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Which Films Did You See Last Week? Week 24, 2020

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sol
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Which Films Did You See Last Week? Week 24, 2020

#1

Post by sol » June 14th, 2020, 12:00 pm

Which Films Did You See Last Week?

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

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

This is what I saw:

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

The Flesh and the Fiends (1960). Retitled to the less lurid Mania in the United States, this movie recounts the experiences of Burke and Hare and the doctor who turned a blind eye to where the pair were sourcing their corpses from since he was in so desperate need of cadavers for training and research. It is a curious slice of history and the dual focus on the doctor and killers helps to flesh out both sides' perspectives on their uncouth arrangement, with Peter Cushing allowed some especially eloquent speeches. The whole thing nevertheless pales against the likes of The Body Snatcher in which the horror comes from the doctor's queasiness over having to deal with a grave robber and the fiend delighting in the power dynamics at play. If much more straightforward, this film is nevertheless rather slickly made, shot in 2.35:1 widescreen no less. (first viewing, online) ★★

The Savage Innocents (1960). Conflict arises between an Eskimo and a missionary in this unusual movie from Nicholas Ray. The film plays out as a partial documentary with overly descriptive third person narration, but the voiceover is weirdly sporadic. The dramatic crux of the film also only arises in the final 25 minutes as the customs of the Eskimos and laws of 'white men' clash with intriguing moral dilemmas that would have been better as the focus here. Alas, most of the film is rather spent on Anthony Quinn trying to find an Eskimo wife and take care of his eventual child, while the whole way through it is unclear if Ray wants to us to admire the Eskimos surviving the cold etc or pity their quaint values. The Eskimos speaking to each other in broken English is distracting too. There is some nifty seal action though, and those final 25 minutes are great. (first viewing, DVD) ★★

Wild River (1960). Convincing an old lady to sell her home before her island is flooded proves challenging for an ambitious bureaucrat in this Elia Kazan drama. The set-up seems simple enough with Montgomery Clift's protagonist squaring off against her close-minded stereotype farmhands and male relatives who will not listen to reason. Jo Van Fleet though is exceptionally good as the stubborn matriarch, looking almost twice her age thanks to superb makeup, and the film becomes equally about her side of the equation, with a memorable part where she tries to force a dog sale to make a point. There is also a romance in the mix, which at first seems a little too obvious and predictable, but works thanks to an adorable daughter and some complexities on behalf of the woman who might just see Clift as more of an easy way-out than an actual love interest. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Hatari! (1962). Making a living from capturing wild animals in Africa for safaris and foreign zoos, the lives of a group of men are shaken by the visit of a female photographer in this Howard Hawks movie shot on location in Tanzania. Photographed in vibrant colour, the landscapes and native animals look great. As a narrative, the film is not quite so solid. Hawks began shooting with an unfinished script and the story comes with little sense of urgency and oddly limited sexual tension. This rather leisurely pacing is actually appealing though with the film really providing a sense of what life is for the men who actually truly love their animals despite how cruel their trapping job may be. The film concludes on a bit of a silly note with an extended comedic chase sequence, but this is a generally gripping look at a career and lifestyle rarely depicted on screen. (first viewing, Blu-ray Disc) ★★★

The Plague of the Zombies (1966). Released a couple of years before George A. Romero would turn the zombie horror subgenre on its head, this is a more clinical treatment the trope, circling around two doctors trying to work what is going on. This approach results in a film that is refreshingly slow-paced and more entrenched in ambiance and mystery than the average zombie flick, something that makes the sudden appearance of the first zombie 29 minutes in truly startling by contrast. The zombie scenes are generally well done too, with a particularly eerie bit with a smiling zombie woman emerging from her grave. The film loses its edge towards the end with an underwhelming explanation of who is behind the zombie apocalypse and why. The final scene is pretty great though, and without Romero's shadow, this may have well become a cult classic. (first viewing, Blu-ray Disc) ★★★

Five Fingers of Death (1972). Keen on winning a martial arts competition, a young man enrolls in a training school where he becomes more set on using his new moves to fight local gangsters in this Hong Kong action film. As it pulls between being about the competition and the gangsters, the plot is shaky and is weighed down by some dull romantic interludes. It is also almost a third of the way in before he receives training in the coveted "iron fist". The "iron fist" move in action though is fun though with some cool glowing red palm special effects. The alarm/siren music works really well too (lifted by Quentin Tarantino for Kill Bill). The film has a pretty high amount of blood-letting too, especially from the eyes, plus there are characters thrown through whole trees, etc. If nothing special on a storytelling or action front, this is impactful for what it is. (first viewing, online) ★★

The Super Inframan (1975). Imagine The Beastie Boys' Intergalactic video clip played straight and that is a lot what Infra-Man is like as a zany superhero battles it out with an array of rubbery-looking monsters commanded by an evil female warlord. There is a lot about the film that does not add up as a narrative, including the suggestion that the monsters were all frozen in the middle of the Earth; the film works well though as an audiovisual assault on the senses provided that one does not over-think it. The costumes are wildly imaginative; same goes for the sets full of flashing lights. The film also achieves quite a few cool effects simply through nifty editing with items and actors appearing and disappearing, while the ray zaps and explosions are so deliberately over-the-top that is easy to get absorbed in the pure energy that went into making this. (first viewing, online) ★★★

The Prodigal Son (1981). Impressed by the kung fu skills of a travelling actor, an inept fighter joins the actor's troupe hoping to learn from him in this Hong Kong action film. The first half here has some well choreographed fights and a very impressive sequence involving acrobatic ninjas, but it is not until Sammo Hung enters the picture some 54 minutes in that the movie really takes off. Hung performs some great stunts, especially while doing calligraphy, and brings a lot of laughs to the proceedings as he tries to convince the protagonist that it is better to fight dirty rather than gracefully. The film also gets some decent laughs out of Hung mistakenly believing that the student is trying to make passes at his daughter. This goofiness is very far removed from the more serious tone of the film's first half though, and this is a pretty uneven if engaging ride. (first viewing, online) ★★

Curse of Evil (1982). Beset by a series of freak accidents, the members of a prestigious family come to believe that a curse is responsible in this equally outlandish horror film from the director of The Boxer's Omen. Not everything adds up and there is ten minutes of longwinded verbal explanation at the end, but this is full of such imaginative imagery and juicy character dynamics that it is hard to pass up. Particularly striking are the "bloody frogs" with sharp teeth that seem to be hiding everywhere, but the giant tadpole-like monster, dripping in slime, which rapes his victims before killing them is surely the craziest thing on offer. Add in exploitative hypnotism, incestuous rape scenes, manipulating others for money and so on and the film manages to present a household so dysfunctional that they seem to bring their grisly demise upon themselves. (first viewing, online) ★★★

City on Fire (1987). Working undercover takes a toll on a dedicated cop as he begins to befriend those who he has been asked to infiltrate in this Hong Kong action film. While the premise comes with quite a bit of potential, the film tends to lost in its various subplots - in particular, the protagonist's girlfriend who keeps threatening to leave him if he does not propose. There are some very memorable bits though when the film focuses on the double-crossing, betrayal and working of both sides; Chow Yun-Fat hung up by his wrists makes for a very grisly scene, while a cemetery meeting takes a real ghoulish turn as the grave plots get damaged when tensions flare up. The film never quite hits the intensity of something like Infernal Affairs with Chow's divided loyalties only cropping up on occasion, but the final few minutes at least work very well. (first viewing, online) ★★

Full Contact (1992). Opening with a crazily brazen robbery involving distracted policemen and a vivacious female criminal, this Hong Kong action film gets to off to a neat start. There are several other great action set pieces throughout, but none quite as striking as the first heist, and as the film plods along, the plot begins to make less and less sense. While there are some characters in the mix whose unreliability and ever-changing loyalties are deliberate, it soon becomes hard to keep track of what is happening, especially given that none of the characters are especially likeable or fleshed out in any real depth. The film certainly has several striking images and excellent bits and pieces involving replacement body parts, but for what is apparently meant to be a revenge tale, the limited character development in favour of showy action has a distancing effect. (first viewing, online) ★

Out of the Dark (1995). Placing their trust in an escaped mental patient who seems to know what he is talking about, the security guards of a haunted apartment complex accept training from him in conquering their fears in this wacky horror-comedy. Initially beginning with a series of failed suicide attempt gags before becoming a parody of Poltergeist, then Léon, then Ghostbusters, this a film that feels as if it was written as the filmmakers went along. The plus side of this is that there is a nary a predictable moment to be had; the zany training with explosives is particularly fun to watch. The downside of this is that the narrative feels insubstantial. It eventually boils down to something to do with possession - or does it? Between exploding body parts, blood tap water and crazy flying devices, there is at least never a boring scene throughout. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Forbidden City Cop (1996). Dismissed when his wacky inventions go awry, an imperial guard is given the chance of getting his job back if he can secretly investigate a woman who the Emperor of China wants to take on as concubine in this Stephen Chow comedy. While never quite as zany and eye-popping as his bigger budgeted Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle, this possibly the closest that any of Chow's earlier directing efforts have come to capturing the magic of that duo. Chow's anachronistic inventions are hilarious, especially his use of magnets in battles and makeshift helicopter. The film is a little slow to warm up following the magnificent Bond parody opening credits, but from its near alien autopsy (!) onward, this is a non-stop rollercoaster ride that becomes absolutely insane in the best possible way towards the end. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Fulltime Killer (2001). Rivalry between contract killers leads to much bloodshed in this tongue-in-cheek Hong Kong action film. While the semblance of a plot can be made out with a love triangle and a dedicated cop hot on their trail, this mostly plays out as a series of deliciously over-the-top action sequences modeled on the action films of yesteryear; there is a particularly hilarious stretch in which Andy Lau keeps romancing his love interest while hiding under president masks in tribute to Point Break. Lau's maniacal smiles and entire showmanship approach to killing is refreshingly zany too as he becomes more concerned with proving that he is the best than avoiding police capture. The film slows down near the end, but with Clockwork Orange classical music amid ultraviolence and references to Leon, the intertextuality makes this a lot of fun. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Elf (2003). Raised by elves at the North Pole, a young man goes to New York City in search of his biological father in this Christmas comedy starring Will Ferrell. While it is a one-note performance, the constant energy that Ferrell brings to the part is certainly something and his character might have done well in a different story. As it is, Elf is pretty by-the-numbers as far as fish-out-water comedies go; even the funnier scenes (confronting a store Santa Claus and scaring some kids) have very predictable outcomes. James Caan also feels shortchanged and heavily underwritten as Ferrell's father who comes across as more of a workaholic than a heartless miser - though Caan likewise gives his best, especially reacting to Ferrell's "someone special" gift. In fact, the enthusiasm all round is commendable, but it is only the scattered animated parts that feel imaginative. (first viewing, online) ★★

Senna (2010). Entirely constructed from archive footage with all interviewees only ever heard and not seen, this documentary about Formula One racecar driver Ayrton Senna feels very different from the average biographical film. The archive interviews with Senna feel so well chosen that it is easy to forget that he was not alive to participate in the project. While stylistically refreshing, the documentary nevertheless seldom captures the magic and excitement that everyone seems to hold for Formula One. Admitting that he is "as scared as anyone" of getting hurt, Senna comes across as rather down-to-earth, but with the film focusing on his rivalry with Alain Prost and such scenes as debating the rules of the sport, the film never quite achieves the same effect as say, Ford v Ferrari, when it comes to the appeal of watching someone drive around in circles. (first viewing, online) ★★

