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Which Films Did You See Last Week? Week 16, 2020

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sol
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Which Films Did You See Last Week? Week 16, 2020

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

Which Films Did You See Last Week?

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

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

This is what I saw:

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

Le Silence de la Mer (1949). Their cottage commandeered by a Nazi officer, a French uncle and niece refuse to speak to or acknowledge the German despite his attempts to act like a welcome houseguest in this intriguing movie released soon after the end of World War II. Considering how little the characters move about, the film is loaded with tension as we keep waiting for the officer to become angry at being ignored, or for the uncle and niece to cave in and look up. Howard Vernon is superb as the Nazi - an idealistic, almost sympathetic man with a love of music and pipe dream of France and Germany uniting. How much the film benefits from the uncle constantly narrating things is debatable and the films feels a tad repetitive at times, but with lots of well distributed low camera angles and thoughtful lighting throughout, it is always visually arresting. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Trouble in Store (1953). Dreaming of one day being promoted to window dresser, a stockroom worker at a fancy department store runs afoul of his new boss while trying to romance a colleague in this classic British comedy. This was Norman Wisdom's first leading role, and he plays his part with plenty of gusto and energy, chasing buses on roller-skates and climbing under cars in addition to all of his usual antics. The story is a little all over the place with a crime subplot that only really becomes prominent towards the end; there are also a few too many songs that interrupt the narrative flow. For the most part though, this is hilarious stuff, with a particular highlight being a window dressing war, played on fast-forward and observed by a crowd of fascinated shoppers. The film also benefits from Margaret Rutherford at her kookiest as an eccentric shoplifter. (first viewing, DVD) ★★★

Sun in the Last Days of the Shogunate (1957). Also known as A Sun-Tribe Myth from the Bakumatsu Era, this comedy follows a self-declared grifter who extends his stay at a brothel (despite being unable to pay) by performing various menial jobs and swindling other patrons. It is a decent premise and the goings-on of the brothel are curious, similarly based on trickery and deception with the various prostitutes trying to convince every customer that they are their one and only. As a comedy though, this is a very hit-and-miss affair. Memorable bits include a "love suicide" gone awry, a father and son who both suddenly realise that they have been sleeping with the same prostitute, and a possible ghost. None of the urination humour really works though and the politics are a bit hard to grasp as a foreigner looking in, but this is a revered film in Japan. (first viewing, online) ★★

Sleeping Beauty (1959). Charles Perrault's fairytale undergoes the Disney treatment in this widescreen animated film full of vivid colours and set to pleasant songs. The film has several striking images and an iconic villain design in Maleficent, but the title character is very passive throughout and barely has any personality with very little spoken dialogue. Her prince is only slightly less passive, and while there is something refreshing in how the surrogate aunts (fairies) are mostly responsible for saving the day, they are also the ones who allow the protagonist to be kidnapped in the first place. They are pretty interchangeable too, and overall the film really lacks the charismatic supporting characters of Disney's best animated films. The whole thing is quite watchable, but for a film about true love, we do not even see that much of the characters falling in love. (first viewing, Blu-ray Disc) ★

Showdown (1963). Chained in a makeshift prison (for drunk and disorderly conduct) alongside hardened gang members, two friendly cowboys are tormented by the gang after they daringly escape together in this Audie Murphy western. The outdoor prison is fascinating, and the jailbreak is riveting. Murphy and co-star Charles Drake also have great chemistry together. Less interesting is Kathleen Crowley as Drake's supposed girlfriend and tension dissipates as Murphy is allowed to roam free and contact her (to retrieve stolen bonds that Drake sent to her). The final ten minutes or so of the film are very strong though as Murphy gets to take on the gang, outsmarting them in different ways. The black and photography is simply sumptuous too, especially in the nighttime scenes, even though Murphy was reportedly appalled at the film not being shot in colour. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Eggs (1995). Two elderly brothers live a simple but pleasant life at an isolated cottage in the Norwegian countryside in this bizarre slice-of-life comedy. This plays out like a series of episodes rather than a cohesive narrative with occasional amusement in one brother repeatedly interrupting the other on the toilet, or the pair arguing over crosswords. The sudden arrival of an estranged son (with a strange egg fetish) almost adds some direction to the material, but he is never developed beyond his quirks, such as making noises like a hen, and what he may or may not have hidden in his egg collection is never really resolved. Like the brothers' lives, this is a pleasant enough to film to watch, but it feels like it takes forever to warm up and by the end and it never feels like it went anywhere, but perhaps that is the point? Enjoy life; don't go searching for deeper meaning. (first viewing, online) ★★

SubUrbia (1996). Not to be confused with the similarly titled Penelope Spheeris film, this movie from Richard Linklater revolves around a group of college students and their more aimless friends as they hang outside the local convenience store, awaiting the return of a high school chum who has since become a famous musician. It a solid set-up with the film reminiscent of Waiting for Godot at first with the youths engaging in philosophical conversations about work and life. Things detour away from Godot when the musician does turn up and his friends are forced to confront how little they have done with their lives so far; "I've been trying to think and write and stuff" one sheepishly states. For all its ambition, the film rarely transcends its stage play roots and none of the characters are particularly likeable, but their predicament is ever-so-relatable. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Pusher (1996). Losing both his stash and money in a drug deal gone sour, a small-time pusher is given a deadline to make up his debt this thriller that put Nicolas Winding Refn on the map. There are several intense scenes as he tries to collect the funds and outsmart various thugs. It is over thirty minutes in though before the drug deal goes awry, and while Mads Mikkelsen is fun as a goofy best friend who injures himself kickboxing in the streets, much of the first third of the movie is just spent on idle conversation between the pair. Even when things do pick up, the tension is never constant with the pusher stopping to party with his girlfriend at one point! The film manages to conclude on a stellar final shot and the final ten minutes boast all the wondrous neon that Refn is best known for, but this mostly pales against what he career-wise would later achieve. (first viewing, DVD) ★

Pusher II (2004). Barely related to the first Pusher movie and generally the better for it, this sequel follows the experiences of Mads Mikkelsen's goofy sidekick from the original as he similarly gets in over his head in criminal activities. While the film lacks the urgency and high stakes of its predecessor, it makes up for it with a higher dosage of neon, some great estranged father/son dynamics and Mikkelsen actually achieving distinct character growth as he gradually comes to accept that it might have fathered a child out of wedlock. The ending is once again solid, though not quite as haunting as the stare from the end of Part One. All in all, this follow-up nicely shows Nicolas Winding Refn maturing as a filmmaker and finding of his own individual style - though Fear X (made in between the Pusher films) is a superior example in this regard. (first viewing, online) ★★

Gambler (2006). True to its title, this documentary captures how Nicolas Winding Refn took a gamble on writing and directing two sequels to Pusher with money that he did not have under the conviction that if the films succeeded they could pull him out of debt. The debt was caused by the box office failure of his prior Fear X - a worthwhile thriller but not a film for all tastes - and the early bits here are interesting as Refn (or Jang as others call him) waxes poetic over how it was "my most ambitious movie and my best one". It is also curious to see him complain that he is doing the Pusher sequels for money while at the same time arguing with his wife over how much they really owe. The whole thing feels rather long and repetitive but with some neat behind-the-scenes stuff for Pusher II in the mix, it is an intriguing documentary for sure. (first viewing, online) ★★

9/11 (2002). Featuring rarely seen, on-the-scene footage, this documentary presents the September 11 terrorist attacks from the point-of-view of the firefighters. It is a decent idea, and with shots from inside the first tower during its collapse, the film is certainly very intimate. That said, it is hard not to wish that the project was more simple, raw footage. Too often there is intrusive narration or interviews inserted in and around the proceedings. Robert De Niro as host also only tends to spell out the obvious, tell us how "good men did brave things" that day. There is lots of sentimental music too, whereas simple diegetic sound would have been a lot more haunting. The whole thing is still somewhat fascinating though, having evolved from what was meant to be a documentary on rookie firefighters with the directors just happening to be there during the attack. (first viewing, online) ★★

Dogville (2003). Fleeing vicious gangsters, a young woman seeks refuge in a small town whose citizen agree to help her out in exchange for favours, leading to a situation that gradually spirals out of control in this intriguing Lars von Trier movie. Filmed with deliberately little in the way of sets and props (most of which are just chalk outlines), this is not the easiest film to get into at first; as the plot turns darker and more sinister though, the lack of traditional sets actually enhances the proceedings, highlighting the complicity of the town in her mistreatment as a vulnerable outsider. Nicole Kidman is solid in the lead throughout and while the storybook style narration varies in effectiveness, it provides an appropriately fable-like quality to this tale of how "evil can arise anywhere, as long as the situation is right", as von Trier himself has described the film. (first viewing, DVD) ★★★★

Dope (2015). Accidentally coming into possession of a backpack full of drugs, a straight-A high schooler's life is turned upside down as he tries to return the contraband in this amusing comedy. Shameik Moore is excellent in the lead role and there is a lot to like about how he is so happy to not fit in, while the plot unfolds in a nicely unpredictable manner in which one is never quite sure where it is heading. It feels uneven at times as the story jumps between thriller and comedy modes, and catchy as the songs are, they tend to break up the tension. The film concludes well though with some thoughtful ruminations on stereotypes and what it is like to live on the edge of what others perceive you to be. Certainly, this is an interesting alternative at least to Risky Business with the plot similarly built around Moore's anxiety over getting into a good university. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Last Cab to Darwin (2015). Learning that he can legally undergo voluntary assisted dying in Darwin, a terminally ill rural taxi driver embarks on an ambitious cross-country road trip in this Australian drama inspired by actual events. In his first big screen performance since the tepid Strange Bedfellows a decade earlier, Michael Caton really shines with all of his heartache, loneliness and longing for a dignified end deeply felt. The road trip is pretty engaging too with lots of interesting encounters and a very potent bit in which Caton tries something upon asking his two passengers to disembark. Alas, once Caton reaches Darwin, the story begins to run out of steam and it takes an incredibly long time to wind towards a sentimental ending that is not exactly hard to predict. Caton is excellent throughout though and ultimately better than the film. (first viewing, Blu-ray Disc) ★★

Beasts of No Nation (2015). Alone after his family is murdered in civil war, a young boy is taken under the wing of a rebel commandant and trained to be a child soldier in this African-set drama. Abraham Attah is well cast as the young protagonist, initially so carefree and full of dreams (hocking an "imagination TV"; making faces in the dark), only to gradually become sullen and moody as a result of the things that his training requires him to do. Idris Elba is also perfectly charismatic and surrogate father-like as the commandant. The film is a little obvious and unsubtle though (lots of voice-over narration and scenes of Attah talking to himself and questioning whether there is a god etc) and it feels a little long and protracted at nearly 2.5 hours. Lots of very interesting filming techniques though - especially in terms of colour desaturation, pink supersaturation, etc. (first viewing, online) ★★

Darkland (2017). Feeling responsible for his brother's murder after he refused to lend him money, a humble surgeon trains himself to be a vigilante to avenge the death in this intriguing thriller from Denmark. This is a curious attempt to make a realistic vigilante movie; the protagonist has to get himself back into shape before he can exact his revenge and the best part of an hour is spent on personal training and reconnaissance before any substantial action occurs, which makes the action even more brutal when it finally happens. The film has some scripting issues: immigrant experience tensions appear early on but are quickly forgotten, plus the protagonist seems to hate his brother too much when alive to really be that torn up over his death. This overall works well though as a refreshingly different vigilante movie and the unusual music is perfectly pensive. (first viewing, online) ★★★

REVISIONS

Singin' in the Rain (1952). Transitioning to sound proves difficult for the cast and crew of a 20s swashbuckler in this musical with a detailed insight into the movie industry. It is hard to say what is most impressive here: the behind-the-scenes segments, the witty dialogue or the highly spirited choreography. Donald O'Connor's comic timing is especially remarkable with lots of the funniest moments coming from his side comments, though the out-of-sync audio premiere is arguably the comedic highlight. The only major misstep that the film makes is a lengthy dance routine with Cyd Charisse that should have been left on the cutting room floor as it interferes with the film's pacing. This is very durable to repeat viewings, topped off with a hilarious climax that highlights the power of clever sound recording during an era when its use was disputed. (fifth viewing, Blu-ray Disc) ★★★★

Rock-a-Bye Baby (1958). While some of the gags are a little silly here as Jerry Lewis has to take care of triplets on his own, this comedy stands up magnificently to revision and is probably the best film with Jerry in a lead role that he did not direct himself. From an out-of-control hose and to a broken television set, the film has some of funniest scenes ever committed to celluloid, plus there are several great, smaller gags (endless pegs from his mouth). There are sublime romantic bits too - like Jerry locking eyes with an imagined younger version of himself while singing the catchy "In the Land of La La La" tune. None of the other songs here are much good and the film sometimes feels a little too sentimental for its own good, but with some gender stereotyping ideas and television satire in the mix, this works like a dream if you can stand Jerry's mugging. (fifth viewing, DVD) ★★★★

Some Like It Hot (1959). On the run after witnessing the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, two male musicians join a female band incognito in this classic Billy Wilder comedy. While some gags feel less fresh upon revision, it is hard not to admire how Wilder successfully uses a fictionalised version of grim actual history as a launching pad for a riotous comedy with a few things to say about gender relations. The focus of the film occasionally feels misplaced (the gangster subplot is soon forgotten about, before arising again in the final 25 minutes) but there is much joy to be had in Tony Curtis essentially playing three different characters and Lemmon gradually progressing from resenting the drag act to fully embracing his female persona. The film looks pretty great too with noirish lighting at times, and the final line of the film is iconic for a reason. (third viewing, Blu-ray Disc) ★★★★

Is-slottet (1987). Filmed in icy rural Norway, this movie has a magical and mystical aura. The snowy locations are simply breathtaking, especially the titular palace full of icicles and seeming hidden passageways. Just as striking are the constant close-ups of the actresses with facial expressions rather than dialogue driving this account of awkwardness and an unspoken bond between two lonely teens. Line Storesund carries the film with her eyes alone, every emotion is felt through her glances, stares and longing looks, and in her only ever big screen performance, Hilde Nyeggen Martinsen is remarkable and even more mysterious. Even at less than 80 minutes, this sometimes feels like a short film stretched out to feature length, but it remains an affecting and heartfelt portrayal of adolescent uncertainty and desire - and is equally as enticing upon revision. (second viewing, DVD) ★★★★

OtherShow
The Smiling Lieutenant (1931). Circumstances lead to a lieutenant having to marry a foreign princess to avoid scandal, which naturally upsets his current girlfriend in this Ernst Lubitsch musical comedy. While it is a little hard to believe how easily everyone falls for him with his constantly mugging, Maurice Chevalier certainly radiates charisma in the lead role and his energetic performance is much of the reason why the film is tolerable. The songs are certainly very second-rate (a surprisingly risqué ditty about lingerie aside) with Chevalier even singing about his breakfast at the film's lamest. The plot though is the hardest thing to take in with the path that Chevalier's girlfriend eventually takes feeling not only unrealistic but also totally out of character. Even the political satire feels hampered here by the incredulous plot and generally unmemorable songs. (first viewing, online) ★

The Breaking Point (1950). His latest passenger disembarking without paying, a charter boat captain agrees to illegally smuggle immigrants to raise the money necessary to return in this alternative adaptation of To Have and Have Not's source novel. While Patricia Neal is never half as effective as Lauren Bacall, a weary John Garfield matches Bogie all the way and does a great job delivering all the hard-boiled dialogue. This is a film in two distinct parts though, and while the first half is engrossing with Garfield reluctantly embroiling himself in criminal activities and feeling remorse, the second half is less enticing as Garfield chooses to participate in underhanded stuff again because he is too stubborn to let his wife earn an income. The film ends on a pretty terrific final shot, but Garfield is so much less compelling as a non-reluctant participant in crime. (first viewing, online) ★★

