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Post Detroit (Bigelow, '17)

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You don't talk about this to anyone, ever.

50 years ago, race relations in the United States were undergoing what could be deemed a turbulent transitionary period; although the Civil Rights Movement had arguably achieved its greatest victory a few years earlier with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a law that dealt a significant blow to legalized discrimination nationwide, there was plenty of unofficial discrimination to be had, whether it be a lack of decent employment (or any unemployment at all), overcrowded, racially segregated neighborhoods, or local police forces made up of almost entirely white, often prejudiced officers who regularly went unpunished for exploiting and using brutal, excessive force against local African-American communities. These conditions turned dozens of cities nationwide into barely-contained powderkegs, powderkegs which blew up all across the country during what is now known as The Long Hot Summer of '67, resulting in over 100 riots occuring across the US, the biggest of which took place in Detroit from July 23rd to the 27th of that year, resulting in hundreds of injuries and arrests, thousands of buildings destroyed, millions of dollars in property damage, and the deaths of 43 people. To this day, it is still the 3rd biggest riot in US history, only surpassed by the New York Draft Riot of 1863, and the Los Angeles/Rodney King Riot of '92.

Kathryn Bigelow's Detroit is the story of this riot, although it's less about the general riot than you may expect, and more about the "Algiers Motel Incident" which occured in the middle of it all, and how this incident led to officers of the Detroit PD murdering three of their fellow citizens in cold blood. Of course, we get some background on the particularly egregious living conditions facing black Detroiters at that time (in a relatively daring, but still aesthetically incongruous animated intro), we get to witness the early-morning police raid of a mostly-black, unlicensed speakeasy that ended up serving served riot's inciting incident, and we're introduced to a number of characters who later end up playing a part in the film's central incident, but unfortunately, it feels as though Bigelow's directorial heart wasn't quite as much into this 1st act of the film as it should've been; a few too many of the film's early scenes feel as though they were treated as being just perfunctory, with the shots of rioting locals serving as rather small and underwhelming visually, failing to give us a sufficiently memorable portrayal of the Hell on Earth that visited the Motor City during those sweltering July days. In addition, the characters' dialogue was occasionally pretty clunky and unnatural in its nakedly expository manner, and finally, the film's denouement of the aftermath of the Algiers incident, while necessary, still went on for just slightly too long, taking out some of the punch Detroit managed to pack through its ever so important middle act.

However, Bigelow still portrays the incident at the motel with an unceasingly raw, intimate intensity, and this section of the film is what ends up redeeming the whole shebang and then some, even considering its various flaws. The horror begins when an occupant of the motel, a young man named Carl, decides to scare a nearby group of National Guardsmen by firing a harmless starter pistol in their direction. Naturally, in the midst of an ongoing city-wise riot, the Guardsmen can't know that this prank isn't coming from a legitimate sniper in the area, and so, after indiscriminately opening fire on the motel (killing Carl), they, along with a contingent of responding Detroit PD officers (the defacto leader of whom, Officer Phillip Krauss, was still on the streets even while facing murder charges for shooting a fleeing, unarmed citizen in the back earlier that day), storm inside, round every single ocupant up and lead them down into the main foyer of the building, and face them up against the wall during an extended, impormptu group "interrogation", in search of a shooter who doesn't even exist.

It's during this middle 3rd of the film that Bigelow's direction really hits its stride, crafting an unbearably tense and scary situation, with an intensity to rival even that of the nail-biting compound raid climax from 2012's superb Zero Dark Thirty. With Carl's fresh corpse lying right next to them in the dining room, the various tenants of the motel find themselves being held for what seems like an eternity up against a wall, simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time, as the crazed local policemen periodically throw racial slurs, browbeatings, and actual beatings their way, eventually taking a couple of them aside one at a time behind the closed doors of the motel rooms for a "game" of psychologically-devastating mock executions (which inevitably turns into real executions before the night's end), hoping to get someone in the group to tell them the location of a gun they're determined to believe must be there, no matter what. The "interrogations" also end up being unfortunately tailored by race and sex, as, while the two white women taking refuge at the Algiers are spared any sort of physical beating, due to the officers' grossly misplaced sense of white chivalry, they're still subject to various other denigrations, such as assumptions that the only reason they're at that motel is to be whored out by a black "pimp" they were initially discovered with (a pimp who turns out to be an Army vet home from Vietnam, trading one warzone for another), or the threat of a shotgun slowly being placed between their legs in order to lift the hems of their dresses, or one officer coming this close to raping one of them when he rips off her clothes in a fit of rage.

From start to finish, the entire sequence is a grueling nightmare of tension, dragging on and on in the best cinematic sense of the word, and if the entire film was as impressive as this segment, we would be looking at another overall modern masterpiece from a resurging Bigelow. Unfortunately, Detroit proves a bit unable to sustain this level of quality afterwards, although there's still certainly good material after this point regardless; we get to witness both the personal and legal aftermaths of the incident, as the officers put on trial end up being found "not guilty" by an all-white jury for their despicable actions, while a young Motown singer who lost his friend at the motel finds himself unable to move on with his once-promising career, and accept a record deal with a major label, due to the lingering trauma that the incident leaves with him. However, although Bigelow can't ignore the central miscarriage of justice that Detroit ends with, nor does she try to shoehorn in some message that, in the ensuing half a century since the riot, the national racial wounds that lead to the riot have somehow finally healed and ceased to fester (because, in the wake of Charlottesville, it's incredibly obvious they haven't), she still manages to slip in little moments of hope here and there, showing that, even the wake of such absolute horror, life still manages to goes on anyway, somehow... someway.
Best moment: the entire Algiers segment
Final Score: 8

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Sat Aug 19, 2017 1:13 pm
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Wind River might be my favorite out of the Sicario/Hell or High Water trilogy. Great performances all around. Especially from Jeremy Renner. The way Sheridan interweaves the subleties of the character's backstories thru the narrative is a testament to his writing. His direction is good with a few missteps here and there but for a rookie director his future looks bright.