Amy (2015). Relying more on behind-the-scenes footage than interviews, this British documentary depicts the rise and tragic death of singer Amy Winehouse. We certainly get a very vivid insight to Amy the conflicted, tortured artist, with clips of stand-up comedians belittling her looks and the paparazzi chasing her, which may have well factored into her chronic addictions. At the same time though, the documentary never acknowledges how invasive it is itself - perhaps even more so than the paparazzi with the use of private footage that she was not around to give consent to. The film also sometimes feels more like slideshow set to good music than a probing documentary with many of the interviewees repeating the same few things. Certainly, it is great seeing Amy off-stage and in her younger years, but this feels like it had the potential to resonate more. (first viewing, DVD) ★★

Shirkers (2018). Once an aspiring filmmaker, a Singapore-born novelist talks about an indie film that she sunk her savings into shooting as a teenager in this documentary. The film takes a while to warm up and if passionate, Sandi Tan always seems a little arrogant in assuming that her film would have been revolutionary. As the documentary progresses though and strange revelations surface regarding her production manager/mentor, this almost becomes as intriguing as Tickled, looking into just who this elusive man was and his motives. Unlike with Tickled, Tan is unable to offer definite answers, but there is still a lot to like about how the documentary probes into possessiveness with collaborative projects and the power of images to be indelibly ingrained in one's mind; an anecdote about photographing without film in a camera resonates especially. (first viewing, online) ★★★

Climax (2018). Their punch spiked, several dancers experience rough times as the drugs take control in this hallucinatory drama from Gaspar Noé. The film has been labeled a horror movie and while it is not one in the traditional sense, it actually works as a chic reworking of zombism with some characters continuing to instinctively dance while others lose control of their faculties. The film's best aspect is the camerawork - whether it is the constantly circling overhead shots or the way the camera gradually turns upside down to mirror the effects of the drugs, this is breathtaking to look at. Noé also plays around with film tropes well, turning the whole concept of movie credits on its head. Not everything here works with far too much time spent on the characters standing around talking about trivialities before the drugs set in, but once they set in, the film never lets up. (first viewing, DVD) ★★★★

OtherShow
The Ghost of Sierra de Cobre (1964). Intended as the pilot for a television series that was never given the green light, this telepic revolves around a paranormal investigator who is called in to deduce whether or not a blind man is really being haunted by his mother. The film comes with quite a bit of an atmosphere at first thanks to Conrad L. Hall's creative lighting and camerawork, eerie wind gusts from the seaside central location and some rather creepy dissolve-over special effects. As the movie progresses though, it becomes a much more dialogue-heavy affair with the protagonist constantly debating the possibly supernatural situation and recounting an earlier experience at the titular location. By the end, it becomes a little hard to care whose ghost is whose and who is haunting who, but for a made-for-television affair, this is still very well filmed. (first viewing, online) ★★

Golden Swallow (1968). Framed for murder, the female kung fu fighter from Come Drink with Me emerges from semi-retirement to clear her name in this action-packed sequel with Cheh Chang at the helm. Much of the fight choreography is impressive, especially a series of fights up an ascending series of steps; there is also a striking part in which a young child chooses to impale himself, shown in graphic detail. The film does disappointingly little though when it comes to further exploring Cheng Pei-Pei's character considering that the film is named after her. She actually receives even less screen time than in the original. At least there she was the protagonist until halfway in, whereas here she is always second fiddle to a male character and the men get the best fight scenes. If entertaining in bits and pieces, this never capitalises on its potential. (first viewing, online) ★

Fight Back to School (1991). Hong Kong's answer to 21 Jump Street, this comedy stars Stephen Chow as a policeman who goes undercover as a high school student to locate... a stolen pistol. The stakes are actually even lower than that since the gun merely has sentimental value; in fact, the stakes are so low that the film forgets about the gun for long stretches to focus on Chow failing to cheat and finding math hard. Some of this is very funny, particularly Chow and Gabriel Wong jumping back and forth in synchrony on their chairs. Man-Tat Ng is hilarious too, pretending to be Chow's father. It is the choreography that is really great here though, including Chow kicking his enemies when strung up by his wrists, yet the action component is limited. The labyrinth stuff towards the end is awesome, but the balance of comedy and action generally feels off. (first viewing, online) ★★
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peeptoad
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#2

Post by peeptoad » June 14th, 2020, 12:26 pm

Hi sol, I've seen a few of yours this week and want to make some comments, but I just don't have the energy right now due to a really busy and stressful work week. So, for now I'm posting and leaving...

yours-
The Flesh and the Fiends (1960) 7
The Plague of the Zombies (1966) 8+
Curse of Evil (1982) 7
Elf (2003) seen not rated, maybe 5-6
Climax (2018) 8

mine-
Tales of Terror (1962) 7
et mourir de plaisir (1960) Blood and Roses 8
Barbarella (1968) 5
City of Hope (1991) 9
Accattone (1961) 7+
Pan si dong (1967) The Cave of the Silken Web 4

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joachimt
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#3

Post by joachimt » June 14th, 2020, 12:32 pm

Los cronocrímenes AKA Timecrimes (2007, 1 official list, 3487 checks) 9/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
You'll get lost in your thoughts trying to make logical sense of cause and effect, but if you don't try too hard (but enough to follow what's going in) it's very well constructed and just loads of fun.
Dogman (2018, 0 official lists, 649 checks) 7/10
Watched because it's in WC 2B.
Memorable character.
Ernest et Célestine AKA Ernest & Celestine (2012, 3 official lists, 1784 checks) 7/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
Cute animation, cute mouse, unoriginal story.
God's Country (1985, 1 official list, 202 checks) 7/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
Interesting look into a community.
Vitalina Varela (2019, 2 official lists, 116 checks) 7/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
Bleak, slow, depressing, but beautiful to look at. Don't watch this when you're tired, because you'll fall asleep.
Bianca (1984, 1 official list, 237 checks) 6/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
It seems to me like Nanni Moretti is always playing the same character (himself?). Feels a bit like the Italian Woody Allen, although Woody is wittier and writes better dialogue. Nanni starts getting on my nerves after an hour or so.
Biarritz: la plage et la mer (1900, 0 official lists, 10 checks) 6/10
Watched because it's an early cinema short.
Bihisht faqat baroi murdagon AKA To Get to Heaven First You Have to Die (2006, 0 official lists, 37 checks) 6/10
Watched because it's in WC 2B.
Not enough development.
Chorus (1975, 1 official list, 15 checks) 6/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on Amazon Prime.
Some creative scenes, but over all hard to follow.
Gok-seong AKA The Wailing (2016, 1 official list, 1683 checks) 6/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
Not enough actually going on to justify the runtime. Spooky atmosphere is quite cool here and there though.
Showgirls (1995, 4 official lists, 9195 checks) 6/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
Nice boobs.
The Santa Clause 2 (2002, 2 official lists, 4989 checks) 4/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on Disney+.
It's basically exactly what you could expect.
Kuch Kuch Hota Hai AKA Something Is Happening (1998, 2 official lists, 1433 checks) 3/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on Amazon Prime.
Here's my review in Dutch (I don't want to spend more time on this translating it): https://www.moviemeter.nl/film/25680
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#4

Post by Onderhond » June 14th, 2020, 12:44 pm

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I'll be playing catch-up for the next couple of weeks, so many slightly older or more obscure films from directors I've had my eye on. There were some happy surprises, like Ichikawa's Alley Cat, also some disappointments like The Secret Rivals. A lot of decent films, but nothing too exceptional.


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01. 4.0* - Sukiyaki Western Django by Takashi Miike (2007)
The mash-up between samurai and western universes isn't exactly new, but leave it to Miike to turn it into something completely unique. Apart from the Japanese actors struggling with the English dialogue and a less than stellar cameo from Tarantino, this a vintage Miike ride that delights from start to finish.

02. 3.5*- Ramblers [Riarizumu no Yado] by Nobuhiro Yamashita (2003)
A delightfully dry and elegantly absurd little comedy. There's nothing grand or particularly ambitious about Yamashito's film, but that's hardly a problem when you're happy to settle for an enjoyable 90 minutes. The biggest hurdle for Ramblers is that the comedy won't be to everyone's taste. If you're a little unsure about what to expect, think of a slightly less animated Kitano comedy, without the crime elements. Just two guys who end up in a dull little village and wander around, hoping to catch a break. Of course, they never do, but they get into some pretty odd situations that are good for a couple of healthy chuckles. Visually it's not Yamashita's best, but at least the camera is nice, and he makes good use of the setting. The actors are pretty hilarious without being explicitly funny and the film is so short that the slow and deliberate pacing doesn't get in the way of the fun. It's a very nice showcase of Yamashita's knack for dry comedy.

03. 3.5* - Giant Fish [Da Yu] by Yue Yin (2020)
Don't get fooled by the poster, this isn't a big fantasy epic. Instead, you should expect a romantic drama with some urban fantasy elements thrown in to make things more interesting. Giant Fish reminded me of the kind of genre films that were made during the '00s, when China's film industry was completely turned upside down and desperately searching for a new identity. Yin's direction is a little insecure at times, which is a shame because this film has a lot of potential. The leads do a solid job, the mystery is intriguing and the fantasy elements are executed surprisingly well. There are also several stand-out scenes, but the drama feels a little lost and the romance never quite hits the mark. Giant Fish is the Chinese indie companion of Children of the Sea. A fine film that has plenty to offer, especially to people who are looking for something a little different, but it's obvious the film's reputation is going to be destroyed by people coming in with the wrong expectations. This film deserves better.

04. 3.5* - Alley Cat [Dora-heita] by Kon Ichikawa (2000)
A surprisingly amusing samurai romp. I honestly didn't expect too much from this film, then again I should've known better than to write off an aging Japanese director. It's one of Kon Ichikawa's final films, and while not really a highlight of contemporary film making, Alley Cat still feels remarkably fresh. The film's biggest selling point is Kôji Yakusho, who is visibly having fun with his character. It's also a pretty thankful role, as he can smash protocol and still come out on top. It gives the film a certain lightness that I didn't see coming, not in the least because the rest of the film is a pretty classic samurai affair. The film reminded me quite a bit of Mitani's The Kiyosu Conference, not in the least because the setting and Yakusho's part show great resemblance. Mitani handles the material slightly better, with an overall more pleasant presentation, but Ichikawa's film has plenty to offer too. This was a nice find.

05. 3.5* - All's Well, Ends Well Too [Faa Tin Hei Si] by Clifton Ko (1993)
A frantic Lunar Year comedy that helped to kick off an endless stream of follow-ups. It's no surprise that Ko was going for a martial arts setting in this sequel, as '93 was one of the biggest years for the genre in Hong Kong. The result is a funny and entertaining comedy, but some familiarity with Hong Kong humor will definitely come in handy. The concept is pretty much set. A bunch of ladies and gentlemen are looking for partners, there's a lot of complaining, fighting and wrong pairings, but in the end the film remains true to its title. This is not something you watch for the great plot, instead Ko puts all his money on the comedy. The cast is perfect, with comedy veterans like Sandra Kwan, Man-Tat Ng and Raymond Wong doing their usual thing, and actors like Leslie Cheung, Rosamund Kwan and Teresa Mo lending some extra star quality to the film. The result is a zany, corny and hilarious mix of comedy and action that is over before you know it.

