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Which Films Did You See Last Week? Week 11, 2020

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sol
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Which Films Did You See Last Week? Week 11, 2020

#1

Post by sol » March 15th, 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

The Mechanic (1972). Talented at making his jobs look like accidents but worried about continuing to work alone due to health reasons, an experienced hit-man takes on an ambitious protégé in this Charles Bronson thriller. With a gay subtext from the source novel entirely erased from the final product, the character dynamics here are not quite as juicy as they could have been and Bronson's choice to take on an assistant always seems a little odd, but this is a well crafted movie overall. There is much more focus on Bronson meticulously planning each hit rather than the hits themselves, there is an intense 'suicide watch' stretch, and when the action does occur, it is pretty spectacular, from elongated motorcycle chases to exploded yachts. The final five minutes of the film are remarkably terse too, while the ending lingers long in the mind afterwards. (first viewing, DVD) ★★★

The Big Bird Cage (1972). Kidnapped by revolutionaries, a posh socialite is sold (?) to a prison labour camp (?) somewhere in the jungle (?) where she clashes with other inmates while plotting an escape in this exploitation movie with hardly the most airtight screenplay. Things start to make even less sense as the revolutionaries return to infiltrate the jungle prison since doing so will somehow help further their cause. If not well written, the film certainly boasts several memorable bits and pieces, from hanging-by-hair torture, to grisly sugar cane mill accidents, to a female-on-male rape as the movie curiously tries to give more agency to its female characters who are able to outwit and outsmart their male captors. This is certainly a bit of a mess of a movie with some rampant homophobia too, but the girl-power tale that it at least attempts to be is interesting. (first viewing, DVD) ★★

The Exterminator (1980). His best friend maimed by street thugs, a Vietnam War vet hunts down and tortures the men responsible before deciding to clean up his city's crime-ridden streets in this violent vigilante thriller. The premise has potential, yet the film rarely taps into his psychological scarring from the war, nor does it offers much in the way of characterisation. One minute he is meek and mild-mannered; the next moment he is full-on vigilante with none of the gradual progression of something like Death Wish or Taxi Driver. The film also places more focus on the detective investigating him (and his girlfriend) rather than the Vietnam vet, plus any vigilante politics only come into play in the movie's second half. The action set pieces are memorable and well crafted though, from a gangster in a meat grinder to a nighttime car chase. (first viewing, Blu-ray Disc) ★★

Fear City (1984). With the law seemingly unable to stop a serial killer who targets strippers, a talent manager decides to track down the offender in this gritty crime drama from Abel Ferrara. Many of the film's images (stripper bleeding from a cut across the forehead and unable to see her further attacks) are hard to shake and the project benefits from a pulsating music score. The screenplay is very messy though, with the film coming off as rather torn in terms of what it wants to be. There is no mystery as to who the killer is with his identity revealed early on, but whether he is doing what he does to fuel a novel he is writing or because he wants to cleanse the girls of their "sins" is unclear. The talent manager is also a disgraced former boxer, but it is likewise unclear if the film is meant to be about him finding redemption or something else altogether. (first viewing, Blu-ray Disc) ★

King of New York (1990). Having experienced an epiphany in jail, a drug lord becomes set on eliminating the vile and corrupt gangsters in his neighbourhood upon release from prison in this crime drama starring Christopher Walken. The film has a decent idea, but it is not very well worked through. Walken has a commanding presence as always, but zero character progression to work with. We do not see what he was like before serving time, nor his moment of revelation, so the film becomes a more a movie about a gangster taking out the competition rather than a tale of a changed man reforming his streets. Walken is oddly unsympathetic too with his humanity only coming out in a few speeches. The movie is very stylishly filmed with lots of blue neon, some slick action scenes and a great, grisly tampon joke, but American History X this is not. (first viewing, Blu-ray Disc) ★

A Dry White Season (1989). Shocked when his black gardener's son is tortured and killed just for attending a peaceful anti-apartheid rally, a white history teacher becomes politically active in this drama starring Donald Sutherland. While his utter oblivion to corrupt apartheid practices is never once credible for an educated man, the premise offers an acute launching pad into political tensions in 1970s South Africa. His interactions with his wife, who dislikes apartheid but is scared about change, are dynamic too. Sutherland's performance is a little mild though considering that he carries all of the film's emotional weight. By comparison, Marlon Brando absolutely steals every scene he is in as a cynical but wisecracking lawyer who agrees to help. The film's eventual descent into paranoia-heavy territory works well though and the leaves quite an impact. (first viewing, DVD) ★★★

Striking Distance (1993). Demoted to waterway patrol, a disgraced cop has trouble convincing his former colleagues that a past serial killer has come back to continue his murder spree in this Bruce Willis action thriller. The film begins well with a taunting murderer who enjoys toying with the police, an insane car chase that has police vehicles jumping over hills (!) and exciting waterways action as Willis intervenes with a barge robbery. Things actually get less interesting as the serial killer returns with much repetitiveness in his inability to catch him and/or convince his colleagues. Sarah Jessica Parker's initially intriguing female cop character also becomes a generic romantic interest and damsel in distress during this stretch, while the killer's identity leaves more questions than answers. Willis is pretty solid throughout though and his final battle is fairly intense. (first viewing, DVD) ★★

The Ballad of Little Jo (1993). Tired of being abused and mistreated by men, a woman travelling alone decides to dress and live like a man in this indie drama, perhaps best thought of as Albert Nobbs in the Wild West. The film is based on an actual person whose true gender was not discovered until death, though how much is truth and fiction is unclear. Taken as a fiction narrative though, this is an acute study of constant fear and loneliness with Jo isolating herself as much as possible to avoid her secret getting out, yet still plagued by desires and a longing to reconnect with a son she had to leave behind. Some of the progressions here are a little too melodramatic to fully click (a romance in particular) and Suzy Amis is not the most convincing man, but she does a fantastic job conveying so much hurt and longing lingering just behind her macho façade. (first viewing, DVD) ★★★

Double Jeopardy (1999). Discovering that she has been framed by her husband for his murder, a housewife tracks him down when out on parole under this thriller that makes some fanciful suppositions about how double jeopardy works. The movie is fairly gripping though if one takes it as a 'what if?' look at what the world might be like if double jeopardy could be interpreted literally with Ashley Judd superb in the lead role and a decent dose of thrills and chills. The film is beset though by a few too many loose ends as it tries to neatly wrap itself up; it also is not really about the double jeopardy concept for the most part since she does not want to kill him but rather bargain with him for access to her son. Tommy Lee Jones also feels like a carryover of his The Fugitive character. Still, he is characteristically solid and the film is at least seldom boring. (first viewing, online) ★★

Under the Tuscan Sun (2003). Reeling from a messy divorce, a writer buys a villa while on vacation in Italy and looks for love in all the wrong places while fixing up her new abode in this romantic comedy with unusually limited focus on the romance part. While the film does not exactly offer anything new or enlightening in terms of happiness being something dependent on oneself rather than others, it is refreshing to come across a romcom in which the potential love interest is not easy to spot and in which a 'happily ever after' ending might not be on the cards. The film has precious little to offer beyond this though. There is limited conflict throughout and while there is drama from all the difficulties that come with repairing the villa, is all very low stakes and non-urgent. The film also spends more time inside than it does basking in Tuscany's scenery. (first viewing, DVD) ★

Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005). Married for more than five years without realising each other's true identity, two hired assassins immediately try to eliminate one another when the secret gets out in this comedy starring Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. It is a fun idea, but it is totally implausible that they never suspected each other over five years; the metaphor of a husband and wife with marital issues trying to literally kill each other is also hindered by the fact that neither of them experiences the slightest moral dilemma in killing their spouse. The film gets significantly better though as the pair change tunes and team up, mending their marriage in the process, but this does not occur until the final third of the movie, with the first two thirds spent on tiresome comic relief (a lame Vince Vaughn) and Mad 'Spy v Spy' shenanigans as the pair futilely try to off each other. (first viewing, Blu-ray Disc) ★★

One for the Money (2012). Newly employed as a bounty hunter for her bail bondsman cousin, a young woman has trouble keeping her emotions out of it when her first her first assignment turns out to be an ex-boyfriend in this action comedy that tries to be a romcom at the same time. The attempted genre blending is curious, but it sort of works against the story with the action drive of the narrative cut short on the many occasions in which the protagonist runs into her ex and yet has trouble nabbing him. While her sporadic voiceover narration adds nothing to the tale, Katherine Heigl at least gives it her all in the lead role and Sherri Shepherd and an ever-so-kooky Debbie Reynolds are great in support, though their screen time is limited. Jason O'Mara is less impressive as the ex-boyfriend but still shares a few memorable dialogue exchanges with Heigl. (first viewing, online) ★★

Obvious Child (2014). Faced with an unplanned pregnancy, a penniless stand-up comic tries to juggle a romance with the baby's father while keeping the pregnancy and her abortion plans a secret in this romantic comedy that tries to do something different. While her more vulgar stand-up jokes are tiresome, Jenny Slate makes for a very appealing protagonist with her natural quick wit and charm and a deeply sarcastic sense of humour. The basic premise has definite potential too, yet the film is uneven in both dramatic and romantic mode, with the love affair taking off a little too quickly and easily, and with Slate not having to contend with any uncertainty at all as to wanting to go ahead with the abortion. Slate is very good throughout though and Richard Kind has a very nice small supporting turn, but this never feels like all that it could have been. (first viewing, DVD) ★★

Beware the Slenderman (2016). This HBO documentary looks at the Slenderman internet phenomenon, memes in general and two adolescent girls who tried to kill a peer under delusional devotion to the boogeyman character. While film pulls in several directions, the content is fascinating, especially the detailed breakdown of memes with one expert calling them a "virus of the mind", evocative of Videodrome's "retina of the mind's eye". The film feels inconclusive as it was released amid debate over if the girls should go on trial as adults or children, so we do not get the verdict of the actual trial. The film also taps less into the girl's psychology than something like Heavenly Creatures because it is so focused on Slenderman. That said, with the myriad of fan art collated here, the film potently conveys the power of internet phenomena to shape minds. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Mary Queen of Scots (2018). Animosity waxes and wanes between Mary Stuart of Scotland and Queen Elizabeth I in this historical drama starring Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie. Filmed through a 21st century lens, the treatment here is intriguing with a lot of focus on the positive relationship between Mary and her gay, cross-dressing personal secretary who she openly tells to "be whoever you wish". Mary also elucidates some pretty modern thoughts on marriage - "but not if I'm owned". The overall film though is not quite as progressive and is actually pretty dull when focused on the animosity, advice from their closest associates and so on. The Oscar nominated makeup work on Robbie is certainly remarkable, but little else here stands out, with even the two stars only afforded occasional highly emotive moments amid the excesses of dialogue. (first viewing, DVD) ★

