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 Apex Predator's Film Thread Volume 2.0 
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crumbsroom wrote:
Now let's be clear here. Is the acting in Suspiria really that problematic? Or is it the generally atrocious dubbing, which is pretty much a hallmark of giallo's (and Spaghetti Westerns, Kung Fu movies etc). It's an acquired taste, for sure, but simply something that at some point you either need to accept or spend your life resisting. You can't escape it. It's one of those things that basically becomes beyond criticism, because what's the point. It's like arguing against the restrained camera movement of the earliest films. Or stilted blocking of early sound films. What are you going to do about it? These were the limitations that the filmmakers had to deal with at the time.

The acting, aside from the dubbing, in Suspria is nothing great, but it is fine. It is somewhat alien and placid considering the heightened emotions of the sets and music and violence and ornate direction. But that is part of the horror. The characters move like helpless dolls through an overwhelming dollhouse world. Naturalism would be a horrible detriment to Suspria's over all effect.

AS would an even remotely restrained soundtrack, which thankfully, Goblin didn't supply.

I wasn't aware that the film was dubbed in English beforehand. You're probably right that it isn't fair to criticize the film for something which couldn't have been worked around at the time of filming. Could you elaborate more though on how featuring the soundtrack less would've diminished the film's impact?

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Sun Sep 23, 2018 2:16 am
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Popcorn Reviews wrote:
I wasn't aware that the film was dubbed in English beforehand. You're probably right that it isn't fair to criticize the film for something which couldn't have been worked around at the time of filming. Could you elaborate more though on how featuring the soundtrack less would've diminished the film's impact?

All Italian films were dubbed until like the 1990s.
Watch Fellini's 8 1/2. (Or any Spaghetti Western.) The off-time dubbing often makes it even more surreal, which is some of what I was driving at with Suspiria.


Sun Sep 23, 2018 2:37 am
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Popcorn Reviews wrote:
I wasn't aware that the film was dubbed in English beforehand. You're probably right that it isn't fair to criticize the film for something which couldn't have been worked around at the time of filming. Could you elaborate more though on how featuring the soundtrack less would've diminished the film's impact?


The film is both a constant visual and auditory assault on the viewer. That is one of its most defining characteristics. What you seem to want is a little more discipline, and a little less over showiness from Suspiria. It's totally your call if the movie steps beyond your preferences. It does for a lot of people. But it seems to me, that the whole point of the film is to move past measured considerations, too not care if something is going too far. It wants to move into a kind of hysterical tone, almost all of the time. So more music. More ludicrous wall paper. More exaggerated camera angles. More cartoonish violence. It is a purely cinematic film and it has no interest in not trying to see how long it can keep employing as many tricks as possible to keep the whole tone operating at 11 the entire runtime.


Sun Sep 23, 2018 2:38 am
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crumbsroom wrote:
Now let's be clear here. Is the acting in Suspiria really that problematic? Or is it the generally atrocious dubbing, which is pretty much a hallmark of giallo's (and Spaghetti Westerns, Kung Fu movies etc). It's an acquired taste, for sure, but simply something that at some point you either need to accept or spend your life resisting. You can't escape it. It's one of those things that basically becomes beyond criticism, because what's the point. It's like arguing against the restrained camera movement of the earliest films. Or stilted blocking of early sound films. What are you going to do about it? These were the limitations that the filmmakers had to deal with at the time.

The acting, aside from the dubbing, in Suspria is nothing great, but it is fine. It is somewhat alien and placid considering the heightened emotions of the sets and music and violence and ornate direction. But that is part of the horror. The characters move like helpless dolls through an overwhelming dollhouse world. Naturalism would be a horrible detriment to Suspria's over all effect.

AS would an even remotely restrained soundtrack, which thankfully, Goblin didn't supply.