06. 3.5* - Heroes Shed No Tears [Ying Xiong Wu Lei] by Yuen Chor (1980)
A very fine epic by Yuen Chor. There are some moments of genuine beauty here, making this one of Chor's best films. At the same time the film isn't entirely without fault, which keeps it from becoming and all-time Shaw Bros best. But Shaw Bros fans owe it to themselves to seek this one out. Like many of Chor's best films, Heroes Shed No Tears has strong fantasy elements. Not so much in the plot or characters, it's the setting that feels very fantastical. Moody lighting, beautiful sets and plenty of smoke make for an extremely atmospheric film. The fitting score also adds to the film. The action is solid, but nothing you haven't seen before. My main critique is that the film's a bit too long. Some scenes are extremely talkative and the plot/characters aren't that interesting to warrant so much dialogue. Some tighter editing would've helped, but in the end Chor's amazing direction prevails.

07. 3.0* - Youth [La Giovinezza] by Paolo Sorrentino (2015)
Sorrentino is a great director, no doubt about it. But he isn't a great thinker, and when his films are explicitly dealing with concepts, emotions and musing about life, it can get a little iffy. Youth is no exception. While the film has a couple of clear highlights, it is dragged down by its musings about aging. The setting is quite nice, a fancy spa/clinic in Switzerland where the wealthy meet to relax and get better. Caine and Keitel are amusing and the first hour Sorrentino takes his time to have a little fun with the characters and setting. Nothing too highbrow or complex, but fun nonetheless. The second hour, which tries to flesh out the drama and bring some extra depth to the film, falls flat though. Visually there is a lot to like here, though it doesn't feel quite as fresh as his earlier films. The soundtrack is worse off, balancing between generic and pompous, without ever anything substantial to the film. Maybe it's the type of film that becomes revelatory once you reach the age of its characters, but that is still quite a way off for me. Not bad, but I expect better from Sorrentino.

08. 3.0* - Security by Alain Desrochers (2017)
A very simple, basic action flick. It's a shame Desrochers isn't a little more ambitious here, because there are clear signs that this film could've been better. Instead, Desrochers seems to be taking the easy way out wherever possible, settling for a run-of-the-mill genre flick that amuses, but nothing more. Banderas is an army captain who can't land a job after coming back from the war, on top of that he is suffering from PTSD. A desperate plea to a job consultant lands him a job as a security agent, but things don't go as planned on his first night on the job. Obviously they didn't put much effort into the plot. The film looks decent enough, but the action scenes could've used a little extra effort. Desrochers does well building up the tension though and the film is trimmed down to perfection, the only thing lacking is something that would set it apart from similar films. It's a pretty fun diversion, just not all that memorable.

09. 3.0* - Where Are We Going? [Doko Ni Iku No?] by Yoshihiko Matsui (2008)
A decent indie drama, though not really a remarkable one. For those who've seen their fair share of Japanese dramas, it will feel comfortable and expected, but also superseded by more impressive and skilled entries in the genre. If you're starved for Japanese dramas though, it's a solid choice. Matsui's film finds itself on the darker end of the spectrum. Akira doesn't lead a very happy, fulfilling life and problem seems to follow him wherever he goes. When he falls in love with Anzu, a transsexual, things are finally looking up again, but trouble at work drives him over the edge. The actors do a decent job and the unpredictability of the plot is a definite plus, but the presentation of the film is sorely lacking. Uninteresting camera work, rather bland cinematography and a dull soundtrack make this a barren-looking film. It fits the overall mood, but that's not much of an excuse. The rest of the film is pretty interesting, just nothing that stands out.

10. 3.0* - Winner Takes All [Chak Wong Ji Wong] by Jing Wong (1982)
It didn't take long before Jing Wong came into his own. His first film might've been relatively serious and well-constructed, a lot of that was thrown overboard in Winner Takes All, and replaced by the cheer silliness that would come to define Wong's brand. The result is a full-blown comedy with some martial arts thrown in for good measure. The beginning is still somewhat straight-faced, but when Pak-Cheung Chan appears and enters a rather hilarious Mah-jong game to the death, there's no doubt that you shouldn't take this film too seriously. It's the kind of over-the-top stupidity that would help to launch Stephen Chow's career a decade later. The acting isn't all that great and some of the effects are pretty cheap, but they're never gratuitous. The soundtrack is pretty cheesy too, but is used to good comedic effect. If you don't like Hong Kong comedy, it's probably best to avoid this film, but Jing Wong fans (or those who can tolerate his films) will have a blast with this one.

11. 3.0* - The Magnificent Trio [Bian Cheng San Xia] by Cheh Chang (1966)
Not quite Chang's first film, but this is the oldest one that is easily accessible to his fans. It's not hard to see why, as The Magnificent Trio is a perfect blueprint for the following 20 years of Shaw Bros martial arts cinema and thus a film with some historic significance. But it's also just a pretty decent film regardless. Like other early Chang films, the direction is surprisingly solid. It's probably a mix of the inability to quickly skip through yet to be established genre clichés and the lack of pressure to deliver multiple films per year, but these older films often feel more finished and detailed than the 70s and early 80s ones. That sounds great, but it also means the pacing is a bit slower and the martial arts scenes aren't that elaborate yet, which is kind of the reason why I like the Shaw Bros martial arts catalogue. It's the classic contradiction between good cinema and good genre cinema. That said, Chang films will still find plenty to like here.

12. 3.0* - Face [Kao] by Junji Sakamoto (2000)
I'm quite certain I would've liked this film better if I'd watched it 20 years ago, back when it was originally released. Not because I've grown tired of the genre, but simply because I've seen this kind of drama been done better in the meantime. Face isn't a bad film, it just feels a little murky by modern standards. The presentation is definitely part of that. Rather plain camera work, muddy colors and poor framing take away from the overall appeal of the film. The soundtrack too is a little disappointing, and the drama, while relatively effective, is something I've seen many times before too, with better results. That's not to say Face is a terrible film. Fujiyama's performance is laudable, the supporting cast is good and the film has some neat little surprises in store, but overall they don't have the impact needed to make this a stand-out feature. Japanese drama fans won't be disappointed, it just felt a bit dated to me.

13. 2.5* - The Prowler by Joseph Zito (1981)
A somewhat inconspicuous slasher that kindly sticks to the rules of the genre. It's prom night, a bunch of horny kids are getting ready for the night of their lives and a mysterious, masked man is on the loose. If you're not a big fan of the slasher genre, there's little here, genre fans on the other hand are in for a treat. One thing that sets the film apart from its peers are the special effects. The kills in most slashers tend to be very disappointing, often off-screen too. There's none of that here. The film is pretty brutal and Savini's handiwork is surprisingly effective. The body count may not be too high, but Zito makes every kill count. The rest of the film is rather mediocre though. The performances are poor, the plot and background story are rather lame and the final reveal was pretty disappointing too. These are just minor issues, as most slashers suffer from them, but it does hold the film back. At least the pacing is nice and the film doesn't outstay its welcome. Pretty decent.

14. 2.5* - City Hunter: Goodbye My Sweetheart by Kazuo Yamazaki (1997)
A decent but not very notable film within the City Hunter franchise. I've probably said it before, but I feel a franchise like this benefits more from shorter episodes, somewhere in the range of 45-60 minutes. A full hour and a half is simply a bit much for the material at hand, which is exactly what's holding this film back. One problem is that it feels like every new film is just a variation on something you've already seen before. Characters are very stereotypical and keep on pulling the same stuff over and over again, to the point where I was getting actual déjà vus. Don't expect anything too original from this one in other words. The animation is a bit better compared to the older entries, which is normal I guess, just don't expect anything grand or exceptional. The comedy is decent, the action is fun, the plot a little too plain. With 90 minutes to fill though, it feels stretched and somewhat forced in places. Cut this film in half and you'd have something a lot better.

15. 2.5* - Treasure Hunt [Mou Ga Ji Bo] by Jing Wong (2011)
A pretty inconsequential Jing Wong production. Treasure Hunt is a rather run-of-the-mill mix of comedy and action, executed in true Jing Wong fashion. That means it makes for an amusing, but rather hollow and forgettable experience, though in all fairness the film doesn't look like it aspires to be anything beyond that. The plot, about a commercial director being sent to an uninhabited island to shoot an ad with a big-wig actor, only to end up in some far-fetched treasure hunting scenario, is pointless. It's merely an excuse for some comedy antics and a few action scenes. The lack of A-listers mean that neither are truly noteworthy. But Jing Wong's silliness also keeps thing light and the frantic pacing makes sure that the film never gets boring. It's not bad filler as such, but hard to recommend when there are so many films that do a better job at it. Treasure Hunt is for the true Jing Wong collector, he who has seen at least 75 of his other films and still has the energy to persist.

16. 2.5* - Xtro by Harry Bromley Davenport (1982)
Not bad. Not all that great either though, as the director seems ill-equipped to hide the film's low-budget roots. It's all very cheesy, at points even amateurish, but at least Davenport made the right choices and aims to make a genre film that impresses where it matters the most: the horror bits. The acting is quite atrocious and the soundtrack is a complete fluke. The cinematography is overall decent, though the camera work isn't always up to par. Luckily the mystery is effective and the practical effects look decent enough, as does the creature design. It's nothing mind-blowing, but it does the job. What makes the film stand out are its absurd touches. Things can get pretty freaky, without any clear purpose or explanation. That does make the film a bit incoherent at times, but it also adds tons of fun and intrigue. No doubt it's a little alienating for the general audience, but genre fans will be able to handle it just fine.

17. 2.0* - Youth [Fang Hua] by Xiaogang Feng (2017)
A pretty disappointing film from Feng, which oddly mimics the kind of cinema he helped China to move away from some 20 years ago. Youth reminded me of a film Yimou Zhang could have made during the 90s, only without the natural grace and visual splendor that made Zhang's films stand out. Youth follows Xiaoping, a young country bumpkin joining a military dance troupe in the hope of finding some respect and appreciation. It doesn't take long before the bullying starts though and when the war erupts she is sent to a frontline hospital to tend to the wounded soldiers. Unfazed, she accepts her destiny and becomes an overnight hero. Visually I expected more from Feng. The film doesn't look bad, but there are few memorable moments, even though it's clear the budget wasn't lacking. Actors do a decent job, but there are no stand-out performances. It's the score that is by far the weakest element though. It's loud and saccharine, leaving a bitter aftertaste. While not terrible, Youth simple isn't good enough for a director like Feng.

18. 2.0* - Serial Rapist [Jûsan-nin Renzoku Bôkôma] by Koji Wakamatsu (1978)
Wakamatsu has a reputation for making divisive and unflinching films, but this one offers a whole new level of nihilism. The title says it all really, the film follows a serial rapist on his murderous rampage. He wanders around, talks to random women, isolates them, rapes them and kills them. And that's pretty much it. Little to no context is given to explain his actions, his victims remain completely unknown to the audience, all we get to see is the continuous torture, shot in a very detached and matter-of-fact way. It's not a very pleasant film to watch, neither is it very titillating, but if you like dark and relentless films, is it quite impressive. The presentation is pretty cheap though. Wakamatsu's camera merely registers, there's little in the way of a soundtrack and the actors aren't exactly A-grade material either. It's clearly a film made on the cheap, but it does get its message across. An interesting watch for Wakamatsu fans, but it's pretty hard to recommend.