The Great Rupert (1950). Or A Christmas Wish as it is sometimes known, the plot here revolves around a mischievous squirrel who moves the money from a greedy man's hiding spot to the ceiling of a nearby family in financial strife who believe that it is a Christmas miracle whenever money falls from above. It is a cute idea and the George Pal supervised stop motion effects for the squirrel are magnificent. We even get to see the squirrel dance and perform early on via stop animation. Alas, the squirrel is absent from the vast majority of the film and the human characters are never too interesting. Especially lame is a love triangle involving the poor family's daughter. Jimmy Durante certainly gets some good moments as her father, but the film also often feels too molded around his requisite songs rather than his fuddling about with the mysterious money. (first viewing, online) ★★

Mister Universe (1951). Convincing an old army buddy and part-time wrestler to make him his manager after he wins a Mister Universe contest, a small-time grifter finds himself in trouble when his buddy refuses to throw fixed wrestling matches in this Jack Carson comedy. Hilarious in the previous year's The Good Humor Man, it is curious to see Carson cast in a very different role as a sneaky and conniving character here, and the film gets off to a solid start with Jack Carson trying to con street customers with fake miracle soap. The subsequent wrestling match fixing stuff is a lot less funny though and there is way too much time spent on Carson and his colleagues futilely trying to wear the wrestling champ down because he wins matches too quickly. The final scene is very amusing though with some fun ironies at play for certain characters. (first viewing, online) ★

The Lady Says No (1951). It sounds a lot like Down with Love as a writer of a pro-feminist book clashes with a male chauvinist journalist here, only for romantic sparks to fly, but without the latter's vibrant colours and satire, this is more of a curio than anything else. The film certainly has its high points, most notably a surreal dream sequence and the journalist's pride hurt at a feminist convention surrounded by laughing women. Rather than the film being about the pair reaching compromise though, it is about him dismissing her views on feminism altogether, which does not really click. David Niven certainly gives it his all though and is not totally unlikeable despite playing someone so arrogant. The film has several very bright supporting turns too - in particular, a diner waitress who manages to manipulate everyone from Niven to a timid soldier on leave. (first viewing, DVD) ★★

The Long Memory (1953). Hell-bent on revenge after serving twelve years behind bars for a crime he did not commit, a middle-aged Brit on parole stalks those responsible with the police closely monitoring his movements in this crime thriller. John Mills is well cast (against type) as an everyman hardened by injustice and the film has some downright chilling moments as Mills just stands and stares menacingly from a distance at a night during his stalking activities. These scenes, and much of the movie, are also accompanied by atmospheric, foreboding music. The film is uneven at best though in between the stalking scenes. In fact, Mills is absent altogether from around half the film as a police inspector -- coincidentally now married to his former girlfriend -- receives inordinate focus. With more Mills this could have been great, but it is still very decent as is. (first viewing, online) ★★

The Rocket Man (1954). Not to be confused with the similarly name Elton John biopic, this comedy revolves around an orphan who is gifted a gun (by a kindly alien) that can either make someone freeze or force them to tell the truth. It is an idea with some potential, and yet the film spends precious little time on the boy getting up to mischief with the gun - plus it is never made clear how he changes whether it freezes or gets the truth out of someone... nor how it helps him to cheat at cards. Instead, there are large bouts of screen time here dedicated to a corrupt politician and two formulaic romances between two different young couples. Spring Byington and Charles Coburn at least do good with what little they have to work with, George Winslow is decent as the orphan boy, and it is difficult to dislike a movie that features a trained frog called "Sol"! (first viewing, online) ★★

The Love Match (1955). Obsessed with soccer, a steam engine operator frequently gets into trouble in this British comedy starring Arthur Askey. One of the funniest actors of the 1940s, Askey was sadly a little past his prime by the time of this film, and while he does have a very amusing bit early on as he manages to distract an elderly magistrate, the scene mostly works due to Robb Wilton's baffled reactions as the magistrate in question. As for the rest of the film, the brightest parts come whenever Danny Ross is on screen as an accident-prone love interest for Askey's daughter - and that is not nearly often enough. The ending is admittedly pretty cute and Askey's energy certainly knows no bounds even he appears less nimble than he was a decade earlier, but he is never especially interesting here and all his scurrying about feels more pathetic than desperate. (first viewing, DVD) ★

Up in the World (1956). Landing a job at a posh estate, a fun-loving window cleaner clashes with the owner's mischievous teenage son and the estate's stuffy staff in this Norman Wisdom comedy. While Wisdom gets in some good stunts atop ladders and hanging off buildings, this is not one of his funnier efforts. Jerry Desmonde (so wonderful as Wisdom's easily irate boss in Trouble in Store) is given very little to do and the supporting cast is generally less exuberant than usual. Wisdom also comes off as more foolish than misfortunate this time, which makes him harder to sympathise with, plus the climax is just so-so. Still, there are plenty of great gags and comedic routines in the mix - most notably, Wisdom essentially playing musical queues while waiting in line, Wisdom helping himself to a banquet, and every bit involving his pet hamster. (first viewing, DVD) ★★

Tiger in the Smoke (1956). Shady figures surface as a young man investigates why someone has been pretending to be his girlfriend's deceased former husband in this British crime thriller. True to its title, the movie comes with oodles of fog, but all of the atmosphere feels wasted on a story that is a little too complex for its own good. Both the ostensible lead male and female characters soon become supporting players as focus pivots between a band of criminals, the local priest, a couple of detectives and a dangerous criminal mastermind who has recently fled jail. There are too many characters to keep track of and we barely get to know any as individuals, though Laurence Naismith certainly comes off best. It is a shame, because with a neat dose of irony near the end, the basic story is quite strong and probably did not need to be half as complicated as it is. (first viewing, online) ★

5 Steps to Danger (1957). Pulled over by the police, a stranded motorist begins to wonder if the mysterious woman who he has hitched a ride with is dangerous in this noir thriller starring Sterling Hayden and Ruth Roman. The set-up is okay with Hayden encountering a psychiatrist who warns him of Roman's fragile mental health before they are pulled over; there is also a great stretch in which they flee police custody in handcuffs and have to pretend to be a married couple in order to hide the shackling that could be discovered at any minute. Alas, as the film wears on and the plot introduces one twist after another, the whole thing begins to feel ridiculous. The gradual romance does not really work either and comes at odds to the suspense-driven plot. This passes the time decently but could have really been something had the pair remained handcuffed throughout. (first viewing, online) ★★

American Hunter (1989). Stolen microfilm leads to a series of helicopter chases, car chases and more kickboxing fights than ten Jean-Claude Van Damme films spliced together in this low budget but high energy action film from Indonesia. For what it lacks in plot, dialogue and character development, the film almost entirely makes up for it with the sheer imagination and brutality of its high octane action sequences with its hero doing a backwards somersault to dodge a bullet, entire basements and bathrooms destroyed in fights, heads pushed under moving trains and crazy torture devices like an electrically wired neck brace. The performances are half-bad either with Christopher Mitchum emulating his father at times and Bill Wallace making for a superb charismatic chief villain - and one who is capable of matching Mitchum's every kickboxing move. (first viewing, online) ★★

Misery Loves Company (1993). Often compared to the experimental films of Stan Brakhage, this Canadian feature is a lot more accessible than something like Dog Star Man since director Carl Brown has a clear agenda throughout. While the distorted images in many ways seem random, the first five minutes of the film are very intense as a woman candidly relays a recent nightmare. While not accompanied by voice-over, the subsequent images come with all sorts of haunting and invasive sounds and many images have a horror-like quality, especially a repeated series of a shots of a hunched-over figure that could pass for an early incantation of Slender Man. Certainly this is not a film for all tastes and there is room to argue if it needed to be as long as it is, but this all very intriguing while making about as much sense as the average nightmare. (first viewing, online) ★★

Workingman's Death (2005). Opening with William Faulkner's quote that "all you can do for eight hours is work, which is the reason why man makes himself and everybody else so miserable", this documentary depicts grueling jobs around the world. The film delivers its most compelling segment first, with mine workers in Ukraine who suffer tough conditions while disliking their job. The second section dedicated to sulphur workers is fascinating too. Third though we are taken to Nigeria where we see mass animal slaughter, which is hard to watch, yet all the workers remain unfazed. Things pick up as we taken to Pakistan, where we see another dangerous job that the workers there hate, but then the film visits steel workers in China, which is less enticing. The insight into occupations around the world is intriguing here, but one's mileage might vary. (first viewing, online) ★★

Casting a Glance (2007). Compiled with footage from sixteen trips he made to Utah's Spiral Jetty over a 37 year period, James Benning presents this pleasant tribute to the power of the human constructed sculpture to withstand time. This has more structure than something like Ten Skies or 13 Lakes as Benning uses the dates of his footage to sort things into chapters. The choice to shoot from all different angles and distances is interesting too, though it is difficult not to yearn for more long distance and aerial shots since Benning's tendency for eye-level medium shots often makes it hard to bask in the beauty of the jetty. The reliance on diegetic sound is also mostly a blessing, except for two out-of-place sequences punctured by tourist sounds and music. This is a curious stuff, though probably no more accessible to most than the average Benning film. (first viewing, online) ★★

Avalon (2011). Accidentally knocking over a scaffold and killing an illegal immigrant working on his house, an old man is encouraged to cover up the crime but still feels remorse in this deliberately paced drama from Sweden. The film benefits from a terrific lead performance by Johannes Brost, but it never really feels like it goes anywhere. It is certainly not a tale of someone trying to rationalise his crime and personal ethics a la Crimes and Misdemeanors, nor is it a tale of a man's guilt gradually getting the better of him a la The Informer. A subplot involving the immigrant's girlfriend turning up adds some extra dimension... until she bizarrely runs away to never return. There are actually many memorable moments here (Brost bathing in blue discotheque lights while the title song plays etc.) but what exactly the filmmakers were going for is unclear. (first viewing, online) ★★

Antboy (2013). Bitten by a genetically modified ant, a schoolboy gains superpowers and becomes a vigilante in this Danish superhero movie that actively acknowledges the undeniable influences of Spider-Man and Ant-Man. The whole thing is a little silly and inconsistent in terms of what he can and cannot do, but the film is made with oodles of energy and there are several genuinely funny moments in the mix, the best of which is probably his dad's nonchalance towards everything sticking to his hands at breakfast. The film does not quite get enough mileage either out of his most fascinating superpower (urinating acid) but the parts where his uses this ability are great. As for the overall story, it has a standard love interest, baddie and best friend in the mix, but it is all quite palatable as a movie with no ostentatious special effects or trick photography. (first viewing, online) ★★

TPB AFK (2013). Taken to court by lawyers representing Hollywood, this Swedish documentary follows the creators of file sharing website The Pirate Bay (TPB) over the trial period. The behind-the-scenes shots of the website's servers and infrastructure are fascinating; same goes for the history of the website as a personal project that gradually grew into something bigger. Alas, while the documentary is clearly designed to exonerate those behind TPB, a confusingly large number of excuses are thrown up with the film never delving quite deep enough into any of them. Is it really acceptable for the TPB to crew to claim their users are the ones responsible for breaking copyright? The film also seems very much against copyright without properly explaining why. Indeed, the subject of copyright may have made for a more intriguing theme instead. (first viewing, online) ★★

Battle (2018). Keeping her father's sudden bankruptcy secret proves challenging for a privileged, posh dance student, and things only get more complicated as she romances a lower class battle dancer on the side in this coming-of-age drama from Norway. As a narrative, the film does not offer much new or exciting: lying to friends, cheating on boyfriends, bitchy colleagues - it has all been done before. The film has quite a bit of heart to it too though with Lisa Teige sympathetic the whole way through even as her lies grow more complex, hurtful and out of control. Her gradual humility as she accepts her newfound poverty works very well. The dance battles are intriguing too, though the film does not always feel like it does the dances justice by seldom focusing on the footwork. Quite an acceptable film either way - especially given how steeped it is in clichés. (first viewing, online) ★★
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Post by Perception de Ambiguity » April 19th, 2020, 12:01 pm

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Samadhi (Daniel Schmidt, 2017) 8/10
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One.Two.Three (Vincent Meessen, 2016) 7/10

Taiga (Ulrike Ottinger, 1992) 4+/10

闇打つ心臓 / Heart, Beating in the Dark (長崎俊一/Shunichi Nagasaki, 1982) 5/10

忠烈圖 / The Valiant Ones (胡金銓/King Hu, 1975) 4+/10

Is-slottet / Ice Palace (Per Blom, 1987) 6/10

Murder by Natural Causes (Robert Day, 1979) 5+/10

うなぎ / The Eel / Unagi (Director’s Cut) (今村昌平/Shohei Imamura, 1997) 7/10
SWAP: viewtopic.php?p=634568

Sincerely Louis CK (Louis C.K., 2020) 8-/10

the matrix (the wachowski baudrillards, 1999) (11th+ viewing) ∞/☪

the matrix re:loaded (the wachowski siddharthas, 2003) (10th viewing) ☆/⚝

the matrix REVOLUTIONs (the wachowski boddhisatvas, 2003) (10th viewing) ☮/☯
"Hallelujah. You're my savior, man. My own personal Jesus Christ…Show
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Samadhi: Part 2 (It's Not What You Think) (Daniel Schmidt, 2018) 7/10
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shorts

Deep Sleep (Basma Alsharif, 2014) 6/10

nachtwache (Bastian Clevé, 1975) 3/10

The Finish of Bridget McKeen (Edwin S. Porter, 1901) 4/10

Terrible Teddy, the Grizzly King (Edwin S. Porter, 1901) 4/10

Monkeyshines, No. 1 (William K.L. Dickson & William Heise, 1890) 5+/10

Monkeyshines, No. 2 (William K.L. Dickson & William Heise, 1890) 4+/10


music videos

Igorrr: Very Noise (MeatDept., 2020) (3rd & 4th viewing) 8+/10


notable online media

top:
In the Mouth of Madness: Who Writes Reality? [rewatch]
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Is Your Life Your Prison?! | Russell Brand Podcast
1408: The Philosophical Depths That Horror Can Reach
Kanye Predicted the 2020 Pandemic
ALIEN: What is Cosmic Horror?
rest:
The Time When Buddha Cured The Lazy Man - BUDDHA STORY LAZINESS
Master Shi Heng Yi – 5 hindrances to self-mastery | Shi Heng YI | TEDxVitosha [mostly]
O.M.I.Show
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dream realityImage
LETTERBOXD | MUBI | IMDb | tumblr.

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Onderhond
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#3

Post by Onderhond » April 19th, 2020, 12:42 pm

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Seen quite a few bad films this week, then again the previous ones were well above average and one has to catch up with some popular crap eventually. Luckily some interesting films at the top too, with some interesting horror and a fine drama out of Hong Kong. Quite rare.


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01. 4.0* - Layer Cake by Matthew Vaughn (2004)
Fun and quirky crime flick that thrives on its Britishness. It's a bit Ritchie-light at times, but Vaughn does his very best to keep things stylish and entertaining. A solid performance by Daniel Craig, some great secondary actors and plenty of visual flair make sure this film was still a lot of fun the second time around.

02. 3.5* - Kushina, What Will You Be by Moët Hayami (2018)
A light and breezy drama that gets just a little too heavy-handed when it tries to flesh out its themes. It's not a major complaint though, because the cinematography is nice, the score is beautiful and the cast does a great job. At its best the film is warm and effortless, sadly the quality level isn't quite constant enough.