Queen & Slim (2019). Forced to shoot a racist policeman in self-defense, an African American couple go on the lam, only to unwittingly become folk heroes when dash cam footage of the incident goes viral in this crime drama that aptly compares itself to Bonnie and Clyde. Clocking in at over two hours, the film runs a little long with a protracted ending and several stops along the way as the couple dance, fornicate and ride horses, which subtracts from the urgency of their escapade. Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith are both simply stellar in the lead roles though, progressing dynamically over the course of the movie. They also have several great moments as they uncomfortably process their folk hero status. The film is funny at times too while offering an interesting take on racial profiling and difficulties of overcoming racially charged violence. (first viewing, cinema) ★★★

OtherShow
Kaliya Mardan (1919). Disliked by all the adults in town, a mischievous young boy enjoys playing pranks with the help of his friends until the arrival of a sea monster in town gives him a chance to show the adults his true worth in this curious early silent film from India. It is a highly episodic feature and often feels like a random collection of skits strung together, but Mandakini Phalke (who is actually a girl) is so charming that this is a difficult film to dismiss. Her energy is absolutely endless and includes such stunts as parachuting into a couple's bedroom at night to play a prank on a bearded man. The creature effects are also pretty decent for their age, plus the film avoids relying on title cards, unlike a lot of silents produced in the occident at the time. It is just a shame that the story is not stronger, with all the randomness only coalescing in the final ten minutes. (first viewing, online) ★★

The Light of Asia (1925). Produced "entirely in India without the aid of studio sets, artificial lights, faked-up properties or make-ups" according to the opening credits, this early Indian feature comes with undeniable curiosity value. Co-directed by Franz Osten, a skilled German national, the film is technically well done too, with reaction shots and changes in shot distance/length well handled. As a narrative though, the film leaves a bit to be desired. The early scenes are the best, pseudo-documentary in approach as we get a travelogue of the Asian nation and important places. As it drifts into one of the locals telling the story of Buddha though, things become less engaging. There is some spectacular animal action (and some neat anti-animal violence philosophies), but the narrative part of the film relies far too heavily on title cards and broad characters. (first viewing, online) ★★

Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye (1950). Bookended with a courtroom trial framing device, this crime drama spins a tale of police corruption and double crossing in flashback. At the centre is James Cagney as a ruthless but charming gangster who can talk his way around everything, and while his delivery is nothing compared to his iconic White Heat of a year earlier, Cagney certainly carries the material. The story is actually rather lackluster, concentrating too much on not one but two romantic subplots, and not enough on clever bits like blackmail via early recording processes. There are some nifty sequences (foot-on-foot dangerous driving) but the direction by Gordon Douglas is pedestrian as usual and the overall tale comes without bite or sting. Some of the hard-boiled dialogue is decent though, and the utterance of the title phrase is admittedly well done. (first viewing, online) ★

Red Door (1997). Impotent and convinced that his limbs are turning into metal, an Indian dentist looks to his associates and childhood memories for answers in this movie that is sadly never quite as fascinating as it sounds. The premise certain comes with some promise, but this is no Belly of an Architect in which a character's obsession with certain body parts has a debilitating effect. In fact, the metal limbs delusion only comes into conversation on occasion with far more time dedicated to his curiosity over his chauffeur's complex love life. There is the odd great bit (poking his legs with surgical equipment to test if they are metal), but this mostly feels like a random and disorganised collection of memories and vignettes. That said, the parallel that the film draws between a red door myth that he believed as a kid and his metal limb obsession is striking. (first viewing, online) ★

Grow Up, Tony Phillips (2013). Still obsessed with Halloween and video games in his final year of high school, a teenager's friends try to stop him from embarrassing himself by dressing up and door-knocking for candy in this amiable comedy. While his character initially seems senseless and immature, Tony Vespe makes for a likeable protagonist overall as hurdles to come reveal a beating human heart beneath his quirks. The film also refreshingly celebrates his choice to be different rather than actually becoming a tale of him growing up. Positive messages aside though, the film does not have a lot to offer with none of the subplots involving side characters amounting to much. The film is also very heavy on dialogue and tends to spell its agenda out. Still, this is a sweet and generally pleasant look at trying to still be oneself when others want you to change. (first viewing, online) ★★
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#2

Post by Onderhond » March 15th, 2020, 12:46 pm

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Saw a lot of good, solid and often somewhat surprising films (a Grease pastiche from South-Africa, truly), but few real masterpieces. Had to get used to that, after the past couple of weeks. On the bright side, hardly any bad films, apart from two docs (one dull, one dishonest).


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01. 4.0* - Fulltime Killer [Chuen Jik Sat Sau] by Johnnie To, Ka-Fai Wai (2001)
One of the films that foreshadowed a new beginning for Johnnie To. Stylish action, brooding crime and quirky details would come to define his films in the 00s. Fulltime Killer puts the most emphasis on action, but all the elements that would launch To as one of the prime HK directors of the decade are already present. Good stuff.

02. 3.5* - It's Boring Here, Pick Me Up [Koko wa Taikutsu Mukae ni Kite] by Ryuichi Hiroki (2018)
Celebration of youth. A typical Hiroki drama, that languishes in the mundane, but manages to hit several deeper themes along the way. The actors are great, Hiroki's style is fitting and the light-hearted tone makes this a very easy watch. Not one of his best films, but a very fine drama that will effortlessly appeal to Hiroki fans.

03. 3.5* - Hanagatami by Nobuhiko Ôbayashi (2017)
Oddball romance, set right before the start of WWII. What may look like a pretty basic romantic drama on paper is elevated to something completely unique and quirky by director Ôbayashi. It reminded me a little of Suzuki's Pistol Opera, a film not of this era, but so special that it doesn't really matter. It's a shame the film is so long though.

04. 3.5* - Bad Guy [Nabbeun Namja] by Kim Ki-duk (2001)
Strong and enigmatic drama, but not quite as overpowering as the last time I watched it. The actors do a great job and the characters are intriguing, but the score isn't as effective and visually it's a bit dim. Definitely not a bad film and there are some superb scenes here, but overall not the masterpiece I remembered it to be.

05. 3.5* - Maleficent: Mistress of Evil by Joachim Rønning (2019)
Very capable sequel that brings the same level of fantasy as the first film. Not a simple remake/reboot made to earn a quick buck, but a film that respects and exploits the freedom that the fantasy genre brings. The effects are amazing and the designs creative. The rest is closer to the norm, but that's hardly a bother.

06. 3.0* - Pretville by Linda Korsten (2012)
A pastiche if I ever saw one. A modern, South-African remake of Grease, which is every bit as weird as it sounds. Some of the songs are a little too long and the surprise effect wears off during the second half, but there's a lot of fun to be had with this film, even for people who don't really care for musicals. A fun oddity.

07. 3.0* - Horse Girl by Jeff Baena (2020)
The first half hour is a little slow and uneventful, but once the paranoia starts to surface the film gets better. The direction is solid, the actors do a decent job and the film is pleasantly unpredictable. There are some memorable scenes here, but on the whole it's a little light for my liking. Still, not a bad film.

08. 3.0* - Adrift by Baltasar Kormákur (2018)
Nothing too remarkable here, but I'm always in the mood for a good "adrift at sea" film. The actors do a decent job, the CG is convincing, the gravity of the ordeal is tangible and the film doesn't overstay its welcome. Even though Adrift houses few surprises and I'd seen it all before, it was more than solid, entertaining filler.

09. 3.0* - Call for Dreams by Ran Slavin (2018)
Interesting film that sports moody and dreamy cinematography, but is let down by an overly harsh, sharp digital look. Slavin shows a lot of promise and delivers a unique film that is hard to pin down, but fails to fully immerse the viewer because of some technical hiccups. But worth a try if you're looking for something different.

10. 3.0* - Orchids Under the Moon [Gekka no Ran] by Takashi Ishii (1991)
Solid, straight-forward crime flick by Takashi Ishii. Ishii keeps his trademark pinku influences to a minimum and goes for a more direct revenge flick. There are some decent performances and a few tense moments, but it's the moody soundtrack that sets this film apart from its peers. Simple genre film, well executed.

11. 3.0* - Love's Twisting Path [Tajûrô Jun'ai-ki] by Sadao Nakajima (2018)
Decent samurai romance that doesn't try too hard to stray from the norm. There are some familiar faces in secondary parts and the film is solid in all departments, but little effort has been spent on elevating the film to stand out from its peer. This is pure genre cinema, made for people who are already in love with the genre.

12. 2.5* - 976-EVIL by Robert Englund (1988)
Amusing genre flick from horror icon Robert Englund. It's extremely 80s and it takes quite a while to get going, but there's a light-heartedness that makes it pretty amusing to watch. The kills aren't all that explicit and true goreheads will be disappointed, otherwise there's plenty of fun to be had for genre fans.

13. 2.5* - Killer Clans [Liu Xing Hu Die Jian] by Yuen Chor (1976)
Visually quite accomplished and a clear step above the usual Shaw Bros films, but the strong focus on an uninteresting plot keeps this film from becoming a true Shaw Bros classic. The somewhat mediocre fight scenes don't really help out either. Decent Chor production, but he should stick to pure fantasy and action cinema.

14. 2.0* - Mission: Impossible - Fallout by Christopher McQuarrie (2018)
Another episode in a seemingly never ending franchise. Some chase scenes, a couple of rather predictable twists and Tom Cruise, who seems to have stopped ageing. It's not a terrible film, but this 6th instalment doesn't really add anything of value. It's just going through the motions and hoping to cash in at the register. Not great, not terrible.