19. 2.0* - The Owl Vs Bombo [Mao Tou Ying Yu Xiao Fei Xiang] by Sammo Kam-Bo Hung
A lesser-known Sammo Hung feature. Hung directs and leads, but it's clearly little more than mandatory filler in order to pass the time between bigger projects. The Owl Vs Bombo is a pretty basic mix of comedy and action, with some mediocre dressing to fill in the gaps, which makes it best suited for completists. When Hung actually takes his time to focus on the comedy and action, the film is pretty decent. A pretty silly but fun moment with a cherry is pretty hilarious and the end fight isn't too shabby either, but these moments only make up a small part of the film. They almost feel like leftover scenes from a better feature. In between these scenes there's a lot of animosity and shouting that amounts to very little. The plot isn't very interesting, performances are rather weak and the soundtrack is terribly cheesy. At least the fun moments are spread quite evenly, so you never have to go too long without something interesting happening, but a good film this is not.

20. 2.0* - The Secret Rivals [Nan Quan Bei Tui] by James Nam, See-Yuen Ng (1976)
A rudimentary martial arts film. The film is split into two very basic parts. On the one hand there's a plot, mostly conveyed through dry and static dialogues, on the other hand there are the martial arts scenes, which feature endless strings of kicks, jumps and punches. The film alternates between the two and that's pretty much it really. Don't expect Shaw Bros quality, this film was made for action fans who love to watch people beat each other up. The plot is extremely poor and too much time is spent on detailing the story. Then again, you can't have people fighting for 90 minutes straight, so they had to come up with something. The martial arts choreography isn't that great either, but picks up somewhat near the end. The camera work is disappointing (with lots of pointless, crappy zooms) and the soundtrack is as generic as can be. The film can't rely on star power either, which makes this a pretty lackluster action flick.

21. 1.5* - The Love Witch by Anna Biller (2016)
There is no denying that Biller's The Love Witch is extremely effective in what it sets out to be. You may be excused for thinking this film was actually made in the 60s. The crisp image quality could be attributed to a recent remaster, apart from that everything in this film really looks the part. That's cool ... if you like the 60s. My problem with The Love Witch is that it is too faithful to its source material. The murders are extremely lame, the pacing is sluggish and the practical effects look worse-than-CG fake. Once the Thunderbirds effect wore off, there wasn't much to keep me interested, which isn't good for a film that lasts 120 minutes. Biller also had something to say about feminism and the male/female divide, but that's only worthwhile if the film itself works. After about half an hour, I'd pretty much had it with The Love Witch. Robinson's performance is good and it's impressive what Biller achieved on a limited budget, but the film itself is just dull.

22. 1.0* - Trolls by Mike Mitchell, Walt Dohrn (2016)
Another Dreamworks fluke, based on some long forgotten commercial property. Whoever thought it was a good idea to revive the 90s troll hype should probably be fired, though I'm sure they're enjoying their promotion right now. This film turned out to be another box office hit, artistically it's as dire as they come. The only positive thing I have to say is that the scrapbook-style segments were a nice touch, but they are few and far between. The rest of the film looks like you'd expect a US CG animation to look, with little in the way of a personal touch. Character designs are ugly, the environments are dull and the colors are bright but terribly kitsch. The story and characters are extremely childish, the comedy is depressing and the soundtrack ... it's like listening to a commercial radio station, the only thing missing were the commercial breaks. It's everything I'm not looking for in a good animation, but as long as it draws crowds that's what we're going to see from companies like Dreamworks I'm afraid.

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sol
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#5

Post by sol » June 14th, 2020, 1:51 pm

peeptoad wrote:
June 14th, 2020, 12:26 pm
Hi sol, I've seen a few of yours this week and want to make some comments, but I just don't have the energy right now due to a really busy and stressful work week. So, for now I'm posting and leaving...

yours-
The Flesh and the Fiends (1960) 7
The Plague of the Zombies (1966) 8+
Curse of Evil (1982) 7
Elf (2003) seen not rated, maybe 5-6
Climax (2018) 8

mine-
Tales of Terror (1962) 7
Barbarella (1968) 5
City of Hope (1991) 9
I'm sorry to hear about work being so stressful; look forward your comments when you feel more ready and relaxed. :sweat:

Our ratings actually seem quite similar for my viewings this week. You rate The Flesh and the Fiends slightly higher than me, but I think The Body Snatcher being one of my all-time favourite films somewhat hampered my ability to enjoy it. Cushing's speeches about the necessity of having cadavers no matter what are great, but I was looking for more of the internal dilemmas one when dealing with undesirable persons who one cannot avoid.

Your rating of The Plague of the Zombies is also slightly higher than mine, though I liked this one a lot; maybe even the second most of my viewings this week after the Noé. I guess I thought that the film made it way too obvious who was behind the zombie madness - and when I found out why, I was like "uh, okay". His plotting does lead to a great send-off though. And definitely a very interesting counterpoint movie to what Romero would soon do.

I don't know if you're aware (I did mention it on the Challenge thread) but I watched Curse of Evil specifically because of you. Well, you and discovering that the director of The Boxer's Omen was behind it. What a ride. Loved the crazy giant tadpole creature dripping in slime as well as though crazy frogs. And what an insane family we are treated to during the course of the movie. Keep raping your cousins and you'll bring giant tadpole rape upon yourself!

Elf was yeah, okay-ish but not very good for a TSP 21C Top 500 film. And yes, Climax was divine.

Yours:

Damn, these horror anthologies blur together over time. I believe Tales of Terror is the one with a crazy deathbed experiment and a comical Peter Lorre? I don't have this one very highly rated compared to other horror anthologies of its vintage. It's been a good ten years since I have seen it though.

I loved Barbarella at the time. Probably helps that I saw it shortly after seeing the Ariana Grande video clip that spoofs it. Imaginative sets and costumes all-round and a truly stunning opening credits scene. If you were to ask me what I remembered about the actual plot of the film though, that's another question...

I watched City of Hope earlier this year. I recall some of the characters and plot threads being far better developed than others. I really liked the one with the two African American youths who decide to commit a crime because they are tired of being targeted by the police for nothing - something that I guess resonates even more a few months on with all the current Black Lives Matter rallies.
Former IMDb message boards user // iCM | IMDb | Letterboxd | My top 750 films // Long live the new flesh!
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Perception de Ambiguity
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#6

Post by Perception de Ambiguity » June 14th, 2020, 2:49 pm

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Le message des Tibètains / The Message of the Tibetans [1ème partie: Le Bouddhisme & 2ème partie: Le Tantrisme] (Arnaud Desjardins, 1966) [English-language version] 8/10

Geheimnis Tibet: Ein Filmdokument der Schäffer-Expedition 1938/39 / The Enigma of Tibet / Lhasa-Lo: Die verbotene Stadt (H.A. Lettow & Ernst Schäfer, 1943) 7-/10

Inside Tibet (prod: Field Photographic Branch, Office of Strategic Services, 1943) 7-/10

Der Sieg des Glaubens (Leni Riefenstahl, 1933) 6+/10

Schwarze Sonne: Mythologische Hintergründe des Nationalsozialismus / The Black Sun: The Occult Roots of Nazism: Secret Aryan Cults and their Influence on Nazi Ideology (Rüdiger Sünner, 1998) 8/10

Endless Tail (Zeljka Sukova, 2018) 7+/10

A Flea's Skin Would Be Too Big for You (Anja Dornieden & Juan David González Monroy AKA OJOBOCA, 2013) 7/10

DMT: The Spirit Molecule (Mitch Schultz, 2010) 6-/10

Fantastic Fungi (Louie Schwartzberg, 2019) 8/10

It's the Old Army Game (A. Edward Sutherland, 1926) 5+/10

Cheech and Chong's Up in Smoke (Lou Adler & Tommy Chong, 1978) 5+/10


shorts

Tibet, Land of Isolation (James A. FitzPatrick, 1934) 6/10

Pyramide und Stonehenge / Germanen gegen Pharaonen (Anton Kutter, 1939) 7/10

Sun Strobes Light Shows Nitobe (Sam Perry, 1965) 6/10

Psalm I: The Lateness of the Hour (Phil Solomon/Philip S. Solomon, 1999) 6/10

Yamanote Lightblast (Jürgen Reble, 2006) 7+/10

Ein bewährter Partner (Jürgen Reble, 1993) 7/10

Amor (Robert Beavers, 1980) 7/10

Off the Pig / Newsreel No. 19 (Third World Newsreel, 1968) / Black Panther (San Francisco Newsreel, 1969) 5/10

煙り草物語 / A Story of Cigarettes / A Story of Tobacco / Kemurigusa monogatari (大藤信郎/Noburô Ôfuji, 1924/1926) 5+/10

Melody Burning by Whitley Strieber (book trailer) (2011) ==

memory map (+MLP+, 2020) ==

絞死刑 / Death by Hanging - Theatrical Trailer (足立正生/Masao Adachi (allegedly), c.1968) 7+/10

The Story of a Small Bug (David Lynch, 2020) 6+/10


other

News & Stories (Alexander Kluge): "Rüdiger Sünner" +=

The Joe Rogan Experience - #1133 - "Dennis McKenna" (2018) 7/10

Life Stories: A Conversation with R. W. Fassbinder (1978) [partly, rewatch] +=


didn't finish

Vanishing Waves / Aurora (Kristina Buozyte & Bruno Samper, 2012) [55 min]


notable online media

top:
What Is David Working on Today? 6/9/20
[YT channel "What I've Learned"]
Inside Tibet: An American Girl's New Life in Tibet
[YT channel "DAVID LYNCH THEATER"]
Middle School Methanol Moment - JRE Toons
When We Stopped Everything To Live With Monks ♥ Boho Diary | Kopan Monastery
BANNED From China?! | Tibet Will Now Always Have Our Heart ❤️Boho Diary
Matthew Barney, Water Castings
Praying mantis vs lizard
Weather Report 6/11/20


THE WEEK IN QUOTES AND PICTURESShow
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- the message of the tibetans -
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>Dort droben, wo alles Wachstum, alles Leben endet, wo selbst der Monsun seine unübersteigbare Schranke findet, wohnen Götter und Dämonen. Zu ihnen steigen die Rauchfahnen heiliger Feuer, und die inbrünstigen Gebete der Eingeborenen empor. Ruhelos surrt die Gebetsmühle die eingeschlossenen Sprüche ab. Unaufhörlich murmeln die Lippen die vieldeutigen Silben:
(Up above, where all growth and life ends, where even the monsoon comes up against an insurmountable barmerier, dwell gods and demons. The trails of smoke of holy fires rise up to them, as do the fervent prayers of the natives. Incessantly the prayer wheel is whirring with its enclosed dictums. Ad infinitum the lips murmur the ambiguous syllables:)

Oṃ Maṇi Padme Hūṃ

Oṃ Maṇi Padme Hūṃ
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- geheimnis tibet -

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- endless tail -
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- the message of the tibetans -
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- endless tail -
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- schwarze sonne -
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- germanen gegen pharaonen -

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>Eines der häufigen tibetischen Ornamente ist das urlalte Indo-Arische Zeichen des Hakenkreuzes das den Tibetern als Sinnbild unvergänglichen Glückes gilt.<
(>One common Tibetan ornament is the ancient Indo-Aryan sign of the swastika, which for Tibetans represents everlasting fortune.<)
- geheimnis tibet -
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- the message of the tibetans -
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- schwarze sonne -
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- (rising sun flag) -
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- geheimnis tibet -
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>The true mandala is not one that can be seen with the physical eyes, but one that can only be visualized inwardly.<
- the message of the tibetans -
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>Sehen Sie in diesen Flaggen kein äußeres Zeichen, sondern sehen Sie in Ihnen zugleich eine lebendige Verpflichtung.<
(>These flags are not merely an outward sign, but represent a living obligation.<)
- der sieg des glaubens -
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- endless tail -
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- inside tibet -
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- geheimes tibet -
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- the message of the tibetans -
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- der sieg des glaubens -