03. 3.5* - The Turning by Floria Sigismondi (2020)
Stylish and atmospheric horror film. Take and old mansion, an eery groundskeeper and two isolated kids and you have all the necessary ingredients for a solid genre flick. The cast does a great job, cinematography and score are top-notch and the ending is ambiguous enough. An easy recommend for horror fans.

04. 3.5* - Better Days [Shao Nian De Ni] by Kwok Cheung Tsang (2019)
At its best, Better Days is a very stylish, gripping and well-made drama. Sadly the way the bullying is handled feels a little flat, which carries through to a somewhat disappointing ending. It's a shame, because the performances are amazing, the cinematography is beautiful and the score is on point. Very good, but could've been better still.

05. 3.5* - She Never Died by Audrey Cummings (2019)
A pretty crazy film, this one. She Never Died brings an odd mix of crime, horror and fantasy elements, and delivers them with a surprising lightness. It's an interesting blend and it's Cummings' achievement for making this work, though the superb performance of Adeliyi definitely helped. Recommended, if you like a bit of weirdness.

06. 3.0* - Truth or Dare by Jeff Wadlow (2018)
A pretty basic Blumhouse production that gets a bit better during the second half and actually has a pretty neat ending. The cast is mediocre and the setup is quite lame, but at least there are some nasty kills and the ending finds a smart balance between predictability and surprise. Not very memorable, but it is solid filler.

07. 3.0* - The Untamed: Fatal Journey by Qiu Zhongwei (2020)
Decent tomb raiding adventure, a genre niche that is incredibly popular in China right now. You can see the TV origins of this spin-off, which some poor CG in places and a very short introduction of the characters, but overall this is a fun, fast-paced and entertaining adventure that is sure to please fans of the genre.

08. 3.0* - The Decline [Jusqu'au Déclin] by Patrice Laliberté (2020)
A decent survival thriller. The introduction is way too long, especially for such a short film, but once the first body drops the film quickly picks up the pace. A snowy setting, solid actors and some nice survival warfare scenes provide good genre thrills. In the end this is a pretty basic thriller, but with enough flair for those who want some proper genre filler.

09. 2.5* - To the Ends of the Earth [Tabi no Owari Sekai no Hajimari] by Kiyoshi Kurosawa (2019)
Kurosawa is struggling lately. His latest is an interesting attempt to bring two nations together, but the result is equal amounts culture clash and xenophobia, that doesn't have much to add to what's already out there. There are some individual scenes that stick out, but overall it's just very basic and expected.

10. 2.5* - Emma. by Autumn de Wilde (2020)
Another Jane Austin adaptation. The romance and drama didn't make much of an impression, but the quirky portrayal of the characters and the light-hearted tone of the film made it quite bearable. I'm still not a big fan of this genre, but at least it's not as bad as many others and it does add a novel twist.

11. 2.5* - City Hunter: .357 Magnum [City Hunter: Ai to Shukumei no Magnum] by Kenji Kodama (1989)
A rather predictable and expected entry in the City Hunter franchise. It's fun and light entertainment, but I'm pretty certain that this material works better in a 45-minute format. There's a bit too much filler and it takes a little too long before the action takes over, but all in all it's not a bad film. Just not very memorable.

12. 2.5* - Trixie Mattel: Moving Parts by Nicholas Zeig-Owens (2019)
Sobering behind-the-scenes documentary. There's no glitz and glamour here, just down-to-earth work stuff in a world overflowing with mental instability. It's honestly not all that surprising, nor eye-opening, but it is a good reminder that what we see on TV is mostly just smoke and mirrors. Pretty decent.

13. 1.5* - American Wedding by Jesse Dylan (2003)
The third film is just more of the same. The same kind of comedy, the same poor attempts to make fun of uncomfortable scenes, the same characters with the same quirks. The actors do a slightly better job compared to earlier films, on the other hand it all starts to feel a little too familiar. Not very good.

14. 1.5* - Friday by F. Gary Gray (1995)
A rather plain and lazy black stoner comedy. If you think the mere idea of weed is funny, then there might be something here for you. Otherwise, it's just broad stereotypes, mediocre performances and purely functional direction. These types of comedy just aren't my thing, I like Gray better when he's doing action flicks.

15. 1.5* - Police Force [Jing Cha] by Cheh Chang, Yang Ming Tsai (1973)
A poor crime/thriller by Cheh Chang. The action scenes are decent but not all that noteworthy, and they are few and far between. The thriller and crime elements are poor though and tend to drag. The film is too long, has pacing issues and a cast that can't make an impression. Definitely not Chang's best work.

16. 1.5* - Puppet Master by David Schmoeller (1989)
The puppet designs are rather fun and creative, but Schmoeller is a poor director and struggles to make sense of this pretty basic film. The cast isn't doing him any favors either and the horror bits are ridiculous instead of frightening. With a little effort this could've been a fun flick, but the quality just wasn't there.

17. 1.5* - Behind You by Andrew Mecham, Matthew Whedon (2020)
A film that tries pretty hard, but fails to deliver. The fact that it's a cut-and-paste job of other horror films isn't even all that problematic, the incredibly poor and lifeless execution is though. The acting is bad, the horror cues are lazy and the ghost is just plain silly. Unless you're absolutely starved for horror, there is not much here.

18. 1.0* - Chopping Mall by Jim Wynorski (1986)
Incredibly cheap and amateurish. The robots look childish, the cast is terrible and even though it's a very simple film, half of it doesn't seem to make any sense. Even the short running time doesn't feel like a redeeming quality. Unless you're truly in love with the 80s, or you just have a thing for extremely cheesy horror film, don't bother.

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fori
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#4

Post by fori » April 19th, 2020, 1:30 pm

No review for No Longer Human, Onderhond? That’s my highlight from the last week. Such an aesthetically masterful movie, and it taps into a lot of things that contemporary audiences have struggled to grapple with. The other viewings I enjoyed most were:
Human Comedy (2001, Hung Hung)
Tess of the Storm Country (1914, Edwin S. Porter)
Where the Chocolate Mountains (2015, Pat O’Neill)
Grandma and Her Ghosts (2000, Shaudi Wang)

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Onderhond
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#5

Post by Onderhond » April 19th, 2020, 1:38 pm

fori wrote:
April 19th, 2020, 1:30 pm
No review for No Longer Human, Onderhond?
It's coming! But it always takes me about a week to finish a review, so I get the confusion :)

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#6

Post by fori » April 19th, 2020, 1:55 pm

Onderhond wrote:
April 19th, 2020, 1:38 pm
fori wrote:
April 19th, 2020, 1:30 pm
No review for No Longer Human, Onderhond?
It's coming! But it always takes me about a week to finish a review, so I get the confusion :)
No I just mean, not even a little note about it in this thread! I get the delay on onderhond.com, but why not put something on here?

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joachimt
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#7

Post by joachimt » April 19th, 2020, 3:00 pm

Bacurau (2019, 2 official lists, 451 checks) 9/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
Go in without expectations and you'll be surprised.
Chinjeolhan geumjassi AKA Lady Vengeance (2005, 2 official lists, 5101 checks) 8/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
The first 45 minutes felt too much like an unnecessary jigsaw, but after that it was great. Beautifully shot.
Metro Manila (2013, 1 official list, 308 checks) 8/10
Watched because it was FotW.
I really liked this. The combination of drama and crime-thriller is well done. It never feels forced. When they got to the city, I expected a full drama in which there would only be hardship, living in the slums, hunger, death, etc... But
SpoilerShow
I was surprised that things seemed to get better with the family pretty soon. At first this felt a bit odd. Most of the time you won't get a chance so soon in such a country, I guess. But hope seemed to be false and good things have a different side as well.
Good plot with a strong ending.
Mi tío Jacinto AKA Uncle Hyacynth (1956, 2 official lists, 43 checks) 8/10
Watched because it's in WC 1H.
Really enjoyed the kid.
8 femmes AKA 8 Women (2002, 2 official lists, 3108 checks) 7/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
What a strange movie!! The actions of the women are completely unrealistic, but it kinda works in a surreal way. The songs are completely stupid, but actually fit very well with all the bright colors. The characters are just as colorful as the color itself.
Booksmart (2019, 2 official lists, 2301 checks) 7/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on Prime.
I liked this more than I expected. It has enough heart and charm and it constantly feels honest and fresh. So it always stays above average teenage movies.
Midvinterblot (1946, 0 official lists, 34 checks) 7/10
Watched because it's in WC 1H.
Dark and atmospheric. Cool stuff. Won't get my vote though.
Alba (2016, 1 official list, 50 checks) 6/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
Too many of the same scenes over and over.
Boston Fire (1979, 0 official lists, 42 checks) 6/10
Watched because it's a short DtC nominee.
Nice images.
Escape from New York (1981, 5 official lists, 12581 checks) 6/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
I liked the post-apocalyptic atmosphere, but the story is a bit too lame and the pace too slow.
La Batalla de Vieques (1986, 1 official list, 12 checks) 6/10
Watched because it's a newly available Unesco title.
Typical Unesco documentary stuff.
O Som ao Redor AKA Neighboring Sounds (2012, 3 official lists, 604 checks) 6/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
I'm going to forget this pretty soon. It looks nice and some scenes are great, but the whole thing hasn't much to tell.
Pools (1981, 0 official lists, 20 checks) 6/10
Watched because it's a short DtC nominee.
Not as boring as it looked like at first.
3/60: Bäume im Herbst AKA 3/60: Trees in Autumn (1960, 0 official lists, 61 checks) 5/10
Watched because it's a short DtC nominee.
Trees in autumn, but with fast editing that makes you almost sick. Result is okay.
Bakumatsu taiyôden AKA A Sun-Tribe Myth from the Bakumatsu Era (1957, 4 official lists, 298 checks) 5/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
I guess a lot was lost in translation.
Corta (2012, 1 official list, 16 checks) 5/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
It's just watching sugar cane cutters for almost 70 minutes in static shots. Can't say I disliked it, can't say I liked it as well. It's just rather dull.
Viva Maria! (1965, 1 official list, 319 checks) 5/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
Stupid story and the jokes are silly and unfunny. After the opening, we're watching Brigitte Bardot and Jeanne Moreau doing striptease dances for over 30 minutes. Really? I guess this was good for ticket sales back then.
Breathing (1963, 1 official list, 31 checks) 4/10
Watched because it's a short DtC nominee.
Not much happening. Pretty boring.
Eye Music in Red Major (1961, 1 official list, 41 checks) 3/10
Watched because it's a short DtC nominee.
Pointless.
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Onderhond
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#8

Post by Onderhond » April 19th, 2020, 4:49 pm

fori wrote:
April 19th, 2020, 1:55 pm
Onderhond wrote:
April 19th, 2020, 1:38 pm
fori wrote:
April 19th, 2020, 1:30 pm
No review for No Longer Human, Onderhond?
It's coming! But it always takes me about a week to finish a review, so I get the confusion :)
No I just mean, not even a little note about it in this thread! I get the delay on onderhond.com, but why not put something on here?
Because I don't make double entries. I didn't see Layer Cake this week, but last week. The reviewed films are usually a week behind :)

If you really want to know, I have a slightly more factual log on my blog: https://www.onderhond.com/logs/log?year=2020&week=16

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#9

Post by maxwelldeux » April 19th, 2020, 6:20 pm

Parasite (2019)
Finally got around to this - really fantastic.

2012 (2009)
I had low expectations, but this surpassed them. I wanted something mindless with neat flashing images. This fit the bill. The end of the world theme was fun for me, but anxiety-inducing in my wife.

The Navigator (1924)
The first 3/4 of this worked well - I enjoyed the gags and fun. But when it got to the cannibal island... meh.

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)
That barn-raising dance sequence in the middle is worth the price of admission.

Shark Night 3D (2011)
Dumb. But sharks!

The Sharkfighters (1956)
Cool images of Cuba, very pro-military plot otherwise.

Seven Chances (1925)
I never get into films with the whole "you must marry someone quickly" premise.

Fritz the Cat (1972)
Stupid.

Bloodsucking Freaks (1976)
Weird and oppressively exploitive, it could have been better if it also weren't boring.

Death Wish (1974)
There were a few neat things, but the triggering motive wasn't developed well, and the random killings and central message seemed to be bad.

Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959)
This was fun enough - not great, but some decent music.

Islands of Fire (1955)
I don't even remember this one well enough to comment.

Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song (1971)
I definitely appreciated this, even if I didn't like it.

Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
This was background noise while I was doing dishes... it's about all it warranted. I can at least appreciate that this is a "science" based superhero, but I just really don't care.

Alba (2016)
This was a pretty sweet coming of age story about a young girl who is sent to live with her father (who she barely knows) because her mother is dying and in the hospital. She slowly learns to accept him and not be embarrassed by him.

Southland Tales (2006)
A great pandemic film. Weird and awesome overall.

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#10

Post by maxwelldeux » April 19th, 2020, 7:47 pm

@sol:

I haven't seen Sleeping Beauty in probably three decades, and that is because it was one of my least favorite Disney films growing up; glad to know I'm not alone there. Dogville was interesting - I watched it pretty early on in my excursion into cinephilia, and the lack of sets was a challenge at first, but it was interesting to focus on the characters and story alone - I was pretty drawn into it and enjoyed it quite a bit.

@oOnderhond:

I've seen American Wedding and Chopping Mall from yours, and I don't disagree with anything you said on either. American Wedding was certainly tired and lacked anything new, but I enjoyed it enough simply because I saw the first movie while in high school, so the characters paralleled me a bit; without that connection, it would have been worse. Chopping Mall is ridiculous and stupid - but that's the point; I enjoy the "so bad it's good" sorts of films, and sometimes it's just fun to laugh at such ridiculousness.

@joachimt:

I have Alba rated the same as you, largely because I have a hard time connecting with kids. But I didn't find it too repetitive, as I thought that was part of the story; it was interesting to see her deal with all those issues as they keep popping up.

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#11

Post by Onderhond » April 19th, 2020, 8:10 pm

maxwelldeux wrote:
April 19th, 2020, 7:47 pm
Chopping Mall is ridiculous and stupid - but that's the point; I enjoy the "so bad it's good" sorts of films, and sometimes it's just fun to laugh at such ridiculousness.
Dunno, it doesn't work for me if the film itself is too serious. I love weird and ridiculous, but only when the director has made a serious effort to make it so. This was just very boring.

From yours, I have Parasite & Southland Tales at 3*. Both decent films, but also a bit too plain (Parasite) or flawed (Southland Tales) to be real favorites. Also a few low scores, namely the Keaton films (though I liked Seven Chances way better than The Navigator), Ant-Man and 2012. I do like a good disaster flick, but I usually end up liking the first part leading up to the disaster best. I have no idea why :D

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#12

Post by prodigalgodson » April 19th, 2020, 8:53 pm

Cinema Paradiso (Giuseppe Tornatore, 1988) 6/10

Finally saw one of the most famous movie I'd procrastinated on for years, due to its reputation in many cinephile quarters as nostalgic schlock. And it's not quite schlocky; it's obviously very personal but takes a crowd-pleasing approach that only sometimes comes off as calculated with its (occasionally funny) sitcom-style humor, borderline-grotesque cutsieness, and broad pastichey performances. Phillipe Noiret's melancholy projectionist, who mentors the young film-going protagonist, is the film's greatest asset, thanks to the actor's ability to modulate his energy between bouncy vivacity and maudlin sentimentality in a way that feels organic. The seaside scene where he pushes the lead to leave his small Sicilian town and make something of himself is my favorite part of the movie. The second half in general is a big improvement on the first, when the focus moves past the protagonist's early childhood and sheds some its more cloying aspects. Towards the end, it tends to land on that sense of mono no aware more naturally, reflecting on the weight of memory, the best way to live life, and what we lose with maturity and worldly success. This is the rare case where I'd prefer to see the longer cut of a film I didn't particularly enjoy: more room to breathe and a more leisurely pace would cast it closer to the flow of life and give it an apter sweep for the emotional payoff it aspires to. I can certainly relate to a youthful obsession with a kind of film-watching that's no longer feasible, but by and large it wasn't the communal aspect that attracted me to screenings, so I was pleasantly surprised to find myself moved by the end despite my gripes throughout.