15. 1.5* - Sisters by Brian De Palma (1972)
Rather tepid and predictable thriller, with some minor horror elements. There are some interesting split screens and the reveals, while hardly surprising, were properly executed, but that wasn't enough to keep me interested. Mediocre performances, a lack of suspense and tame chills render this De Palma obsolete.

16. 1.5* - The Creepy Line by M.A. Taylor (2018)
Overly sensationalist and doomish documentary, which is a shame considering several valid and important points being made here. The insinuations and dark complot theories are quite over the top and the makers themselves resort to some rather cheap tricks in order to drive their point home. Should've been so much better.

17. 1.0* - Ikebana by Hiroshi Teshigahara (1956)
Short doc on Ikebana, i.e. the Japanese art of flower arrangement. Watched this solely because Teshigahara directed it, but his influence is rather limited. It's hard to make this topic interesting and with so little time to spend the film can't really make an in-depth case for its topic. It's probably best to just skip this, unless you love flowers.

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#3

Post by peeptoad » March 15th, 2020, 2:09 pm

Hi sol, I hope you are faring okay with all the craziness going on right now...

Of yours I have only seen Fear City, which I also saw in the last week and also didn't like very much. I had it between a 4-5, mentally, as I watched it and decided to give a 5 (the absolute average on my scale) since I have really liked some of Ferrara's others films. Guess I went easy on him. I hope the films of his that I have yet to see (King of NY is one) are better than this one though, otherwise I won't get much farther in his filmography.

mine-
The Babadook (2014) 6
D'Est (1993) From the East 8
Hard Candy (2005) 6
Stripped to Kill (1987) 7
Fear City (1984) 5
La nuit des traqués (1959) The Night of the Hunted 8
Goodfellas (1990) 10* (hadn't seen this in years so it was a very good revisit for me)
*rewatch

D'Est and La nuit des traqués were best for me this week... the former was a very cool documentary (I guess it would be considered) that was shot more as a passive, observational piece. It's tagged a doc, and it is, but it seems very different when viewed. I could meditate to this very easily and felt myself going in that direction at times. La nuit des traqués might be more like a strong 7, but I'm in the process of revamping my 8-9 ratings a little, in response to the "favorite" poll, so it's an 8 for now. It has some really nicely framed shots and the characters were decent. I felt bad for the monkey used throughout the film a little though (he seemed stressed in a few scenes- can't keep my clinical brain out of the film realm). Stripped to Kill is the only other worth mentioning really, and it was a decent enough sleazy affair. It had some good stylish aspects and Kay Lenz was good in the lead. I liked this as much or more than Dance of the Damned from the same director. And it's fitting that Roger Corman was exec producer. Seems like his kind of territory....

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#4

Post by sol » March 15th, 2020, 3:06 pm

peeps:

Oh yeah - "craziness" is the word for it. Toilet paper, tissues and paper towels have now come back into adequate supply (though there are restrictions on how much you can buy per transaction). The latest TV news reports though have been telling everyone that Perth could be in lockdown within a week though and have suggested that everyone stock up on canned and long-life food. This has led to almost empty shelves now for fruit puree, canned vegetables and rice. Also, some crazy stories about queues in supermarkets from what my relatives tell me. My local independent supermarket was fine though. Barely any queue and still a few odds and ends. I have stocked up on tuna (28 cans) should I need to self-quarantine at some point.

Ahem. Back to movie stuff:

With my Ferrara double feature this week, I am now up to 8 films seen from him. Of those, I would say that his black and white vampire film The Addiction is easily his masterpiece. Fantastic Lili Taylor performance too.

Nothing else from him really registers as remarkable in my books. I would place Bad Lieutenant, Ms. 45 and Body Snatchers as decent second tier efforts.

Third tier stuff would include Fear City, King of New York and The Driller Killer - though I acknowledge that I liked the latter less than most.

4:44 Last Day on Earth is the only Ferrara film that I have seen which I would describe as outright bad - but even that one has its interesting elements.

Based on all this, Ferrara is hardly a director who excites me too much either, but it has been a while on Bad Lieutenant and Ms. 45 and they might benefit from a second go.

Yours:

Didn't like The Babadook as much as its reputation either, but great lead performance. I had some pretty major problems with Hard Candy at the time, but it has been a while. Might make for a decent morbid curiosity rewatch. Agreed about The Night of the Hunted being pretty great. Awesome locations and very atmospheric for a film clearly made on a budget. And yep, Goodfellas is a superb one for sure. Took me three or four viewings to fully warm to it, but lots of great moments and strong supporting turns from the likes of Paul Sorvino.
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#5

Post by joachimt » March 15th, 2020, 7:09 pm

Madeo AKA Mother (2009, 3 official lists, 2918 checks) 8/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
A Kind of Loving (1962, 2 official lists, 269 checks) 7/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
The Prowler (1951, 5 official lists, 630 checks) 7/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
3-4 x jûgatsu AKA Boiling Point (1990, 2 official lists, 703 checks) 6/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
Shatranj Ke Khilari AKA The Chess Players (1977, 4 official lists, 404 checks) 6/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
The Hangover Part II (2011, 2 official lists, 33827 checks) 6/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on Amazon Prime.
Turner & Hooch (1989, 1 official list, 4253 checks) 5/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on Disney+.
The Pacifier (2005, 2 official lists, 6583 checks) 4/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on Disney+.
Détective (1985, 1 official list, 307 checks) 3/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
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#6

Post by peeptoad » March 15th, 2020, 7:42 pm

sol wrote:
March 15th, 2020, 3:06 pm

With my Ferrara double feature this week, I am now up to 8 films seen from him. Of those, I would say that his black and white vampire film The Addiction is easily his masterpiece. Fantastic Lili Taylor performance too.

Nothing else from him really registers as remarkable in my books. I would place Bad Lieutenant, Ms. 45 and Body Snatchers as decent second tier efforts.

Third tier stuff would include Fear City, King of New York and The Driller Killer - though I acknowledge that I liked the latter less than most.

4:44 Last Day on Earth is the only Ferrara film that I have seen which I would describe as outright bad - but even that one has its interesting elements.

Based on all this, Ferrara is hardly a director who excites me too much either, but it has been a while on Bad Lieutenant and Ms. 45 and they might benefit from a second go.
I like Driller Killer far more than you, but we already had that discussion. And I agree Addiction is strong. Would put those 2 and Ms 45 at the top. Ms 45 is probably my favorite actually.

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Perception de Ambiguity
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#7

Post by Perception de Ambiguity » March 15th, 2020, 8:03 pm

Virus / 復活の日 / The End / Day of Resurrection / Fukkatsu no hi (深作欣二/Kinji Fukasaku, 1980) 4+/10
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Imagine (John & Yoko, 1972) 6/10

La sixième face du pentagone / The Sixth Side of the Pentagon (Chris Marker & François Reichenbach, 1968) 7/10

Ruined Heart: Another Lovestory Between a Criminal & a Whore (Khavn, 2014) 5+/10
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もっとしなやかに もっとしたたかに / So Soft, So Cunning / Love Me Tenderly, Love Me Wildly / Motto shinayaka ni, motto shitataka ni (藤田敏八/Toshiya Fujita, 1979) 4+/10
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La femme enfant (Raphaële Billetdoux, 1980) 8-/10

Utopia (Sohrab Shahid Saless, 1983) 7/10

The Seventh Walk (Saatvin Sair) (अमित दत्ता/Amit Dutta, 2013) 8-/10

Orchard Street (Ken Jacobs, 1955) 6/10

The Nines (John August, 2007) 5+/10

Disappearing World: "A Clearing in the Jungle" (Charlie Nairn, 1970) 1/10

Deja Vu (Tony Scott, 2006) (3rd viewing) 8/10
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shorts

Prelude (Castleton Knight, 1927) 7-/10

Goodnight with Sabrina ("Walton Films", 1958) 3/10

No Country for Old Men: Josh Brolin's Unauthorized Behind the Scenes (Josh Brolin, 2008) 6/10

Den drömda dalen - Soria Moria (Arne Sucksdorff, 1948) 6+/10

Kick-Heart (湯浅政明/Masaaki Yuasa, 2013) (2nd viewing) 8/10

Allures (Jordan Belson, 1961) (2nd viewing) yes

Anima (PTA, 2019) (2nd viewing) 8/10

Zig-Zag - le jeu de l'oie (Une fiction didactique à propos de la cartographie) / Snakes and Ladders (Raúl Ruiz/Raoul Ruiz, 1980) (2nd viewing) 8/10
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music videos

Eminem: Godzilla (ft. Juice WRLD) (Cole Bennett, 2020) (2 viewings) +=

a bunch of The Prodigy rewatches +=


series

Screening Room: Suzan Pitt (1975) 6/10


didn't finish

Lee's Adventure (Frant Gwo & Yang Li, 2011) [23 min]
Jessica Forever (Caroline Poggi & Jonathan Vinel, 2018) [15 min]
Island of the Hungry Ghosts (Gabrielle Brady, 2018) [9 min]


notable online media

top:
Marilyn Manson Disinformation Speech [rewatch]
rest:
"Firestarter" - How The Prodigy Won Over the Metalheads | New British Canon

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LETTERBOXD | MUBI | IMDb | tumblr.