I agree with all of what you say, but I would say the one really tough moment with regard to the acting, and I suspect some of this may be due to English-as-a-second-language, is
Helena Marcos herself. The first time I saw the film it was nearly ruined by her voice-over.
It comes across the first time or two as almost comical which can undo the whole enterprise. After a few viewings I got used to it but I still wish it had been done a lot better.
Otherwise, when they're dubbing they often have to rush the lines to fit in what's in the dialogue and things come off sounding either flat or ridiculous. But that is what it is.


Sun Sep 23, 2018 2:40 am
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Popcorn Reviews wrote:
I may grow to like these aspects like you did. Who knows. However, what I liked about the surreal aspect to this film was how engaging of a blend Argento made with the music, visuals, and editing. I thought all those aspects complimented each other quite well as they made for sort of an impressionistic type of horror. The acting sticks out to me as a sore thumb, because I felt it distracted me from the atmosphere Argento was trying to create, not enhance it. The same goes for the music. It's sort of like a viral song which gets played everywhere on multiple radio stations and gets referenced in different sites and memes all the time. First, I like hearing it, but then, after I hear it multiple times, I start to wish for something new.

I can't really disagree with you here, I just hope it grows on you in time like it has for me, because it gives me a great deal of pleasure.

They are showing it at The Prytania theater again this October, I think it was very well received last year, so don't miss out Captain Terror.

Also, Evil Dead II is on the 21st.


Sun Sep 23, 2018 2:43 am
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Wooley wrote:
I agree with all of what you say, but I would say the one really tough moment with regard to the acting, and I suspect some of this may be due to English-as-a-second-language, is
Helena Marcos herself. The first time I saw the film it was nearly ruined by her voice-over.
It comes across the first time or two as almost comical which can undo the whole enterprise. After a few viewings I got used to it but I still wish it had been done a lot better.
Otherwise, when they're dubbing they often have to rush the lines to fit in what's in the dialogue and things come off sounding either flat or ridiculous. But that is what it is.


Agreed on Marcos. It is a low point in the movie, as is the last minute or so of the final scene, to be honest. This might be a result of keeping a film operating at such a hysterical level for so long, that anything is going to be anticlimactic. But it really is the worst part of the film. It's a problem, but one that I pretend to overlook for the sake of how perfect everything is up to that. I really don't movies for their climaxes anyways though, so it hardly bothers me. I much prefer all of the cinematic foreplay to wherever it is leading me.


Sun Sep 23, 2018 2:46 am
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crumbsroom wrote:

Whaaaaaat??

He's supposedly had a lot of late career duds, but that is a standard you can apply to nearly every director on earth. Any director that can sustain a relatively consistent decade (or more) of filmmaking should be heralded.

So, basically I think that he had a great imagination and a great eye, but was not actually capable (and I don't mean that he chose not to, I mean he was not capable) of making coherent films. I think he almost would have been better being a designer/cinematograpaher and a sort-of writer in that he would generate ideas and then people who were better at writing would treat them and make them into some kind of actual script.
Suspiria is something else, kind of on an island of its own in his filmography, but already by Inferno he's slipped significantly (that movie is good-looking but it is a fucking mess story-wise). The Bird With The Crystal Plumage is similar, less fantastic-looking and almost nonsensical. Opera wasn't bad, probably was the closest I've seen of his to a coherent film.
However, something like Mother Of Tears falls into the category of the worst movies I've ever seen and I have actually used it for years as a sort of benchmark for what a genuinely bad film is. Others I've tried to watch starting in like the late 80s have just been a horrific struggle and I haven't finished any of them. They were terrible.
I think Bava was MUCH better than him and I actually LIKE Fulci's better films more than almost all Argento. Soavi I think pulls it off a little better as well, and I even thought Demons was a more successful film, in its way, than most of Argento's catalogue.
Maybe "crap" is too strong, but I don't think Argento has made a watchable film in decades and that counts.