Limite (Mario Peixoto) 10/10

Props to Armani and Cartier for funding the restoration, funny how prevalent high fashion and luxury cars are in the world of film restoration and independent theaters. Yanti would approve.

This was a unique thrill to watch, and one I'm eager to revisit soon. Both a repurposing of many of the techniques developed in the more artistically inclined films of the prior two decades, and a completely new approach to the evocative power of imagery. It's the first precursor to slow cinema I've seen from this period, and the languorous rhythm, lingering shots, and elliptical approach to story of this "genre" mesh ideally with the otherworldly aesthetic of silent film. The composition ranges from classically masterful to boldly eccentric, rough around the edges in a way that makes it feel fundamentally experimental and more alive than artifactual. Shame that silent film became obsolete just as its formal potential was beginning to be explored.

Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee, 2005) 9/10

Can't believe I hadn't seen this before. Not only does it still feel like a historic landmark in mainstream queer film, it's more broadly a truly powerful examination of repression and the difficulty discovering, let alone embracing, one's true self when constrained by deeply ingrained indoctrination, psychological societal pressure, and mortal danger in a society that prides itself on freedom and individuality. The ensemble carries the movie, but damn if Heath fucking Ledger doesn't elevate the whole thing; the man really was a national treasure. The way he inhabits his character is acting on a whole other level: the shifty sad squinty contact-avoidant eyes, hunched shoulders, clenched lips, habitual mumbling grumbles, and halting drawl; the embodiment of a sensitive man's aspiration to stoic, rugged masculinity (him desperately clutching his rifle like a reassurance of his cowboy machismo after his first sexual encounter is one of my favorite little touches). Watching the erosion of his soul as he works, drinks, and smokes his life away while waiting for the next rare peak to poke out through the clouds encapsulates the fundamental tragedy of the film, the loneliness and degradation of living the life the world says you're supposed to live instead of one you find truly fulfilling. The thing is, I didn't even really like the movie aesthetically: Lee has that almost ironic ultra-Americana imagery down, but many of the shots are more textbook beautiful than genuinely inspired, and the slapdash editing rhythm -- before I can even take in everything in the frame, it switches to the next shot -- especially at the beginning took me out of the story (this approach does have the benefit of giving the scene more psychological weight on the rare occasions the camera does linger, like the early shot of Gyllenhaal's character actively not watching Ledger wash himself nude). But despite all that, I can't deny its incredible emotional force, and this sensitive guy was definitely welling up by the end. If it was an hour longer with a more lyrical, leisurely pace it would be one of my all-time favorites, but I'm kind of glad it's not so it could find the wide audience the story deserves.

Harold and Maude (Hal Ashby, 1971) 8/10

Boy, I'm really sweeping up the big movies I've missed these last few weeks. Unfortunately, this is another one of those ones that's too embedded in the pop culture landscape to see with fresh eyes, but fearless countercultural satire is my forever cup of tea. The deadpan delivery, sense of timing, and juxtapositions are on point (Ashby's experience as an editor is evident), and it has a great look too (his visual acumen is quite underrated). Maybe it's the mood I'm in, but I also found it very moving. I think my favorite character was actually Harold's long-suffering, eternally unfazed, determinedly practical mother, who kind of reminded me of Yanti.

The Cloud-Capped Star (Ritwik Ghatak, 1960) 7/10

The delicately observed interactions and trials of an impoverished intellectual family (Hindu refugees on the outskirts of Calcutta fleeing post-Partition Pakistan, though I wouldn't have figured this out from the movie if I hadn't known it already). Starts out in a slightly poetic, slightly exaggerated social realist vein reminiscent of Renoir, with the English-obsessed father's comic relief and the mother always about to blow a gasket. As it progresses it takes a hard turn into melodrama, with an escalating series of tragedies that hit one daughter, the excessively selfless protagonist, the hardest. The performances and direction are an odd mix of naturalism and overemphasis, with the music cues to denote psychological states and reactions especially a bit much. I find this kind of stylistic lane-jumping takes me out of the action, particularly in any scenes involving the lead's asshole boyfriend. Overall I do like Ghatak's fundamentally humanist style, which mostly eschews establishing or traveling shots to focus on the characters, with the exception of the wider, usually palate-cleansing shots of the road from school to the family's home, and a more impressionistic sequence in the countryside toward the end. The emotional core of the film is the relationship between the lead and her lazy but artistically ambitious singer brother, and the music scenes, especially involving the two of them, are highlights for me. Also worth mentioning that the themes of the disappearing middle class and inconvenient practicality resonate strongly in contemporary America.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (JJ Abrams, 2019) 2/10

Santa Maria, this was bad. I remember it being at least somewhat watchable in theaters, but I had to watch it in like 4 chunks over 2 days streaming. One thing I'll mention that I haven't already heard a million times is that narrow depth of field is terrible for world-building and immersion, everything looks like a blurry screensaver, except for Palpatine's palace or whatever, which looks like a Universal haunted house in the 90s.

The Sorrow and the Pity (Marcel Ophuls, 1969) 9/10

"I must say that life in France at that time is very difficult to imagine, and even more so to describe."

I knew this was a chronicle of collaboration, but I didn't expect this patchwork illumination of the shadow history of occupied France with German and English perspectives included, nor did I expect so much focus on the Resistance in the second half...no wonder it's so long, and it still feels fragmentary. Vichy French gets psychoanalyzed from various angles the Citizen Kane way, with truly unreliable narrators. "Give me your watch, I'll give you the time," is posited as the underlying philosophy behind collaboration, but the "watch" the French were planning to gain is so abstract -- militaristic virility, organizational prowess -- that it has the feeling of an ego-soothing excuse. There's a fascinating kind of Stockholm syndrome as occupation brought out the worst scapegoating tendencies in a Red-panicked France, with the country as a whole internalizing, promoting, and acting on Nazi ideology. The throngs of French sieg-heiling Petain after a half-assed war with Germany is a disturbing snapshot. None of the interviewees evince any guilt or regret, just a sense of having done one's duty or denial, attitudes of annoyance, indignation, and despondency. The resistance fighters are easily the coolest dudes in this, but even they're given an ambivalent treatment. One of the highlights is an extended discussion toward the end with an unflinchingly honest French aristocrat and former Foreign Waffen SS member who, with 7000 others, was sent on a suicide mission to the eastern front in a Nazi uniform. He gives an unsettling insight into the normalcy of the fascist mindset at the time, highlighting the enormous vulnerabilities of a society so sharply divided, in this case into fascist and communist camps. By the time the topic of Liberation and its repercussions is reached at the end, it takes on a bitterly ironic and hypocritical light. Ultimately there's no resolution or clear lesson, just horror and absurdity, and a self-imposed collective amnesia. Ophuls strikes me as an exceptionally penetrating interviewer, with an intuitive sense of how to elicit brutal honesty from his subjects. The requisite political documentary moving-train shots and newsreel footage put in a few nice appearances too. I'm barely scratching the surface of what this film has to offer, it's a pretty incredible document and flies by considering its length. More quotes on the way out:

“Even if reactions to such things are dormant or stifled, all it takes is one event, one incident, one international crisis, ore one Dreyfus affair, for feelings we thought long gone to suddenly re-emerge in full force, for beliefs we thought dead to be simply dormant.”

“And I think that in life, no matter where you go, people often consider what they have to lose. I had nothing to lose. That’s why I did it.”

“I believe there’s a risk that either Nazism will reemerge, or some form of Nazism under a different name.”

“There were some Germans who weren’t Nazis in their heart. But those Germans were in the concentration camps.”

“What I’m going to say may sound mean, but I think to be a Resistant you had to be maladjusted.”
“We were free in the sense that, as outcasts of society, the organization of society no longer concerned us in the least.”
“You can’t imagine a real Resistant being a full-fledged minister, or a colonel, or a businessman. Such people have succeeded. They would succeed with Germans, Englishmen, or Russians. But we were failures, and I was one of those failures. We had quixotic feelings that are so typical of failures.”
“Some people are Resistants by nature. In other words, some people are naturally headstrong. Others, on the contrary, try to adapt to the circumstances and get what they can out of it.”

October (Sergei Eisenstein, 1928) 7/10

I don't think I've seen a silent before where the vast majority of the narrative is conveyed through intertitles; even with the titles, the details of the plot weren't always discernable to me -- Eisenstein wasn't big into transitions or context. What he was big into is going nuts with the montage, and this account of the October 1917 Revolution is probably his most impressionistic, edited in an uptempo associate flow that reminds me of my favorite rappers. Aside from the rhythm the important thing in montage is knowing what to film that will retain its impact at a higher rate of cutting, and at its best this has the most striking imagery of Eisenstein's pre-Ivan the Terrible career, and the most varied: settings include all manner of metropolitan and industrial, the trenches, tanks, and boats of the military, aristocratic palaces, and even a brief glimpse at a pastoral countryside where Lenin is supposed to be laying low. Its successes are unfortunately tempered by its propagandistic nature, severely limiting the imaginative potential of Eisenstein's method, which is so intricately bound to the content it portrays. Still, he finds ways to vent his creativity, and when the propaganda's not corny as hell it can lead to some balls-out insanity: a scene where a woman gets the hots for a Bolshevik who beats up her White military boyfriend and ends up joining in the ass whooping is straight out of a music video for Kesha or someone. Then there's Kerensky burying his head in pillows on a plush couch during Kornilov's attempted coup, horses asses and mechanical peacocks spliced into imagery of Provisional hotshots, and even ballsier stuff like cutting between a sexualized Virgin Mary and shots of toilets. And just little funny stuff like "long live the provisional government" or a nice Bolshevik hoedown in the middle. All this makes it sound better than it is -- I'd lump it in with Eisenstein's other early hits Strike and Potemkin as more interesting conceptually and potentially than in inherent achievement -- but it's certainly an entertaining slice of history.

Suspiria (Dario Argento, 1977) 5/10

My first giallo! Sometimes it's nice to just turn your brain off and watch something dumb. And this is pretty dumb. Great score though.

The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (John Cassavettes, 1976) 8/10

Ben Gazzara in his ultimate incarnation as a sleazily charming strip club owner whose excessive vision results in hilariously overconceptualized ethnographic stage shows; his vacillation between suavely measured and panicked as events accrue out of hand over a gambling debt is a blast to watch. I'm not sure why I picked the longer 1976 cut when one of my main complaints with Cassavettes is his editorial reluctance, and there is an unevenness here (some exchanges go on for ages, others cut mid-conversation or -action, others portray the passing of hours in just a couple shots), but apparently most of what was cut was the ridiculous, only incidentally sexual strip club acts, which are some of the best parts. I tend to like auteurist takes on genre, and it helps that noir is one of my favorite genres, and one that's rife for what an astute Time critic called Cassavettes' "wild riffs from a basic, familiar melody." Sly ironies and meta winks abound, and as often occurs with him it's hard for me to tell if Cassavettes is trying to get at some deeper meaning or is just enjoying observing characters and interactions within the confines of the genre. This is probably my favorite of his thus far though, and went by a lot quicker than most of the others. Also, for a film set in LA it has an unusually indistinct sense of place and noticeably vibes New Yorker filming LA.

Water Wrackets (Peter Greenaway, 1975) 6/10

Dug this aesthetically, could've done without the history lesson voiceover I barely paid attention to anyway. Pixelation was a major problem with streaming (no pun intended).

Possession (Andrzej Zuławski, 1981) 7/10

Saw this late at night and probably not as focused as it deserved. Definitely a one-of-a-kind thrill and one I'm eager to revisit.

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#13

Post by prodigalgodson » April 20th, 2020, 12:53 am

Everyone else's:

sol
Sun in the Last Days of the Shogunate 8/10 - ah, cool this is online now; not even close to my top 10 Japanese films personally, but I really liked it
Sleeping Beauty - haven't seen it since I was a kid, but like most classic Disney animation then, I didn't care for it
Pusher - I like Refn a lot so I'd like to get around to this eventually; Mads Mikkelsen and goofy aren't words I'd normally associated with each other, so this piqued my curiousity
Gambler - hah, sounds cool
Dogville - this is next up on my TSP quest, looking forward to it despite ambivalence toward Von Trier overall
Singin' in the Rain 6/10 - didn't do as much for me as its reputation would suggest, but maybe I should give it another shot
Some Like It Hot 7/10 - enjoyed this but don't remember it too well, another one I should get around to seeing again

pda
Taiga - aww, one of Sy's favorites as I recall; still want to see this
The Matrix 7/10 - good stuff, wish I'd seen it fresh
The Matrix Reloaded 5/10 - not crazy about it when I came out, liked it less when I rewatched it
The Matrix Revolutions 8/10 - way underrated imo, the most epic of the 3

onderhond
Friday 5/10 - expected to love it, but yeah there's not much there

joachim
Lady Vengeance 8/10 - yeah, pretty underrated entry in the trilogy
Booksmart 6/10 - agree it's an above average teen movie, but that's not a high bar to clear imo
Sun in the Last Days of the Shongunate 8/10 - cool that mubi made this available

maxwell
Parasite 9/10 - really great stuff right?
The Navigator 8/10 - one of my favorite Keatons
Sweet Sweetback 7/10 - cool stuff
Ant-Man and the Wasp 7/10 - fun, I like these smaller Marvel movies
Soutland Tales 6/10 - neat funky stuff

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#14

Post by kongs_speech » April 20th, 2020, 2:07 am

After slacking last week due to chronic health issues, I made a nice recovery this week. Unfortunately, that means a lot of typing now! I liked every film I saw this week.

Diva (1981, Jean-Jacques Beineix) I watched this over a few days because I was feeling so bad, but I think I still appreciated it enough. It's a very twisty thriller with an engaging premise and stylish visuals. I am not into opera, but I didn't mind it at all in this film. I'm surprised the director didn't go on to have a huge career, though I definitely want to see Betty Blue. 4/5

Near Dark (1987, Kathryn Bigelow) I had previously seen this in high school and disliked it. I was a moron with garbage taste in those days, so revisiting it a decade later had been something that I wanted to do. I remembered very little about it, so it was like a first-time viewing. The visuals here are beautiful, Bill Paxton delivers a "killer" performance, and most importantly, the score by Tangerine Dream is evocative and truly special. All of this adds up to one of the most original and successful vampire films I've seen, though I haven't gotten around to most of the genre's classics yet. I'll offer the somewhat hot take that Near Dark is better than Bigelow's war films. 4/5

The Harder They Come (1973, Perry Henzell) This tale of a Jamaican singer who turns to a life of crime gave me an official check on the Criterion list. Even without the check, it's a great film. Jimmy Cliff gives a very natural performance, and the excellent reggae soundtrack propels the story as much as the images and dialogue. I admired the use of "You Can Get It If You Really Want" as a recurring theme. And then there's the title track, which is one of the greatest songs in its genre. The film walks the line of being fun and bleak at the same time. 4/5

The Pillow Book (1996, Peter Greenaway) As I continue to make my way through the Greenaway filmography, I saw three features and a short this week. The Pillow Book has a lot to offer besides being noteworthy for showing Ewan McGregor's admittedly impressive "lightsaber." The idea of painting calligraphy on a human body is pretty neat, and the film is heavily steeped in Japanese culture, which seems authentic. There is a scene that is as grotesque as anything in The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover. Unfortunately, the film is overly long and drags in places. I didn't buy the chemistry between the lead and McGregor. Still, pretty good flick. 3.5/5

A Zed & Two Noughts (1985, Peter Greenaway) Every Greenaway film on this list earned the same score, but this is the one I liked most, due to its outlandish plot. Two widower zoologists become obsessed with a one-legged woman and decomposing animals. There's some gnarly imagery, but not nearly as much as I was expecting considering the premise and Greenaway's general flair for the grotesque. The cinematography is exquisite, as is the score. The characters aren't developed and are not that interesting, but the "WTF" factor kept me engaged. 3.5/5

The Draughtsman’s Contract (1982, Peter Greenaway) British period pieces are hit and miss for me. Sometimes, I'm drawn in by the exquisite costumes and characters who are prim and proper on the surface but frequently have issues. Other times, the films come off as stiff and lacking emotion. This film is situated somewhere in between. It's very well-shot, as is always the case for the director's films, and the pacing picks up near the end. Overall, I found it hard to care about anything, but I was impressed by the technical factors. Of all the films I saw this week, I liked this one least, but it's still a light 3.5/5.