>What does it mean when you say: "I'm in here, and you're out there?" And then you take a psychedelic and you realize that's an artificial boundary. You know, we're all one, there is no separation.<

>It's separate in normal consciousness, though.<

>It's separated in normal consciousness, but then what is normal consciousness if not a reflection of your neurochemical brain state. I mean everything you experience is an altered state, because it's filtered into this brain, processed by the brain and...you know, the brain is a biochemical engine that, as I say often, we're made out of drugs.<
- the joe rogan experience - #1133 - dennis mckenna -

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- fantastic fungi -
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- up in smoke -
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- fantastic fungi -
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- the message of the tibetans -
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- der sieg des glaubens -

>I'm actually quite convinced that we're probing the biological basis of moral and ethical behaviour. I think these primary religious experiences really are at the bedrock of the world's religions.<
- dmt: the spirit molecule -
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- consolations (love is an art of time) p.2 -
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- the message of the tibetans -
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>This ritual is performed with the instrument that all Tantric lamas use. The dorje, the sceptre held in the right hand. Masculine symbol of activity and power. And the bell. Passive feminine symbol of knowledge, of wisdom. To distinguish between wisdom and action, and then to unify the two is the very foundation of Tibetan Buddhism.<
- the message of the tibetans -
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- der sieg des glaubens -
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>Seine Gläubigen erfüllt er mit der Furcht vor schrecklichen Gottheiten und zahllosen Dämonen, die nur der Priester, der Lama, zu beschwören vermag. Seltsam und unheimlich sind die rituellen Formen des Druidenkultes. Unaufhörlich murmeln die Lippen der Laien die einförmige Gebetsformel während der Zauberpriester in sich steigender Extase mit den Dämonen ringt. Mit symbolischen Gesten und magischen Attributen - Geisterdolch, Donnerkeil und Zauberglocke - macht er sie seinem Willen untertan.<
(>They infuse its believers with fear of dreadful deities and countless demons, which only the priest, the Lama, is able to summon. The ritual of the cult of druids is strange and haunting. The lips of the laymen unceasingly murmur the monotonous chants while the magician priest battles with the demons in ascending ecstasy. He makes them bend to his will by using symbolic gestures and magic instruments: spiritual dagger, thunderbolt, magic bell.<)
- geheimnis tibet -
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- endless tail -
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- der sieg des glaubens -
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- the message of the tibetans -
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- schwarze sonne -
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- up in smoke -
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- up in smoke -
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>All physical yoga is based on a paradox. To transcend the mortal body, to go beyond the limitations of that body, by devoting to that very same body ones attentions and efforts. For yoga is one aspect of Tantrism. And according to Tantrism nothing, absolutely nothing must be refused or repressed. Everything must be accepted, integrated, and transformed, like nature changes coal into diamonds, like the alchemist's speak of changing lead into gold.<
- the message of the tibetans -
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- consolations (love is an art of time) p.2 -
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- up in smoke -

>Terence [McKenna] had this fantastic joke...about that this monk had practiced the siddhis levitation. And that the Buddha came to town and he said: "For the last 20 years I've practiced the siddhis levitation and I can now walk on water." And the Buddha said: "Yeah...but...the ferry is only a nickel.<
- the joe rogan experience - #1133 - dennis mckenna -

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>One thing that mushrooms and other psychedelics do reliably is they induce synesthesia. Synesthesia is the perception of one sensory modality and another. Hearing colours, for example, or seeing music.<
- fantastic fungi -
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- consolations (love is an art of time) p.2 -
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- up in smoke -
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- endless tail -
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- the message of the tibetans -
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- der sieg des glaubens -
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>This dorje [that was held in Milarepa's own hands] is the emblem of supreme power. Power which for Tibetan sages is always related to compassion. Not love that is founded on emotional impulse, capable of becoming its opposite and giving birth to selfishness, jealousy, hatred and despair. No, love that takes root in the realization of the unity of all beings. Having died completely the death of his own egoism, and his belief in his individuality he's separate from others. The yogi can say: Because I no longer am I am everybody, I am everything.<
- the message of the tibetans -
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- consolations (love is an art of time) p.2 -
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(>Let There Be Light<)
- schwarze sonne -
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- fantastic fungi -

>We shall once again have to find a new scale of values for our people: the scale of the macrocosm and the microcosm, the starry sky above us and the world in us, the world that we see in the microscope. The essence of these megalomaniacs, these Christians who talk of men ruling this world, must stop and be put back in its proper proportion. Man is nothing special at all. He is an insignificant part of this earth. If a big thunderstorm comes, he can do nothing about it. He cannot even predict it. He has no idea how a fly is constructed - however unpleasant, it is a miracle - or how a blossom is constructed. He must once again look with deep reverence into this world. Then he will acquire the right sense of proportion about what is above us, about how we are woven into this cycle.<
- (Heinrich Himmler, Speech to top leaders of the SS, June 9, 1942 Berlin) -
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- schwarze sonne -
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>The fire is the mouth through which the Absolute devours everything that it itself caused out of itself. It devours multiplicity and division in order to bring back every created thing to the unity that is beyond space and time. "O fire, consume illusion, untruth, egoism, ignorance. Consume suffering, consume death, and give us Awakening through the knowledge of that which we really are.<
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- the message of the tibetans -
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- consolations (love is an art of time) part 2: the lighted clearing -



PS:Show
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Also here: viewtopic.php?p=646086#p646086
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peeptoad
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#7

Post by peeptoad » June 14th, 2020, 8:02 pm

sol wrote:
June 14th, 2020, 1:51 pm
peeptoad wrote:
June 14th, 2020, 12:26 pm
Hi sol, I've seen a few of yours this week and want to make some comments, but I just don't have the energy right now due to a really busy and stressful work week. So, for now I'm posting and leaving...

yours-
The Flesh and the Fiends (1960) 7
The Plague of the Zombies (1966) 8+
Curse of Evil (1982) 7
Elf (2003) seen not rated, maybe 5-6
Climax (2018) 8

mine-
Tales of Terror (1962) 7
Barbarella (1968) 5
City of Hope (1991) 9
I'm sorry to hear about work being so stressful; look forward your comments when you feel more ready and relaxed. :sweat:

Our ratings actually seem quite similar for my viewings this week. You rate The Flesh and the Fiends slightly higher than me, but I think The Body Snatcher being one of my all-time favourite films somewhat hampered my ability to enjoy it. Cushing's speeches about the necessity of having cadavers no matter what are great, but I was looking for more of the internal dilemmas one when dealing with undesirable persons who one cannot avoid.

Your rating of The Plague of the Zombies is also slightly higher than mine, though I liked this one a lot; maybe even the second most of my viewings this week after the Noé. I guess I thought that the film made it way too obvious who was behind the zombie madness - and when I found out why, I was like "uh, okay". His plotting does lead to a great send-off though. And definitely a very interesting counterpoint movie to what Romero would soon do.

I don't know if you're aware (I did mention it on the Challenge thread) but I watched Curse of Evil specifically because of you. Well, you and discovering that the director of The Boxer's Omen was behind it. What a ride. Loved the crazy giant tadpole creature dripping in slime as well as though crazy frogs. And what an insane family we are treated to during the course of the movie. Keep raping your cousins and you'll bring giant tadpole rape upon yourself!

Elf was yeah, okay-ish but not very good for a TSP 21C Top 500 film. And yes, Climax was divine.

Yours:

Damn, these horror anthologies blur together over time. I believe Tales of Terror is the one with a crazy deathbed experiment and a comical Peter Lorre? I don't have this one very highly rated compared to other horror anthologies of its vintage. It's been a good ten years since I have seen it though.

I loved Barbarella at the time. Probably helps that I saw it shortly after seeing the Ariana Grande video clip that spoofs it. Imaginative sets and costumes all-round and a truly stunning opening credits scene. If you were to ask me what I remembered about the actual plot of the film though, that's another question...

I watched City of Hope earlier this year. I recall some of the characters and plot threads being far better developed than others. I really liked the one with the two African American youths who decide to commit a crime because they are tired of being targeted by the police for nothing - something that I guess resonates even more a few months on with all the current Black Lives Matter rallies.
No, I didn't see your mention of why you watched Curse of Evil in the challenge thread. Glad you liked it. :) I have a few Shaw bros films on usb sticks from years ago hanging around and that was one of them. I imagine you've seen Bewitched (same director), but that's even better than 'Curse and Boxer's Omen imho. Killer Snakes is also great; there is a real nasty sort of vibe to that one that I love. It also made my 1974 list in the current poll.

Plague of Zombies is one of my fav Hammer horrors. The setting and tone is very strong and most of the performances are as well. I have Hammer's The Witches on my list for June. Hopefully I can get to it. The ramp up at my job has been unclear/confusing, time consuming, and somewhat problematic so far...

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#8

Post by sol » June 14th, 2020, 11:16 pm

peeptoad wrote:
June 14th, 2020, 8:02 pm
No, I didn't see your mention of why you watched Curse of Evil in the challenge thread. Glad you liked it. :) I have a few Shaw bros films on usb sticks from years ago hanging around and that was one of them. I imagine you've seen Bewitched (same director), but that's even better than 'Curse and Boxer's Omen imho. Killer Snakes is also great; there is a real nasty sort of vibe to that one that I love. It also made my 1974 list in the current poll.

Plague of Zombies is one of my fav Hammer horrors. The setting and tone is very strong and most of the performances are as well. I have Hammer's The Witches on my list for June. Hopefully I can get to it. The ramp up at my job has been unclear/confusing, time consuming, and somewhat problematic so far...
Argh, more HK recommendations! :circle: My watch-list for this challenge is huge. :)

I thought that I had seen Hammer's The Witches, but apparently I haven't. I do have in on Blu-ray though, so I'll keep an eye out on the 60s thread to see if you recommend it. Good luck with everything work-wise.
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#9

Post by prodigalgodson » June 15th, 2020, 4:00 am

Thanks to Perception de Ambiguity for the heads-up on the first two. I didn't know Reygadas had made a film post-Tenebras Lux til I was flipping through those favorite films of the 2010s nominations. Our Time and Casual Relations both had some moments that were among the better things I've seen recently, but considered as whole films no major highlights this week.

Our Time (Carlos Reygadas, 2018) 7/10

Reygadas has such a distinctively evasive way of conveying significance, and his meanings seem to have become less pointed and more opaque since his early work -- but where else are you gonna get a musical sequence detailing the inside of an engine driving down a muddy road on a rainy day? There are fewer shades of anyone else's influence as his oeuvre progresses; the combination of elements -- subjective sensory wide-lens photography, slow panning panoramas, closeup handheld long takes, unintuitive (for me at least, maybe very intuitive for the director) editing, the unflinching sexuality, the seductive presence of death, the animals at sunset motif -- feels unique to Reygadas. At the same time, I felt very distant to the onscreen happenings aside from a slight repulsed dread, and it makes me wonder if I'd still love something like Battle in Heaven as much at this point. It's strange that he and Hong, two of my favorite (of the few) pioneers of 21st century film have paved parallel sex-obsessed high art male frailty lanes. At best you're lost in its mystical tripiness, at worst it's beardy cuckold porn, though I guess the indulgence works at a meta-level for a film starring the director as a poet with a god complex. A series of foggy nocturnal overhead shots flying from forested mountains through Mexico City, overlaid with a monologue that, in retrospect, seems to reveal how the protagonist wishes his wife felt about him, feels like the lynchpin of the film. Even with the intentional mystery, I left feeling like there were a lot of puzzle pieces I wasn't putting together; but maybe that's the point. I'd love to see a review that deconstructs this formally or elucidates its subjective appeal, to be honest I haven't read any that do other than in very broad strokes. In any case, the highs are towering.