Sun Sep 23, 2018 2:52 am
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crumbsroom wrote:

The film is both a constant visual and auditory assault on the viewer. That is one of its most defining characteristics. What you seem to want is a little more discipline, and a little less over showiness from Suspiria. It's totally your call if the movie steps beyond your preferences. It does for a lot of people. But it seems to me, that the whole point of the film is to move past measured considerations, too not care if something is going too far. It wants to move into a kind of hysterical tone, almost all of the time. So more music. More ludicrous wall paper. More exaggerated camera angles. More cartoonish violence. It is a purely cinematic film and it has no interest in not trying to see how long it can keep employing as many tricks as possible to keep the whole tone operating at 11 the entire runtime.

Exactly.


Sun Sep 23, 2018 2:53 am
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crumbsroom wrote:
The film is both a constant visual and auditory assault on the viewer. That is one of its most defining characteristics. What you seem to want is a little more discipline, and a little less over showiness from Suspiria. It's totally your call if the movie steps beyond your preferences. It does for a lot of people. But it seems to me, that the whole point of the film is to move past measured considerations, too not care if something is going too far. It wants to move into a kind of hysterical tone, almost all of the time. So more music. More ludicrous wall paper. More exaggerated camera angles. More cartoonish violence. It is a purely cinematic film and it has no interest in not trying to see how long it can keep employing as many tricks as possible to keep the whole tone operating at 11 the entire runtime.
Wooley wrote:
I can't really disagree with you here, I just hope it grows on you in time like it has for me, because it gives me a great deal of pleasure.

Thanks for providing your take on the music, crumbs. I suppose I could probably revisit it during October to see if my opinion of it changes as it's been a decent amount of time since I've seen it. After all, I liked it a lot less when I first saw it, so I have somewhat warmed up to it during that time.

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Sun Sep 23, 2018 3:09 am
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Just finished mother! Still not sure what the heck it is that I just saw?


Sun Sep 23, 2018 4:14 am
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Wooley wrote:
I can't really disagree with you here, I just hope it grows on you in time like it has for me, because it gives me a great deal of pleasure.

They are showing it at The Prytania theater again this October, I think it was very well received last year, so don't miss out Captain Terror.

Also, Evil Dead II is on the 21st.

Correct, it's Sep 30 in fact.
In Pop's defense, I didn't take to Suspiria immediately either. Saw it in my early 20s and not only was it not what I was expecting, it was not anything I'd seen before so I didn't quite know what to do with it. But it made enough of an impression that I gave it another shot later and eventually I caught on. Same thing happened with Evil Dead, in fact. "This isn't scary- it's stupid!" I completely missed the point the first time.

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Sun Sep 23, 2018 4:14 am
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Captain Terror wrote:
Correct, it's Sep 30 in fact.
In Pop's defense, I didn't take to Suspiria immediately either. Saw it in my early 20s and not only was it not what I was expecting, it was not anything I'd seen before so I didn't quite know what to do with it. But it made enough of an impression that I gave it another shot later and eventually I caught on. Same thing happened with Evil Dead, in fact. "This isn't scary- it's stupid!" I completely missed the point the first time.

I also didn't care for the Evil Dead films (1 and 2; I haven't seen any of the sequels/remakes) when I first saw them. I feel like I might grow to like them and Suspiria in the future now that I know what to expect from them. Who knows.

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Sun Sep 23, 2018 4:30 am
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Popcorn Reviews wrote:
I also didn't care for the Evil Dead films (1 and 2; I haven't seen any of the sequels/remakes) when I first saw them. I feel like I might grow to like them and Suspiria in the future now that I know what to expect from them. Who knows.

And I wasn't implying that you "didn't get it" by the way. I just think it's interesting how the passage of time can alter our way of looking at a film. I rented Evil Dead hoping for a scary movie, and when it wasn't that I was disappointed. But I was so caught up in what it wasn't, that I completely missed what it was. When I watched it again years later I thought "This is hilarious- why didn't I love this the first time?" If the movie had been sold to me as a "Tex Avery monster movie" I might've been better prepared and liked it more.