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#8

Post by viktor-vaudevillain » March 15th, 2020, 11:37 pm

A Girl In Summer (Vítor Gançalves, 1986) - 7

Essential Killing (Jerzy Skolimowski, 2010) - 8

哥 / Poem (Akio Jissoji, 1972) - 9

Salaam Cinema (Mohsen Makhmalbaf, 1995) - 8

D'ici là / By Then (Jean-Charles Fitoussi, 1997) - 7-

Les créatures / The Creatures (Agnès Varda, 1966) - 7

Ich war zuhause, aber... / I Was at Home, But... (Angela Schanelec, 2019) - 10

Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, 2018) - 6-

Black Narcissus (Powell & Pressburger, 1947) - 7+

Dazed and Confused (Richard Linklater, 1993) - 8 rewatch

Shorts:

24 Frames per Second (Shirley Clarke, 1977) - 6

Butterfly (Shirley Clarke, 1967) - 5-

Autumn Rush for Kurt Kren and Winter and Spring and Summer (Anna Thew, 1971/2003?) - 8

+
Season 8 of Curb Your Enthusiasm
not everything is fish, but fish are teeming everywhere

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Onderhond
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#9

Post by Onderhond » March 16th, 2020, 12:20 pm

@sol:
Still not much overlap this week. I've seen Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2.5*), which I didn't like or hate. Apparently I've also seen One for the Money (1.5*), which I remember nothing about. And that's about it really. Might look into that Slenderman documentary though. I've seen the film (which was half decent) but completely missed the internet hype. Could be interesting to catch up on that, though my trust in documentaries is at an all-time low right now, so we'll see :D

@peeptoad:
Saw The Babadook (3.5*), which I liked a bit better but also felt is somewhat overrated (like many of the more "serious" horror films). Hard Candy (4.0*) is one my favorites, but it's been ages since last saw that one, so not sure if it would still qualify. I've also seen Goodfellas (2.0*) of course, but not a Scorsese fan so you can ignore the score :p

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#10

Post by peeptoad » March 16th, 2020, 1:29 pm

Onderhond wrote:
March 16th, 2020, 12:20 pm

@peeptoad:
Saw The Babadook (3.5*), which I liked a bit better but also felt is somewhat overrated (like many of the more "serious" horror films). Hard Candy (4.0*) is one my favorites, but it's been ages since last saw that one, so not sure if it would still qualify. I've also seen Goodfellas (2.0*) of course, but not a Scorsese fan so you can ignore the score :p
How did you feel about Hard Candy (if you can recall)? (other than it being a 4 on your scale)
I remember when that one was released, but never got around to seeing it. I was kind of underwhelmed after viewing, but it was decent enough (maybe too many twists though, esp toward the finale). Page and Wilson were both good and it was kind of per expectations, but something about it felt "off" to me. I can't pinpoint exactly why though. Not sure if it's because I've seen many films with that general theme both prior and since HC was released, or something else. I'm not normally a fan of Ellen Page, but I think it has more to do with the type of film she is normally in versus anything about her specifically.

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#11

Post by OldAle1 » March 16th, 2020, 1:45 pm

Pretty good week for me, not surprising perhaps in the current situation.

This Film ROCKED
This Film SUCKED

Ride the Pink Horse (Robert Montgomery, 1947) (re-watch)

TCM. I hadn't planned on doing any classic noir for this challenge - I watch enough of it anyway - but this happened to be on, and I had good memories of it from a first viewing in 2013. I tend to prefer the usual big-city noir, but I also have a fondness for border-town/southwest examples, and this is one of the better examples of the latter. Director Montgomery in his second film behind the camera also plays our lead, a shifty-eyed small-time gangster named Gagin, who arrives at a dusty NM border town (exteriors shot in the Albuquerque-Taos-Santa Fe area) looking for one Frank Hugo, and getting into a whole lot of trouble. This is one of those films that treads the line between the downbeat and pessimistic, and a more cheerful, sardonically humorous very neatly - in fact
SpoilerShow
nobody is killed apart from one faceless thug, and only Hugo apparently goes to jail at the end, though Gagin's future doesn't look terribly bright, and he leaves town defeated.
The southwest ambiance is pretty nicely captured, and it's got some standout supporting parts from the Oscar-nominated Thomas Gomez (the only Hispanic player who isn't doing a bit part), Wanda Hendrix (whose Spanish is pretty good for a gringo) and Art Smith among others, and some terrific camerawork including a couple of the longer and more intricate shots that you'll see in this era in Hollywood. The only thing that keeps this form the top tier of noir for me is Montgomery himself, never an exciting actor and only slightly more interesting here than usual. Picture Fred MacMurray, Robert Mitchum or Burt Lancaster here and you've really got the makings of a masterpiece.

The Southerner (Jean Renoir, 1945)

One of the few 1945 films I had left to see that was both a) accessible and b) looked like it might be list-worthy. Well, it was solid enough, but perhaps because I've been watching all these depressing neo-realist Indian films from the 50s and 60s it didn't really feel "enjoyable" in many respects. It's great though to see Zachary Scott - usually a smarmy smooth-talking villainous type - as a poor southern sharecropper, and getting to put his light Texas accent to good use. This offers a nice American variation on Renoir's typical Gallic humanism, where even the hard-hearted, bitter and selfish characters like J. Carroll Naish's farmer next door, are redeemed at least somewhat - something you might not see in such a film were it directed by an American, though I guess I can picture John Ford making this film not all that differently - and there's certainly a good opportunity for "Shall We Gather at the River" which Renoir of course avoids. Anyway, a solid film, strange in that there are no black people at all in it though - perhaps this was deliberately done so as to keep the focus on economic hardship rather than other issues.

Devdas (P.C. Barua, 1936)

Second sound version and first in Hindi (filmed previously the year before in Bengali by the same director) of this hoary old chestnut, a romance novel dating to 1900, which has now been done around 20 times according to Wiki. It's a fairly typical sad melodrama - typical it seems to me in almost any culture - about a couple of star-crossed lovers, wrong status/caste, etc, and their tragic lives as Devdas, the high-caste young man, enters of life of dissipation and gradual oncoming despair after both his family and that of Parvati, the lower-caste young woman reject their marriage. While trite in some ways, I can see the potential for a good film here, but sadly this isn't it, mostly due to the very wooden and amateur acting from nearly all parts; I saw another 1936 film earlier this month that is vastly better, so I think the technology was up to snuff in at least some of the Indian film industry by this point, but this film for whatever reason feels like something made at the very dawn of sound, with actors declaiming like they are on stage rather than film acting, and long lapses in the soundtrack. The music's OK and it's watchable overall but just barely.

Enthiran / Robot (S. Shankar, 2010)

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One of the brief comments on the icm listing says "instant cult movie" and I couldn't agree more. Totally goofy and wild sci-fi-action film - with loads of songs and dances of course, courtesy (thankfully) of A.R. Rahman - about scientist Vaseegeran (Rajnikanth) who builds a very human-like robot, nicknamed "Chitti" (also Rajnikanth) that is better than humans at just about everything...except of course that it has no emotions. But eventually the evil Dr. Bohra (Danny Denzongpa), Vaseegeran's mentor and rival, who wants to make robots to sell to military contracts, gets involved and through various machinations helps to make Chitti more human -- and able to desire Vaseegeran's beautiful fiancee (Aishwarya Rai), as well as able to break whichever one of Asimov's robotics laws covers not harming humans. Outlandish action scenes with heavy CGI usage that ranges from terrible (the fire rescue scene) to very good (most of the rest of the film thankfully). This does get a little wearing at times at 3 hours or so but I found it totally fun, my kind of silly escapism. Rai is mostly here just to be beautiful - but the film is pretty self-aware and has fun with this and other elements, like the two idiot helpers the scientist employs; Rajnikanth is absolutely amazing though in his dual role, especially as the robot who seems a cross between Yun-Fat Chow and Buster Keaton in his combination of coolness and acrobatics. Badass. Probably the best primarily action-oriented Bollywood film I've seen up to this point, and I've now seen three films with A.R. Rahman scores and liked the music in all of them - that definitely helps a lot.

Baazi / High Stakes (Guru Dutt, 1951)

Hindi musical-noir? You bet! This is the third Dutt film I've seen and I loved the other two so was very much looking forward to this, his first film as director. Well, it's good but it's not quite on the level of Kaagaz Ke Phool or especially Pyaasa, and I think a good part of that has to do with the lack of Dutt as lead actor here. Dev Anand, one of India's biggest stars for decades, is no mean actor but he doesn't for me have the director's charisma and intensity or sense of tragedy. At any rate, Anand plays Madan, a young man struggling to get ahead and lost in gambling debts, who enters the easy life that masks a world of crime, murder, etc, when he takes a position with a gambling syndicate run by a (literally) shadowed mastermind. He has to do this to take care of his sister who has TB (ah, the melodrama), and along the way he meets a beautiful young doctor and of course romance blossoms. This all works fairly well, with I suppose enough songs to please the mainstream audience but enough downbeat noir elements for fans of the director - and film noir generally - such as myself. There's a surprise reveal for a main character that probably won't surprise most people, and while at times this does go more into the typical Hindi melodrama areas, the ending could be straight out of a Hollywood crime film from the period. Overall very solid if nowhere near great.

Talvar / Guilty (Meghna Gulzar, 2015)

Apparently based on a true case from 2008, this police procedural involving a double murder is a damning portrait of India's criminal justice system, from top to bottom. A young woman is murdered in her room in the family's apartment, and shortly afterwards the man who is an initial suspect, their servant, is discovered dead by the same means (blow to the head and then throat cut) on the roof of the same building, outside his own apartment. The initial "investigation" by the local police is obviously totally incompetent, and the cop at the head of it is presented as full of his own hypocritical conservative views which lead him to believe that it was, in fact, an honor killing by the parents themselves over something between the servant and daughter; when this investigation is judged to be poorly run (and is getting too much bad press in the media), the CID - I presume India's equivalent of the FBI - steps in, with an investigation led by a celebrated detective, Ashwin Kumar (Irrfan Khan, really excellent here) who is undergoing his own crisis in his marriage and is under continuous strain. And this isn't enough as new information - and new political/social concerns - continue to pile up until a messy, unfortunate and deeply dissatisfying (in terms of the narrative, not the film itself) conclusion. This is one of the best recent police procedurals I've seen, and with it's very limited (and largely appropriate) use of songs I think it would be an ideal film from the Bollywood-phobic who want to see what Indian film can do when it plays by more western rules - though as some reviews have pointed out, many of the actions of the cops on all levels do seem a bit strange given the overt moralizing that we see - which isn't present in such an overt way in western justice systems anymore.

Do Bigha Zamin / Two Acres of Land (Bimal Roy, 1953)

While it's the Bengali cinema of Satyajit Ray and, to a lesser extent, Ritwik Ghatak that has made the grade in the western arthouse circles for most of the past 65 years, it's obvious from this film and many others that Hindi cinema was operating in the same sphere at times, and on the same level if this terrific film is any indication. This is my first Roy film and I've yet to see much of the neo-realist influenced drama apart from the two names I just mentioned, so I wasn't sure what to expect but... it really does have much of the same bleakness and desperation - but always with at least a hint of the positive - of something like early De Sica. In this case we have not a bicycle but a rickshaw, a rickshaw drawn by a poor farmer who has gone to Kolkota to earn the money he needs to pay off the rich landowner who's going to take his farmer and build a factory on it, and the film chronicles the moments of seeming good fortune interspersed with the many more scenes of despair and bad news as the man and his young son (working as a shoe shine boy, then a pickpocket) both struggle against insurmountable odds, while his wife back home scrapes by and tries to care for his dying father. Bleak but beautifully told, with relatively restrained music by Salil Choudhury; I guess in some ways this feels a bit over-familiar, and just a little more melodramatic in the end than I think it needs to be, but these aren't major issues.