Sun Aug 20, 2017 6:07 pm
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I re-watched The Blair Witch Project recently, and I still feel like it's a great work of horror.

It could've just been a typical slasher film by having the witch pursue the protagonists throughout it. However, it terrifies the audience in a different way. It's a quiet and subtle horror film which builds up tension magnificently by having the witch taunt the protagonists, causing their mental states to break down and making them turn against each other. Also, it has one of the most terrifying ending scenes I've ever seen in a horror film. What I love about its final shot is that it shows that the witch could've killed them instantly if it wanted to. However, it didn't do so as it was just toying with them. Some people criticized it for being bland. However, there's a reason why it's as slow as it is. It's one of the best horror films of all time.


8/10

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Thu Aug 24, 2017 10:42 am
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Logan Lucky -

Same ol' great Soderbergh. Same ol' Soderbergh.


Sat Aug 26, 2017 1:03 am
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Clean, Shaven (1993) - 9/10

Every now and then, I come across a film which I feel deserves more recognition. Sometimes, their lack of popularity slightly disappoints me. However, it really disappoints me to see such a compelling, masterfully crafted film like "Clean, Shaven" have so little recognition. Someday, I hope it receives more popularity, because it deserves it.

After a man named Peter Winter who suffers from schizophrenia is released from a mental institution, he attempts to get his daughter, Nicole, back from her adoptive family. He lives in a world that, to him, is filled with bizarre sounds and unexplainable occurrences which have negative effects on him. During his pursuit of his daughter, he becomes the prime suspect in an ongoing murder investigation.

After watching this film a few times, I'm now fully convinced that it's the best sound designed film of all time. No other usage of sound has ever felt as natural, painful, and absorbing as this film did. There are many great scenes which expertly simulate schizophrenia. Some of these sounds can be found right at the beginning. The film starts off with a shot of several waves followed by many bizarre sounds and seemingly random images. The opening credits seem to be informing you that this is not going to be an orthodox film of any kind. Another chilling scene is when Peter experiences hallucinations at a library as that scene feels unexpected. I feel like sound effects can be more effective than visuals. A director could always just show a character's distorted facial expressions and expect the audience to connect the dots as to what the character is feeling, but using ear-piercing sounds like the ones from this film can immerse you into what the character is feeling to a much greater extent. Largely because of this, the sound design from this film had an enormous impact on me.

Director Lodge Kerrigan used other tactics other than just sound to put you in the mind of Peter Winter such as having him isolate himself from the outside world in the way of covering the windows and mirrors of his car with newspapers. Peter also acted quite awkward around a few of the characters in the film. If he saw 2 sisters arguing with each other, the movie would have one of them talk in a demonic voice, almost like that's how Peter views other people. If he saw someone holding a gun, time would appear to slow down for him, showing he's clearly intimidated by the person holding the weapon. Clever moments like these make the movie feel atmospheric as it shows that Peter views the world as uncompromising. Kerrigan set out to create a realistic depiction of schizophrenia when he made this movie. Considering the sound design and the other miscellaneous techniques used in the film, I believe Kerrigan did just that.

The movie also works on a story level. I was intrigued by the question of whether Peter was responsible for the murder or not, because I honestly couldn't decide until the movie revealed the truth at the end. The hallucinations Peter underwent did a good job at keeping me guessing, specifically when the movie juxtaposed a murder over one of Peter's hallucinations while he stayed at the motel the murder occurred near. I felt like that scene was a red herring, but I still couldn't be completely sure. A recent observation I made was how none of the characters were on-screen nearly as much as Peter was. I've observed this quite a few times in other films. In this case, however, I think Kerrigan intended to make the film this way to make everything revolve around Peter, hence the mysterious tone of the film. Kerrigan also made a good decision by providing middle ground to the detective at the end by having him reflect on the actions he made throughout the film. By doing so, he avoided having him feel unlikable.

In conclusion, this movie blew me away for several reasons. Due of a mixture of compelling technical and story qualities, Kerrigan managed to craft one of my favorite films from the 90's. Its ending might turn off some people, but if you're able to get by it, you're in for a great experience. I really do wish this film would get more recognition, but regardless of whether it fades into obscurity or not in the future, it will always remain as the most atmospheric and bizarre film on mental illnesses ever made.

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Mon Aug 28, 2017 5:50 am
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recently I watched Noctural animals, 10/10 this movie is worth atention


Thu Aug 31, 2017 11:51 pm
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MuntyJay wrote:
recently I watched Noctural animals, 10/10 this movie is worth atention


It's Fantastico.


Fri Sep 01, 2017 3:55 am
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L'Avventura (1960) - 7/10

When this film was screened at the "Cannes Film Festival" in 1960, it was booed by members of the audience (Antonioni and Vitti even fled the theater). According to film critic and film professor Gene Youngblood, people booed during long sequences where, supposedly, nothing happened to further the film's plot. I understand why it had a rough start, because it's very easy to miss its deeper meaning. However, after looking up a couple essays, I now understand why it's as popular as it is.

After a woman named Anna disappears while on a boating trip, her boyfriend, Sandro, attempts to find her. Once they make it back to the city, however, he soon forgets about her and falls in love with Claudia, one of her friends.

I think the film's purpose is to have you ask the question: Why would Anna run away? This film uses the actions of the characters to answer this question. Shortly after she disappears, Sandro begins forcing himself on Claudia as they search for her on the island. At first, she shies away from his advances, but when they make it back to the city, she begins to fall in love with him as well, betraying her friend. Throughout the film, their relationship continues to grow to a point where Claudia confesses that she's afraid of Anna returning, because if she does, Sandro might return to her. She then finds Sandro making love to another woman in a hotel. These two scenes show the themes of this film at their finest as it shows how unfaithful both of them are to Anna. I also feel like the film's purpose isn't solely to show why Anna ran away, but also to create a recreation of their relationship since the ending shows Sandro cheating on Claudia as well as Anna. Then, you have the final scene where the two characters, presumably, realize why Anna left as they cry together on a bench.