Jeux arborescents (Emile Malespine, 1931) 6/10

Trees are so cinematic. What happened to the subgenre this should've kickstarted?

The Vanity Tables of Douglas Sirk (Mark Rappaport, 2015) 5/10

Nothing metaphorical about the title, it's literally a short film essay on Sirk's use of this outmoded piece of furniture. I dig the specificity of the subject matter; I've always been interested in the cinematic use of mirrors and the especially deliberate framing that always accompanies their presence. Unfortunately, it's more about raising questions (many of which had occurred to me abstractly, though it's nice to hear them elucidated) than proffering any coherent theory. Some of Rappaport's suggestions about mirrors’ evocations of the past or their symbolic relevance to societal oppression are thought-provoking, but aside from that it’s a bit too vague and tentative for me.

Casual Relations (Mark Rappaport, 1974) 7/10

It strikes me again how ahead of his time Rappaport was in predicting millennial culture: this is basically a series of portraits of ennui-ridden apartment dwellers (eg the third character we meet waking up to binge-watch TV all day and vainly attempt to social network via phone), replete with formal fuckery, explicit sexuality, and looming cinephilia. It kind of helps explain the unsatisfactory open-ness of his essay films; it seems like he's more interested in inspiring analysis on the part of the viewer than providing analysis himself. Our first character sketch, for instance, portrays a woman plagued by nightmares represented by stills of Max Schreck in Nosferatu; but instead of the Hollywood standard image of the dreams fading in and out over the dreamer, a shot of the dreamer fades in and out over the Schreck still, as if denoting the priority of Nosferatu's reality, with all the psychological and metacinematic significance that entails. Vignettes ripe for such Rappaport-esque analysis recur throughout, along with more sensory-oriented sections like a proto-webcamer starring in a low-budget vampire art flick and a woman who sits in one place so long she starts experiencing mind-expanding hallucinations. Overall it's extremely uneven in both content and flow, but at its best it's spectacular.

The Silver Screen: Color Me Lavender (Mark Rappaport, 1997) 7/10

"Do we know too much? Or do they acknowledge too little? Are we hopelessly jaundiced by our present-day sensibilities? Or were they pretending the subconscious was a dark continent waiting to be discovered? Or were they, even then, not quite as innocent as they imagined?"

Another greenscreened 90s bit of Rappaport deconstruction of the work of Hollywood's "masters of insinuation and innuendo," this time focusing on the history of homosexuality in film. Feels a bit overextended, and so doesn't reach the heights of the Seberg or especially the Hudson flicks, but it's still a wonderfully unique and insightful piece of criticism. I've never heard the portrayals of gayness in 30s Hollywood characterized as an affectation of the wealthy elite, or the suggestion that the contemporary archetype of American masculinity has its genesis in WWII, but Rappaport defends these and other unexpected observations informatively and eloquently. It's probably his most self-aware and -critical piece of analysis so far, continually bringing up the possibility that it's all just navel-gazing and constructed meaning before finding substantial evidence to at least partially refute that possibility. The Blue Danube finale is lovely. I wouldn't call him a favorite filmmaker, but Rappaport's rapidly becoming one of my favorite film enthusiasts.

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#10

Post by kongs_speech » June 15th, 2020, 10:36 pm

L.A. Plays Itself - 4.5/5

An underappreciated milestone in queer and experimental cinema. It can count on my vote in next year's DtC.

Death Race 2000 - 4/5

Sharp, pointed satire, a brisk pace, memorable kill scenes and only 80 minutes. What's not to love?

County Hospital - 3/5

Better than the other Laurel and Hardy short I've seen. Only one of them played an idiot this time, which I think is a better dynamic.

Sergeant York - 3/5

First half is very nice rural Americana. Second half is corny war / Christian propaganda. I haven't explored Howard Hawks much, but I know he has better stuff than this.

Industrial Accident: The Story of Wax Trax! Records - 4/5

Super cool doc about a punk record store owned by a gay couple that became the record label that gave birth to Ministry and other industrial artists. The daughter of one of the owners made the film.

TFW NO GF - 4/5

A misunderstood doc about lonely dudes who troll on the internet. Contrary to popular belief, it does not glorify incel culture. It's merely a character study, and I guess people don't like it because it's not more blatantly scorning its subjects. Oh well, I loved it, and the score by John Maus and Ariel Pink is awesome.

The Maltese Cross Movement - 4/5

A friend sent me this weird 60s avant-garde short because it's an official check. I enjoy stuff like this. It's rare to see a film focused on the projector.

The Salton Sea - 3.5/5

You could definitely accuse this colorful neo-noir of trying too hard to be Tarantino, but I found it effective nonetheless. Vincent D'Onofrio's batshit performance is the comic relief.

The Limey - 4.5/5

A fucking killer revenge flick with super editing and a hell of a lead performance from Terence Stamp. My favorite Soderbergh that I've seen so far.

Blue Guitar - 4/5 (rewatch)

Another Douglas Reese film that I rewatched with him. It's among his strongest works. He really got a wonderful performance out of the lead actress. Sadly, the film can never be licensed because of the "Heroin" scene, which is by far the best moment in the movie.

The Ape - 2.5/5

I watched this because it's an official check on the list of best Swedish films. It seems very divisive based on the Letterboxd reviews, and I'm on the "nay" side. I felt it was dull and didn't add up to much of anything.

The Lunchbox - 4/5

A lovely Indian film that exceeded my expectations. It's a very original concept for a film, and I don't think even the most jaded snob could fail to find it heartwarming.

Bonjour Tristesse - 3.5/5

Decent early Jean Seberg flick directed by Otto Preminger. Seberg and Deborah Kerr are great, and the ending came as a big surprise.

The King of Staten Island - 5/5

I relate so much to Pete Davidson's character in this film. If you replace being an aspiring tattoo artist with being an aspiring filmmaker, I am that dude. So naturally, I was deeply moved. But even taking that out of consideration, this is a masterpiece. The best work of Judd Apatow's impressive career. Who knew Bill Burr could deliver an Oscar worthy dramatic performance?

The 40-Year-Old Virgin - 4.5/5 (rewatch)

I'm revisiting the career of Apatow. I held a stupid grudge against him for a long time that had nothing to do with his work or him as a person. I finally let that go, and now I'm realizing just how much his style clicks with me. His directorial debut is hysterically funny, if a bit politically incorrect by 2020 standards, but it's the film's humanity that really elevates it. It's such a sweet film, expertly written and performed. That ending is one of the best ever.
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#11

Post by kongs_speech » June 16th, 2020, 3:31 am

sol wrote:
June 14th, 2020, 12:00 pm
Elf (2003). Raised by elves at the North Pole, a young man goes to New York City in search of his biological father in this Christmas comedy starring Will Ferrell. While it is a one-note performance, the constant energy that Ferrell brings to the part is certainly something and his character might have done well in a different story. As it is, Elf is pretty by-the-numbers as far as fish-out-water comedies go; even the funnier scenes (confronting a store Santa Claus and scaring some kids) have very predictable outcomes. James Caan also feels shortchanged and heavily underwritten as Ferrell's father who comes across as more of a workaholic than a heartless miser - though Caan likewise gives his best, especially reacting to Ferrell's "someone special" gift. In fact, the enthusiasm all round is commendable, but it is only the scattered animated parts that feel imaginative. (first viewing, online) ★★

Climax (2018). Their punch spiked, several dancers experience rough times as the drugs take control in this hallucinatory drama from Gaspar Noé. The film has been labeled a horror movie and while it is not one in the traditional sense, it actually works as a chic reworking of zombism with some characters continuing to instinctively dance while others lose control of their faculties. The film's best aspect is the camerawork - whether it is the constantly circling overhead shots or the way the camera gradually turns upside down to mirror the effects of the drugs, this is breathtaking to look at. Noé also plays around with film tropes well, turning the whole concept of movie credits on its head. Not everything here works with far too much time spent on the characters standing around talking about trivialities before the drugs set in, but once they set in, the film never lets up. (first viewing, DVD) ★★★★
Hey, this week I've actually seen two of your films! I love both. Elf (3.5/5) is predictable and clearly made with a young audience in mind, but I'm a major Christmas nut, and I find it irresistible. It's genuinely funny in places, Ferrell brings the appropriate energy level, and Zooey Deschanel is a delight. I'm a sucker for dark, graphic films, but every once in a while, I need something adorably wholesome like Elf.

Climax (5/5) is my favorite film of 2018. I love every Gaspar Noe film. Love him or hate him, he's constantly experimenting with the boundaries of cinema and can never be accused of resting on his laurels. I even loved the scenes of the actors just standing around ad-libbing dialogue. It helps build the atmosphere before things go insane. One of the most innovative horror films of the past decade.
joachimt wrote:
June 14th, 2020, 12:32 pm
Showgirls (1995, 4 official lists, 9195 checks) 6/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on MUBI.
Nice boobs.
The Santa Clause 2 (2002, 2 official lists, 4989 checks) 4/10
Watched because it's a random official check available on Disney+.
It's basically exactly what you could expect.
I find Showgirls (4/5) to be a very good film. People have no issue detecting Paul Verhoeven's satire when it comes in the form of macho action flicks, but when he takes a darkly absurd look at America's weird sexual hang-ups, they call it the flop of the century.

I have a near-infinite amount of goodwill for Tim Allen. I think the first Santa Clause film is very cute family entertainment. But the sequels suck. The best thing I can say about Santa Clause 2 (2/5) is that it's watchable, unlike the third film in the trilogy, which is atrocious.
Onderhond wrote:
June 14th, 2020, 12:44 pm
.
I actually haven't seen anything you watched this week. Serial Rapist sounds bizarre enough that I'd check it out.
Perception de Ambiguity wrote:
June 14th, 2020, 2:49 pm
.
I haven't seen any of your viewings this week. Hope things are well!
prodigalgodson wrote:
June 15th, 2020, 4:00 am
Our Time (Carlos Reygadas, 2018) 7/10
I haven't seen this, but Silent Light is a favorite and I also loved Battle in Heaven. I need to finish the Reygadas filmography.
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#12

Post by sol » June 16th, 2020, 10:16 am

kongs_speech wrote:
June 16th, 2020, 3:31 am
Hey, this week I've actually seen two of your films! I love both. Elf (3.5/5) is predictable and clearly made with a young audience in mind, but I'm a major Christmas nut, and I find it irresistible. It's genuinely funny in places, Ferrell brings the appropriate energy level, and Zooey Deschanel is a delight. I'm a sucker for dark, graphic films, but every once in a while, I need something adorably wholesome like Elf.