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Sun Sep 23, 2018 4:45 am
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Captain Terror wrote:
And I wasn't implying that you "didn't get it" by the way. I just think it's interesting how the passage of time can alter our way of looking at a film. I rented Evil Dead hoping for a scary movie, and when it wasn't that I was disappointed. But I was so caught up in what it wasn't, that I completely missed what it was. When I watched it again years later I thought "This is hilarious- why didn't I love this the first time?" If the movie had been sold to me as a "Tex Avery monster movie" I might've been better prepared and liked it more.

Oh, I got that was what you meant. I just felt like stating my thoughts on the film since we were on the subject. Anyways, I've noticed a similar thing happen to me with time changing my views. For instance, when I saw The Battle of Algiers for the first time, I didn't care for it as it was style over substance. Later, however, I realized that was intentional. I think the reason this exists is because when some people notice something out of place in any work of art, they typically focus on that aspect without considering the possibility that the creator of that work of art could've had a good reason for making it that way. Only after you look at other critiques do you start to realize that you may have missed what the creator was trying to communicate.

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Sun Sep 23, 2018 7:05 am
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My initial experience with the first Evil Dead was to watch it with my mother at about 8 years old. It was a movie I didn't know how to process at the time. I'd never seen anything so overtly graphic, and so me and my mom spend almost the entire film laughing so hard to the point that tears were running down our faces. What I only realize in retrospect, was that this laughter, from both of us, was due to some deeply instinctive fear, and the movie stuck with me for many years afterwards. For me it is one of the crown jewels of 80's horror. It's ridiculous and horrifying in equal measure.

As for Evil Dead II, I rented that one with my father in highschool, and within the first ten minutes we both considered turning it off because it just seemed so stupid. But we stuck with it, and once again, tears. But these were strictly from laughing. To this day it might be one of the funniest movies I've ever seen. Because I was a bit ahead of the curve at my school in touting this though, I absolutely overdosed on it. I showed it to everyone. So did my father. Whenever he brought his drunk, factory working friends home with him, on went Evil Dead II. I watched it so much in those years it amazes me at times that I probably haven't seen it for 25 years. But again, the point remains the same. One of the greatest horror films of the 80's. If it really qualifies as a horror.

Never liked Army of Darkness.


Sun Sep 23, 2018 7:23 am
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Captain Terror wrote:
Correct, it's Sep 30 in fact.
In Pop's defense, I didn't take to Suspiria immediately either. Saw it in my early 20s and not only was it not what I was expecting, it was not anything I'd seen before so I didn't quite know what to do with it. But it made enough of an impression that I gave it another shot later and eventually I caught on. Same thing happened with Evil Dead, in fact. "This isn't scary- it's stupid!" I completely missed the point the first time.

I rented this movie with my girlfriend, best friend, and his girlfriend, when we went to stay at his girlfriend's place in the country. We rented it ENTIRELY on the basis of the VHS cover.
When it was over, we were just stunned. We didn't know what we had just seen, but it made a helluvan impression.
Also probably scarier when you are far from civilization.


Sun Sep 23, 2018 8:47 am
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I feel like telling y'all that I now consider both films, Suspiria and Evil Dead II, to be minor masterpieces, and I am not exaggerating.


Sun Sep 23, 2018 8:49 am
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watch a film that was considered a bomb!

mother! (2017)

mother! explores a character named mother (Jennifer Lawrence) who at the beginning of the film isn't pregnant and is without child! her husband him (Javier Bardem) is a poet who is suffering from writer's block! she works tireless in being a homemaker and working on a fixer upper cottage out in the middle of nowhere!

enter man (Ed Harris) and woman (Michelle Pfeiffer)! he is an older man who is slowly dying! she switches between being caring for her family and cracking on mother!

enter their two sons where one is mad over the other one getting a lion's share of the estate in the will! note that nobody remotely cares for mother as she works tireless with little to no appreciation and has to beg him to have sex with her! also note that she's starting to see things! is the house driving her mad! is there something else in play that could be leading her to see things that nobody else notices!