I've seen quite a few people bring up this interpretation, but I feel like there are a few other details which are also important to the film. The first scene happens shortly after they first notice Anna disappear. Once that happens, Sandro says that type of behavior is typical. This hints that Anna tried running away several times in the past. Another vital scene is while Claudia walks in the streets alone, every single man stares at her as she walks by. This could indicate that another reason why Anna ran away was because she hated the society she lived in as well as her friends. Also relative to Anna disliking her friends, when Claudia meets up with her boating friends in Palermo, nobody seems to take Anna's disappearance seriously except Claudia. This is all the more reason to believe that Anna disliked her friends. The most important detail, however, is Sandro's disaffection caused by his failure to maintain his career as an architect. How this affects him is shown in the scene where he spills ink on a students' architectural drawing. This is also shown when Claudia runs into a paint store to hide when she mistakes a woman walking by Sandro to be Anna. Once Sandro walks inside, he stops her from buying a can of paint, highlighting his disaffection towards architecture.

I've seen a lot of people praise the cinematography. However, I'm mixed on the way it was shot. I loved the part of the film which took place on the island as it felt like a barren landscape. Not only did this make for some visually striking scenes such as Claudia observing the sun rising as she stepped out of a shack, but it also seemed foreboding and unrelenting. There was the constant feeling that if one of them were to step over a hill, they would be confronted by an endless array of rocks, lowering the chances that they'd be able to locate Anna. Once they got off the island, however, this feeling was gone and the cinematography lost a lot of the power it had during the first hour. There are probably good reasons for why not to have the rest of the film take place on the island, but the scenery is so good, I can't help but feel an absence from the film in terms of its visuals. There were a few instances where we would see barren landscapes outside of a city, but these shots didn't give me the same atmospheric feeling I felt in the first hour because the characters weren't particularly in the middle of them like they were while they stayed on the island. Despite the visual shortcomings of the latter parts of the film (the visuals may grow on me in the future though), I still appreciated the several stunning shots cinematographer Aldo Scavarda was able to capture on the island.

In conclusion, this was a really good movie. Partly due to the visual aspect, it may not quite reach perfection for me, but I completely understand why it often makes "Best films of all time" lists since it's unique in the way of its deeper meaning. I can see my opinion of it increasing if I give it another viewing a few years down the road.

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Sat Sep 02, 2017 3:14 am
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The cinematography in L'avventura isn't praised for its scenic qualities. Obviously the passages in the island are lovelier to look at, but the camerawork remains stellar throughout. You have to look at how the actors are placed relative to their environment, how their bodies look amidst the architecture surrounding them, and what that says about them and their social context. You might try watching L'eclisse and Red Desert, which are more explicit in this regard, and then return to L'avventura. This is a big thing with Antonioni and it's why he comes up again and again when discussing modern-day contemplative film. Also, much of what you describe, in terms of scenes and plot points, says more about Carla and Sandro than about Anna. We'll never know why Anna disappeared or if she slipped on the rocks and died. What we do know is how Carla and Sandro react. And this is also true of the characters. Carla and Sandro don't discover anything about Anna, but they learn a thing or two about themselves, and they don't like it.


Sat Sep 02, 2017 3:34 am
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Beau wrote:
The cinematography in L'avventura isn't praised for its scenic qualities. Obviously the passages in the island are lovelier to look at, but the camerawork remains stellar throughout. You have to look at how the actors are placed relative to their environment, how their bodies look amidst the architecture surrounding them, and what that says about them and their social context. You might try watching L'eclisse and Red Desert, which are more explicit in this regard, and then return to L'avventura. This is a big thing with Antonioni and it's why he comes up again and again when discussing modern-day contemplative film. Also, much of what you describe, in terms of scenes and plot points, says more about Carla and Sandro than about Anna. We'll never know why Anna disappeared or if she slipped on the rocks and died. What we do know is how Carla and Sandro react. And this is also true of the characters. Carla and Sandro don't discover anything about Anna, but they learn a thing or two about themselves, and they don't like it.

I'll try to revisit it soon to see if my opinion on the camerawork changes (I did say it might). I do remember noticing a couple scenes you're referring to though. One of them happened in the opening when we saw Claudia watching Sandro and Anna make love through a window down on the streets. I also noticed the shot where every man looked at Claudia on the streets when she walked by. I'm sure there's a lot more though, so I'll try to pick up on some more of them on re-watches. I just remember the scenes on the island having a greater impact on me. On a side note, Red Desert is next on my watch list. I'll make sure to pay attention to the visual aspect in that movie. The reason why I said more about Claudia and Sandro was that they're more relevant to my interpretation. Of course, Anna's fate is ambiguous, but there's no reason why I can't speculate what I think happened to her. I remember either Sandro or Claudia hearing the sound of a boat on the island, but we weren't shown anything. It's possible that Anna was escaping on the boat. I think that Anna escaped and the film's purpose it to use the actions of the characters to show why she escaped.

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Sat Sep 02, 2017 4:04 am
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Popcorn Reviews wrote:
I'll try to revisit it soon to see if my opinion on the camerawork changes (I did say it might). I do remember noticing a couple scenes you're referring to though. One of them happened in the opening when we saw Claudia watching Sandro and Anna make love through a window down on the streets. I also noticed the shot where every man looked at Claudia on the streets when she walked by. I'm sure there's a lot more though, so I'll try to pick up on some more of them on re-watches. I just remember the scenes on the island having a greater impact on me. On a side note, Red Desert is next on my watch list. I'll make sure to pay attention to the visual aspect in that movie. The reason why I said more about Claudia and Sandro was that they're more relevant to my interpretation. Of course, Anna's fate is ambiguous, but there's no reason why I can't speculate what I think happened to her. I remember either Sandro or Claudia hearing the sound of a boat on the island, but we weren't shown anything. It's possible that Anna was escaping on the boat. I think that Anna escaped and the film's purpose it to use the actions of the characters to show why she escaped.