Nagarik / The Citizen (Ritwik Ghatak, 1952)
Ajantrik / Pathetic Fallacy (Ritwik Ghatak, 1958)
Meghe Dhaka Tara / The Cloud-Capped Star (Ritwik Ghatak, 1960)


I saw Ghatak's Subarnarekha in 2015 and was pretty knocked out by it, but haven't gotten back around to his work since - now's the opportunity to hit at least his better-known other films, which as it turns out have much in common but also plenty of significant differences from each other.

Nagarik, Ghatak's second feature, feels in may ways, after watching all three of these films, like a dry-run for Meghe Dhaka Tara with a very similar family situation at the heart of the film. A family that was of some means has come down in the world in migrating to Kokota just after the partitioning of India, living now in a big but rather ruinous house in what seems to be a lower-middle-class neighborhood, a situation which touches the resigned, wistful mother and bitter father and two adult children in very different ways. Throughout the film son Ramu, a college graduate, continues to try getting jobs that are beneath him -- but still unattainable, while daugther Seeta can only really hope for marriage to Sagar (a distant relative I think .. subs weren't always clear) who has come to room with them but who also can't make ends meet. This has a very noir-like and claustrophobic feel for the most part, a vision of a city and a people and family on the edge, and if it offers a moment of hope at the end as the characters walk out in the rain towards a new life in an even lower-class situation, it's hard to share their optimism.

Ajantrik is the closest thing to a comedy that I've seen so far in Ghatak and indeed the first half to two-thirds is at times a pretty light-hearted affair, the story of a rural taxi driver, Bimal (a great Kali Bannerjee) and his one true love, his broken-down decades-old car which he has named Jagaddal. Rosenbaum in his review compares this to Jacques Tati in terms of the ways in which the sounds of the car evoke the character and mood of the film, as Hulot's car does in Les vacances de Monsieur Hulot, though he admits he doesn't know if Ghatak had seen the Tati film. He certainly hadn't seen Dariush Mehrjui's Gaav because it wasn't made for another decade, but that's the film that this reminded me of the most, in being a film about a man essentially in love with something non-human - a car or a cow, it doesn't matter in a sense, the love is all one way though the man in both films seems deluded into thinking otherwise. Jagaddal has served Bimal well for 15 years since the death of his mother - it seems the man has never been able to develop any other significant relationships - and the film shows us how Bimal copes with Jagaddal's advancing age and decrepitude, much as he must have coped with his mother's illness. This presents a very different character than I've seen in Indian cinema of this period, a man of existential loneliness, angry at the world but without the family support - even if tenuous as it seems to be in most Ghatak films - though as I said, it's also a pretty amusing film at times early on. And it makes some excellent use of sound - not just in terms of the car sounds but wind and road and the noise of the village and town, something Ghatak focuses on more than most filmmakers; these are films that I really wish I could see AND hear under better conditions than I have available to me.

Meghe Dhaka Tara is as I mentioned in the first paragraph, similar broadly to Nagarik in it's focus on a family unit and their struggles against poverty, and like that film there's a feeling that they have come down in the world, though it's not as specifically stated and the family lives in a rural environment outside of the big city. Here we have an ailing father who spouts poetry, a mother worried mostly about her sons, and children Mantu - stolid but perhaps not terribly ambitious or bright; Gita, vain and mostly interested in finding a husband; Shankar, a starry-eyed dreamer who wants to be a singer but mostly just wastes time; and Nita, the main protagonist, a bright student who defends Shankar from insults but who takes on all the burdens of the family herself when it becomes increasingly necessary. She's also in love with Sanat, another student who wants to marry her but turns away when she has to leave her studies and go to work.

It's all a pretty familiar story at this point even for someone who's seen as little Indian cinema as I have, but what makes this special is everything else - the acting, especially by Supriya Choudhury as Nita; the constant whipsawing between joy (most evident in Shankar's magical, longing songs) and gloom - rarely has a film made such expert use of that much-hated element, melodrama; the use of light and natural sound combine to create a really powerful sense of a world as it is, in flux and with no determined future, and a family that one can't rely on but can't abandon or hate either. I don't know if it's a tribute to the film's greatness or what, but being closer to the foolish lazy dreamer Shankar I nevertheless felt an enormous kinship with Nita throughout. I wish I had been smarter and looked at the copy I had first, which isn't that good - I'd forgotten that Criterion put this out recently. I suspect another viewing with better subs, picture and especially sound will improve this even above the sublime level I'd already put it on. Easily the best film of this challenge so far for me.

Blue Steel (Kathryn Bigelow, 1990) (re-watch)

Like Siesta above, this was a film I remembered disliking - but really barely remembered. Jamie Lee Curtis is Megan Turner, a rookie cop who on her very first day on the job (the first of many, many cliches to come) shoots a perp dead in a supermarket. But somehow when she and the other cops who rush to the scene start cleaning things up, they can't find the gun she was sure the robber was packing. And that brings us to Ron Silver as Eugene Hunt a Wall Street trader who was in the market and - this ain't spoiling anything, it's all in the first scene - grabbed the gun for reasons of his own. Soon people start turning up dead of lead poisoning, and the shell casings have "Megan Turner" carved into them. This immediately brings up one of an ENORMOUS number of plot holes - how did this guy know Turner's name, since he fled the crime scene right away (he wasn't a witness called by the cops). How is it that in a city of 7 million there are only two people with such a common name? And every scene as we go forward seems to have similar idiot-plot problems. And our bad guy is just one of those "I like to kill" people - he's got his own weird little spiritual rationale, but it does come down to him just being a cardboard Evil Monster in the end. So on the level of plot this is every bit as bad as I remembered it.

HOWEVER there is a case that could be made for this being in fact a very deliberate feminist deconstruction of the typical cop-perp crime/action flick. Turner is put down at every point by just about everybody except her best friend (Elizabeth Peña, and you know that since the best friend is the only supportive person, something bad's going to happen), and the way in which Mr. Wall Street comes onto her, stalks her etc is very much a male domination thing - and this is all I think buoyed by the rather amazing last 10 minutes or so in which
SpoilerShow
a hospitalized, traumatized Turner coldcocks another cop, takes his clothes and gun, leaves the hospital and just goes out into the streets to essentially wait until Hunt (and this name could not be coincidental) inevitably somehow finds her, so that she can wreak vengeance on him though he's already taken several bullets and been hit by a car by this point.
There are also, interestingly, some fairly obvious lifts from the score to The Terminator, a film made by Ms. Bigelow's then-husband James Cameron a few years before and a few visual nods (the blue steel of the gun in the opening credits - the blue-on-black lettering in the Cameron film). In some ways then this is perhaps her human-scale reply to that film and that film's unstoppable bad guy.

All in all it still doesn't add up to a very good film IMO, but I think it's a more interesting work than it gets credit for, and with a little - just a little - more subtlety in the screenplay it might have been something special.

Wanda (Barbara Loden, 1970)

I've seen this described as "low-rent Badlands" or "Cassavetes does Bonnie and Clyde"; those are both handy if insufficient descriptors - I would also mention that the cheap and dingy life-on-the-margins in dying industrial towns feel reminds me of Dennis Hopper's later Out of the Blue, as well as some of Jon Jost's films. Which is not to say that this is highly derivative, or just one of many similar films, but in this case I guess I wasn't as impressed as many are by anything new or novel here - yes, it's an independent American crime film directed by a woman (certainly rare at the time) who also stars in the film, and it does have a particularly real kind of grittiness, due in part I think to the 16mm photography and direct sound (often quite difficult to understand - wish I'd had a copy with subs), but on the level of narrative it just didn't connect with me very well. The two lead performances, by Loden as the housewife who seems disconnected to her world, and leaves for danger and thrills, and Michael Higgins as the drifter and petty criminal she hooks up with, are interesting and at times excellent but whatever there is lurking under the surface of these sad, bored, angry people remained a mystery to me. I feel like I was in the wrong mood for this, perhaps, because it felt like something that should have very much been up my alley, but it ended up missing the mark overall.

The Black Windmill (Don Siegel, 1974)

This doesn't have nearly the reputation of Wanda or even of most of Siegel's other films, but it still felt like a big disappointment given how much I usually like the director's work, and the significant acting talents, particularly Michael Caine, Donald Pleasance and Delphine Seyrig, at work here. Caine's a government agent whose son is kidnapped, and he's asked to ransome some valuable items that nobody should know about from his agency - there's a rat! While the London location work is nice and there are some good brief chase and action scenes this never feels like anything more than run-of-the-mill, and Caine struck me as less enthused than he usually was at this stage in his career. Not terrible but completely undistinguished.

The Spanish Main (Frank Borzage, 1945)

Paul Henreid ain't no Erroll Flynn, and Maureen O'Hara doesn't really compare to Olivia De Havilland either in this very Robin Hood-esque story of a Dutch ship's captain turned pirate after scumbag Spanish governor Walter Slezak seizes his property and enslaves him his crew and passengers (or tries to - Henreid escapes right away, we never learn what happens to most of the rest of his people) after they've had the misfortune of being blown to Slezak's territory while trying to sail for the Carolinas. I guess this is early 17th Century but it's not clear and while this is in color it in most respects feels a rather second-rate production. Borzage was a great, great director when it came to his specialty - melodramatic, spiritual romance stories - but in the 40s and afterwards he apparently lost his way, or just didn't have the ability to get the films made that would have suited him more, and this is a typical example of his mostly second-rate output during this period. Slezak makes a good villain in the manner of Claude Rains, but that's about it.