based on the name of the characters, it's clear that director darren aronofsky is working on some kind of allegory! various biblical clues pop up throughout that make you think that perhaps this has to do with the divided critical and popular reaction to noah! also considering the last third deals with the borderline insane reaction that people have towards his work, i think that furthers what i think that it is about! i've heard some people come up with a different breakdown altogether and that's fine, except i think you should try to go what is basically in the film and not spend hours afterwards trying to look up what it is about!


overall, points for ambition! but i believe that it's a very heavy handed allegory and by the time we reach what it is about, it becomes pretentious poppycock! i do not recommend mother! but i get it if you really love it (it's a love it or loathe it work)!


Sun Sep 23, 2018 8:54 am
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Captain Terror wrote:
I rented Evil Dead hoping for a scary movie, and when it wasn't that I was disappointed. But I was so caught up in what it wasn't, that I completely missed what it was. When I watched it again years later I thought "This is hilarious- why didn't I love this the first time?" If the movie had been sold to me as a "Tex Avery monster movie" I might've been better prepared and liked it more.

Are you talking about the first one? I don't think it was particularly funny, especially compared to Ash's later adventures, and actually a very effective horror film. I think, if anything, the main impediment to the film is its very low budget, which would probably superficially put off viewers more than its kinetic camerawork and hysterical FX (proving the mother of invention).

crumbsroom wrote:
Never liked Army of Darkness.

Savages.

It does get awfully silly, and none of the "extended cuts" do its humor any favors, but again, this was a rollicking theater experience for me where the collision of silliness and uncertain audience expectation (and maybe an illicit substance or two) added up to magic. There were cheers in the S-Mart epilogue. Cheers. When was the last time you saw a movie that reduced a doubting crowd to cheers in a theater? Maybe Bubba Ho-Tep, except no one showed up to watch it.


Sun Sep 23, 2018 11:55 am
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Jinnistan wrote:
Are you talking about the first one?

This was 20 years ago so I don't remember. Seems like II was always easier to find than I so maybe it was II.

crumbsroom wrote:
Never liked Army of Darkness.

Same here

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Sun Sep 23, 2018 12:21 pm
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Apex Predator wrote:
And the allegory has more in common with God's Not Dead than it cares to admit.

That's....not exactly the case.
Apex Predator wrote:
she switches between being caring for her family and cracking on mother!

I don't think you're reading the Pfeiffer wife accurately here.
She's not caring in the least, definitely not for her suffering husband and neglected children. Her role is more of an "anti-Mother", the mirrored opposite of all of the traits and values of Lawrence's mother.

I've come to the belief that the film's more overt biblical allusions are not only facile but likely intended to be red herrings. Pfeiffer would involve a radical reinterpretation of "Eve", if we assume that this is what she is. In fact, she's actually more like the Serpent, with her Kaa-like eyes, being the agent of introducing doubt and corruption into "the garden", a negative selfish force.

Apex Predator wrote:
is the house driving her mad!

She is the house, and the various structural anomalies parallel her own emotional state.

Apex Predator wrote:
various biblical clues pop up throughout that make you think that perhaps this has to do with the divided critical and popular reaction to noah! also considering the last third deals with the borderline insane reaction that people have towards his work, i think that furthers what i think that it is about!

I doubt it on both counts. Aronofsky could very well be trying to troll his critics by dangling juicy biblical clues for them to latch onto, but not out of revenge for Noah. There's a lot of layers at play here, and it's just as likely that the "borderline insane reaction" has as much to do with the more cannibalistic celebrity culture that Jennifer Lawrence was subjected to, being virtually raped by the iCloud hack. I've pointed out before that my local theater had a cardboard standee which had been visciously defaced by angry mother! viewers. I'm more inclined to think that this is what the film is really about, and demonstrates the accuracy of Aronofsky's provocation. Oh, and it also
clearly mocks Christianity, but not in a way that it doesn't deserve.

