeting up with a woman who may or may not be trustworthy, having several narrow escapes before destiny finally catches up to him. It's nicely shot though like a lot of newer films - and it seems to me particularly Chinese films - the accent on yellow/green is a little overbearing at times - and the use of seedy locations is excellent, but it never really added up to anything compelling for me. One of those films where I really feel the need to hunt up some of the great reviews and see what I may have missed - or what others think they see.

Raffles (George Fitzmaurice, 1930)

TCM. Third viewing, maybe fourth. I love these light and comedic crime films from this period, though truth be told few of them are good enough to watch over and over or make my favorites list or anything. Part of the problem with the ones from the earliest period of sound is, in fact, the primitive technology, which typically makes for broad and loud acting and not very interesting camerawork (hard to move the cameras around and catch dialogue at the same time). Of course that's a problem for every kind of film, but these types of pictures rely on lots of dialogue and typically weren't big budget and so often - the Philo Vance films are good examples - seem very creaky indeed, even compared to other films of, say, 1929-32. This film beats most of the others in the era pretty handily and maybe it's no surprise given that the photography was handled by an old pro from the silent era, George Barnes, and an up-and-coming young guy named Gregg Toland. William Cameron Menzies, one of the greatest of all Hollywood production designers, worked on the sets and future directors Stuart Heisler and H. Bruce Humberstone were also present in editing and second-unit capacities so this had a wealth of talent behind the camera, ensuring a better-sounding and better-looking take on this kind of popular genre piece than most. And it's not a bad story either, with Ronald Colman as the title character, a gentleman thief who is on the verge of retiring when his gambling-addict buddy suddenly needs a thousand pounds (an enormous sum at the time) and the possibility of an easy jewel robbery presents itself. This has some creaky moments for sure but I love Colman, and David Torrence as the initially snotty Scottish inspector on the case is just as good. And the camerawork and lighting are top-notch, with a long tracking shot that goes down a hallway, into a room full of people, zooming in close and then panning a highlight, and a pretty impressive feat for a sound film in 1930.

Brief Encounter (David Lean, 1945)

TCM. Also third or fourth viewing, but first in quite a while. I've always liked this film about a brief but potent romance, mostly taking place in a railway station cafe and it's environs, but it took until this viewing to really lodge it into the strong favorite category. I think I used to have something of an issue with Celia Johnson - her upper-class delivery and general quick, almost shrill delivery takes some getting used to - and with the comedic elements involving Joyce Carey's shop owner and the flirtatious ticket inspector Stanley Holloway. I guess the latter bothers me less now and I suspect it exists to lighten the mood a little - it's a pretty gloomy film in many ways otherwise - and also to show perhaps an alternate kind of romantic experience, a casual and conversational bit of fun that Johnson's married, middle-class, rather neurotic Laura and Trevor Howard's also-married and needy doctor Alec probably can't even imagine in their intensity and fevered obsession. The way the flashback - the whole film really - is set up, and the slow reveal of the sad short relationship-to-be are brilliant evocations of the suddenness and pain that love at the wrong time and place can bring, and the feeling that this could be the most important even in either person's life, a life-changing experience, are palpable throughout. If it has a flaw of any significance, it's that we don't really get to know Howard's character as well as we might want to - it's clear just through Laura's thoughts and actions what he gives to her that her husband can't provide, but we get no sense of the same in Alec. It's also more clear from this viewing just how much Clint Eastwood and his screenwriter Richard LaGravenese were influenced by this film - the bridge sequences, and much of Celia's inner dialogue in particular, in making The Bridges of Madison County, the only other romance of this particular type that IMO can stand with this masterpiece. Probably deserving of it's nominations in a great year for Oscar nominations, though I haven't seen everything in the categories it received nods for.