Jealousy (Gustav Machatý, 1945)

All right noir with a premise involving jealousy by multiple parties. Jane Randolph is a taxi driver supporting her hard-drinking writer husband who can't write anything; on meeting a wealthy doctor romantic feeling develop that threaten both her marriage, and the doctor's relationship with his long-suffering professional partner (Karen Morley) who has always had a thing for him that he somehow never noticed over almost a decade together in practice. This suffered from being a fairly terrible print with mediocre sound, but it didn't add up to enough that I think it would be helped out by a sparkling new BD - when a murder is committed and one party is blamed for it, it's all too clear what happened as far as we the audience are concerned, and more to the point should be clear to the idiots working out the plot of the film. Ehh.

Daddy Long Legs (Jean Negulesco, 1955)

Fox Movie Channel - I think this is the first thing I've watched on this channel in at least a couple of years. Strange place - they have classic Hollywood stuff on for the first part of the day, uncut, then they switch to current-day stuff with heavy commercials. Weird. I started watching this in the hopes that it would be in the proper aspect ratio - 2.55 - and was pleasantly surprised that it was, or close to it - I think it may have been mildly cropped to about 2.35-2.4. Anyway those with allergies to the typical old man - young girl convention of Hollywood at the time might be best to stay away from this production wherein aging industrial magnate (with a soft spot for jazz drumming, dancing and singing, naturally) Fred Astaire, 56, meets ingenue Leslie Caron, 24, an orphan in a suburb of Paris, and brings her to America to get educated, anonymously paying her expenses and forgetting about her until reminded by his assistants (Fred Clark and Thelma Ritter), whereupon he gets back in touch with her and the romance begins. To make matters worse Caron is only supposed to be 18 at the beginning of the film! On the other hand this is one of those rare films with such a situation from this era where the age issue is actually brought up - time and again in fact, by many characters - so it seems there's an acknowledgement of how weird and at times creepy this story is. Ultimately while it can't be ignored, the film works as a whole for me on the strength of Caron's charms and the wonderful fantasy dance sequences, and a solid song selection including most notably 'Something's Gotta Give". Ultimately kind of a weird film that seems to be trying to have things both ways - give us the happy fantasy for the middle-aged guy, but also acknowledge that it's not really normal.

Taare Zameen Par / Like Stars on Earth (Aamir Khan/Amole Gupta, 2007)

Given how 3 Idiots presents Aamir Khan as sort of a teacher-savior-spiritual-guru also, I wonder if he grew up wanting to be a teacher, had parent as teachers, etc? Anyway, this film like that one is high on the IMDb list and the IMDb Indian films list, and like 3 Idiots it's a ridiculously overlong piece of sentimental tripe filled with largely uninteresting songs and a message that boils down to "be yourself". I didn't find this nearly as terrible, in part because the whole theme of dyslexia is handled with reasonable sensitivity - after the first third of the film that is where it seems like the poor 8-year-old kid Ishaan, who can't seem to do anything, is destined for bullying and torture culminating perhaps in suicide. Jeez this is depressing and irritating at first, though it should be said that it's mostly the stereotypical "I want my son to be smart and to become a doctor or engineer" father who exemplifies the worst and most obvious elements of the characterizations here. But once Magical Art Teacher Aamir Khan enters the scene after Ishaan has been shunted off to boarding school, everything turns around. Almost immediately: there's a hilariously awful scene where Khan as to show Mean Dad a box with Chinese lettering and ask him to read it to demonstrate what Ishaan is going through, and the Dad INSTANTLY gets it. It's frustrating to me - I find Khan very charismatic as an actor and he has a decent range, and he contributes the best (or at least most memorable) musical number here as well, but all these damn mawkish inspirational films involving teachers or sports (Dangal and Lagaan most noticeably) really showcase a lot of what I don't like about Bollywood. Well OK I liked Lagaan a fair bit but 1 out of 4 of his most famous films isn't a good batting average, or whatever the cricket equivalent of that is.

Andhadhum / The Blind Melody (Sriram Raghavan, 2018)

Fairly inventive Bollywood thriller about a blind pianist who stumbles into a murder/possible robbery scene but can't say anything about it to the cops for reasons best left unstated here - I could spoiler this but since the first big reveal comes after just a few minutes and changes the whole film, I won't bother. Suffice it to say that this becomes increasingly unbelievable and goofy - it is called a "black comedy" by some and I suppose that works, though I didn't find it very funny in most respects and it seemed very calculated throughout - but if one is not too addicted to their crime thrillers being "realistic", I think it's pretty fun overall. A fair bit of music - mostly in the first hour - but then our protagonist is a musician so in this case it makes some sense, and the melodramatic elements are muted here. Reminiscent of plenty of dark-yet-funny crime films from the last 30 years, ranging from Tarantino to quite a few South Korean examples, this does nevertheless stake it's own ground and it's refreshing coming from India, at least given what I've seen so far.

TELE-VISION (actually YouTube)

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes - Episode 2 - "The Dying Detective" (Sarah Hellings, 1994)
The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes - Episode 3 - "The Golden Pince-Nez" (Peter Hammond, 1994)
The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes - Episode 4 - "The Red Circle" (Sarah Hellings, 1994)

I've been slowly - very slowly - going through the entire Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes series for years, and I'm finally coming to the end. This last season of 6 episodes shows Brett still as angry, impulsive-alternating-with-detached, and agile of mind as ever, but the actor was in poor health, had gained a lot of weight, and was not able to do many of the more physical actions that were once part of the regular Holmes regimen in this series. Still these last episodes aren't much of a comedown from the earlier seasons and the series as a whole will go down for me as one of the most consistently excellent I've seen, with great attention to period detail and typically excellent use of undoubtedly small British TV resources.

"The Dying Detective" features the case of a young man whose sudden death prompts an investigation by Holmes, who finds out that the man's estate will all go to his cousin, an amateur specialist in tropical diseases - including the one that killed the man. The fact that Brett was practically on his deathbed when portraying a Holmes who is apparently suffering from this tropical fever himself is remarkable, but it's probably Jonathan Hyde's performance as the villainous Culverton Smith that makes this most memorable.

"The Golden Pince-Nez" offers a murder story again but with no apparent motive; a young man, the amanuensis to an elderly, sick writer, is stabbed to death with a paper knife in a study, with no sign of the criminal. This one involves one of the wilder solutions in the Holmes canon and it probably needs a better fleshing out than we can get in less than an hour; still, fairly well done as usual, and Frank Finlay as the elderly - and not as nice as he at first might seem - professor is a standout.

"The Red Circle" is one of many episodes featuring a sinister, secret crime organization - in this case the eponymous Red Circle, an Italian group that has set it's sights on destroying a young couple, all while Holmes is being sought for aid concerning a mysterious border who is scaring the landlords with his (non) presence. A good episode but this one, like quite a few others in the series, does suffer a bit in not being able to get all the details, or in rushing through them too quickly. Still it all comes together nicely in a suspenseful and violent conclusion.

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#12

Post by OldAle1 » March 16th, 2020, 1:59 pm

Other people's money films

sol-

Seen The Mechanic - average Bronson from this period; King of New York, which I hated on first seeing (new) and liked much more on a rewatch maybe 10 years ago; The Ballad of Little Jo which I really don't remember much at all; Mr. & Mrs. Smith which I violently hated

Onderhond

Just the Cruiser vehicle which I felt roughly the same about, maybe liked less actually. Sisters is something of a priority, one of the few significant DePalma films I haven't seen, though I don't necessarily expect to love it, mixed feelings about pretty much all of his work.

peep

just Hard Candy which I had real issues with but didn't hate, and Goodfellas which I don't seem to love as much as most Scorsese fans, though I do like it plenty

joachim

Madeo - not crazy about this apart from performances; The Prowler - early 50s noir, of course I love it, though it's not top-tier; The Chess Players - saw in cinema in the early 90s as part of a big Ray retrospective, no memory of it now, may re-watch this month. The Godard is a priority, can't imagine I'll rate it like you did, I don't think any of the 40+ films I've seen gets below a 5-6

pda

nothing except Deja Vu a couple of months ago, unremarkable

Vik

Salaam cinema - good, but need to see again; Les creatures - interesting more than good but worthwhile; Isle of Dogs fine but I'm getting a bit tired of WA now; Black Narcissus - supreme masterpiece, though it took a second viewing to get there, unlike many P&P films which I loved instantly; Dazed & Confused - little memory but I know I liked it at the time
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#13

Post by Onderhond » March 16th, 2020, 1:59 pm

peeptoad wrote:
March 16th, 2020, 1:29 pm
How did you feel about Hard Candy (if you can recall)? (other than it being a 4 on your scale)
I remember liking the styling a lot. I loved the use of LFO - Freak in the film, like the camera & color work and the editing. The film itself was pretty subdued, but also quite nasty. Not sure if it would still read that way, there have been a lot of nastier films since I watched this one, but I've just watched the trailer again and it still looks pretty intriguing to me. Not a big fan of Page and Wilson, but I felt Slade was the big star of the film anyway. It's a real shame he ended up doing so much TV work.

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#14

Post by sol » March 16th, 2020, 2:01 pm

Onderhond wrote:
March 16th, 2020, 12:20 pm
@sol:
Still not much overlap this week. I've seen Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2.5*), which I didn't like or hate. Apparently I've also seen One for the Money (1.5*), which I remember nothing about. And that's about it really. Might look into that Slenderman documentary though. I've seen the film (which was half decent) but completely missed the internet hype. Could be interesting to catch up on that, though my trust in documentaries is at an all-time low right now, so we'll see :D
Yeah, One for the Money is pretty forgettable. It's only been a day and it has already pretty much evaporated from my mind. Heigl is really good though and there are some fun supporting turns. I was also pretty middle-of-the-road with Mr. & Mrs. Smith. I'll watch Brad Pitt in pretty much anything and he didn't disappoint.

Beware the Slenderman is a really interesting film. Perhaps a bit unfocused depends on what you're looking for (it's part about the girls on trial; part about Slenderman himself) but I found it pretty fascinating myself - and actually all the more so after discussing it with max afterwards and realising that it is an incredibly biased film. Made while the girls were on trial, the film wears its heart on its sleeve with all the nasty facts that it omits to present these 'poor, unfortunate girls' who just 'happened' to stab a peer. The Slenderman mythology stuff is really well researched and nicely presented though.

Yours:

It has been too long to discuss it in any detail, but I recall Sisters being excellent. Only a second tier De Palma in my books (but I mostly love his stuff with all his trademark voyeurism and all). Recall those great split screens. I also recall really digging Bernard Herrmann's score and Margot Kidder's performance. I think I had some issues with the screenplay, but yeah, I thought this rocked at the time.