Also,
"God" ("demiurge" is probably more appropriate) here is a complete dick, and I find it difficult to think that Aronofsky intended the character to be autobiographical in any but the most shallow sense

Apex Predator wrote:
i think you should try to go what is basically in the film and not spend hours afterwards trying to look up what it is about!

I like films that you can think about.
Apex Predator wrote:
i believe that it's a very heavy handed allegory and by the time we reach what it is about, it becomes pretentious poppycock!

You say this but without ever identifying the allegory. If it is so heavy handed and "poppycock" then it shouldn't be so difficult to dismantle the allegory. Instead, we're still left with multiple interpretations, suspicious intentions and a vaguely profound sense of chaos.

Where we agree is that it is an unpleasant and frustrating film. I was clawing at my seat fabric for most of the first half. Oddly enough, the more raucous escalation was like a Sunday stroll compared to that.


Sun Sep 23, 2018 12:28 pm
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Because I don't know how to multi-quote and I fear this will turn into an unreadable text, I'm going to respond to you here, Janson.

The God's Not Dead comparison: It's not so much the content as it's more to do how it hammers home its message much like GND and other "Christian" films.

I fear the rest of this is going to spoil major parts of the film so I'll just place it here:

You do remember that Javier Bardem's character is a poet, right? Sometimes, directors/writers place themselves in the film as a commentary.
What I think it's about is that it's an allegory on how people consume media and on how the creation of this media consumes those who create it. It's no big surprise that Bardem's character is ultimately listed as Him. It kind of works two ways.

One way is that he's the creator of product such as films. In the movie itself, this is shown when he writes the poem and suddenly, there's a throng of people who are ready to praise him for his work. But the poem turns out to be divisive which is why things quickly devolve into a war zone. He also makes a nod to how fans can take things too far when he has them attack Lawrence's character for scratching His face.

But the other way is the shabby way he treats mother! Such as ignoring her requests to not have company over, ignoring her when people start messing with her house, and only slightly paying attention to her when she announces her pregnancy. It's all noted as the havoc that creating a poem/film/show has on a creator's personal life. He makes more time with his visitors than he does her because as he says "They inspire him". He won't turn down his fans, no matter how unseemly they become and start to tear down the entire house. Even when they become a threat to Mother and "their" kid.

Oh, and Aronofsky does have a tendency to have characters obsessed with things. Such as Pi's obsession with that number, The Wrestler's obsession with recapturing his glory days, and Black Swan's lead character being obsessed with perfection. In this case, mother! is obsessed with keeping her house clean and fixed while he's obsessed with capturing that muse that will allow him to write. He thinks that it's the Man and Woman, but ultimately it's the decision to have sex with mother! that spurs his creative instincts. Oh, and Him can't let go of the fame once he has it. Which is why he won't turn his fans down or send them home when everything gets put into jeopardy. You never see Him chastise his fans for killing the baby; it's another of his "creations" and

I disagree with you somewhat on Pfeiffer's character. She does seem to care for her husband at least on the surface. And she weeps when she loses the older son. But the relationship between her and Mother! does deteriorate with time. At the beginning, she's offering her lemonade with liquor attached.
But then she starts getting increasingly snarky with time, scolding her for not wanting kids and disobeying mother when she tells her not to enter into His room and explore His crystal.

The biblical clues are aplenty in this film and I don't think that it's a red herring. Bardem's character is named Him as in God, Man appears to be missing a rib one night and Woman appears the next day, the sons are basically Cain and Abel, the crystal is in reference to the Forbidden Fruit and they're "kicked out" of the Garden of Eden after their sin, Kristin Wiig's character is named The Herald, the baby boy is a reference to Jesus, I shouldn't have to tell you that the fans are consuming him comes straight out of a Catholic ritual, the basement represents Hell, the furnace is a nod to Shedrach, Meschach and Abednego, the blood on the walls is a nod to Passover, and the frog is a reference to the Plagues. And I hadn't touched on several bits of dialogue. That's an awful lot of effort for a film to be trying to swerve the viewer when it's actually about something else.