I guess you can speculate on Anna's whereabouts, but Antonioni doesn't really belabor that point. This isn't a whodunit. As a viewer, of course, you're free to do whatever you want. You can obviously treat Anna as a kind of audience surrogate, who comes to the same conclusions the audience arrives at near the end. I just think the film is far more concerned with Sandro's and Claudia's interiority. Their tears near the end say more about who they've become than any epiphany they've had about Anna.

As for Red Desert, it's heavier on the stylings than L'avventura, so it should be pretty easy to appreciate the visual aspects there. Lots of garish colors and expressive compositions. Narrative is firmly in the backseat, which may account for the film's relative obscurity next to L'avventura's canonical status. L'eclisse is closer to L'avventura, aesthetically, but a bit bolder and more extreme, so it's another good place to go.


Sat Sep 02, 2017 5:01 am
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Beau wrote:

I guess you can speculate on Anna's whereabouts, but Antonioni doesn't really belabor that point. This isn't a whodunit. As a viewer, of course, you're free to do whatever you want. You can obviously treat Anna as a kind of audience surrogate, who comes to the same conclusions the audience arrives at near the end. I just think the film is far more concerned with Sandro's and Claudia's interiority. Their tears near the end say more about who they've become than any epiphany they've had about Anna.

As for Red Desert, it's heavier on the stylings than L'avventura, so it should be pretty easy to appreciate the visual aspects there. Lots of garish colors and expressive compositions. Narrative is firmly in the backseat, which may account for the film's relative obscurity next to L'avventura's canonical status. L'eclisse is closer to L'avventura, aesthetically, but a bit bolder and more extreme, so it's another good place to go.

Your interpretation is also valid. However, there are several ways one could look at this film. I like my interpretation more as I feel it's more plausible and it makes the film more interesting and compelling. I don't think the film is as concerned with solely showing how Sandro and Claudio changed as much as it's concerned with providing a reason for why Anna ran away (I don't think she slipped off the rocks). I'd say my interpretation is more akin to a "Why did she do it?" than a "whodunit". As for the final scene, I'll concede that it's more likely that their tears mean that they've realized what they become. However, that doesn't make my interpretation invalid. It just means that while they realized what they became, they still don't understand that their behavior was what caused Anna to run away.

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Sat Sep 02, 2017 5:42 am
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Bulletproof (Ernest R. Dickensen/1996) (C)

Adam Sandler and Damon Wayans. Not funny.


Mon Sep 04, 2017 2:44 am
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Post Logan Lucky (Soderbergh, '17)

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Country roads, take me home.

Even though the name of this movie is Logan Lucky, it could just as well have been called Logan UNLucky... okay, so that one was kind of lame, but just bear with me; the titular "Logan" is Channing Tatum's Jimmy Logan, a local, breakout football star in West Virginia, whose dreams of making it big in the NFL were dashed by an injury that left him with a permanent limp, a limp that leads to him losing his other, much less glamorous career of bulldozer operator, when his company's faceless, pencil-pushing "Human Resources Department" rats on him for concealing what they call a "pre-existing" condition (sound familiar?). Left unemployed, and with a young daughter to support (alongside an overbearing ex-wife who's about to move her across state lines, along with her new much-better-off car dealer husband), Jimmy assembles a motley crew of country bumpkins (almost half of which comprises of his own family) in an almost laughably audacious plan to rip off the last worksite he was working for his former company, that being the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Oh, and did I mention this low-rent heist will be taking place during the Coca-Cola 600, when security will be at its maximum for what is one of the biggest annual NASCAR events in the country? So, needless to say, there are complications.

But, like with any heist movie, the inevitable hiccups in the plan are half the fun, along with the pleasure of watching the plan actually get, er, planned and Logan Lucky is no exception; after convincing his hairdresser sister, Bobbi, and bartender brother Clyde (an amputee Iraq veteran, portrayed by a surprisingly earthy, convincingly against-type Adam Driver) to join in on his bold scheme, Jimmy has to find a way to break a currently "in-car-ce-rated" expert in "demolitions", Joe Bang (played by an also convincingly against-type Daniel Craig), out of prison, get him to the Speedway to aid in the heist without getting caught, and then break him back INTO prison with no one the wiser, an absolutely ridiculous plan-within-a-plan that, of course, provides plenty of complications of its own.

Fortunately, Lucky doesn't tip its hand too much to us when it comes to playing out its ceaselessly entertaining "Ocean's 7/11"-style heist (and no, I didn't come up with that gag myself, so you can stop chuckling at me and every other reviewer who quoted that line from the movie). Director Stephen Soderbergh, making a welcome return to theaters after a four year "retirement", wisely conceals at least half what exactly is going on in Jimmy's plan at all times here, a storytelling tactic that could've been overwhelming and confusing to witness in the moment, but under Soderbergh's steady hand, it becomes half the fun of the film, whether it be witnessing the way live cockroaches (of all things) play an integral role in the heist, or the way that impersonating a firefighter figures in, or one final, unexpected twist in the job that added one last little boost to the film, and left me with a grin sitting on my face in the same way that, well, most of the the movie did, to be frank.

Admittedly, a lot of that entertainment value here arises out of the natural comic relief provided by the, let's just say, "colorful" cast of characters that Lucky boasts, a silly, bumbling collection of people that most people would describe as "rednecks"... if they were being generous. These are the kind of people who play games of super-sized "Horseshoe" with stray toilet seats, apply artificial tanner to their beauty pageant daughters with spray paint guns, who improvise explosive devices with a bag of bleach pens, low-sodium "salt", and gummy bears all mixed together... okay, so that last one was a bit unusual, but you get the picture.