Sons and Lovers (Jack Cardiff, 1960)

TCM. This won it's cinematography award and at the outset I will say that it stands up pretty well against the now much more famous Psycho, Inherit the Wind and The Apartment, the other nominees I've seen. It's in b/w 'scope, a format I just love when done properly and it certainly is here, though given the amount of time we spend in cramped living quarters it might seem an odd choice. Still the hilly coal-country landscapes are beautiful and it's consistently enjoyable to watch from a pure visual standpoint, and the vastness of the scenery does seem to reflect the desires of many of the younger characters to get out, away, into the wild, wide world. Alas I wish I could say I liked the rest of this dreary D.H. Lawrence adaptation as much, though to be fair a huge part of the problem lies in the miscasting of Dean Stockwell as Paul Morel, the youngest (? it wasn't clear) and most rebellious and independent son of coal miner Trevor Howard and long-suffering wife Wendy Hiller, living in squalor in the English coal country early in the last century. Apparently Stockwell was pushed into the mostly British production to help the film's box office chances in the USA - which probably worked, it did fairly well and obviously got a lot of Oscar attention - but unfortunately his accent seems to vary scene to scene and sometimes word-to-word and he just comes off all wrong, more an angry young man of the 60s than of the 10s. And the film as a whole just doesn't to my mind feel very much like a work of the time the novel was written/set, and much more like the typical British contemporary films of the period starring people like RIchard Burton or Oliver Reed, and is just a mess ultimately. Wendy Hiller is really good though, and Oscar-nominated Mary Ure and Trevor Howard are fine, so it's not all a loss but a very mixed bag at best.

Under the Silver Lake (David Robert Mitchell, 2018)

The second neo-noir/crime/mystery film of the week with the word "lake" in it. Also watched because it was new and getting some love on the poll, and I remember seeing some intriguing comments about it when it first played. Looks like this got ZERO distribution, sadly; though I didn't end up loving it, and can understand the POV of some of the more negative reviews out there, it's certainly more interesting and fresh in it's filmmaking than an awful lot of stuff that gets more commercial love. I think we're in a period now in America where the noir style has retreated to a very small audience - or at least Hollywood thinks it has - and so while a lighthearted thriller like Knives Out can get a huge release, weirder and darker stuff like this rarely gets a chance. The director's previous film It Follows fell into the more conventionally palatable horror category and so got a bigger release and probably better reviews - because people could handle what they were getting, they ordered a cheese omelette and got it - while this is a mystery omelet and even pro critics don't seem to like that very much. Anyway just my little riff on possible reasons why this never got seen by anybody in the cinema.

But why should it have gotten a look? Well it's beautiful to look at - this is the best-looking LA movie since La La Land and y'all know how much I love that. It uses color and lighting beautifully, and it's shot in lots of different locations and has a real feel for the city that is not quite the same as any other film I can think of - this is the dark and seedy and yet simultaneously upscale and hip city, the city that the young kid move to so they can feel simultaneously part of the grungy American past and the shiny present. It's got a pretty interesting obsession/mystery plot that worked pretty well for me in the first two-thirds - when the conspiracy elements get really wild near the end I guess I felt a little disappointed - it didn't need to go so over-the-top and go into fantasy territory. And it's full of allusions, visual and narrative, to a lot of great directors that came before, in particularly Hitchcock, DePalma, Lynch and Kubrick. So what's not to like? Ultimately it feels too much a mishmash and Mitchell I think lacks the discipline that the four people I named have in their better works. DePalma is IMO a lesser name than the others but his Body Double strikes me as the closest single film to this* and it's a good deal shorter and while confusing and weird enough itself never goes off into all the tangents this film does, which I think are ultimately it's undoing. I also think Mitchell's penchant for nudity, in particular asses both male and female, is worth noting and I'm not sure if it feels merely exploitative or if there's a real reason for it. In the end I enjoyed this plenty, because like a couple of other comments have stated, I'd rather see something that shoots for the moon even if it fails than something that just goes through the motions, but it's quite a mess and it feels like with better editing and maybe a *slightly* more cohesive script (not too cohesive, still want some of the craziness) it could have been something truly special.

*Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut and of course Hitch's Vertigo, and maybe Lynch's Blue Velvet are other markers in this territory.

Who Killed Captain Alex? (Nabwana I.G.G., 2010)

Lots of people have written about this in the past, and sol gets at what the appeal is fairly well in this thread - super-cheap amateur production, with a voice-over "Video Joker" narration commenting on the action at various times but not exactly in an MST3K way - in fact it's hard to tell whether the Joker actually believes this is a "supa action" film or is just having us on. The digital blood may be the most fake I've ever seen, and most of the action sequences are hilariously inept, and the plot is fairly incomprehensible yet simple at the same time. I don't know if this is in the so-bad-it's-good category or what, and it's probably not something I enjoyed enough to watch repeatedly like some folks do, but it's something and worth at least one look for fans of "outsider" cinema.