It's also been too long on 976-EVIL, but yeah, this was fun enough at the time. I believe there's a sequel? I might rewatch the original if I ever decide to give the sequel a spin.

Oh, and not seen any Mission Impossible films after #2, but agree about Cruise seeming to have stopped ageing. Kind of freaky when you realise how old he is (nearly 60) considering he could only most occasions pass for someone in his early forties.
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#15

Post by Onderhond » March 16th, 2020, 2:14 pm

OldAle1 wrote:
March 16th, 2020, 1:59 pm
Onderhond

Just the Cruiser vehicle which I felt roughly the same about, maybe liked less actually. Sisters is something of a priority, one of the few significant DePalma films I haven't seen, though I don't necessarily expect to love it, mixed feelings about pretty much all of his work.
The weird thing about the latest Mission Impossible is that it's actually in the TSPDT 21st Century list. How the hell does a film like that end up in there, right? And De Palma is somewhat of a troubled director for me. There's stuff I like in almost all of his films, but none of his films I really like. I've seen 14 of his films so far and Carlito's Way & Carrie (both 3.0*) are the ones I liked best. The weird thing is that in my mind I kinda have a positive image of De Palma, but the numbers tell a different story (1.82* average).

From your I watched Daddy Long Legs (bet you didn't see that one coming), which I thought was a little creepy and just way too long. My girlfriend loves Astaire though, so I've seen most of his films. I've also seen Blue Steel (2.5*), like most Bigelow's films somewhat underwhelming. I appreciated the attempts to make it a bit darker, but it's really just a cheesy 90s police thriller.

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#16

Post by sol » March 16th, 2020, 2:16 pm

OldAle1 wrote:
March 16th, 2020, 1:59 pm
sol-

Seen The Mechanic - average Bronson from this period; King of New York, which I hated on first seeing (new) and liked much more on a rewatch maybe 10 years ago; The Ballad of Little Jo which I really don't remember much at all; Mr. & Mrs. Smith which I violently hated
I don't know if calling The Mechanic an "average Bronson from this period" is a compliment or not, but I'll take it as one. Death Wish, From Noon Till Three - he made some really great stuff in the 70s, though I would say that the ending of The Mechanic pretty much blows away every other film that I have seen with him in it. What a way to end a movie.

Interesting comment on King of New York, but I can't imagine liking it more on rewatch. The screenplay is just so incredibly underbaked. Everybody talks about how changed Walken is and this big epiphany he had in jail, but all that we see is him afterwards. It's a zero character growth movie. I did like the grisly tampon gag though.

This month is the right month to rewatch Little Jo if you were thinking about it. Could definitely do with your support come 500<400 time.

I didn't like Mr. & Mrs. Smith as much as I might have hoped. All a little silly that they can go for FIVE years without realising that they are both assassins, but eh, definitely didn't hate it. I like Pitt in pretty much anything and Jolie surpassed my expectations too. Haven't really liked any of her less serious roles, though she has proven herself quite the capable dramatic actress over the years.

Yours:

The Southerner was okay at the time; no strong memories of it. Liked Do Bigha Zamin a lot at the time, maybe 15 years ago? It's been a while. Don't recall liking much about Blue Steel other than Brad Fiedel's music score. Gee, that guy gave us some great scores in the 1980s. I liked Wanda enough at the time. Again, it's been too long. The Black Windmill didn't do much for me. Daddy Long Legs was okay, though nobody at their best for sure.

Oh, and I haven't seen Taare Zameen Par, but I'll need to see if I can track it down now. I loved 3 Idiots, which I reviewed last week, so if it's a more of the same, it's probably my sort of Indian movie. ;)
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#17

Post by Onderhond » March 16th, 2020, 2:22 pm

sol wrote:
March 16th, 2020, 2:01 pm
Beware the Slenderman is a really interesting film. Perhaps a bit unfocused depends on what you're looking for (it's part about the girls on trial; part about Slenderman himself) but I found it pretty fascinating myself - and actually all the more so after discussing it with max afterwards and realising that it is an incredibly biased film. Made while the girls were on trial, the film wears its heart on its sleeve with all the nasty facts that it omits to present these 'poor, unfortunate girls' who just 'happened' to stab a peer. The Slenderman mythology stuff is really well researched and nicely presented though.
Will look into this then :)
sol wrote:
March 16th, 2020, 2:01 pm
It has been too long to discuss it in any detail, but I recall Sisters being excellent. Only a second tier De Palma in my books (but I mostly love his stuff with all his trademark voyeurism and all). Recall those great split screens. I also recall really digging Bernard Herrmann's score and Margot Kidder's performance. I think I had some issues with the screenplay, but yeah, I thought this rocked at the time.
See above for my take on De Palma (more detailed numbers if you care). The split screens were cool alright, but not enough to save the movie for me. This is one of those films where I feel that I might have loved it if I lived through the 70s and watched it back then for the first time, but which has lost all appeal since then.
sol wrote:
March 16th, 2020, 2:01 pm
It's also been too long on 976-EVIL, but yeah, this was fun enough at the time. I believe there's a sequel? I might rewatch the original if I ever decide to give the sequel a spin.
Yes there is, but Englund isn't involved anymore and it looks like a really cheap STV sequel. I think I'll skip it and look for more "respected" 80s horror first.
sol wrote:
March 16th, 2020, 2:01 pm
Oh, and not seen any Mission Impossible films after #2, but agree about Cruise seeming to have stopped ageing. Kind of freaky when you realise how old he is (nearly 60) considering he could only most occasions pass for someone in his early forties.
It's uncanny, but he still has nothing on Andy Lau :D

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#18

Post by OldAle1 » March 16th, 2020, 2:35 pm

sol wrote:
March 16th, 2020, 2:16 pm
OldAle1 wrote:
March 16th, 2020, 1:59 pm
sol-

Seen The Mechanic - average Bronson from this period; King of New York, which I hated on first seeing (new) and liked much more on a rewatch maybe 10 years ago; The Ballad of Little Jo which I really don't remember much at all; Mr. & Mrs. Smith which I violently hated
I don't know if calling The Mechanic an "average Bronson from this period" is a compliment or not, but I'll take it as one. Death Wish, From Noon Till Three - he made some really great stuff in the 70s, though I would say that the ending of The Mechanic pretty much blows away every other film that I have seen with him in it. What a way to end a movie.

Interesting comment on King of New York, but I can't imagine liking it more on rewatch. The screenplay is just so incredibly underbaked. Everybody talks about how changed Walken is and this big epiphany he had in jail, but all that we see is him afterwards. It's a zero character growth movie. I did like the grisly tampon gag though.

This month is the right month to rewatch Little Jo if you were thinking about it. Could definitely do with your support come 500<400 time.

I didn't like Mr. & Mrs. Smith as much as I might have hoped. All a little silly that they can go for FIVE years without realising that they are both assassins, but eh, definitely didn't hate it. I like Pitt in pretty much anything and Jolie surpassed my expectations too. Haven't really liked any of her less serious roles, though she has proven herself quite the capable dramatic actress over the years.

Yours:

The Southerner was okay at the time; no strong memories of it. Liked Do Bigha Zamin a lot at the time, maybe 15 years ago? It's been a while. Don't recall liking much about Blue Steel other than Brad Fiedel's music score. Gee, that guy gave us some great scores in the 1980s. I liked Wanda enough at the time. Again, it's been too long. The Black Windmill didn't do much for me. Daddy Long Legs was okay, though nobody at their best for sure.

Oh, and I haven't seen Taare Zameen Par, but I'll need to see if I can track it down now. I loved 3 Idiots, which I reviewed last week, so if it's a more of the same, it's probably my sort of Indian movie. ;)

Yeah "average Bronson" is more or less a compliment - the early-mid 70s were his prime period as a star for sure. From Noon Til Three is my second-favorite of all his films actually (you might guess the first) and I like Death Wish a fair bit, regardless of it's politics - really most of his work before 1980 or so is at least watchable. Also really love Hard Times and Breakheart Pass. And I probably should see The Mechanic again as the ending isn't impinging on the memory. As far as King in New York, one thing I appreciated a lot more on a re-watch was the music - I pretty much hated all rap in the early 90s but have come to appreciate it much more since; and the style and production design were pretty ace I think. As a "redemption" or change-of-heart film yeah, it probably isn't very convincing, but I think if seen in less realistic terms it works a bit better.

I think I've figured out at this point that the action-heavy, weird and/or less melodramatic Bollywood films of the present day are the ones for me; much of what hits the top 250 and therefore has a higher profile is the more maudlin and cliched stuff, which often feels like more typical western filmmaking (of the sort I dislike) only with lots of songs and an extra hour of running time. Give me crazy shit like Enthiran or stripped-down (by Indian standards anyway) barely-over-two-hour serious genre pieces like Talvar anyday.

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#19

Post by sol » March 16th, 2020, 3:00 pm

Onderhond wrote:
March 16th, 2020, 2:22 pm
sol wrote:
March 16th, 2020, 2:01 pm
Oh, and not seen any Mission Impossible films after #2, but agree about Cruise seeming to have stopped ageing. Kind of freaky when you realise how old he is (nearly 60) considering he could only most occasions pass for someone in his early forties.
It's uncanny, but he still has nothing on Andy Lau :D
Okay; would have not guessed that he was older than Cruise. :mellow:
OldAle1 wrote:
March 16th, 2020, 2:35 pm
Yeah "average Bronson" is more or less a compliment - the early-mid 70s were his prime period as a star for sure. From Noon Til Three is my second-favorite of all his films actually (you might guess the first) and I like Death Wish a fair bit, regardless of it's politics - really most of his work before 1980 or so is at least watchable. Also really love Hard Times and Breakheart Pass. And I probably should see The Mechanic again as the ending isn't impinging on the memory. As far as King in New York, one thing I appreciated a lot more on a re-watch was the music - I pretty much hated all rap in the early 90s but have come to appreciate it much more since; and the style and production design were pretty ace I think. As a "redemption" or change-of-heart film yeah, it probably isn't very convincing, but I think if seen in less realistic terms it works a bit better.