All of these little details result in characters which could've easily risked becoming stereotypical caricatures of the American South as a whole, if it wasn't for the ultimate, underlying affection Soderbergh shows for them over the course of Lucky, whether it be the way he takes some time away from the main story to show Jimmy running into an old highschool sweetheart he still has feelings for (a flame he manages to send a little "present" to after the heist), or the long unspoken, long-standing inadequacy Clyde felt growing up with his star athlete brother, or the emotional climax of the film, where, upon seeing her father making a late (but still welcome) arrival at her beauty pageant, Jimmy's daughter disregards her planned performance of Rihanna's "Umbrella" in favor of an off-key, but earnestly loving acappela rendition of John Denver's "Take Me Home, Country Road", as the crowd unexpectedly joins in with her singing, and a warm smile blooms on Jimmy's face. It's this genuine love for its characters that gives Logan Lucky just enough substance, that, along with all the laughs and high-energy, white trash heist shenanigans that end up making a pretty well-rounded experience at the cinema, and, in my opinion, THE sleeper surprise of the summer; welcome back, Mr. Soderbergh, welcome back indeed.
Best moment: the final scene at the beauty pageant
Final Score: 8

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Tue Sep 05, 2017 11:31 am
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Hey but it's Steven Soderbergh. The God of filmmaking.


Tue Sep 05, 2017 12:00 pm
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sign o the times wrote:
Hey but it's Steven Soderbergh. The God of filmmaking.
Guess that means you liked it too, then?

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Tue Sep 05, 2017 12:36 pm
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Stu wrote:
Guess that means you liked it too, then?


Haven't seen it. I'm just a big Soddy fan. Che is a masterpiece. I will see Lucky Logan sometime soon though.


Tue Sep 05, 2017 2:21 pm
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Post Wind River (Sheridan, '17)

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When you're hunting wolves, you don't look for where they might be. You look for where they've been.

In Wind River, the tracks of predators and prey, both animal and human alike, constantly dot the endless, perpetually snowy landscape, inevitably leading to traumas that, while they may be past, are anything but forgotten. The "River" in question is a Native American reservation in Wyoming, where, somewhere in this desolate, lifeless landscape the size of Rhode Island, an 18 year-old Native American girl is found brutally raped, her body frozen to the ground so solid that a chainsaw has to clear her from the unforgiving frost. A young agent from the FBI gets called in, a local Wildlife Service agent gets involved, and together, the two of them must find out what happened to the girl on that bitterly cold, horrible night.

If all of that sounds like setup for a rather familiar detective thriller, that's because it is; Wind River doesn't break any new (frozen) ground when it comes to its particular genre, but then again, it doesn't pretend to. Rather, first-time director (but veteran screenwriter) Taylor Sheridan takes the suspenseful style he honed on the American frontiers of West Texas and the Mexican border in Hell Or High Water & Sicario, and applies it to the forgotten, neglected wasteland of Wind River, a place that's depressed in both the economic and spiritual sense of the word, a place where poverty is everywhere, drug addiction runs rampant, and, due to the bureaucratic nightmares that intersect between tribal, local, and Federal authorities when it comes to jurisdiction over crimes on reservations, many serious offences (including murders) are often never punished, or even solved.

Into this daunting situation steps Elizabeth Olsen's determined, but out-of-her-element FBI rookie Jane Banner, joined by Jeremy Renner's grieving, divorced, world-weary Wildlife agent Cory Lambert, a man who has a rather personal connection to this particular case, as, not only was he the one who discovered the young woman's body, but the girl in question used to be close friends with his daughter, who herself was murdered under similar, unsolved circumstances a couple of years ago, a loss that Lambert admits he still hasn't recovered from, nor ever will. But, like I said before, pretty much none of the base material here is particularly original, it's the personal touch in Sheridan's direction that makes all the difference, as he never hesitates from taking the time to slow down the pace drastically, and just let us get to know the characters ourselves through quiet scenes of his insightful, sharply-written dialogue, balancing the character to character heart-to-hearts inbetween the film's more visceral, intense thrills.

And, while the central mystery isn't much of a, well, mystery, as, except for an unexpected flashback that takes place late in the third act, the plot proceeds in a rather simple, straightforward manner, with next to no red herrings or "persons of interest" to speak of, it isn't the suspense of where the investigation may lead that makes Wind River so good, nor is it the thrills of its various armed standoffs/shootouts (although those are quite good in their own right), but it's the touches of personal, human drama that happen along the way, the way that Sheridan genuinely cares for his characters here, and the way that they're treated as much more than just hollow puppets to move the story along, that makes River as powerful, as memorable a cinematic experience as it is. Long after you leave the comfort of your air-conditioned theater, the physical & emotional atmosphere of the vast, frozen landscape presented here will chill your bones, the tracks dotting it leaving visible marks as undeniable as the spiritual ones staining the souls of the people who live there.
Favorite moment: the night of the murder scene
Final Score: 8.5

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Mon Sep 11, 2017 2:27 pm
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The cut to the flashback and the ensuing drama that happened right after that was my favorite scene.


Tue Sep 12, 2017 4:05 am
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Ace wrote:
The cut to the flashback and the ensuing drama that happened right after that was my favorite scene.
Ditto, although, while I didn't have the space to mention it in my review, I felt that the climax was a bit overblown, with the movie taking a cliched turn into an "ironic", "poetic justice" fate for the antagonist, and Lambert's character taking an unsupported turn into vigilante territory that the film never really set up properly at any point. Still, it's one of those movies where the flaws are easily outweighed by all the good material it has, and it does have a lot of that, so I'd still easily recommend it.

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Sat Sep 16, 2017 2:06 am
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I think it served as a closure to his character. Well HIS way of getting closure. I think it set it up before with his speech of how he'll never be whole.


Mon Sep 18, 2017 12:25 pm
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The death of the indigenous woman in the cold reminded me of a documentary of a name I can't remember. But this was the basis of it. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saskatoon_freezing_deaths
In some parts of the country indigenous people are not safe at all. It's horrifying what happens to them.