Hors la loi / Outside the Law (Rachid Bouchareb, 2010)

Long, mostly interesting and successful drama about a family - particularly three brothers - that struggles against French colonial repression of Algeria, and eventually for independence, over the four decades beginning in 1925 when their land is taken away and given to a colonist. It has some very predictable elements - one brother is an early convert to the FLN, the radical "terrorist" group pushing hard for independence as early as the end of WWII; another becomes a soldier in Indochina and has a slower conversion to the independence movement - and is the only brother to marry, and the third is a self-absorbed capitalist intent on his growing career as first a pimp then a boxing promoter. You can probably guess the directions these three will go in in the last third of the film, and which of them is likely to survive, a changed man. But it's all quite well done and got me more interested into delving further into this area of 20th century history, which the French themselves of course would rather forget; it's only in relatively recent years that a film like this could even get released in France. I have (shockingly) only seen one Oscar Best Foreign Film nominee for this year, Incendies, and I liked that less.


Gordon's War (Ossie Davis, 1973)

A more serious, action-crime oriented film than most, this has something of the gritty feel of Across 110th Street and for the use of New York locations and the feel for the streets of Harlem at the time it's worth a look. But the story of Vietnam vet Paul Winfield returning to find his wife dead from the Evils of Smack and declaring all-out war on the dealers, pushers and pimps, recruiting three of his Nam buddies, is pretty old-hat. Maybe it wasn't at the time but I suspect even in '73 this didn't impress much - it remains a pretty obscure film. Decent funky soundtrack, some good action sequences, but the later parts of the film where we suddenly discover that, gasp, it's The Man behind all the black dealers and pimps and He's the guy they have to actually take out, and particularly the last scene, feel pretty tacked-on, either to increase the running time to an acceptable 90 minutes or to make sure that the audience wouldn't come away thinking the problems are all just in the black community and in fact caused by black bad guys. Grace Jones has a small role - her first. Ehh, pretty average overall.

Midsommar (Ari Aster, 2019)

I feel like I could be lazy and just tell you to watch the RLM Half in the Bag episode on this, in this case I'm totally on the same wavelength as Mike and Jay, though I do think they're being a bit unkind to Florence Pugh in the last half hour of the film - Aster clearly wants her, and all the other main characters, to essentially be deadened and largely emotionless here. Anyway I'll be short because I don't think I have much to say that others including RLM haven't already said - this is certainly interesting, and disturbing, and along with his previous Hereditary certainly marks Aster as being one of the more interesting horror directors to get started in the last few years (this coming from the POV of someone who doesn't watch a huge amount of horror of course); the pagan ritual setting and all is not overused, and Pugh's acting and all the early set-up in the film are excellent. And it's interesting to see a horror film that is SOOO bright and sunny throughout - in summer under the midnight sun in Sweden. OK. But even in the theatrical cut (which I watched) this is almost 2 1/2 hours long and it gets very repetitious, and the payoff is all very obvious to anybody who's seen The Wicker Man, which is much better on almost all counts. I do rather wish I'd seen this in the cinema for one reason though - the use of sound seems quite extraordinary, and I only got a minimal sense of that at home. Maybe I should have worn headphones for a better effect. Anyway, kind of a disappointment, not a bad film but just nothing that special for me.

Ida (Pawel Pawlikowski, 2013)