I think I've figured out at this point that the action-heavy, weird and/or less melodramatic Bollywood films of the present day are the ones for me; much of what hits the top 250 and therefore has a higher profile is the more maudlin and cliched stuff, which often feels like more typical western filmmaking (of the sort I dislike) only with lots of songs and an extra hour of running time. Give me crazy shit like Enthiran or stripped-down (by Indian standards anyway) barely-over-two-hour serious genre pieces like Talvar anyday.
Yeah, it's pretty hard to top Once Upon a Time in the West for a Bronson film. He definitely did some great stuff in the 1960s (see also Adieu l'Ami) and 70s before becoming more typecast in the 80s and 90s.

Would agree with you about the style of King of New York. I'm a sucker for blue neon and there is tons of it throughout. And yeah, decent music. I guess I wouldn't rule out rewatching it at some stage, especially given that I usually love Walken as an actor.

The current Indian Subcontinent Challenge has been challenging for me. Or at least challenge in terms of finding stuff that appeals to me. I didn't have so much of a problem with Africa and I really dug most of the Romanian dramas and comedies that I unearthed in January, but India has been a harder path to cross. Looking at what I have seen so far...

1. Duvidha (1973) India
2. Saroja (2000) Sri Lanka
3. 3 Idiots (2009) India
4. Red Door (1997) India
5. Light of Asia (1925) India
6. Kaliya Mardan (1919) India

...3 Idiots is the film that engaged me the most. The rest had okay elements and all (actually, Saroja is pretty decent if you're looking for a SL film to watch) but all were glance-at-watch-every-so-often types of films for me. I'm trying to work through the shorter Indian films out there, but they all seem to be slow paced dramas. The longer films are really daunting, and if I'm trying to be competitive, I can't spend the whole month watching 3-hour epic comedies, but that is indeed probably more where my taste in Indian cinema lies.
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#20

Post by peeptoad » March 17th, 2020, 10:48 am

Onderhond wrote:
March 16th, 2020, 1:59 pm
peeptoad wrote:
March 16th, 2020, 1:29 pm
How did you feel about Hard Candy (if you can recall)? (other than it being a 4 on your scale)
I remember liking the styling a lot. I loved the use of LFO - Freak in the film, like the camera & color work and the editing. The film itself was pretty subdued, but also quite nasty. Not sure if it would still read that way, there have been a lot of nastier films since I watched this one, but I've just watched the trailer again and it still looks pretty intriguing to me. Not a big fan of Page and Wilson, but I felt Slade was the big star of the film anyway. It's a real shame he ended up doing so much TV work.
The color scheme and some of the design elements (esp the opening credits ) were very cool. The subdued nature you mentioned might also have set the film apart slightly from others in its subgenre, compared to the actual subject matter. I normally hate films on this general subject/plot and tend to rate them lower, but this one was a bit different. Still, something about it didn't hit home completely.

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#21

Post by Lonewolf2003 » March 17th, 2020, 11:38 am

My viewings last week:

Mickey One (1965, Arthur Penn): 4.5 - Penn deserves credits for experimenting with narrative form, just like its big influence the French nouvelle vague. But sometimes experiments fail and alas the result of this experiment is just a big mess. The cinematography by Cloquet and jazz soundtrack by Sauter and Getz are its biggest redeeming qualities.
3 Idiots (2009, Rajkumar Hirani): 4.8 - Okay, it got its heart at the right place with a nice anticapitalist message about following your passion and there are a few good jokes. But it's overly melodramatic and cliched. For every step forward it takes three steps back again.
The St. Valentine's Day Massacre (1967, Roger Corman): 7.2 - Corman's only major studio movie benefits from its docudrama style, (f.e. the voice-ove states the history of each character), which gives the movie a sense of accuracy. The second biggest asset is Jason Robards, who while physically looking totally different than Al Capone, perfectly captures his menacing charm and steals every scene he's in.
Baahubali: The Beginning (2015, S.S. Rajamouli): 5.5
Baahubali 2: The Conclusion (2017, S.S. Rajamouli): 5.8 -It's easy to get caught up in the epic scale of these movies, making large parts an nice mind-numbing entertaining distraction. All the bombastic over-the-top hero celebrations does at times get close to self-parody. Unfortunately the epic journey the hero (of the main story line) undertakes is not linked to any character development (maybe this is a difference between Indian and Western storytelling, I have seen too few Indian movies to answer that question.); The hero starts the first movie and ends as a superhuman. That's why the second movie and second part of the first one, which focus on the flashback, are slightly better. The typical power scheming and epic wars in that are more interesting.
The Incident (1967, Larry Peerce): 7.5 - This movie is about two hoodlums (with a young Martin Sheen making his debut) harassing metro passengers. The anxiety of something violent happening and the impotency to prevent or intervene is painfully relatable. The movies realistically deals with homophobia and racial tensions (Best moment is when the police do finally enter the metro they immediately attack the only black male). So while the last half of the movie is great, the movie takes unnecessary long to introduce all the different passengers. Also the mayhem progresses too orderly with the hoodlums bothering every character/couple one-by-one, because the plot has to check them all off.
10 Rillington Place (1971, Richard Fleischer): 7.2
The New Centurions (1972, Richard Fleischer): 7.2 - After all those movies that focus on criminals it was nice to see one that focuses on the other side for a change. While nowadays we've seen this depiction of police officers and the influences of the job on their personal lives and psyche a dozen times in countless movies and tv-shows, this one still holds up as a very decent example of the genre. It gives a very honest realistic depiction of cops in LA in the 70s. (Although I've my doubts if the movie itself is aware about how racist and sexist they are). The movie displays the passage of time excellent. Since it covers the live of these officers over many decades there are some big time jumps, but with just a little bit of information it's made clear what happened in the meantime.
Milano trema - la polizia vuole giustizia [The Violent Professionals] (1973, Sergio Martino): 5.5 - Competently directed the action and car chase scenes are enjoyable. But the plot is hard to follow, because it's near impossible to understand why the protagonist does what he does many times, like robbing a random prostitute or getting in gambling debt in a pool hall. It's only because I read the summary of the plot I understood what his plan was. Also the movie has some overly violent moments which make little sense just to be movie "cool" (f.e. the police making a getaway car full of kidnapped people crash).
The Deadly Affair (1966, Sidney Lumet): 6.8 - Decent and enjoyable "Le Carré" thriller from the always reliable Lumet. While the movie tries to link the solving of the mystery to the salvation of the protagonist’s marriage, it doesn't succeed in that. Making all the bickering with his nymphomaniac wife an distractions from the more entertaining spy stuff.
The Anderson Tapes (1971, Sidney Lumet): 6.8 - Like with so many heist movies the highlight of the movie is the heist itself. In this there is some good cutting between the heist, interviews with the victims after the heist by the police and police actions during the heist. Connery makes for an excellent gentlemen thief you want to root for. The larger point the movie wants to make about illegal wiretapping and surveillance by the government completely falls flat though, cause it's totally underdeveloped.
The Offence (1972, Sidney Lumet): 7.0 - In another collaboration with Lumet Connery shines as a detective who assault a suspect. During three gruesome dialogue scenes, the first with his wife, the second with his superintended and the last with the suspect, it's revealed how all the horrors he has seen on the job have traumatized him, making the distinction between him and perpetrator less clear.

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OldAle1
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#22

Post by OldAle1 » March 18th, 2020, 3:57 pm

sol wrote:
March 16th, 2020, 3:00 pm
but all were glance-at-watch-every-so-often types of films for me.
I don't even know what that means. It's totally alien to the way I watch all films.

I guess that's why I can't really be "competitive" in the challenges, apart from the very few where hardly anybody plays and nobody's "watching" 6-8 films a day.

Yeah our tastes in Indian cinema seem to be markedly different, though I will probably end up watching a few more Aamir Khan monstrosities as I've decided I might as well finish off the Top 250 this year - at least for a day or so - and it's hard to imagine at least one of his other films still being on it at any given moment.

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#23

Post by sol » March 18th, 2020, 4:07 pm

OldAle1 wrote:
March 18th, 2020, 3:57 pm
sol wrote:
March 16th, 2020, 3:00 pm
but all were glance-at-watch-every-so-often types of films for me.
I don't even know what that means. It's totally alien to the way I watch all films.
It's an expression. I don't mean it literally; basically I didn't find any of those films to be particularly immersive experiences to the point that I checked the timeline on YouTube more than once to see how much of the film was left.

Given how many films you tend to dislike in a given week, I'm really impressed if you manage to exercise enough restraint to avoid ever checking how much of a film has elapsed or how much is left. That to me is totally alien. But in a good way, I guess. I wish I had more patience myself with non-immersive cinema.
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#24

Post by OldAle1 » March 18th, 2020, 4:25 pm

Oh I do sometimes check on time elapsed when I'm at home - never in the cinema except for the extremely rare godawful feels-like-it's-6-hours-long thing, like the Chinese The Wandering Earth where I was looking at my phone every 10 minutes for a while. But I try pretty hard to lose consciousness of time passing and certainly am successful at that fairly often.

No I didn't actually think you were one of those - and I think there are several - who only half-watches everything while doing all kinds of other shit. Or watches things speeded up like somebody on FG used to do (and was famous for it). The only things I might half-watch would be films I've seen several times but aren't really great films - like the Die Hard films for example. But still I try not to do it, to me watching a film means watching a film, period. Drinking or eating is OK, but that's about it.

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#25

Post by Lonewolf2003 » March 18th, 2020, 6:03 pm

OldAle1 wrote:
March 18th, 2020, 4:25 pm
Oh I do sometimes check on time elapsed when I'm at home - never in the cinema except for the extremely rare godawful feels-like-it's-6-hours-long thing, like the Chinese The Wandering Earth where I was looking at my phone every 10 minutes for a while. But I try pretty hard to lose consciousness of time passing and certainly am successful at that fairly often.

No I didn't actually think you were one of those - and I think there are several - who only half-watches everything while doing all kinds of other shit. Or watches things speeded up like somebody on FG used to do (and was famous for it). The only things I might half-watch would be films I've seen several times but aren't really great films - like the Die Hard films for example. But still I try not to do it, to me watching a film means watching a film, period. Drinking or eating is OK, but that's about it.
:worship: :thumbsup: Totally agree.
Of course there are movies I (often) watch to see how much time is left still.

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