I stand by my statement that it needs to be in the film for it to count. I was more referring to a theory how Jennifer Lawrence's mother! is a reference to Mother Nature, the home signifies Earth, and how other people ruin it. Some interviews by Aronofsky go further in depth to flesh this out, but how come it barely made it to screen? I suppose for example, this is why mother! walks barefoot almost through the entire film.

I'm not opposed to films that make you think. I liked Enemy and its various machinations about the guy and his doppleganger in that movie. But that film made good sense in its logic and didn't try to beat you over the head with its message. Come to think of it, Enemy never had a message, I don't think.

I also argue that the poem is a reference to Noah. Which makes the all the religious clues fit in and allows him to deal with the very different personal and critical reactions to that film. Which is why the home turns into a war zone. Which is why the cops come in and spray teargas on both Him and mother! But think back to the latter part of the tale. When the house is destroyed, you see the land also destroyed. But when Him takes her love (the crystal) from her chest, then everything starts to renew as we go back to the beginning of the story. Such as the aftermath of the Great Flood that cleaned out the Earth and started over anew. Any guess what those sinks referred to in that film?

This isn't the first time I referred to a film as pretentious poppycock, by the way. I first coined that term with The Only Living Boy in New York which a great deal of the film dealt with a boy's revenge against his father for cheating on his mother with another woman which boiled down to him sleeping and having a relationship with her. And that's even before we learn of the real reason why the author (Jeff Bridges) is there or what the title refers to.

Heh, I thought you loved mother! We may have had similar first halves, but while the second half seems to elated you, it felt more like a pair of middle fingers raised up towards my eyes.


More power to you if you loved mother! It means you got something out of it. Unfortunately, I didn't.


Mon Sep 24, 2018 8:50 am
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Apex, have you seen Under the Skin? Its plot is completely different than that of mother!, but both films are grounded in surrealism with a meaning which requires digging in order to decipher. Like mother!, most people who've seen it typically have a strong opinion about it one way or the other. You might or might not like it more. Either way, I recommend keeping an eye out for it, because I thought it was really good.

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Mon Sep 24, 2018 9:20 am
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Popcorn Reviews wrote:
Apex, have you seen Under the Skin? Its plot is completely different than that of mother!, but both films are grounded in surrealism with a meaning which requires digging in order to decipher. Like mother!, most people who've seen it typically have a strong opinion about it one way or the other. You might or might not like it more. Either way, I recommend keeping an eye out for it, because I thought it was really good.


As a matter of fact, I did. And as it turned out, I liked Skin by a decent amount more than mother! I did find it messy at times, but a good Scarlet Johannson performance carried the day.


Mon Sep 24, 2018 9:41 am
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Apex Predator wrote:

As a matter of fact, I did. And as it turned out, I liked Skin by a decent amount more than mother! I did find it messy at times, but a good Scarlet Johannson performance carried the day.

Yeah, I really liked her subtlety in the film. Glad you also liked it.

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Mon Sep 24, 2018 9:50 am
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Apex Predator wrote:
It's not so much the content as it's more to do how it hammers home its message much like GND and other "Christian" films.
I find it hard to consider the message being "hammered home" when we can't even agree on what this message is. If the film was truly so absent of ambiguity and interpretation, then it wouldn't be necessary to compare the relative messages that different people appear to have taken from the film.

Apex Predator wrote:
You do remember that Javier Bardem's character is a poet, right? Sometimes, directors/writers place themselves in the film as a commentary.

What I think it's about is that it's an allegory on how people consume media and on how the creation of this media consumes those who create it. It's no big surprise that Bardem's character is ultimately listed as Him. It kind of works two ways.