While this film about a young novice nun in Poland circa 1960, who visits her aunt just before she's to take her vows and disappear from the world, and finds out about a Jewish heritage and the deaths of her parents that she had no knowledge of, runs only 82 minutes it still feels very much like a slow burn, or a film that just builds very, very gradually, piling on small character and historical elements to finally come to a measure of real brilliance in the beautiful last shot. The photography is all grey-scale and it's shot in 4:3 aspect ratio, and it's clear from some of the things Pawlikowski has said that this is in a measure a deep memory piece for him, Poland of his childhood with all those wartime memories and old grievances still roiling around. It wasn't really until near the end that I got to understand the real psychological kinship between the former prosecutor and ardent communist aunt (a brilliant Agata Kulesza) and the quiet, very reserved novitiate (Agata Trzebuchowska, whose only feature role this remains - she is apparently working on a directing career), after they have essentially switched places in the narrative and the nun-to-be has become the aggressive finder of truths, and then after they have parted, each questioning her commitment to her vocation, which leaves one without any possible future and the other with an obvious choice. This is pretty great in the end though it's very much one of those films that I was feeling "what's the big deal" about for most of the running time. Certainly seems deserving of it's Oscar noms though I like Leviafan more and Timbuktu about as much.

Cobra nero / Black Cobra (Stelvio Massi, 1987)

By this point in his career Fred Williamson was very far from the peak he reached in the early to mid 70s when he was one of the top black stars and was starting his directing career. I don't know if it was the drying up of the blaxploitation genre, an inability or disinterest in changing his screen persona, bad luck or personal issues, but he has never gotten back to where he was early in his career and apart from a few supporting roles in better films, most of what he's done since 1977 or so has ranged from mediocre and predictable schlock to bottom-of-the-barrel crap. This is in the latter category unfortunately, a quickie shot in Italy like a lot of his work in the 80s, at a time when the Italian genre industry itself was deeply fallen on hard times. So you get a washed up American star in a washed-up low-budget industry, you're not going to get much. Williamson is Malone, the one tough Dirty Harry-type cop in the nameless city's police force who has to protect a photographer who snapped a pic of a biker/drug gang leader. One decent car chase near the end, a fair amount of pretty poorly shot gun and hand-to-hand violence, absolutely horrible dubbing (though Williamson does dub himself thankfully). And a horrible muddy transfer, at least in the copy I saw - judging from a couple of reviews and screenshots I've seen there's nothing better unfortunately. I definitely admire the Italian genre factory as much as most people, but from what I've seen they sure didn't do well with blaxploitation and this is no exception to that observation, in fact it's among the worst I've seen.

That Man Bolt (Henry Levin/David Lowell Rich, 1973)

Williamson in his heyday. The top review on IMDb pretty much gets this right, calling it "an odd mix of blaxploitation, martial arts, and espionage/spy thriller". The only thing I'd add is echoes of James Bond specifically - the casino sequence is low-rent Bond and the first few scenes seem to be pointing in that direction. But our man Bolt (Williamson) isn't a spy or secret agent, he's a high-priced courier, tasked in this story with taking a briefcase with $1,000,000 from Hong Kong to Mexico City, but after an attempted "change of plans" by forces unknown in Los Angeles, he decides to find out who is double-crossing him and who's behind it all, landing first in Las Vegas - where he reunites with a singer (Teresa Graves) and an old buddy casino owner, only to see both of them pay a price for associating with the man with the money. Then it's on to Hong Kong where inevitably we find a suave gangster who employs an army (well, really, not even a company) of kung-fu assassins who Bolt will eventually have to defeat. Good location work - this must have had some kind of budget because they actually shot it in LA, Vegas and HK - reasonably good action, and Williamson's cool persona works pretty well here, but the plot is simultaneously confusing and poorly stitched together, and deeply generic. All in all worth watching for fans like me but not among the top tier, that's for sure.

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#16

Post by 45MinuteZoom » February 24th, 2020, 4:40 pm

The House of Yes (Mark Waters, 1997) Watched as part of a local bar’s “Gay Movie Mondays”. The theme for this month’s GMMs has just been campy movies. Parker Posey really carries the movie. You can tell through the cadence of the dialogue that it’s adapted from a play. It’s a dark comedy about incestuous twins, just alright in the end. 5/10



Tongues Untied (Marlon Riggs, 1989) Rewatched at the same local bar, programmed for Black History Month. It hasn’t been too long since I first watched this one, only two years or so. I still love the delivery of the movie; the poetic expression really makes it stand out. 8/10



Knives Out (Rian Johnson, 2019) Watched out of curiosity. My friend has been ranting on this movie for months, saying it’s so terrible. It was just fine, nothing super interesting about it, but nothing terrible. 6/10