Vertical Features Remake (1978, Peter Greenaway) At 44 minutes, this short is one minute shy of what I consider feature length. I'm skipping the other Greenaway shorts that are expiring from Criterion, but I watched this one due to its placement on an official list. It's a mockumentary of sorts, with a heavy focus on math and images of vertical poles, trees and stuff like that. It can be slow when it's just counting off the vertical images, but the narration segments are delightful in that droll British way. 3.5/5

Stranger by the Lake (2013, Alain Guiraudie) All I knew going into this was that it's an acclaimed murder mystery that one of my best friends actively hates. He's very particular about queer cinema, as it's a passion of his. I'm straight, so I don't have the same perspective, but I found Stranger by the Lake to be a damn good slow-burn thriller in the vein of Hitchcock. Hitch never had cum shots and ass fingering, though. :lol: I live with my very cool but elderly Christian mom and sometimes she comes into my room and reads a book or something while I watch films. Thank Christ she wasn't in here for this one, because it is shockingly graphic. That's no problem for me, though. I'm not very interested in sex, personally, but I'm certainly no prude. I really dig how the first hour of this film is deliberately slow and character-based. It's even rather pleasant. So when shit starts hitting the fan, you have a reason to care about the characters. The actor who played Henri, the protagonist's timid, depressive friend, did excellent work. My friend didn't explain much why he hates the film; he just feels that it's stupid about the murder mystery. I disagree. 4/5

I Don't Want to Sleep Alone (2006. Tsai Ming-Liang) My first Tsai film is a minor knockout. It tells a touching, intimate story with virtually no dialogue. I was afraid I might grow bored, but I didn't miss the talking a bit. The story is pretty easy to follow, and the ending is highly emotional. I really look forward to seeing more from the director. My friend (the Stranger hater) says Goodbye Dragon Inn will be a new favorite for me, so I'm most interested in that one. 4/5

Hollywood Shuffle (1987. Robert Townsend) One of several race-related films I saw this week, Hollywood Shuffle is hysterically funny. It sounded cool, but I wasn't at all prepared for just how fucking hilarious it is. A Hollywood satire, a loosely plotted collection of comic sketches, and a deep commentary on the nature of stereotypes and the treatment of POCs in the film industry -- it succeeds wildly as all of these things. Townsend is a tremendously likable lead, and the talent of Keenen Ivory Wayans is evident as the script's co-writer. I do have one minor but important knock against this otherwise wonderful farce -- as one might expect from a politically incorrect '80s comedy, there is sadly some needless homophobia on display. Still, take into context the cultural attitudes at the time the film was made, and I think virtually anyone would enjoy the film. 4/5

The Defiant Ones (1958, Stanley Kramer) Two convicts chained together, one a racist white man and one a black man, make a break for it. Watching the dynamic shift between the two men is thrilling. Will they find freedom, get caught or kill each other first? Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier couldn't be any better in the lead roles. Because of the subject matter, The Defiant Ones would make a great double feature with the far less serious O Brother, Where Art Thou? 4/5

Metro Manila (2013, Sean Ellis) Easily the surprise of the week is this harsh Filipino drama about a family struggling with urban poverty. I know nothing of Filipino culture, so I don't know how authentic the film is, but it certainly has a sense of realism about it. The performances are ace, the cinematography is beautiful, and the ending is powerful and places the whole experience in a different context. A masterpiece that I would have never discovered without the ICM Forum! 4.5/5

The Grifters (1990, Stephen Frears) The actors shine in this dark, stylistic neo-noir. John Cusack can always be counted upon for great work, but it's the two main actresses who really shine here. As Cusack's uncomfortably close mother and his sexy, mysterious girlfriend, respectively, Anjelica Huston and Annette Bening (who has never been more gorgeous) are sublime. I was enjoying the film most of the way, but I wasn't blown away -- until the ending, which is bonkers and must be seen to be believed. Because of that grand finale, I give it a 4/5.

The Naked Prey (1965. Cornel Wilde) Some white dudes go to colonial Africa to hunt elephants and generally fuck shit up. Most of them are assholes and are killed by a brutal tribe -- except for our nameless hero, who is set free to be hunted for sport by the tribesmen. There are obviously shades of the famed Most Dangerous Game story here, and dialogue is very minimal. The film is nothing too special, but a pretty tense and enjoyable b-movie. The plot had the potential to be problematic, but I think the film largely does a good job of not being racist. Overall, though, The Naked Prey walked so Apocalypto could ruin. (Seriously, Gibson had to have been influenced by this film. Cannibal Holocaust may have been, too.) 3.5/5

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967, Stanley Kramer) In the wholesome, non-violent version of Get Out, a young white woman brings her new lover home to her liberal parents. Surprise: he's black! The parents (Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy) suddenly find their ideals being tested, especially when the happy couple announce plans to marry. Guess Who's Coming to Dinner is a fantastic gem made at the tail-end of the Old Hollywood era. It's smart, sensitive and the acting is, without any hyperbole, some of the best I have ever seen. Spencer Tracy was dying while making the film, and he gave it everything he had. His monologue in the film's climax is astonishing. Hepburn and Poitier are equally remarkable. The scene where Hepburn tells off a racist friend is powerful for its time. Even more shocking to me than the progressive racial politics of the time is that a line of dialogue reveals that the central family are specifically not religious. A priest is a significant character, but he's simply a family friend, not their minister. Honestly, I loved just about everything about this film. Its reputation as a classic is well-deserved. 4.5/5
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#15

Post by kongs_speech » April 20th, 2020, 2:34 am

Whew, that took over two hours! I hope I get a lot of feedback for my troubles. :lol:

Everybody else:

sol

Sleeping Beauty - I like it. It's not top-tier Disney by any means, but I find it very cute and pleasant. It's one of my mom's favorites, so I saw it a lot growing up. We won't talk about Maleficent, which is hot garbage. I don't think I have it rated, but I'd probably give it a 3.5/5.

Perception

Sincerely, Louis C.K. - I am very excited to watch this soon. I understand that what Louis did all those years ago is bad, and I will not defend his actions. Having said that, he is my favorite stand-up as well as the creator of my single favorite work of art (Horace and Pete), so I'm thrilled to have him back. I'm busy this month trying to catch films that are expiring from my streaming services, but my birthday is in May, so I think I'll treat myself then. I had a ticket to see him earlier this year, but I couldn't go because I had mono. Someday...

The Matrix - I was a huge fan as a kid, but it has been such a long time since I saw any of them that I don't have many thoughts other than that the first is undeniably great. I would like to do a series rewatch. 4/5

The Matrix Reloaded - The cliffhanger ending made me so mad when it came out. 2/5'

The Matrix Revolutions - As a finale, I was let down at the time. Curious what I would think now that 17 years have passed. Prodigal's praise intrigues me. 2.5/5

Onderhond

Truth or Dare - Sorry, but I found virtually nothing to like in this goofy teen horror flick. It's insanely dumb but seemingly takes itself seriously. I hated all the characters. 1.5/5

Emma - I'd like to see this soon. I like the 1996 film with Gwyneth Paltrow (3.5/5), but I wouldn't be surprised if the immensely talented Anya Taylor-Joy is better.

American Wedding - I absolutely love the first American Pie and like the second as well, though it's definitely not on the same level. Even Reunion is mildly amusing, albeit mostly for nostalgic reasons. Sadly, I agree with you that Wedding is weak. The gags are tired and some of my franchise favorites aren't even present. Seann William Scott gives his best performance in the series, at least. 2.5/5

Chopping Mall - I couldn't disagree more. Yes, it's cheesier than Homer Simpson's famous 64 slices of American, but I think the film is a total blast. I find great charm in the shoddy visual effects and dumb characters. I watched it on TCM Underground with my mom a few months ago and we had so much fun. It's not good, but it's great! 4/5

joachimt

Escape from New York - I love stuff like this. Kurt Russell is badass and it's a super well-directed action flick. 4/5

maxwelldeux

Parasite - Yeah, it's pretty fucking awesome. One of the best films of the past decade. 5/5

Fritz the Cat - Excuse me. You have just made an enemy, good sir or ma'am. I'm a major Bakshi head. American Pop is in my all-time top 10. I revisited Fritz last month for the first time and enjoyed it just as much as I did in high school. Mom even liked it. 4.5/5

Death Wish - I haven't seen the original, but I had a lot of fun with the Eli Roth remake, which I felt was nowhere near as bad as the reviews indicated.

Southland Tales - I shared my thoughts last week, but I'm so happy that you loved it. It's a pretty special little flick. 5/5

Prodigal

Brokeback Mountain - It needs a rewatch, but I agree that it's a beautiful and powerful film with excellent acting. The friend I mentioned in my Stranger by the Lake review also doesn't like this one. Oh well. 4/5

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker - Damn, almost nobody I know liked this one. I had to get the steelbook to complete my collection, so I'll be watching it next month most likely. I didn't like The Last Jedi, so I can't really predict how I'll feel about it.

Suspiria - I don't recall feeling that it was stupid, but as with a lot of these movies, it has been way too long since I saw it. Agreed that Goblin's score is boss. 4/5
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#16

Post by sol » April 20th, 2020, 4:32 am

maxwelldeux wrote:
April 19th, 2020, 7:47 pm
@sol:

I haven't seen Sleeping Beauty in probably three decades, and that is because it was one of my least favorite Disney films growing up; glad to know I'm not alone there. Dogville was interesting - I watched it pretty early on in my excursion into cinephilia, and the lack of sets was a challenge at first, but it was interesting to focus on the characters and story alone - I was pretty drawn into it and enjoyed it quite a bit.
Yeah, Sleeping Beauty is real bottom fodder in the Disney canon. It seems that they put so much effort into realistic grasses and bushes and cool magical effects in 2.20:1 widescreen that they forgot to write a good story. Sleeping Beauty is probably the dullest Disney princess - or any fantasy princess for that matter.

I am kind of surprised that it has taken me so long to watch Dogville. I have had it on DVD for at least five years and I have known about ever since it first came out. I suppose at the time though (circa 2004), I was much more cautious about Lars von Trier who at the time seemed like an uneven director and the whole no-sets thing sounded like a gimmick to me. The three-hour runtime did not make it more attractive either - but yeah, this was pretty great and stood up amazingly well some 17 years later, watched for the first time amidst massive acclaim.

Yours:

Yes, Parasite was amazing. I haven't seen it since it began to gain all the hype, but it was one of my favourite cinematic experiences mid-last year when all that I knew about it was that it won the Palme d'Or.

Agreed about Seven Chances being one of Buster's weaker features, but I actually tend to think of The Navigator as one of his stronger ones. Either way, Buster was always better in his short films than features. His shtick is better suited to shorter formats.

Yes, the raise-the-barn sequence (and general choreography) in Seven Brides was amazing, but the rest of the film was terrible. Oh, those brothers won't stop brawling, isn't that so funny? Er, not really. Kind of interesting that you mention in your Seven Chances review that you're so against these marry-quick films and yet don't seem to hate Seven Brothers. This would likely top my list of worst films ever nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars.

Fritz the Cat was fun enough at the time if you're into Bakshi, but no, it is not one of his better films - and if I recall correctly, the sequel is better. One hilarious part I remember - his dad walking in on him and his sister and him asking his dad if there was any trash to take out (given what the sister earlier said about him). Or was that in Nine Lives?

Bloodsucking Freaks really impressed me at the time. Absolutely loved all the commentary on spectatorship - is reality not the greater theatre out there? Great look at desensitized modern audiences too. Wizard of Gore does a similar sort of thing better though if you're after a classier film.

Death Wish is another film that I love, though I guess it takes a lot of bad vigilante thrillers to appreciate just how well the character study is crafted. Love those shots of Bronson's hands shaking after his first kill. The whole film is about his gradual progression to vigilante - amazingly worked through.

Didn't appreciate and didn't like Sweet Sweetback, but cool to see that Southland Tales is developing a following here thanks to Mubi. I have seen the film two or three times over the years ever since buying the DVD in 2007. Dwayne Johnson with his nervous hand gestures has never been better.

prodigalgodson wrote:
April 20th, 2020, 12:53 am
Everyone else's:

sol
Sun in the Last Days of the Shogunate 8/10 - ah, cool this is online now; not even close to my top 10 Japanese films personally, but I really liked it
Sleeping Beauty - haven't seen it since I was a kid, but like most classic Disney animation then, I didn't care for it
Pusher - I like Refn a lot so I'd like to get around to this eventually; Mads Mikkelsen and goofy aren't words I'd normally associated with each other, so this piqued my curiousity
Gambler - hah, sounds cool
Dogville - this is next up on my TSP quest, looking forward to it despite ambivalence toward Von Trier overall
Singin' in the Rain 6/10 - didn't do as much for me as its reputation would suggest, but maybe I should give it another shot
I had actually heard some pretty bad things about Shogunate before sitting down to watch it (along the lines of its charm not working on non-Japanese viewers) so the film was a bit of a pleasant surprise. I can't say that I loved it and I wouldn't rate it as Kawashima's best - that would be Suzaki Paradise - but it is certainly far better than those routine melodramas he was dishing out earlier that decade.

Sounds about right re: Sleeping Beauty. It doesn't stack up to Disney's other animated films that decade.

Yeah, it was interesting to see Mads in his first big screen performance in Pusher. The film isn't that good, and both the Gambler documentary and Pusher II are better, but it is probably worth watching Pusher before diving into either follow-up. Just don't expect all of those neons that Refn is best known for now.

I saw Singin' in the Rain relatively late into my film-going years; I had been calling myself a film buff for well over a decade before finally settling down to watch it, which I think helped. The film works particularly well if entered with a background in silent cinema.

Yours:

Don't think I have seen Brokeback Mountain since it came out theatrically, but quite an experience for sure (and what great music) even if Anne Hathaway's performance did not ring true for me, and even with the occasional ostentatious shot - e.g. fireworks in the background with Heath viewed from a low camera angle.

Loved Harold and Maude both times that I saw it. Not the biggest fan of the songs, but yeah, the deadpan humour was great and the performances are tops.

Suspiria is not Argento's best film. Seen it a couple of times and it is hard not to like the vivid colours and yes the music, but for a better Argento film, look the way of Tenebrae, Opera or The Stendhal Syndrome - the latter in particular if you're a fan of Vertigo.