Climax (5/5) is my favorite film of 2018. I love every Gaspar Noe film. Love him or hate him, he's constantly experimenting with the boundaries of cinema and can never be accused of resting on his laurels. I even loved the scenes of the actors just standing around ad-libbing dialogue. It helps build the atmosphere before things go insane. One of the most innovative horror films of the past decade.
I think I have a higher tolerance for Will Ferrell than most (absolutely loved him in Stranger Than Fiction and Melinda and Melinda) so I didn't mind his performance in Elf and agree that his energy is way up there. The way his character was written didn't do a lot for me though. He often came across to me as more stupid than simply naïve to the ways of the outside world. Definitely some really good gags in the mix too though on Ferrell's behalf - "I like whispering too" / "I forgot to give you a hug!" as the elevator doors close etc.

Christmas nut, though? Interesting. Die Hard and Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 and Better Watch Out are more my sort of Christmas movies. ;)

Agree with your praise of Noé in general, though that ad-libbed dialogue, hmm. I agree that it works well for setting up the gradual descent into madness that the party takes, I just didn't find the conversations at all engaging. In fact, the one I remember most vividly is the two guys discussing the worthwhile risk of having a girl defecate on you while engaging in intercourse from behind. None of the conversations made me care one iota for the characters, we gave me nobody to cling to and nobody who I was emotionally invested in when things went to hell. Which might be the point, but I guess the reason why I would rank Enter the Void above Climax in Noé's output is because I did feel for the characters there.

But sure, yes it is hard to think of a more innovative horror movie than Climax from the last decade.

Yours:

I recall not really liking the conclusion of Death Race 2000, but yeah, pretty great film with some awesome races in addition to all the satire.

Laurel and Hardy: I don't know if there are any shorts of theirs that I particularly love, but as mentioned last week, you can't go too wrong with Block-heads or Our Relations.

I still have pretty strong memories of The Limey, though it has been a good decade and a half since I saw it. Definitely not Soderbergh's best for my money, but it would certainly rate in the top 10 of the 25 Soderbergh films that I have seen. And yep, a possible career best Terence Stamp turn.

Have you seen The Shop Around the Corner? I only ask because, while well done, The Lunchbox reminded me a lot of the Lubitsch film, so I wouldn't call the concept all that original myself. I did like the film quite a bit though.

We have depart ways on The 40-Year-Old Virgin though. I have it down as a low 5/10, so I didn't totally hate it and I guess it is reasonably well acted. I just have very low tolerance for these sorts of comedies that play on stereotypes and simple messages (all virgins have never really grown up and need to sell their collectable toys in order to finally mature).
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#13

Post by Lonewolf2003 » June 16th, 2020, 3:52 pm

I saw some more Jackie Chan movies last week

Kuai can che [Wheels on Meals] (1984, Sammo Kam-Bo Hung): 7.8 - Fun and very entertaining action-comedy starring Jackie Chan, Biao Yuen and Sammo Hung, the last one sporting a ridiculous perm, set in gorgeous Barcelona. The three have amazing chemistry together, which makes this a pleasure to watch. The end fight between Jackie Chan and Benny "The Jet" Urquidez is worth the watch alone

Long de xin [Heart of a Dragon/First Mission] (1985, Sammo Kam-Bo Hung & Fruit Chan): 6.2 - Sammo Hung and Jackie Chan go for a serious drama in this movie about Jackie as a cop, who has to give up on his dream to take care of his mentally retarded brother. Because of this approach and the little amount of action in it, this has always been a divisive movie among the fans. My problems isn't so much with the idea behind it, but in the execution of it. It's clear that the movie has its heart in the right place, but frankly the portrayal by Hung of a person who’s mentally challenged is extremely poor and skims very close to offensive parody. The crude way even his friends and brother unintentionally treat him is hard to watch, I guess everybody in 80s Hong Kong was completely ignorant about how to treat the mentally handicapped. Meanwhile the movie does sentimentally plays on the viewers sympathy. But still I'm willing to forgive these major demerits cause the action when it finally comes is greatly shot. The finale is surprisingly violent, which does fit the more serious tone and repressed anger of Chan's character.

The Protector (1985, James Glickenhaus): 6.2 - Jackie Chan's second try to breakthrough in the American market. James Glickenhaus went for a grittier, tougher action movie, Jackie even swears!, than the usual lighthearted action Jackie was famous for. Because of this Jackie and James clashed during the movie making and after the release. Glickenhaus doesn't know how to pace his movie, establishing shots taking the rhythm out of the movie and even some of the chases moving too slow to be truly exciting. f.e. the big boat chase. The absolute biggest issue is Danny Aiello, who sticks out like a sore thumb. There is absolutely no chemistry with Jackie which prevents this from being an entertaining cop-buddies movie and in the action sequences he’s completely useless.

Fei lung maang jeung [Dragons Forever] (1988, Sammo Kam-Bo Hung & Corey Yuen): 6.8 - Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao are reunited again! With Jackie wanting a change (again) they switch it up by portraying different type of characters than usual; Jackie plays a cocky skirt-chasing lawyer, Hung a deceptive crook and Yuen Biao a deranged thief. This could have been interesting if the movie really delved into its moral ambiguous characters. Unfortunately it doesn’t, in the tedious second act instead of fleshing out the plot and characters it waste all of its time on two idiotic romance plots. On top of that Jackie just can’t pull it off to play against type, his character still basically acts like his usual likable joker. But while failing in trying something different, the movie luckily excels in the familiar; the action is top notch. We’re treated to plenty of amazing fights between the three leads, which are reminiscent of 1930s slapstick fights, and a brutal finale cumulating in to another great final fight between Jackie and Benny "The Jet" Urquidez.

Kei zik [Miracles: The Canton Godfather/Mr. Canton and Lady Rose/Black Dragon] (1989, Jackie Chan): 6.8 - Jackie as an accidental 1930s gangster boss. Based on Capra's A Pocketful of Miracles, this mostly is a farce about deception and mistaken identity. These misunderstandings were pretty amusing, but I feel some jokes were lost in translation cause they seem to be about the difference between Mandarin and Cantonese. Of course there are also some stunts thrown in cause this is after all a Jackie Chan movie, the best is an amazing sequence in a rope factory.

Sing si lip yan [City Hunter] (1993, Jing Wong): 6.2 - Based on a famous Japanese anime, this takes Jackie Chan's wackiness to the extreme. Apparently Jackie Chan made this after a request to his Japanese fans which role he should make. But frankly he's totally miscast as the womanizing lead. Some of the goofiness works and the energy of this is so high it at least never bores. But it also show that the typical banal humor, that's barely passable animated, doesn't work in live-action. This movie is famous for its Street Fighter II parody.

Zhong an zu [Crime Story] (1993, Kirk Wong): 7.2 - Based on true events this Jackie in a darker realistic crime movie. It belong among his better movies. For starters it's well written and directed. Plus Jackie pulls of playing a serious role, he's convincing as the traumatized honest cop. But the real crux is that Jackie still is vulnerable in this movie, which allows him to play his usual underdog role, which he does best, only this time it’s a serious instead of a comedic take on it. Because of that this is also actually suspenseful beside just exciting.

Rush Hour (1998, Brett Ratner): 6.0
Rush Hour 2 (2001, Brett Ratner): 6.0
Rush Hour 3 (2007, Brett Ratner): 5.5 -Less than Jackie Chinese movies, these are average but still okay movies. Chris Tucker is extremely annoying and unfunny, which cost the movies half a point at least. Ratner doesn't know how to shoot a fight sequence, somehow he decide to shot it mostly in medium shots, losing Jackie even sometimes in his shots. But Jackie does his thing well and overal the plot moves at a nice pace. (It surprised me that these major blockbusters only were 90 minuters). The third is def a step down compared to first two, which are about equal in quality.

The Tuxedo (2002, Kevin Donovan): 4.5 - Poor, but not as horrible as I expected it to be. It is what it is; a family friendly American cash in on Jackie.

Shaolin (2011, Benny Chan): 6.0 - Jackie plays the kind of role he should be playing now; older slightly whacky mentortypes.(Somebody should make a Drunken Master remake with Jackie in the Beggar So part) Rest of the movie was okay.

Also saw
Mon oncle d'Amérique [My American Uncle] (1980, Alain Resnais): 6.2 - The use of Laborit's theories about human behaviour to comment on the three stories just didn't work for me. All his ideas about free will vs. instinct just weren't that groundbreaking or thoughprovoking to 2020 me.

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#14

Post by Lonewolf2003 » June 16th, 2020, 4:13 pm

Selected reactions to others:

@sol: Climax is indeed a great movie. Noe's camarawork is of the charts.

@Onderhond: Sukiyaki Western Django indeed a good and very entertaining combination of Western and Samurai by Miike. I kind of agree on your take on Sorrentino and Youth, tho I liked the movie more than you.

@kongspeech: The 40-Year-Old Virgin is a sweet and funny movie, underrated.

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#15

Post by sol » June 16th, 2020, 11:20 pm

Lonewolf2003 wrote:
June 16th, 2020, 4:13 pm
Selected reactions to others:

@sol: Climax is indeed a great movie. Noe's camarawork is of the charts.
I was intrigued to read that Gaspar Noé himself is wary of well-received Climax has been by viewers and critics alike since he believes that the best films out there are divisive. It is certainly quite a cinematic achievement though; even coordinating those spinning bird's eye view shots early on is something to contend with, let alone some of the trippier, almost unbroken shots towards the end.

Oh, and maybe it is just me (because nobody else who I have come across has pointed it out) but I actually thought a lot of the dance moves seemed more 2016 than 1996 - when the film is set.

Yours:

I saw Wheels on Meals for the Conquering the World Challenge last year. The end fight is indeed excellent, but I was really yearning for more kung fu action throughout. The comedy to me was generally hit-and-miss, but the pair trying to say 'no' to every question was hilarious.

I am much vaguer on Rush Hour and The Tuxedo; the latter is a mild dislike and the former was a mild like, but I have not worked up the interest to see any of the Rush Hour sequels. Couldn't say much about Crime Story either without looking it up. I guess you must be quite a Chan fan to be watching his every Official List film. I'll be watching some more Chan stuff this month (hopefully) but I generally prefer Stephen Chow's comedy style.
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#16

Post by prodigalgodson » June 17th, 2020, 9:02 pm

Everyone else:

sol
The Savage Innocents - kinda curious to see at some point, I'm a big Ray fan
Hatari! 9 - I loved this, peak hangout Hawks
Elf 5 - seen this a number of times around Christmas when I was younger, I don't like Ferrell much but this is charming enough
Climax - sounds cool, I'll have to check this out

toad
Tales of Terror 5 - don't remember much, I like Corman but not anthology films so I guess it balanced out
Barbarella 10 - one of the nuttiest, most fun movies I've seen
Accattone 10 - my favorite Pasolini, imo the best match of content and technique

jt
Ernest and Celestine 2 - saw this at a screener annoyed at having to sit through to the end, bored me to tears
Showgirls 9 - my favorite Verhoeven, pretty crazy stuff

hond
Serial Rapist - I'm a big Wakamatsu fan, but it's hard to muster up the enthusiasm to watch this

pda
Psalm 1 9 - all the Solomon I've seen were at one screening, so I don't remember the specifics of this one too well, but I remember it was one of my favorites
Death by Hanging trailer - I'll have to check this out

ks
Death Race 2000 7 - this movies was a recurring joke in my house as a kid, enjoyed it when I finally watched it
Sergeant York - yeah I'm a huge Hawks fan but it's hard to muster up the enthusiasm for this; I'll try to watch it before it leaves Criterion though
The Limey 6 - probably my favorite Soderbergh too, but I'm not a big fan
Bonjour tristesse 9 - easily my favorite Preminger; I have a soft spot for Hollywood stuff made abroad
Silent Light and Battle in Heaven both made huge impressions on me; the former's still probably my favorite from him.

wolf
Rush Hour 6 - just rewatched this myself, kinda fun
Rush Hour 2 - seen it, but it's been way too long
The Tuxedo - ditto
My American Uncle 9 - I was blown away by this at the time, wonder if I still would be

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sol
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#17

Post by sol » June 18th, 2020, 10:10 am

prodigalgodson wrote:
June 17th, 2020, 9:02 pm
sol
The Savage Innocents - kinda curious to see at some point, I'm a big Ray fan
Hatari! 9 - I loved this, peak hangout Hawks
Elf 5 - seen this a number of times around Christmas when I was younger, I don't like Ferrell much but this is charming enough
Climax - sounds cool, I'll have to check this out
The Savage Innocents is not an uninteresting film, however, it is a movie where the bulk of its thematic weight is confined until the end. Ray's directing work is decent, I guess, though the melding of fiction and documentary styles felt a little bumpy to me.