Casino Royal (A Bunch, 1967) Watched while working through the Bond Movies. I don’t think I’ve seen a mainstream comedy from the 60s that I’ve liked so far, and between this and The Party I’ve really been put off Peter Sellers. Just a long unfunny mess. 2/10



Women with Eyes Open (Anne-Laure Folly, 1994) Watched for Progress on Guide to African Cinema 10/42. Definitely comes swinging out the gate with the female circumcision, forced marriages and the AIDs. Paints a bleak picture that hopefully has changed in the past 26 years. 6/10



Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Celine Sciamma, 2019) Watched due to the hype. Easily the best movie I’ve seen in a while. So many charged glances, and Noemie Merlant has such a piercing gaze. Adele Haenel does such a good job of radiating anger at her situation, completely out of control of every aspect of her life and being forced into a marriage. One of the best endings I’ve seen as well. The movie left both me and my girlfriend weeping, and she’s generally not someone to cry about a movie. Between this and Girlhood, I really love Celine Sciamma and will need to watch Tomboy soon. 9/10



The Black Cauldron (Ted Berman, Richard Rich, 1985) Watched for Progress on Top 100 Animated 78/100. What were they thinking with the storyline here? Absolute disaster. 2/10



On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (Peter R. Hunt, 1969) Watched while working through the Bond Movies. This is up there with my favorite Bonds so far, From Russia with Love and Goldfinger, even with some weird questions, like why Blodfeld didn’t recognize Bond. Lazenby does a solid job as Bond, and I enjoyed the storyline with Bond getting married. Reading other reviews, someone pointed out that the marriage storyline wouldn’t have been believable with Connery, and I generally agree with this. All of the winter sports moments are fun and Blodfeld seems more competent. 6/10



Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (Cathy Yan, 2020) Watched cause I have a soft spot for comic book movies. I’ve seen people compare this to DC’s Deadpool, and that’s relatively fair. I’m not a huge fan of Harley Quinn, but she was easily the best part of Suicide Squad and does shine in this movie. The fight scenes are well choreographed and it’s generally just a lot of fun. 7/10



Treasure Planet (Ron Clements, John Musker, 2002) Watched for Progress on Top 100 Animated 79/100. Solid adaptation of the story, and the animation is beautiful at times. Doubt it’ll be something I ever revisit though. 5/10

Back with comments about others viewings in a bit!

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#17

Post by OldAle1 » February 24th, 2020, 6:09 pm

Onderhond wrote:
February 24th, 2020, 3:43 pm


My personal Crosby favs (if you can call them that :D) are the Road To ... films. Remarkably modern comedy, didn't expect that from films that are quite old.
I don't have much time to write further, might not get to writing about other peoples' films this time, but I did want to give you props for LIKING (or at least tolerating) SOME OLD MOVIES :lol:

I actually really like the Road movies myself (still have to see the last and reputedly worst Road to Hong Kong) and I agree the humor is surprisingly "modern"; it's like a bridge between the Marx brothers and, I dunno, Seinfeld? I really have to watch them again to better articulate it, been years and years. The only other film starring either of them that I really love is Hope's My Favorite Brunette, a remarkable parody of film noir made while that movement was just about hitting it's peak, but I really don't think it's a film that works well unless you already love and are fairly familiar with classic American noir. I guess I like White Christmas too now come to think of it, but not for Bing, mostly for Danny Kaye.

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#18

Post by Onderhond » February 24th, 2020, 7:17 pm

Yeah, I always figured the fourth-wall breaking comedy was something more recent, so it really took me by surprise. I've also seen Hong Kong, but that is one of the lesser entries in the series.

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#19

Post by 45MinuteZoom » February 25th, 2020, 4:26 am

Sol: I’ll need to check out Tales From the Hood. I always like when a horror anthology is good. I’m a fan of both Trick r Treat and some of the V/H/S movies.

Mightysparks: I’ve been meaning to watch The Nice Guys for a while, just a shame it doesn’t hit as well as Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Tih Minh is also on my watchlist, but I need to work through Fantomas and Judex first.

Onderhond: Yeah, First Love, was a bit of a let down. It’s takes a long time for thing to really start moving. I really liked the girlfriend going for revenge character. Right there with you on Knives Out, it was just okay.