And The Killing of a Chinese Bookie did nothing for me at the time, though I did like Ben Gazzara's performance. Probably could say the same about Possession and its performances, but that one definitely deserves another viewing.

kongs_speech wrote:
April 20th, 2020, 2:34 am
Whew, that took over two hours! I hope I get a lot of feedback for my troubles. :lol:

Everybody else:

sol

Sleeping Beauty - I like it. It's not top-tier Disney by any means, but I find it very cute and pleasant. It's one of my mom's favorites, so I saw it a lot growing up. We won't talk about Maleficent, which is hot garbage. I don't think I have it rated, but I'd probably give it a 3.5/5.
Two hours sounds about right. I guess you can tell why, as host, I now only reply to those who take the time to comment on my own reviews? ;)

I haven't seen Maleficent, but it actually sounds appealing (the story retold from the POV of the best developed character in the Disney film). Yeah, Sleeping Beauty is pleasant enough, but given the heights that Disney reached with Alice in Wonderland early that decade, I expected a lot more. By comparison, Sleeping Beauty seemed downright amateurish. Pretty but empty.

Yours:

Diva was fine at the time (15+ years ago). Near Dark has the interesting blood transfusion stuff and yep, thanks for mentioning the Tangerine Dream score! They were responsible for some of the very finest music scores of the 1980s.

The Harder They Come and The Pillow Book didn't do much for me at the time. I'm very big on A Zed & Two Noughts though, and again nice to see a mention for one of my favourite scores of the decade. Michael Nyman rules. The Draughtsman's Contract did not do much for me either outside of the Nyman score. Vertical Features Remake is pretty cool though and you have simply got to see The Falls if you are into Greenaway mockumentary mode.

I thought that The Defiant Ones was kind of lousy at the time; well acted and well shot but damned obvious character trajectories. Metro Manila was pretty good. I liked The Grifters enough at the time. Definitely interesting to see Annette Bening so young. And I take back what I said about The Defiant Ones seeming lousy, because I would apply that description in spades to Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. It has been 15+ years, so I can't possibly discuss it in depth, but Spencer Tracy's performance was the only thing that I really liked in the very message-heavy film.
Former IMDb message boards user // iCM | IMDb | Letterboxd | My top 750 films // Long live the new flesh!
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#17

Post by Onderhond » April 20th, 2020, 7:52 am

I'm really surprised by all the "flack" that Sleeping Beauty (3.5*) if getting. It's not that I don't get the critique (beautiful but empty), it's pretty much what I was thinking when I watched it. But at least it was beautiful, where I find most other Disney animations just ugly and empty? Story and characters are terrible across the board for Disney, with flat characters, dumbed down fairytales and terrible sidekicks. The animation style tends to be very boring too, with only the quality of the animation itself as a selling point. At least Sleeping Beauty tried to do something different there, which felt really refreshing to me.

I think it's the only Disney animation I rated higher than 2.5*, and one of the three or four I rated above 1.5*

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#18

Post by sol » April 20th, 2020, 8:14 am

Onderhond wrote:
April 20th, 2020, 7:52 am
I'm really surprised by all the "flack" that Sleeping Beauty (3.5*) if getting. It's not that I don't get the critique (beautiful but empty), it's pretty much what I was thinking when I watched it. But at least it was beautiful ... I think it's the only Disney animation I rated higher than 2.5*
If it is any consolation, I am equally mystified by how you keep defending the film as the crème de la crème of Disney animation. ;) Personally speaking, watching the film so soon after the wonderful Alice in Wonderland is what really sunk the film for me. Maleficent aside, I would say that the character designs in both films are on about the same level, and while they both have great backdrops, I really loved the surreal nature of the backgrounds in Alice and how they accentuated the living, breathing nightmare universe of Lewis Carroll's story. I didn't think that the pretty backdrops did as much for Sleeping Beauty though because there was nothing substantial for them to support.

All personal preference though, I guess, because I would take goofy sidekick characters over the nothing characters of Sleeping Beauty any day of the week. Actually, on that note, I can certainly see how Sleeping Beauty would be more your cup of tea since it probably has the least amount of humour out of all animated films in the Disney collection.
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#19

Post by kongs_speech » April 20th, 2020, 8:35 am

I'm weird -- my favorite Disney film is Lilo and Stitch.
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#20

Post by Onderhond » April 20th, 2020, 8:40 am

I think where I struggle the most is seeing the difference between the flat characters in Sleeping Beauty and characters in just about every other Disney animation. For me they're all just equally bland and lifeless. The same goes for the stories/plot of these films. But that's a common problem for me. I find plot and/or characters rarely interesting by themselves, so I'm often confused when people think the world of one film and criticize another one based on those elements.

Expectations may have something to do with it too I guess. Alice still felt way too Disneyfied when I watched it. It's true that for a Disney film it's a bit more daring, but compared to the source material it felt dulled and cleaned up. Whereas Sleeping Beauty is still very Disney, but compared to the other princess films/fairytales at least it was a bit more edgy and the art style was at least something different (then again, I'm not too familiar with the original fairytale - which tends to be darker too). I didn't see that in Alice, which looks like regular Disney to me.
I didn't think that the pretty backdrops did as much for Sleeping Beauty though because there was nothing substantial for them to support.
I think that summerizes it pretty well. I don't see anything substantial in either (nor in most films for that matter), so I'm happy enjoying beauty in it's abstract form :)
kongs_speech wrote:
April 20th, 2020, 8:35 am
I'm weird -- my favorite Disney film is Lilo and Stitch.
I have that at 3.0*, so that must be my second favorite one. The one I'm most pissed about is Tangled, especially when you look at the result vs the original artwork/concept. It's not like they can't spare the money for a more artistic films once in a while ...

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#21

Post by sol » April 20th, 2020, 10:57 am

Onderhond wrote:
April 20th, 2020, 8:40 am
kongs_speech wrote:
April 20th, 2020, 8:35 am
I'm weird -- my favorite Disney film is Lilo and Stitch.
I have that at 3.0*, so that must be my second favorite one.
Hmm. Still never seen Lilo & Stitch myself. It seemed to get a lot of 'meh' reviews back in 2002 but it has certainly amassed a decent fan-base since then. Have been meaning to check it out for ages as a tribute to shugs. :unsure:
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#22

Post by mightysparks » April 20th, 2020, 11:49 am

Even I liked Lilo and Stitch.. I thought it would suck and only watched it last year or so but I think it’s one of their best.
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#23

Post by peeptoad » April 20th, 2020, 12:14 pm

my ftvs for last week (through last night actually)-

Mon Oncle (1958) 9
The Night Visitor (1971) 8
Miracolo a Milano (1951) Miracle in Milan 7
The Homesman (2014) 7
Paw (1959) 7
The Monster of Piedras Blancas (1959) 5
Gog (1954) 5


Mon Oncle was easily the best of these... very clever, very funny, and I can see how Bean was influenced even though I've never seen a Bean film or show. Shit, and the set pieces... fantastic. That was my first Tati as well.
The Night Visitor is probably also worth mentioning: does anyone know if Von Sydow did all that climbing, jumping, swinging etc. on his own for the film? If so, that's highly impressive. Even if he only did some of it that was a feat. Swinging from those rooftops and tress in winter... no small task. The film otherwise was good, as per the acting and characters, and mildly brutal at times.

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#24

Post by peeptoad » April 20th, 2020, 12:23 pm

sol wrote:
April 19th, 2020, 12:00 pm
Pusher (1996). Losing both his stash and money in a drug deal gone sour, a small-time pusher is given a deadline to make up his debt this thriller that put Nicolas Winding Refn on the map. There are several intense scenes as he tries to collect the funds and outsmart various thugs. It is over thirty minutes in though before the drug deal goes awry, and while Mads Mikkelsen is fun as a goofy best friend who injures himself kickboxing in the streets, much of the first third of the movie is just spent on idle conversation between the pair. Even when things do pick up, the tension is never constant with the pusher stopping to party with his girlfriend at one point! The film manages to conclude on a stellar final shot and the final ten minutes boast all the wondrous neon that Refn is best known for, but this mostly pales against what he career-wise would later achieve. (first viewing, DVD) ★
I didn't care for this either though my rating is not quite as low as yours. I actually do not like Refn films at all though, with one exception, which is more the reason I disliked it (it's pretty firmly the worst of the films if his I've seen though). I watched Pusher after I had seen Valhalla Rising, Neon Demon, and Only God Forgives... but before Drive. I see no reason to go back and watch the sequels. The only Refn film I have any curiosity about at all that I havent' seen is the Bronson film.

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#25

Post by sol » April 20th, 2020, 1:10 pm

peeptoad wrote:
April 20th, 2020, 12:23 pm
sol wrote:
April 19th, 2020, 12:00 pm
Pusher (1996). Losing both his stash and money in a drug deal gone sour, a small-time pusher is given a deadline to make up his debt this thriller that put Nicolas Winding Refn on the map. There are several intense scenes as he tries to collect the funds and outsmart various thugs. It is over thirty minutes in though before the drug deal goes awry, and while Mads Mikkelsen is fun as a goofy best friend who injures himself kickboxing in the streets, much of the first third of the movie is just spent on idle conversation between the pair. Even when things do pick up, the tension is never constant with the pusher stopping to party with his girlfriend at one point! The film manages to conclude on a stellar final shot and the final ten minutes boast all the wondrous neon that Refn is best known for, but this mostly pales against what he career-wise would later achieve. (first viewing, DVD) ★
I didn't care for this either though my rating is not quite as low as yours. I actually do not like Refn films at all though, with one exception, which is more the reason I disliked it (it's pretty firmly the worst of the films if his I've seen though). I watched Pusher after I had seen Valhalla Rising, Neon Demon, and Only God Forgives... but before Drive. I see no reason to go back and watch the sequels. The only Refn film I have any curiosity about at all that I havent' seen is the Bronson film.
I actually almost gave Pusher a 6/10, which would have translated to ★★ on my scale here, but the first 30 minutes are really so amateurish that I simply could not discount them when assessing the overall film. Agreed on it being the weakest film (of 7) that I have seen from Refn.

I also actually like Refn quite a bit myself. As I've said a few times in the past, I have quite a thing for neon, which he usually does amazing things with. That said, there is not much neon in Bronson and yet it is an excellent film that I would thoroughly recommend. Tom Hardy has never been better and probably never will (top ten performance of the decade). Oh, and you don't need to rewatch Pusher before seeing Part 2 at least. It has almost nothing to do with the first film, Mads aside. And the second film is a vast improvement.

Yours:

Mon Oncle has been in my top 100 for as long as I can remember. Very clever film indeed. It's Tati's best, but PlayTime isn't half-bad if you are looking for more of the same. I would also say the same about Trafic, but that's a step down from both of those. Curious in any case that you didn't begin exploring Tati at the start of his Hulot quadrilogy. The first film is the weakest of the four but is amusing all the same and the music is delightful.

I also have The Night Visitor lined up to watch this month, so good to know that it is worthwhile. And yeah, The Homesman was a very solid motion picture. I even preferred it to Three Burials.
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#26

Post by peeptoad » April 20th, 2020, 1:44 pm

sol wrote:
April 20th, 2020, 1:10 pm
I also actually like Refn quite a bit myself. As I've said a few times in the past, I have quite a thing for neon, which he usually does amazing things with.
The neon and visuals, generally, are what originally drew me to the first Refn I saw and I found that to be disappointing, a few smaller aspects aside. I'm not drawn to neon specifically but the colors are cool, and his films look wicked. On viewing, I personally find them to be a very hollow, empty experience. That's basically how I'm left feeling after watching one of his films. Maybe that's on purpose and I missed the point, but his films do the opposite of inspire me. Valhalla Rising is the only one that I enjoyed and that didn't leave me feeling like this. The neon is very cool-looking though.

sol wrote:
April 20th, 2020, 1:10 pm
Mon Oncle has been in my top 100 for as long as I can remember. Very clever film indeed. It's Tati's best, but PlayTime isn't half-bad if you are looking for more of the same. I would also say the same about Trafic, but that's a step down from both of those. Curious in any case that you didn't begin exploring Tati at the start of his Hulot quadrilogy. The first film is the weakest of the four but is amusing all the same and the music is delightful.

I also have The Night Visitor lined up to watch this month, so good to know that it is worthwhile. And yeah, The Homesman was a very solid motion picture. I even preferred it to Three Burials.
The Tati film was a completely random view. I was surfing around and recalled my mom mentioning it years ago and watched it. I'm really glad I did. I'll def check out his others.
The Night Visitor is an interesting film. The setting I found bleak but engaging, and Von Sydow is really great as I said already. Without giving anything away some of the scenes he is involved in are both fascinating in terms of skill, but also planning. It also had some tense, creepy sequences and some plot details that I thought worked well within the confines of the overall story.

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#27

Post by Lonewolf2003 » April 20th, 2020, 3:40 pm

The Stranglers of Bombay (1959, Terence Fisher): 6.5

Quand tu liras cette lettre (When You Read This Letter) (1953, Jean-Pierre Melville) : 7.2 - This movie has a lot of plot; an ex-nun leaves the nunnery to take care of her little sister. Meanwhile a gigolo/con artist tries to seduce an mature woman to steal her money. Then the little sister falls in love with the gigolo, than something horrible happens. This is basically an old school French melodrama that Melville infuses with noir sentiments. Although old school might be far-fetched, cause it features a very disturbing taboo subject; rape. While the rape itself and direct aftermath is dealt with very delicate, it's the decision afterwards of the bigger sister to make the rapist marry his victim (her little sister) that will astonish modern viewers. Philippe Lemaire gives his despicable character some devilish charm. Juliette Greco is very emotionless, which fits her characters as the stern older sister but makes her emotions in the climax hard to read.

Kamera o tomeru na! [One Cut of the Dead] (2017, Shin'ichirô Ueda):
7.0 - Start of as a fresh take on the zombie genre and ends as an ode to low-budget moviemaking. But it did leave me with a "was this all?" feeling, knowing the praise it got.

The Small Back Room (1949, Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger): 7.2 - Part character study about an alcoholic researcher dealing with his demon and the woman who loves him, part suspense thriller about a mysterious bomb; climaxing in a very suspenseful bomb defusing sequence. The movie succeeds in both, but less in combining both parts together. Btw, the whole bomb seems overly complicated involving a lot of effort by Jerry for the little amount of victims it produces.

The Tales of Hoffmann (1951, Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger): 7.5 - This was very special, unlike anything I've seen before.; an opera, ballet and movie hybrid. It's an absolute feast for the eyes with jaw-dropping sets, costumes and cinematography. Unfortunate the plot isn't as engaging as the visuals. Which is also the results from all the dialogues being sung, this is after all an opera, in which the poetic and musical part of the text is more important than explaining the plot. Highly recommendable for everyone who wishes the Red Shoes featured only the ballet performances and not the plot around it.

Southland Tales (2006, Richard Kelly): 3.5 - A beautiful mess, with the emphasize on mess. I have to hand it to Kelly for having the balls to follow through on his vision, even if ends up so outrageous. The plot is overstuffed, the political satire shallow. But what's most shocking is that the man who made Donnie Darko; completely forgot one of the basic rules of script writing: It's all about the characters! I didn't give a shit about anyone in this and if any had an emotional journey it's completely lost under the incoherent plot.

Edvard Munch (1974, Peter Watkins): 8.0 - This unconventional biographical movie about the painter Edvard Munch is a high point of Watkins filmed documentary style in which he reconstructs events on film using non-professional actors. What is even more memorable is the editing; the movie constantly intercuts between timelines, with the same shots coming back frequently at different moments in the film. This continuously intercutting accentuates how a few key experiences formed Munch as a person and an artist. Regarding the later the movie highlights the influence of Munch personal emotions on his art (instead of artistic influences as is common in art history), which is excellently conveyed through the constant intercutting to those formative key events while painting. What might be even more remarkable is how the movie successfully balances these two contrasting uses of time; the chronological retelling of events and the constant shifting between timelines. Through this balance it succeeds in showing both the social political climate in late 19th century North-West Europe as well as the personal emotional live of Munch.