Mon Sep 18, 2017 8:19 pm
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Ace wrote:
I think it served as a closure to his character. Well HIS way of getting closure. I think it set it up before with his speech of how he'll never be whole.
Well, Sheridan set up
Lambert's persistent sense of loss due to the death of his daughter, but I don't feel he properly set up his sudden, easy turn into such vigilante justice during the end at all. He was a very straight-arrow type character throughout the entirety of the film, then at the climax, it just goes BOOM, he's acting like Dirty Harry now! Came a bit out of nowhere, if you ask me.


Still liked the movie as a whole a lot, though.

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George Washington (2000) - 9/10

After hearing Barry Jenkins mention this film on Criterion's channel, I decided to check it out, and I was blown away by it. Overall, I feel like this movie's purpose is to show us a glimpse in the life of a couple dozen residents of a decaying town. This is shown by the different pastimes and the ups and downs the characters experience. Even though a major tragedy occurs about a third of the way in, the movie doesn't dwell on it that much. The reason for this is because the tragedy isn't supposed to be the primary focus of the film. It's supposed to show tragedies can occur in life. I understand why somebody would find this movie to be a chore to sit through, but I loved it. There's a clear sense that it requires multiple viewings to absorb everything. It has just enough seemingly out-of-place shots which brings out this aspect as so they don't seem either too subtle or too excessive. Anyways, this movie hit all the right notes for me, and I'm glad I watched it. I highly recommend it.

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Tue Sep 19, 2017 11:09 am
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Stu wrote:
Well, Sheridan set up
Lambert's persistent sense of loss due to the death of his daughter, but I don't feel he properly set up his sudden, easy turn into such vigilante justice during the end at all. He was a very straight-arrow type character throughout the entirety of the film, then at the climax, it just goes BOOM, he's acting like Dirty Harry now! Came a bit out of nowhere, if you ask me.


Still liked the movie as a whole a lot, though.

He set it up when
he went to visit the father. And the father told him to do WHATEVER it takes.


Tue Sep 19, 2017 11:41 am
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what did Epi think of mother!

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haven't seen it yet


Tue Sep 19, 2017 7:29 pm
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You'll float too.

Like a demonic, shapeshifting clown popping his hideous head out of the sewers of Derry, a new adaptation of Stephen King's epic novel It has arisen, 27 years after its last go-round onscreen (specifically, on the small screen, as a 1990 ABC miniseries), after going through various rewrites, multiple directors, including Cary Fuganaga of True Detective fame (who sadly, wasn't allowed to direct the final project here), and what felt like an eternity in development hell. This time, only the childhood portion of the "Losers Club"'s decades-long struggle with Pennywise has been adapted, the film's timeframe has been bumped up from the 50's to the 80's, which seems like the hot new thing post-Stranger Things (which shares an actor with It, even!) and Andy Muschietti of Mama fame is the lucky one who ended up directing. But, I think that's enough background on a partial adaptation of a 31 year-old, 1,138 Stephen King novel don't you? The important thing here is, is It any good? Well, flaws aside, my answer to that question would have to be yes, but ironically enough, that result is due less to Pennywise's presence here than just about any other aspect, to be honest..

We're introduced to Pennywise (portrayed here by Stellan Skarsgård's other son, Bill) in the film's opening scene, where he lures 7 year-old "Georgie" to a sewer drain with promises of balloons, popcorn, and the boy's lost sailboat, before baring his fangs (literally) and dragging him down in the depths to a particularly gruesome demise. In this scene in particular, Skarsgård puts in a memorable performance that's somehow equal parts cheerful and predatorially creepy, and the idea that such an obviously evil figure could get away with both charming and preying upon the children of Derry for decades, like some sort of demonic Pied Piper, seems almost plausible due to the strength of his performance, which is unfortunate, since the film never lets the actor shine that much again.

Don't get me wrong, as I did enjoy It as a whole, but I was still somewhat disappointed with its treatment of Pennywise; I mean, Skarsgård was already somewhat buried as an actor underneath the hideous clown makeup that accompanies the role, but Muschetti doesn't do him any favors in further burying him and his various incarnations underneath a reliance on unnecessary special effects, repetitive, obnoxious jumpscares, and loud noises on the soundtrack to make sure you know that this is one of the scary parts. A lot of the moments in It that actually would've been creepier had they just been delivered with a lighter touch are grossly overblown instead (one scare involving a literally giant Pennywise popping out is pretty much just straight-up schlock), and the film's prologue was the only time where it felt like Skarsgård just got to play Pennywise, before the annoying modern horror gimmicks began to get in the way of his performance, which, based off his acting in the opening scene, is a real missed opportunity. I mean, say what you will about the miniseries, but at least it let Tim Curry just PLAY Pennywise a lot more, and let him put his own stamp as on actor on the part.

That being said, not every "horrific" moment in this movie was a complete waste, as, while I was never actually scared by any scene here, I was mildly disturbed by some of the twisted, imaginative imagery that It packed (one scene involving a sink and an old haircut coming back to haunt a character was particularly messed up), which kept me entertained enough during some of the "scary" moments to keep them from being a total waste, and made decent use of the film's R rating, an advantage it holds over the watered-down-for-TV content of the miniseries. And, what ultimately makes It worthwhile, despite its faults, is actually the various coming-of-age, innocense-lost dramas that the Losers Club experiences over the long, hard summer depicted in the film, whether it be Eddie discovering his mother has been feeding him placebo pills in order to make him believe that he's chronically ill, Beverly simultaneously dealing with the difficulties of puberty, the peer pressure of being unfairly slut-shamed by both the children and the adults of the community, or the molesting advances of her father, who's determined to keep her as his "little girl" for forever, or the way that Bill uses Pennywise's illusions of Georgie in order to say goodbye to his memories of the real Georgie, and finally move on from his death, a detail that, hacky jumpscares aside, nicely dovetails the fantastical horrors of the film with real-life traumas in a much more elegant manner than a certain other 2017 horror movie (coughSplitcough).