I was surprised by how much I liked Hatari! given all of the comments I had heard over the years about it being insufferably long and unfocused. Au contraire, I loved the scenes that just focused on them going about their outback lives, and it was the chase stuff towards the end (where the plot gains some urgency) that lost me.

Right - you were of course much younger than me when Elf hit theatres. As a teenager back in 2003 though, the film had zero appeal to me then and I only finally caught up with it last week thanks to the film's questionable placement in TSP's Top 500 films from the 21st century.

I read someone somewhere compare Climax to Shivers, which is pretty apt. None of Noé's films are particularly easy to watch though - and I mean that in the best possible way - so it might be worth knowing what you are getting into first.

Oh, and heh, I just realised that you haven't seen my viewing this week that shares the same name as you. :o tehe

Yours:

Seen none this week. I would like to see more Rappaport films though next time I can fit some into my challenge watching schedule. Based on the two ones that I talked you about last week and I, Dalio (the only other that I have seen), he seems like a really interesting filmmaker. Noted on the low rating for the Douglas Sirk, but that is probably the last Rappaport film that I would see since Sirk is best known for his melodramas and I have only seen his comedies.
Former IMDb message boards user // iCM | IMDb | Letterboxd | My top 750 films // Long live the new flesh!
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Onderhond
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#18

Post by Onderhond » June 18th, 2020, 10:15 am

sol wrote:
June 16th, 2020, 11:20 pm
It is certainly quite a cinematic achievement though; even coordinating those spinning bird's eye view shots early on is something to contend with, let alone some of the trippier, almost unbroken shots towards the end.
Benoît Debie, remember his name, look him up on IMDb, watch all his films!

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OldAle1
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#19

Post by OldAle1 » June 22nd, 2020, 7:45 pm

This Film ROCKED
This Film SUCKED

Assassins (Richard Donner, 1995)

Continuing my slow exploration of as-yet-unseen 80s-90s big-budget American action films, films on the Action Movie A-Z list, and the Sly ouevre brings me to this steaming pile of... well, no, it's not that terrible, actually. In fact it's got a fair number of similar elements to the other Sly film I watched a few weeks ago, uhh...I already can't remember. Anyway in both films he's an assassin, and there's another assassin trying to get him (James Woods in that already-forgotten flick, Antonio Banderas here), and there's a beautiful babe who may or may not be his enemy as well (Sharon Stone there, Julianne Moore here). And both films, especially this one, have pretty good action but are overlong and ultimately silly and uninspiring. This one benefits greatly from the cinematography of Vilmos Zsigmond, one of the great masters of dappled sunset and sweat, both in evidence in the very long, drawn-out tropics-set climax where one buff dude is trying to get lots of money and the other buff dude is trying to kill him and fuck that's enough time wasted here.

Ching nu yu hun / The Enchanting Shadow (Han Hsiang Li, 1960)

Lovely Shaw Brothers ghost story, in which a wandering scholar who takes refuge in a supposedly-haunted abandoned temple complex, befriending a swordsman and eventually running into an enchanting young lady (Betty Loh Ti) after hearing her distant music. The scene in which the first encounter occurs is really quite magical; of course - it shouldn't be any kind of spoiler - she turns out to be a ghost, and eventually his life is imperiled by this relationship. Beautiful color and sets - if you love the Shaws' usual production design like I do. This one isn't in Shawscope like their more famous later films but even in a 1.66 frame the feeling of space and depth is nicely conveyed. Not great or anything but a bit of a departure from what I've seen from this era.

Qian jiao bai mei / Les Belles (Ching Doe, 1961)

And the third of that trio of star actresses I mentioned in my first review, Dai Lin, finally appears in this rather dull Shawscope musical. This is primarily a dance musical and Doe makes pretty good use of the wide frame for a variety of numbers - this is closer to what I think of as a typical musical, from Hollywood or elsewhere, than the other films I've seen so far in this challenge. But while the production design and framing are good, the dances themselves aren't all that interesting nor are they choreographed with a tenth of the quality you'd see from, say, Gene Kelly, and the storyline - star dancer Dai and troupe manager Peter Chen Ho hate each other, but of course melt into each others' arms by the end - is really tedious. Worth seeing for the use of color, some of the staging, and the cool mid-century modern furniture in the lavish hotel rooms that make up a big chunk of the later scenes, but that's about it.

Ocean's Eleven (Steven Soderbergh, 2001)

Pretty much exactly what I expected it to be, which is not really a good thing when you're talking about a heist movie. Of course I'd seen the original with the Rat Pack a few years before, but I didn't remember it and I'm sure all the details of this three-pronged robbery masterminded by George Clooney (Mr. Ocean) and carried out by Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Carl Reiner, Bernie Mac and others are pretty different. But I knew going in that this was going to be a "light" film without real violence or drama, and I was pretty sure it would turn out roughly the way it did. Which doesn't make the end result bad exactly - and I like Soderbergh's style, and most of the actors, so that helps - but, eh, it feels pretty throw-away to me. Enjoyable, forgettable - top films of the century? No way.

Caddyshack (Harold Ramis, 1980) (re-watch)

Only my second viewing I think. I didn't see this when it came out the summer before I turned 15 - which would've been the perfect age for it - but considerably later, probably late 80s or early 90s. Didn't remember it too well, remembered basically liking it but thinking it was stupid, that's about it. Well, yeah, that's about it. I like it, but it's stupid. As some reviews have mentioned, this really has no plot - I mean, things happen, there are minimal developments in the characters, but it's mostly just an excuse for gags and fairly vapid high school humor - the best of it from groundskeeper Bill Murray and loud, rich, vulgar developer Rodney Dangerfield - and boobies. Ramis really wasn't a great director - he got lucky with Groundhog Day, or maybe that was the one film he put his heart and soul into. I'm in a little project to re-watch some of the comedies of my youth and I have to say so far...not so good. Meh.

Next of Kin (John Irvin, 1989)

Another re-watch or so I thought - now I'm not so sure, very little of this stuck out. Lots of films with this title and at least one other is from the 80s; this is the film with Patrick Swayze as a Chicago cop whose brother gets killed by the mob, and who intends to bring the killers to justice but is impeded by his extended hillbilly family, including Liam Neeson with a hilariously bad accent as his other brother, who want to bring the perp to justice the old-fashioned way - you know, with bow and arrow and the like. This has some evocative photography and production design in both Chicago and Hazard County, KY, but it's in the service of a deadly dull story and very little action until the last third of the movie. Helen Hunt is also on hand as Swayze's wife, an utterly thankless and minimal role. Another big meh.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (Timur Bekmambetov, 2012)

From the man who brought us Wanted and the 2016 Ben-Hur, so I knew it was gonna be great. Uh-huh. I watched this entirely because of the title and goofy concept, and when you watch a movie just for the title and goofy concept, you can expect a level of entertainment, depth, and quality commensurate with the thinking process that got you there in the first place. Actually this isn't horrible, and maybe I should thank it, and the last few films I watched before it, for being palate cleansers - they got me out of bad movie territory for a while. Also helps that I've been drinking a little less, so this junk just isn't as much fun. Anyway, it's basically Abraham Lincoln's life, with vampire hunting interspersed. No real attempt is made to explain how this would work or make any sense or not be known to people outside of a very few in the government and his wife, so it all has as much depth as a Warner Brothers cartoon. And it's all very ugly, if you're not one of those who likes the teal-gold color scheme of so many modern digital action films - I'm not. But the scene with Abe and the one vamp jumping from horse to horse during a stampede and a couple of other goofy moments do keep this from being utter dreck.

Victim (Basil Dearden, 1961)

TCM. Melville Farr (Dirk Bogarde) an up-and-coming young lawyer, has his life turned around when a young man, a known homosexual, winds up dead, and it becomes apparent that there is a blackmail scheme afoot - and Farr may end up one of the victims. This is one of those films that can't help but be "dated" because the rules and laws around it have all changed (though they took some time) - and of course because the tool of the blackmailer is pretty different in our instant-internet era. But it's a solid film that manages for the most part to tread the line between sensationalism and watering down it's theme - that of men forced into criminality to live the lives they were born to; and here is where it really does seem progressive; while certainly there are characters who react with loathing and fear, the notion that being gay is just a normal way to be is also stated on more than one occasion by more than one character, and it's clear that's the feeling of the filmmakers, including of course Bogarde whose sexuality was fairly widely known by this point, at least in the industry. The very end may seem a slight cop-out, but I think it's probably a fairly realistic ending for that time (and even for our own, in some less enlightened areas).

The Land That TIme Forgot (Kevin Connor, 1974) (re-watch)

2nd viewing probably. I grew up on Edgar Rice Burroughs, among other older writers, and I attribute a lot of my love for older movies, music, etc, to Burroughs and to my mom, who had a bunch of old Tarzan books that predated her childhood. I started though with the Mars ("Barsoom") series and moved on to most of his other science fiction-fantasy stuff; Tarzan's jungle adventures were less interesting for whatever reason. This is a rather faithful adaptation of the first book of the "Caspak" series, in which a WWI German U-Boat which has been commandeered by British and American sailors ends up in "Caprona" an unknown "continent" (really just a big island) in which evolution works on a human-scale timeline, with individuals going through all the stages of life over a span of years, and with dinosaurs and mastodons and such inhabiting the same space as modern man. It's all silly of course but when it was written in 1918 it probably seemed a little more likely - at least to Burroughs' readers. The film is one of a series by director Connor of low-to-medium-budget, mostly British-produced sci-fi adventures of this type - two more Burroughs adaptations would follow and other films of the same vein. I love this kind of thing but the films I have to admit aren't all that great, though the effects aren't bad in the context of their budgets and vintage, and the acting is usually decent - apart from dull-as-dishwater Doug McClure who is unfortunately the lead in many of them, including this one. John McEnery makes a good intellectual German captain though, and Anthony Ainley - probably the best-known "Master" on Doctor Who - a solid more brutish bad-guy German.


TV - lots of TV this week. In addition to the news I went through to the end of season 1, and about halfway through season 2 of Cheers. Someday I will watch a TV show that isn't 35+ years old but that day is not now. I'm liking this more as I go along, and I honestly have no memory at all of having seen any of these early episodes before. Ted Danson has some of the best comic timing and delivery of any star TV comedy actor, and the rest of the cast is great too, though I find Carla (not Rhea Perlman's performance, more the writing) just too grating sometimes.

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