OldAle1: Brief Encounters is also a favorite of mine, your review has made me want to rewatch it. I agree with everything you’ve said on Midsommer. It is cool that it’s set in daylight, but it’s long and a lot of build for something that never really paid off.

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#20

Post by sol » February 25th, 2020, 1:36 pm

45MinuteZoom:

I liked Trick 'r Treat quite a bit too, though the real up-point about Tales of the Hood is that each of the four tales is equally as strong. They also link in very well with the wraparound story and that very rarely seems to happen. Haven't seen either V/H/S movie (have there been more than two?).

Yours:

Tongues Untied was fine at the time, albeit not a top tier documentary for me. Agreed that Knives Out is very underrated in cinephile circles. I love a good murder mystery. I don't understand all of the vehement hate for the film. Or perhaps more accurately, I don't understand why all the hate isn't directed at Craig's accent (the worst aspect of the film). I'm looking forward to Johnson's planned sequel/spin-off.

I love, love, love the original Casino Royale! Such zany and kooky fun with energetic performances from John Huston, Orson Welles, Woody Allen and of course Peter Sellers. Great Burt Bacharach music score too. But I have always had an affinity for wacky 60s and 70s comedies.

I think On Her Majesty Secret's Service topped my Bond list when I last rewatched the franchise. Love everything from the fourth wall breaking opening song to actually seeing Bond break down. The most human the 00 agent ever was, or at least until some of the Daniel Craig movies.
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#21

Post by Onderhond » February 25th, 2020, 1:54 pm

45MinuteZoom wrote:
February 25th, 2020, 4:26 am
I really liked the girlfriend going for revenge character.
Yeah, she really stood out. :D Lovely, all-in performance. She also had the best bits of dark comedy.

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#22

Post by 45MinuteZoom » February 25th, 2020, 5:47 pm

sol wrote:
February 25th, 2020, 1:36 pm
45MinuteZoom:

Haven't seen either V/H/S movie (have there been more than two?).

There are three, though the third isn’t worth it to watch. The second was slightly better than the first. Frankly I was surprised that they were good in the first place.

And yeah, also immediately hated Daniel Craig’s southern accent.

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#23

Post by Onderhond » February 25th, 2020, 5:56 pm

45MinuteZoom wrote:
February 25th, 2020, 5:47 pm
There are three, though the third isn’t worth it to watch.
Hmmm, I liked Viral better than the first one. The second one was clearly my favorite though. But overall I don't think the V/H/S series made use of its full potential. I tend to like anthology projects, there simply wasn't enough variation here.

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#24

Post by medium cool » February 29th, 2020, 1:44 am

sol wrote:
February 23rd, 2020, 12:00 pm
Each of the episodes comes with stinging social commentary and... Clarence Williams III is great as the eccentric raconteur
First, how did you end up using the Ebert/Maltin rating system? Just curious. It works well.

Second, glad to see you liked Tales From the Hood. For another rip-off movie, it's far more relevant than the series it rips off. It makes sense that Dickerson ended up directing the theatrical premiere of that series, at great success (IMO, IMHO, etc.). I didn't perfect score it, being more superficial than you (entertaining>interesting*), though I understand why you did. In each segment it brings up the type of themes that ought be the base of all horror, if horror is the mirror we're all afraid to look at. The things you don't bring up in casual conversation ("hey, I was abused as a minor, how about you?'"). Yeah, Clarence Williams III is an excellent cryptkeeper. No wonder he ended up one of Frankenheimer's go-to guys. Keith David adopted the role for the sequel, which I haven't seen.

Hollow Man. Is this worth discussing? I'd throw half a star on your score, if only for Verhoeven's commitment to presenting human fallability as a factor more motivating than learned attributes. After the mindblow of Starship Troopers as a cinema experience, this blew just the same (no, it blew). After a few reviewings I've grown to accept what few thoughts of its own it can be contributed to personal enhancement (just swing with it). Verhoeven came back with Zwartboek, so I'm still desperately awaiting his atheist Jesus film (which will never happen, and the world will never recover from that loss).


* yep, interesting = entertaining, if it's interesting enough.