Anyway, like I said before, It is not a perfect film; in addition to its over-the-top jumpscares and silly, computer-generated effects, it has the occasional bit of tonal whiplash, and is rather loose structurally, generally going from scene to scene rather haphazardly, with certain characters just floating (no pun intended) in and out of the story seemingly at random. But, all of that being said, it's ultimately the film's sense of heart and soul, the way it cares enough about its young characters to take the time to develop almost every one of them (even one of the bullies!), that goes beyond not just what most horror films attempt in terms of character development, but what just a lot of movies have in general, that redeems It, and makes it a worthwhile cinematic experience. Warts and all, this is a fundamentally good movie, and if you see it, then I think that... you'll float too? I dunno, I just felt I had to shoehorn that into my review somewhere. Anyway, just go see It already!
Best moment: Hiya, Georgie!
Final Score: 8

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Wed Sep 20, 2017 1:02 am
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Ace wrote:
He set it up when
he went to visit the father. And the father told him to do WHATEVER it takes.
That scene
just set up her father's desperation for justice, not Lambert's; on his part, there was insufficient setup in the film for his character to have taken the turn that he did at the end.
As far as I'm concerned, it was a bit of a hacky, wannabe crowd-pleasing writing decision on Sheridan's part, and I just can't get behind it, ultimately.
Epistemophobia wrote:
haven't seen it yet
You weren't a huge fan of Black Swan anyway, were you? I mean, neither was I, but I'm still thinking about checking it out this weekend if I don't have anything better to do, just out of curiosity to see just why it's pissing so much off the general public off.

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Epistemophobia wrote:
haven't seen it yet

can't remember what you think of aronofsky generally but I think you'll love this one

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Wed Sep 20, 2017 9:48 am
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Stu only watches movies that are 8 or 8.5. :D

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Wed Sep 20, 2017 12:31 pm
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Gort wrote:
Stu only watches movies that are 8 or 8.5. :D
Not exactly, but I do tend to be picky about what I go to the theaters to see; not enough time/$ to see something I'm not interested in, y'know? So I tend not to watch terribly-reviewed things like The Emoji Movie, even though it might be fun to mock, and certainly not something that looks forgettable, like The Hitman's Bodyguard. Maybe when I finally get my Moviepass card in the mail and can go more often, I'll see something that's actually shitty :D

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Fri Sep 22, 2017 1:53 am
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Silent Running (1972) - 4/10

I couldn't get into this movie that much. I think most of this has to do with the handling of Lowell as his character wasn't that interesting. After killing his crewmates, he didn't undergo any haunting character arcs, he didn't life in fear of being discovered all throughout the film, he didn't grow to fear the drones he was with, he didn't do, well, pretty much anything that I found compelling. He just sort of found ways to pass the time and, occasionally, dealt with a problem. The few scenes where the movie would show flashbacks of his crew hinted at him feeling remorse or the starting stages of guilt, but the movie didn't go anywhere with that. Things just seemed to happen around him. Contrariwise, however, I enjoyed the setting (some people said the setting looks dated nowadays, but I already responded to that argument in my review of The Time Machine, so I won't dwell on that again), the music, and Bruce Dern's acting. Also, its ending connected with me. I didn't enjoy it that much though.

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Sat Sep 23, 2017 10:15 pm
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Robocop (1987) - 8/10

This is a well-done action/sci-fi film which impressed me quite a bit. It not only works as an entertaining film, but as a smart film complete with satire and a character arc. Some people criticized it for its violence, but I think the darker parts to the film are balanced out quite well by the satiric commercials which play throughout the film. The humor in them makes the violence easier to handle. The film also came with a few surprises/betrayals which both caught me off guard and got me more interested in the film's plot. The film also comes with a character arc as it shows Murphy become more human than cyborg by the end as he learns more about his past. When he's first created, he doesn't react when one of his former partners asks him for his name. However, after he experiences hallucinations/visions about his family, returns to his family home, and learns of his family's whereabouts, a human aspect starts to become apparent in him, specifically when he takes his mask off and reveals his human face during the film's final act. His arc is concluded when he says his name is Murphy during the final scene. Even though I rated this film 8/10, I can see it moving up to a 9 on re-watches. If you haven't seen this film yet, I highly recommend it.

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Sun Sep 24, 2017 6:04 am
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Gort wrote:
Stu only watches movies that are 8 or 8.5. :D

I almost wrote what is even truer: Stu only reviews movies that are 8 or 8.5! :)

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If you become rich and powerful, I hope that you will be cream rather than pond scum." --YTMN

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Thu Sep 28, 2017 8:05 am
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Popcorn Reviews wrote:
Robocop (1987) - 8/10

When it first came out the reviews were pretty darn good for the movie, actually. I don't recall who they were, but more than one reviewer explained that the film was over the top violent, but that it wouldn't make much sense without the violence.

It was ten years before I saw it. But I got their point once I did see it.

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What they fail to acknowledge is that pond scum also rises to the top.
And there is a lot more pond scum in the world than there is cream.
If you become rich and powerful, I hope that you will be cream rather than pond scum." --YTMN

YTMN's Remake Rematch Thread. Catalog Rounds 1-3
Thread abandoned 1 Aug 2017. Thread COMPLETE 25 May 14 (2d time!)
Images will disappear about 13 Feb 2018 forever.
I had fun. Thanks for reading!

The Future Unreels will also lose all its images on the same day. But just think about how many images Jedi has on Photobucket, and the other posters here.


Thu Sep 28, 2017 8:08 am
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Gort wrote:
When it first came out the reviews were pretty darn good for the movie, actually. I don't recall who they were, but more than one reviewer explained that the film was over the top violent, but that it wouldn't make much sense without the violence.

It was ten years before I saw it. But I got their point once I did see it.

Usually, over the top violence doesn't do much for me as I find it to be over the top and distracting. However, I feel like this is one of the few exceptions as some of the violent scenes were well-executed. For instance, the toxic waste scene is one of the most memorable moments I've ever seen in an action/sci-fi film. Also, the ED-209 malfunction near the intro was highly effective.