Sommarnattens leende [Smiles of a Summer Night] (1955, Ingmar Bergman) (rewatch): 6.8 > 7.5 - My more lukewarm reaction the first time came more from expecting a different kind of movie when putting a Bergman in the Blu-ray player than from the quality of this very decent comedy. This wil probably be the most fun movie I will see the coming weeks, delving further into Bergman.

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#28

Post by Onderhond » April 20th, 2020, 3:55 pm

Lonewolf2003 wrote:
April 20th, 2020, 3:40 pm
But it did leave me with a "was this all?" feeling, knowing the praise it got.
Exactly my feeling. It was good, but the entire second half is just a reiteration on the same twist over and over again. It was a fun film, but not half as smart or genius as it is made out to be.

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#29

Post by Perception de Ambiguity » April 20th, 2020, 6:08 pm

kongs_speech wrote:
April 20th, 2020, 2:34 am
Whew, that took over two hours! I hope I get a lot of feedback for my troubles. :lol:

Perception

Sincerely, Louis C.K. - I am very excited to watch this soon. I understand that what Louis did all those years ago is bad, and I will not defend his actions. Having said that, he is my favorite stand-up as well as the creator of my single favorite work of art (Horace and Pete), so I'm thrilled to have him back. I'm busy this month trying to catch films that are expiring from my streaming services, but my birthday is in May, so I think I'll treat myself then. I had a ticket to see him earlier this year, but I couldn't go because I had mono. Someday...

The Matrix - I was a huge fan as a kid, but it has been such a long time since I saw any of them that I don't have many thoughts other than that the first is undeniably great. I would like to do a series rewatch. 4/5

The Matrix Reloaded - The cliffhanger ending made me so mad when it came out. 2/5'

The Matrix Revolutions - As a finale, I was let down at the time. Curious what I would think now that 17 years have passed. Prodigal's praise intrigues me. 2.5/5
Louis hasn't lost any of his edge with this new show, I'll just say this much. I love 'Horace and Pete' too, for me the pinnacle of his work so far. From this and Louis C.K. in general to Charlie Kaufman it's certainly not much of a stretch.
Also, while I'm at it, a belated "welcome to the iCM forum" to you, when I saw you placing 'A Alma do Osso' (The Soul of the Bone) on top in the World Cup thread I said to myself: "I think I'm gonna like this guy."
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#30

Post by kongs_speech » April 20th, 2020, 9:40 pm

Perception de Ambiguity wrote:
April 20th, 2020, 6:08 pm
kongs_speech wrote:
April 20th, 2020, 2:34 am
Whew, that took over two hours! I hope I get a lot of feedback for my troubles. :lol:

Perception

Sincerely, Louis C.K. - I am very excited to watch this soon. I understand that what Louis did all those years ago is bad, and I will not defend his actions. Having said that, he is my favorite stand-up as well as the creator of my single favorite work of art (Horace and Pete), so I'm thrilled to have him back. I'm busy this month trying to catch films that are expiring from my streaming services, but my birthday is in May, so I think I'll treat myself then. I had a ticket to see him earlier this year, but I couldn't go because I had mono. Someday...

The Matrix - I was a huge fan as a kid, but it has been such a long time since I saw any of them that I don't have many thoughts other than that the first is undeniably great. I would like to do a series rewatch. 4/5

The Matrix Reloaded - The cliffhanger ending made me so mad when it came out. 2/5'

The Matrix Revolutions - As a finale, I was let down at the time. Curious what I would think now that 17 years have passed. Prodigal's praise intrigues me. 2.5/5
Louis hasn't lost any of his edge with this new show, I'll just say this much. I love 'Horace and Pete' too, for me the pinnacle of his work so far. From this and Louis C.K. in general to Charlie Kaufman it's certainly not much of a stretch.
Also, while I'm at it, a belated "welcome to the iCM forum" to you, when I saw you placing 'A Alma do Osso' (The Soul of the Bone) on top in the World Cup thread I said to myself: "I think I'm gonna like this guy."
Right on! So far, I'm liking just about everybody. :cheers: I definitely agree that Louis has Kaufmanesque qualities, and since Synecdoche, New York is my favorite film, it probably makes sense why I'm a huge fan of both.
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#31

Post by prodigalgodson » April 21st, 2020, 2:03 am

Continued:

ks - getting your money's worth out of Criterion eh? nice
Diva - looked entertaining, might give it a whirl before it expires
Near Dark 5/10 - glad you liked it
The Harder They Come - love the soundtrack, not that interested in the movie
Greenaway - I'm gonna try to see A Zed and Two Noughts and The Pillow book before the month's out; I liked The Draughtsman's Contract a lot, but I get what you mean about finding it hard to care about anyone
I Don't Want to Sleep Alone 8/10 - yeah, enjoyed this a lot recently myself
Poitier - I think I've seen a couple of the ones that are leaving this month; I'm not too interested in The Defiant Ones or Guess Who's Coming to Dinner but James Baldwin has some great disparaging takes on them
Metro Manila - nice, maybe I'll try to watch this; I've been meaning to get more into Filipino film
The Grifters - like the book (Thompson's one of my favorites), will probably get around to the adaptation eventually
Suspiria - stupid in the sense of being about a coven of witches who run a ballet school, it's certainly competently made

sol
Sun in the Last Days... - not sure I've seen anything other than those two, but I'd probably give Red Light District the slight edge; both awesome experiences on film
Argento - thanks for the recs; Vertigo's probably my favorite film, so I'll make Stendhal a priority; I'm not sure how I feel about the colors in Suspiria, sometimes it just seemed like Argento went around throwing colored gels on every light he could get his hands on

peeptoad
Mon oncle 9/10 - yeah, I was surprised by how much I liked this
Valhalla Rising - agree it's Refn's best by a wide margin

lonewolf
The Tales of Hoffman - I don't like P&P much in general, but that description makes this sound fantastic
Southland Tales 6/10 - fair enough
Edvard Munch 7/10 - I liked this a lot but not as much as I expected somehow, wouldn't mind a rewatch
Smiles of a Summer Night - still haven't seen this but would like to

Re: Disney, Mulan's my favorite by a long shot.

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#32

Post by kongs_speech » April 21st, 2020, 4:51 am

prodigalgodson wrote:
April 21st, 2020, 2:03 am
Continued:

ks - getting your money's worth out of Criterion eh? nice
Diva - looked entertaining, might give it a whirl before it expires
Near Dark 5/10 - glad you liked it
The Harder They Come - love the soundtrack, not that interested in the movie
Greenaway - I'm gonna try to see A Zed and Two Noughts and The Pillow book before the month's out; I liked The Draughtsman's Contract a lot, but I get what you mean about finding it hard to care about anyone
I Don't Want to Sleep Alone 8/10 - yeah, enjoyed this a lot recently myself
Poitier - I think I've seen a couple of the ones that are leaving this month; I'm not too interested in The Defiant Ones or Guess Who's Coming to Dinner but James Baldwin has some great disparaging takes on them
Metro Manila - nice, maybe I'll try to watch this; I've been meaning to get more into Filipino film
The Grifters - like the book (Thompson's one of my favorites), will probably get around to the adaptation eventually
Suspiria - stupid in the sense of being about a coven of witches who run a ballet school, it's certainly competently made
I appreciate the feedback. Yeah, the Criterion Channel is my favorite resource for film. I don't watch every film that's expiring, because that's basically impossible, but it has exposed me to countless worthwhile films. I watch expiring films that are in the physical Collection, and whatever else grabs my interest.

Metro Manila was the first Filipino film I've seen, but I would definitely be interested in seeing some of the other most acclaimed ones.

The Stendhal Syndrome leaves Amazon on the 29th, so I'm going to try to watch it before then. Suspiria is the only Argento I've seen.
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#33

Post by peeptoad » April 21st, 2020, 12:26 pm

kongs_speech wrote:
April 21st, 2020, 4:51 am

The Stendhal Syndrome leaves Amazon on the 29th, so I'm going to try to watch it before then. Suspiria is the only Argento I've seen.
Though you didn't ask, I recommend Deep Red (Italian version) or Tenebrae... those are his two best imho. :)

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#34

Post by Onderhond » April 21st, 2020, 12:50 pm

kongs_speech wrote:
April 20th, 2020, 2:34 am
Truth or Dare - Sorry, but I found virtually nothing to like in this goofy teen horror flick. It's insanely dumb but seemingly takes itself seriously. I hated all the characters. 1.5/5
It's definitely not a horror flick I'll go to great lengths to defend, but there were some decent kills and I did like the ending, which was a nice middle finger. Don't quite agree that it takes itself very seriously, but there's no explicit comedy or cheese. Just acceptable fluff for me :)
kongs_speech wrote:
April 20th, 2020, 2:34 am
Emma - I'd like to see this soon. I like the 1996 film with Gwyneth Paltrow (3.5/5), but I wouldn't be surprised if the immensely talented Anya Taylor-Joy is better.
Taylor-Joy is definitely the stand-out here, but she's not so good that she could really elevate the film. It's the lighthearted tone of the film that saved it for me, but it's still quite moldy and oldskool.
kongs_speech wrote:
April 20th, 2020, 2:34 am
American Wedding - I absolutely love the first American Pie and like the second as well, though it's definitely not on the same level. Even Reunion is mildly amusing, albeit mostly for nostalgic reasons. Sadly, I agree with you that Wedding is weak. The gags are tired and some of my franchise favorites aren't even present. Seann William Scott gives his best performance in the series, at least. 2.5/5
I've noticed that many people have preferences or one film they didn't like, but I can't see any major differences between the different films. It's all just the same for me, only in each film the main characters are in a different stage of their lives. I don't care for them, I can't laugh with the jokes and I find it all quite lazy and predictable. I watched Reunion yesterday and it was exactly the same story for me. Just not my kind of humor I think :)

From yours I watchd The Pillow Book (4.0*), which I liked a lot, but haven't seen in a long, long time. It's one of those films where I don't feel quite confident I'll still like it, on the other hand I felt the same way about Greenaway's The Cook ... and that one was still pretty damn cool. Also seen I Don't Want to Sleep Alone (4.0*), a very nice Tsai, though not quite up there with his best. Definitely worth exploring if you liked that one though, just avoid his most recent work until you've seen more of his core films.

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#35

Post by OldAle1 » April 24th, 2020, 5:30 pm

Yep, late again. But catching up!

This Film ROCKED
This Film SUCKED
This Film is SO BAD IT'S GOOD

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (Fritz Lang, 1956) (re-watch)
TCM. 3rd viewing I think. I have gone back and forth with this on every viewing; Eddie Muller's intro and outro for this give some basic insights into the problems that the film has had, in it's reception by the public and critics - and by the filmmakers. Suffice it to say it was a difficult production with star Dana Andrews' alcoholism a big part of it, and Lang's clashes with Andrews on the set, and with his producer Bert Friedlob over the ending, and with the studio in general were the straws that broke the camel's back, and this was his last film in Hollywood. While I think the basic concept - newspaperman conspires with editor to get himself tried for a murder he didn't commit, with only circumstantial evidence, to foster a better argument against capital punishment - is a good one, it just goes in such a preposterous and silly direction by the end that it's hard to take it seriously or care too much about the denouement. Still it has it's moments and I can't actually dislike any film with Joan Fontaine, but all in all this is for me probably Lang's weakest noir and one of his 2-3 weakest Amercan films.

Animal Farm (Joy Batchelor, John Halas, 1954)

Nicely animated - albeit more Disney-like than it might be - short feature adaptation of the Orwell novella is always entertaining and does get a fair bit of the story right - until the last third, which is quite sanitized and doesn't come close to suggesting the master's ultimate thesis - that whether you call it communism or capitalism, whether it's pigs or farmers, merchants or the military in charge, authorotariansim by another name is still authoritarianism. Read the book instead, it won't take much longer than seeing the film.

5 Steps to Danger (Henry S. Kesler, 1956)

While I love Sterling Hayden as much as any red-blooded he-man American noirophile can, and I also love seeing Werner Klemperer in a rare "straight" bad guy role, this is pretty weak sauch in the noir realm overall. Hayden is a... what is he? I don't think his career is ever even mentioned!... so, anyway, he's a - guy - just travelling in California whose car breaks down, causing him to take a ride from a stranger (Ruth Roman) who's travelling east to Texas, and then getting mixed up in her troubles with foreign spies. All kinds of minor stupid plot issues that add up to a pretty unbelievable and silly yarn that of course ends up with
SpoilerShow
Hayden and Roman getting married and being happy after knowing each other for like 36 hours, having broken the commie spy ring.. somehow
. Even an absolute sucker for all things noir like me can only muster the weakest of "ok" ratings for this.

Bikini Spring Break (Jared Cohn, 2012)

Why did I watch this, you ask? I think I came across a review somewhere, one of those "this is so bad it makes xxxx look like yyyy" sorts of things and for whatever reason I laughed my ass off. And I was in the mood for something sleazy so I took a look and sure enough found it in about 30 seconds somewhere. As it turns out this is a film from The Asylum meant to capitalize on the "success" of Spring Breakers. I use quotes there not to mock that film or those who liked it but because it actually was not really a big hit, at least at the box office; then again The Asylum's films are so cheap they probably figure, eh, if a movie has *any* visibility and we can figure out how to rush our own knockoff out, we'll make a few bucks. This does have one semi-recognizable star, Robert Carradine, who made his name originally in the Revenge of the Nerds films in the 80s - returning to his roots in some sense. The "story" if you want to call it that is that these cheerleaders have to take a bus (???) from California to Florida - just a half-dozen of them, on their own - to play in some tournament over spring break, and of course things go wrong. This is unbearable in every way, the only reason you could possibly have to watch it - unless you're a Spring Breakers fanatic who has to see all of the knock-offs - is for titties, and there are, oh, I dunno, at least 465465465 better films you could watch for that reason. Worst film I've seen so far this year.

Violence (Jack Bernhard, 1947)

This is sort of the flipside of The Red Menace which I saw a few weeks ago; that film was about a commie plot against America that recruited veterans, and a couple's attempt to escape it; this is about a facist America-First organization, led by one Donald Trump True Dawson (Emory Parnell, who looks like any number of similar character actors who played similar types in this era), and a courageous spy in the midst who tries to expose him. Best thing about this is Sheldon Leonard, one of the great heavies of the 40s, as his right-hand man; otherwise this is fairly generic, not nearly as amusing or crazy as it's red-baiting counterpart. It does have a few good L.A. location shots, unusual this early in a cheapo noir film, but most of it is done in pretty unconvincing studio interiors. Meh.

Terror at Midnight (Franklin Adreon, 1956)

Young cop Scott Brady is investigating a hot car racket, and is just being transferred to homicide when his wife (Joan Vohs) ends up somehow mixed up with both of his assignments. This is a pretty well-done b pic from Republic with a better cast than usual - Brady's solid, and we also have reliable supporting player Frank Faylen as a lusty and unscrupulous mechanic, Virginia Gregg in a very convincing turn as his alcoholic wife, and John Dehner as one of the really bad guys behind the whole thing. It's a very cheap, mostly studio-shot production, but it does convey a little bit more big-city (L.A. of course) authenticity than many of it's contemporaries. Nothing to write home about but fun.

Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment (Robert Drew, 1963)

Very solid short (52 minutes - the bonus behind-the-scenese and extras feature is just about as long) documentary made for ABC news, the third of Drew's Kennedy features, with camerawork by a number of notable documentarians including D.A. Pennebaker. This is about the standoff over integration involving segregationist governor George Wallace of Alabama, and it focuses more on the President's brother Robert, the Attorney General, and his staff as he tries to figure out how to get the two young black students into the University of Alabama without violence. I like Drew's style - I've also seen Primary - but this definitely suffers from it's brevity, it's too big a story in it's cultural/racial/federalism vs state's rights ramifications to feel like much more than a sketch; then again, this was done in "real time" so to speak, so what we have are the words and actions as they happened, and we can't expect to have deep analysis on the parts of these politicans and others as they were just trying to do their jobs without provoking more trouble than there already was. All in all certainly an important document.

Passport to Shame (Alvin Rakoff, 1958)

Starting off the Brit-noir part of this challenge - not really deliberate, just worked out that way - with this story of pimp/slaver Herbert Lom, whose new hot prospect stolen from the continent (Odile Versois) will give him more trouble than he bargained for, especially when she catches the eye of cabbie Eddie Constantine (here affecting a not very successful Canadian accent, and sounding much less raspy than he would just a few years later), and also reminds one of Lom's stars (Diana Dors) of the sister whose life was destroyed by the crimelord and his henchmen. Dors is at her most seductive here, and also gives a really solid performance, maybe the best in the film which is saying something when you're playing alongside the likes of Lom. Ultimately another solid little film that isn't going to change most people's world.

Clean Lines, Open Spaces (Mark Wilcken, 2012)

Solid TV documentary, produced by the Arkansas Educational Network (their public TV company I presume) about the mid-century modern movement in architecture. I'm interested in this subject and was just browsing the net and found this. Didn't look too closely before watching it - had I known that it focuses mostly on one American state and it's architecture and architects - one that's a ways from me and that I don't have any particular reason to visit - I might have skipped this as I was looking for something more general. But I'm glad I didn't as it's insight into how this movement impacted that state is pretty interesting and informative even in a wider context. And there is some time spent in consideration of the origins of this and other architectural trends over the first 60-70 years of the last century, e.g. Bauhaus, Arts & Crafts, International Style, etc, and individual innovators like Gropius, Mies and Wright. A good primer then with a nice look at how this work impacts one specific region of one country. Whets my taste for more!

Action U.S.A. (John Stewart, 1989)

Awesome action shlock that came to my attention through RedLetterMedia's Best of the Worst. Thanks again guys! A young woman and her boyfirend are out for a ride in his bitchin' muscle car; they come home and start to make out (gratuitous nudity alert!), when bad guys break into the house, abduct the guy, take him to a chopper, ask him repeatedly where some loot is, drop him into a river where he's picked up by girlfriend who has been following the chopper in the muscle car, they're chased, stopped, he's killed, then other dudes (who turn out to be the FBI) come along and rescue her...this is all in the first 12-15 minutes or so. And it goes on from there with special emphasis on car chases and explosions. BIG explosions. Totally ridiculously fake explosions - car drives through wooden house, it explodes in giant fireball 5 seconds later. You get the idea. Oh and William Smith - one of the great action character actors of the 70s-80s, best known probably for the epic fight with Clint Eastwood that ends Any Which Way You Can - plays the F.B.I. agents' boss, and Cameron Mitchell plays the crime lord at the center of all this. OR DOES HE? Amazing crap; those who follow BOTW at all or anybody into the byways of low-budget American action from this period should see it. It's sitting at a 5.5 average on IMDb now so may not be eligible for the next Bad Movies challenge but fucking watch it regardless, ok?

Wild River (Elia Kazan, 1960)

TCM. While I've liked just about every Kazan film I've seen (most of them), and really liked several, he's never been exactly a favorite, and I don't really necessarily look forward to seeing "new" films from him, nor to prioritizing re-watches. Why? I guess in my mind he occupies that space of earnest, serious, well-meaning liberal filmmakers whose messages often seem to tip the scales over his other filmmaking qualities, i.e. he's not always subtle, and while he's an excellent craftsman, his craft and artistry sometimes is outweighed by a certain bluntness. This is all a needlessly verbose and not very articulate way of saying I've found him a very good, but not great filmmaker overall. Well, this film is going to go at least a little way toward changing that assessment, as Wild River is easily his best film and probably a great one. A story of a TVA administrator in 1933 (Montgomery Clift) come to a small community in Tennessee to try to convince an elderly matriarch (Joan Van Fleet, 45 at the time but extremely convincing as an octogenarian) to leave the small island where she and her family have lived for generations, so the new dam downriver can be completed, the land flooded, and electricity provided generally for the area for the first time, among other things. In the course of his weeks of effort he gets to know, and romance, the matriarch's beautiful widowed granddaughter (Lee Remick) and naturally has trouble with various locals, and gets somewhat involved in the racial issues of the time. Apart from the Massachussetts-raised Remick's sometimes variable attempt at an accent, this has a versimillitude and a feeling for the peoples of the south that is very rare in films of this period - it was filmed on location and many of the smaller roles are played by locals or southern actors, and Kazan wisely blends the simmering racial tensions into a more general, wide-ranging outlook on the role of states vs the government, tradition vs modernity, the role of woman as both sex object and ultimately leader within a family or community, etc. The only major complaint I have actually lies not with the film itself but it's presentation - TCM showed it 1.78, not 2.35, which turned out to be only somewhat problematic but still...why?; worse though was the really heavy teal-leaning of the color timing, something that is apparently the case on both the MOC and Criterion blu-rays as well. Sigh. Anyway those caveats (not the film's fault I'm sure) aside, just terrific on all counts and at the end enormously (and surprisingly) moving to me. I now look forward to America, America, the last major Kazan film I haven't seen, with significantly more interest.

The Incident (Larry Peerce, 1967)

Gripping thriller about the small diverse group of riders on a subway train in New York who are terrorized by a couple of low-lives (Tony Musante and Martin Sheen) on a late-night ride through Manhattan. There's a fairly pedestrian element to this - the old Grand Hotel/Stagecoach etc way of introducing each character (or couple of characters in this case) for just long enough so that we feel we're starting to get interested, then moving on to the next, until we have them all together on the train, but it's well done, though the opening scene with Musante and Sheen on a drunken pedestrian escapade through the streets is probably the highlight. All in all it's very nicely constructed if fairly derivative of older examples like the ones I mentioned, and the all-star cast, which includes Ed McMahon (why didn't he act more? oh, cuz the Carson show was a regular high-paying gig and easy), Brock Peters, Ruby Dee, Thelma Ritter, etc, makes this fun.

The Riddle of the Sands (Tony Maylam, 1979)

The 1903 novel by Erskine Childers that this was based on is an important late-period example of a short-lived but hugely popular (at the time) genre of invasion stories that flourished in the UK starting in 1871 with "The Battle of Dorking". Most of them imagined an imminent attack by Germany or, sometimes, France, and many were explicity written to influence public, especially military policy. There are also plenty of continental examples, and probably similar stories from Japan, Russia, the USA, etc, but the genre seems to have taken hold most strongly in Britain, and of course it produced one indelible classic, H.G. Wells' "The War of the Worlds" which featured a slightly tougher opponent than Jerry. I haven't read the book this is based on but the film's pretty decent if kind of slight. Michael York is a somewhat stuffy young Oxford graduate who gets a surprising telegram from an old classmate - now roughing it out on a small boat in the North Sea - asking him to join his friend for a mysterious adventure. Of course they find out that there's something ominous going on in some of these little coastal islands and shores, and it involves the Kaiser! Simon MacCorkindale is fun as the sort of wild friend, and the always enchanting Jenny Agutter plays the daughter of a German yacht owner who may have some secrets. Nothing to set your world on fire but fun stuff for those interested in this sort of period adventure.

My Science Project (Jonathan R. Betuel, 1985)

Beginning a couple of nights of 80s nostalgia for me. One of a trio of high school science sci-fi/comedies from 1985, alongside Real Genius and Weird Science, both of which I saw years ago, and both of which are probably a bit better known, the first because it starred Val Kilmer when he was actually a fairly big name, and the second because it's directed by John Hughes and stars Kelly LeBrock in one of the 80s' great cheesecake roles. I remember liking RG quite a bit, and hating WS, but who knows how I'd feel about either now. This one for some reason I never saw, though I thought I might have and just forgotten it mostly. Nope, all new to me. Gearhead John Stockwell (who? what the hell has he done since?) and goofy buddy Fisher Stevens find a weird gizmo out in the local junkyard and decide to buff it up and enter it as a science project, but it turns out to be a super-powerful gateway that bends time and space and almost destroys the world! And there's a nerdy girl who of course is cute and not really nerdy (Danielle von Zerneck), and the science teacher is a crazy hippie (Dennis Hopper of all people) who thinks the whole thing is kinda rad. I can't really explain this well, it's kind of a mess, and while not entirely boring or awful, just isn't going to stick with me. Very mediocre overall.

Borderline (Jerrold Freedman, 1980)

All right late Charles Bronson vehicle where he plays a Border Patrol agent whose job catching illegal aliens gets complicated when a murder occurs, and he starts to figure out that there's actually some kind of organized crime outfit behind a recent surge in entries. Bronson is actually pretty good here, probably giving the best performance in the film, and he seems to be taking it all fairly seriously, which helps imbue the film with something beyond it's action/exploitation origins, at least up until the very predictable ending. Bruno Kirby plays the new partner role, the hotshot from New York guy, though surprisingly not much is made of this, and we also have Wilford Brimley on hand as another Border agent, and Ed Harris and Michael Lerner as the main bad guys. Not bad.

Missing in Action 2: The Beginning (Lance Hool, 1985)

My long-running Chuck Norris quest is nearing it's conclusion - I only have the next film in this series to see from his 80s work, and then a few earlier and later films that I may or may not bother with. Really, why would anybody watch Sidekicks? Then again why should anybody watch this dull Vietnam War POW action flick either? It was filmed alongside the first film, and though this film takes place earlier, it was released second as a prequel because the first was judged to be better. I dunno, I didn't think that was very good either, but then "good" is a very, very relative term, especially when you're talking about an actor with about as much charisma as Mitch McConnell or Mike Pence. At least Chuck had the wisdom or grace or whatever not to go into politics, instead inflicting a very dull action filmography on us all. Soon-Tek Oh plays the totally evil camp commander, and there are almost as many explosions here as in Action U.S.A. above, but a lot less entertainment value overall.


Fast Times at Ridgemont Hight (Amy Heckerling, 1982) (re-watch)

The opening shots of this film, as we're introduced to some of our main characters in a suburban L.A. mall to the tune of the Go-Gos' "We Got the Beat", might be the most stereotypically 80s start to any film - at least, any comedy. Never saw this when it was brand-new - still in high school at the time, not really a comedy guy, and not really that aware of movies unless they were sci-fi/fantasy. I'm sure I would have wanted to see it if I'd known who Phoebe Cates was and what she wears and doesn't wear here, but alas this had to wait until, I dunno, 10-15 years ago? And I liked it at the time, and still like it as a time capsule, though it's pretty generic and would really not be anything special at all if not for the cast - Cates, Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Judge Reinhold, Forest Whitaker and Ray Walton among them, and all except Walston near the beginning of their careers - and a kick-ass pop soundtrack that includes an amazing number of songs that, like a lot of these actors, would become famous. One thing I really noticed this time is how old most of the actors look, hard to believe any of them is actually in high school; I think Cates is the only one who was under 20 when this was filmed. Anyway it's fun for me but in this case it's almost purely for nostalgic reasons.

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prodigalgodson
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#36

Post by prodigalgodson » April 25th, 2020, 6:18 am

Ale's last two weeks:

Treasure of the Golden Condor - sounds very up my alley
Clash of the Titans - 6th grade viewing along with Ulysses, found them both fairly entertaining at the time
Cluny Brown - nice, once I'm done with all this stuffy TSP viewing I'll be glad to get back to the likes of Lubitsch
Hausu 5/10 - saw this at the only midnight screening I think I've ever gone to, so right set and setting, but it was not my cup of weird
Frasier - surprisingly solid
Beyond a Reasonable Doubt 6/10 - sounds about right, liked it but felt like I should've liked it a lot more
5 Steps to Danger 7/10 - aww I thought this was fun, but the leads are two of my favorite Hollywood actors, and I liked all the desert photography
Violence - great title lol
Wild River - thanks for the rec; I'd say Kazan's maybe America's most overrated filmmaker alongside Mankiewicz, the only one of his I've particularly liked is East of Eden; America America is certainly his most-far out and one of his better efforts, with not particularly good results imo; I know it's one of Matthew's all-time favorites

Have you watched much Raoul Walsh Ale? Serriform championed him on FG3, and he became one of my favorite studio directors during a spurt when I was running through his stuff.

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#37

Post by OldAle1 » April 25th, 2020, 1:03 pm

prodigal: Yes I've seen a fair number from Walsh - never made a particular effort, but over the years I've managed to see 23 it appears. And actually, looking at that list, I'd have to say that Walsh might be a candidate for "most overrated filmmaker" - at least from the classic era, though he doesn't beat Cecil B. DeMille or Stanley Kramer. Then again those guys reps have fallen considerably in the last several decades while Walsh is still up there. Not a single one of those films is on my overall favorites list, and there are quite a few that are rather mediocre. The three that I've liked the most are The Big Trail (which I've seen twice and is unlikely to improve a lot on a third viewing), The Strawberry Blonde, and The Enforcer. HIs two best-known films are probably White Heat and High Sierra, both fine pictures but really not close to great for me. I'm not sure what it is that fails to light my fire, I'd have to delve into it more deeply, read some stuff about him, etc. But you never know, I might have agreed with you on Kazan at one point too. In any case of the "masculine" directors from that period who seemed to work more in adventure, westerns, crime, etc, at this point I'd put Hawks, Boetticher, Mann, Ford and probably a few others well ahead of Walsh.

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#38

Post by prodigalgodson » April 25th, 2020, 6:49 pm

OldAle1 wrote:
April 25th, 2020, 1:03 pm
prodigal: Yes I've seen a fair number from Walsh - never made a particular effort, but over the years I've managed to see 23 it appears. And actually, looking at that list, I'd have to say that Walsh might be a candidate for "most overrated filmmaker" - at least from the classic era, though he doesn't beat Cecil B. DeMille or Stanley Kramer. Then again those guys reps have fallen considerably in the last several decades while Walsh is still up there. Not a single one of those films is on my overall favorites list, and there are quite a few that are rather mediocre. The three that I've liked the most are The Big Trail (which I've seen twice and is unlikely to improve a lot on a third viewing), The Strawberry Blonde, and The Enforcer. HIs two best-known films are probably White Heat and High Sierra, both fine pictures but really not close to great for me. I'm not sure what it is that fails to light my fire, I'd have to delve into it more deeply, read some stuff about him, etc. But you never know, I might have agreed with you on Kazan at one point too. In any case of the "masculine" directors from that period who seemed to work more in adventure, westerns, crime, etc, at this point I'd put Hawks, Boetticher, Mann, Ford and probably a few others well ahead of Walsh.
Ah, I'd rank him ahead of everyone there except Hawks and maybe Mann (Ford's on another level, but I find my sensibilities often don't align with his). I feel like of the Hollywood guys, he had that whimsical magic lantern feel that only the studio system at its best could invoke, and one of the more consistently distinctive looks and feels to his oeuvre. Sounds like you've seen more than me, and I haven't seen any of your favorites actually, lol, but if you're enjoying old Hollywood adventures you might want to give The World in His Arms a whirl, I think it was Serriform's favorite movie of whatever year he watched it in, and I found it spectacularly entertaining myself. White Heat was the first one I saw, and it really grated on my at the time, but I'd probably like it now -- High Sierra I do like a lot, but of his noirish movies I'd probably give the edge to Pursued.

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