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#25

Post by sol » February 29th, 2020, 3:12 am

medium cool wrote:
February 29th, 2020, 1:44 am
First, how did you end up using the Ebert/Maltin rating system? Just curious. It works well.
It came out of a discussion I had here a couple of years ago. I originally used to post reviews on the weekly thread without any rating at all. Reason being: everybody has a different idea of what a 6/10, 7/10 etc represents and therefore folks are more likely to gain a more accurate perspective of my thoughts on any given film by reading my reviews as opposed to just going by the rating. The feedback that I received in the discussion though was that most people wanted a quick at-a-glance indication of whether I loved, liked or disliked a movie without having to read the whole review, and thus the four star system was born.

I decided that I only needed a four star system since the ratings are just for at-a-glance ideas of how much I warmed towards something. No half-stars are necessary since all that I am doing with the stars in collating reviews in two four sections:

★★★★ = might have some reservations, but I would strongly recommend this - 7.5/10 - 10/10
★★★ = very solid film, liked this a lot and would recommend it - 6.5/10 - 7.5/10
★★ = okay/decent movie, liked it but with reservations - 5.5/10 - 6.5/10
★ = an average movie or worse; would not recommend - 0.5/10 - 5.5/10

The only negatives for me about this system are that:

a) Some people don't read the OP correctly and assuming that ★★ is a poor rating for me, when it actually means that I liked the film, just not a lot
b) Some people don't read the OP correctly and assuming that ★ means that I hated the film

I can't do much about (a) but with (b) it does not worry me too much because whether something is a 5/10 or a 4/10, it means that I was pretty apathetic towards it, and it seems little point in distinguishing between levels of disgust or disinterest.

Obviously, this is not a perfect rating system with some of the assumptions that skim readers make, but I massively prefer it to listing one of ten numbers next to my reviews. No need to make such fine distinctions when the rating is only there to give an at-a-glance indication of the tone of the review.
medium cool wrote:
February 29th, 2020, 1:44 am
Second, glad to see you liked Tales From the Hood. For another rip-off movie, it's far more relevant than the series it rips off. It makes sense that Dickerson ended up directing the theatrical premiere of that series, at great success (IMO, IMHO, etc.).
Oh yes - Tales from the Crypt be damned, Hood did it better. Not really interested in the sequel, but we'll see if it makes it my way.

And no, Hollow Man is probably not worth discussing. An okay film, but far below the likes of Starship Troopers, Total Recall et al.
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#26

Post by medium cool » February 29th, 2020, 4:08 am

sol wrote:
February 29th, 2020, 3:12 am
Tales from the Crypt be damned, Hood did it better. Not really interested in the sequel, but we'll see if it makes it my way.

Hollow Man is probably not worth discussing. An okay film, but far below the likes of Starship Troopers, Total Recall et al.
Starship Troopers, yay. Total Recall, ehh, okay. TR does have a lot of good ideas, hilarious SFX, more than decent (dated) world building, and a metric ton of satire. Oh, and it still hold the world record for Arnold groans. It's just that it lasts for an entire movie, without the prerequisite content to explain itself*. Nvm, I like it. Wouldn't call it out in a top notch contest, but it's fun. Point taken, though. No. Just no.

We're on the same page, rating-wise. It's an indication that may prove irrelevant unless you read the actual review. I meant to ask** why you specifically ended up on a four star system. Trivial, indeed. Just curious why you chose a specific one such as that. The answer is probably trivial, as the question. That is where my curiosity turns. We'll solve world problems later***

Also, we're going to have a discussion about ratings. I dig your rationale, but you have a very casual non-committal attitude towards your 4 star, and a 1 star sounds like it's better than nothing. I know for a fact that there are movies that are worse than nothing, so you're selling ideology here. If you're nice enough to rate a vile rape porn (just an example, you know I could have gone further) "average or worse", we have something to discuss. I'm of the opinion that films exist out there that rank even lower than scathing disinterest (or lower!). I'm also of the opinion that a full score is orgasmic. No serious reservations allowed for a full score. Okay, this is just breeding ground for further discussion.


* A discussion of choice for you. I'm not adding more paragraphs than you can fit in a plastic bag just for fun. We'll get to this one later.
** Words. I'm not their master.
*** A month. We'll pool our resources and solve those world problems in a month. We're pretty smart, so it'll be done in a forthnight.

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