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Thu Sep 28, 2017 8:47 am
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I find the ED-209 malfunction scene so over the top that now I just laugh at it.


Thu Sep 28, 2017 11:39 am
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Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) - 9/10

I was dying to watch this film for quite some time due to its enormous cult following. I was not disappointed at all. A lot of its strengths lie in the first act as the buildup doesn't show anyone being taken over by the aliens. It chooses to create ambiguity over whether certain characters were taken over or not. If a character simply goes off screen, even for a short time, that character becomes suspicious as anything could have happened during that time. Because of this, the film seems to work in the same way as Carpenter's The Thing. Even after the movie introduces the pods, the movie is not weakened in any way as the atmosphere gets more claustrophobic. Finally, I loved the ending. Cliffhangers usually don't do much for me, but the one in this movie was effective due to how unsettling it was. Horror isn't my favorite genre (I usually don't rate any horror films higher than 8/10), but this film was near perfect in my opinion. I'm going to watch the 1978 version soon.

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Sun Oct 01, 2017 1:44 am
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Beau wrote:
I guess you can speculate on Anna's whereabouts, but Antonioni doesn't really belabor that point. This isn't a whodunit. As a viewer, of course, you're free to do whatever you want.


Antonioni's interests seems to drift, or at least, his camera's interest drifts, but it's deceptive, as part of what makes the film so effective is that it does function in some respects as a whodunit. It's the denial of that reveal that's one of its most powerful contributions. It's quite deliberate, and radical.

Beau wrote:
You can obviously treat Anna as a kind of audience surrogate, who comes to the same conclusions the audience arrives at near the end. I just think the film is far more concerned with Sandro's and Claudia's interiority. Their tears near the end say more about who they've become than any epiphany they've had about Anna.


The interiority, though, is deeply informed by the disappearance of Anna. Her disappearance haunts them throughout. It haunts Claudia directly, Sandro more indirectly. Even as the film meanders, lingering on their affair, and even as, at times, the whereabouts of Anna escapes both the characters' and our immediate consciousness, Antonioni is quick to bring her disappearance right back to the forefront. We pay a price for forgetting. (There is a similar effect with Vittoria and the shame of privilege in L'eclisse). And it's not just the fact of their transgression and its effect on them that determines the thematic relevance of Anna's disappearance, but the potent suggestion that their reckless behavior might be informed by the same kinds of things that may also inform Anna's behavior, and potentially, her disappearance. So, in a very abstract, suggestive way, the "Why did she disappear? Where did she go? What does her disappearance mean?" questions linger heavily.

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Thu Oct 05, 2017 1:24 pm
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Popcorn Reviews wrote:
It just means that while they realized what they became, they still don't understand that their behavior was what caused Anna to run away.


This I'm less confident about, depending on what you mean here. I wouldn't say there is blame on Sandro and Claudia's behavior in particular. The suggestion is something more general, I think. It's something that includes not just the entire boating party, but the class they represent, and also Anna herself, who I don't think Antonioni means to suggest (to the extent he is suggesting something here) that she's a mere victim or merely reacting to the actions of her insensitive friends.

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Thu Oct 05, 2017 1:29 pm
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BTW, Trip, I finally saw John Wick. You score again. It was lit. I need to see the second one. I'll have to come back later to chime in with some thoughts.

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Thu Oct 05, 2017 1:36 pm
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Izzy Black wrote:
BTW, Trip, I finally saw John Wick. You score again. It was lit. I need to see the second one. I'll have to come back later to chime in with some thoughts.

:up:

go see a blade runner 2049

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Thu Oct 05, 2017 6:59 pm
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Izzy Black wrote:

This I'm less confident about, depending on what you mean here. I wouldn't say there is blame on Sandro and Claudia's behavior in particular. The suggestion is something more general, I think. It's something that includes not just the entire boating party, but the class they represent, and also Anna herself, who I don't think Antonioni means to suggest (to the extent he is suggesting something here) that she's a mere victim or merely reacting to the actions of her insensitive friends.

Here's my take on the film. I believe the main reason Anna ran away (that's what I think happened to her) was because of how Sandro, Claudia, and her other friends treated her. However, I also think there are a few details which suggest society also played a minor part in shaping Anna's decision (such as the scene where numerous men stared at Claudia when she was alone on the streets). As for the final scene, I think Claudia and Sandro realized their behavior was what caused Anna to run away. However, I don't think they're also connecting the dot with the society/class's influence on Anna.

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Fri Oct 06, 2017 5:36 am
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Voyage to Cythera is a film full of echoes. And that last 30 minute stretch, god.

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Fri Oct 06, 2017 7:19 am
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Trip wrote:
:up:

go see a blade runner 2049

Seeing it tonight :D

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Fri Oct 06, 2017 7:44 am
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Izzy Black wrote:
BTW, Trip, I finally saw John Wick. You score again. It was lit. I need to see the second one. I'll have to come back later to chime in with some thoughts.
I wasn't crazy about the original JW (heightened reality-building aside, it still felt like a fairly generic modern action movie in the end), but I really enjoyed Chapter 2; it took the setup from the original and just ran with it, further developing its underground society with a lot more style, color, and personality, and of course, better, more memorable action scenes on the whole. Looking forward to Chapter 3 coming out in 2019, and as for the new Blade Runner, I'm planning on seeing that tomorrow and writing a review of it shortly as well.

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Sat Oct 07, 2017 5:28 am
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Yep the world in JW2 felt more realized after JW1 only "hinted" at it. And for that it makes the movie a lot better.


Sat Oct 07, 2017 7:36 am
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Trip wrote:
can't remember what you think of aronofsky generally but I think you'll love this one

i did not

loved loveless tho http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6304162/

going to see blade runner now


Sat Oct 07, 2017 8:58 pm
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ew Zvyagintsev

I really dug 2049

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