One way is that he's the creator of product such as films. In the movie itself, this is shown when he writes the poem and suddenly, there's a throng of people who are ready to praise him for his work. But the poem turns out to be divisive which is why things quickly devolve into a war zone. He also makes a nod to how fans can take things too far when he has them attack Lawrence's character for scratching His face.
Yes, it does work two ways, at a minimum in fact. So let's look at these two ways, how they inform and parallel each other, and consider the possibility that these parallel allegories were even intentional. I just want to note that the reason why I find the dismissal of the film on the grounds of "allegory", as per your initial review, so irksome is that it comes off as a perjorative, like "pretentious", without assessing the significance of its allegorical design.
"Him" is Creator, both as macrocosmic demiurge or as microcosmic artist. I still maintain that "demiurge" is the proper designation here, and I'm also sure that Aronofsky is aware of this. Rather than being "God", the demiurge is the "first angel" that crafted the physical universe, and in Gnostic tradition he - tellingly - was beset by pride and consumed with adulation. Simply put, he decided to fool humankind into worshipping him as God. The demiurge is also associated with the brightest angel, Lucifer, also beset by pride. There are a number of suggestions, across traditions with the concept of the demiurge, that this particular "creation" is not his first attempt at it.

When I call the biblical cues "red herrings", I don't mean to suggest that they lack significance. I mean that it seems to give audiences who pick up on them quickly (because they're obvious) an excuse to then ignore all of the other significant allegories taking place. There is no either/or here, as all of the allegorical subjects (religious, artistic, domestic, environmental, political) complement and dovetail each other. The problem I have with the strict biblical reading isn't that it isn't accurate, it simply isn't complete and certainly not exclusive. This is why it's frustrating to see the film dismissed for some "heavy-handed" "hammered" allegory or message. The certainty in this strict biblical reading is far more pretentious (in its true definition) than the film itself.

I don't believe that Aronofsky intended "Him" as autobiographical. They are both artists, they are both consumed by their work, they are both ambitious to the point of possible neglect of those around them. I don't doubt that Him represents a number of personal failings in Aronofsky as an artist and a lover. However this reading ignores the other parallel allegory, which is audience zealotry. It seems perverse to me to suggest that Aronofsky would have preferred his Noah to have been greeted with such zealous adulation as we see in the film, so I don't find much there there. Instead, the religious zealotry (fairly obvious) combined with political zealotry (a slightly less obvious extention, but interesting timing for 2017), combined with "fanboy" zealotry (the celebrity-worshipping culture which cannibalizes their idols) leads to a message that far exceeds any personal vendetta on Aronofsky's part. Again, all of these themes rhyme, so there's no point in choosing between them as "correct". The "heavy-handed message" complaint ignores this thematic complexity, forcing a far more simple and reductive interpretation on the film.


Apex Predator wrote:
Oh, and Aronofsky does have a tendency to have characters obsessed with things.
So does Scorsese. Among others.

Apex Predator wrote:
You never see Him chastise his fans for killing the baby;
True,
He wants to forgive them. As if they know not what they do.


Apex Predator wrote:
I disagree with you somewhat on Pfeiffer's character.
She does seem to care for her husband at least on the surface. And she weeps when she loses the older son. But the relationship between her and Mother! does deteriorate with time. At the beginning, she's offering her lemonade with liquor attached
.
"Surface" is a good word for her affection.
As you may have noted in her conversation with Mother, the Wife does not even believe in "love", and mocks Mother for her sincerity: "God help you".


Apex Predator wrote:
That's an awful lot of effort for a film to be trying to swerve the viewer when it's actually about something else.
My point is that the film is about many things. Much like the Bible, if you will. And that strict readings are usually where these things get led astray.

Apex Predator wrote:
I stand by my statement that it needs to be in the film for it to count.
I was more referring to a theory how Jennifer Lawrence's mother! is a reference to Mother Nature, the home signifies Earth, and how other people ruin it. Some interviews by Aronofsky go further in depth to flesh this out, but how come it barely made it to screen?
Everything I've said about the film is evident in the film.
The environmental message, which is also both valid and intended, is just as evident as anything else. You say that the basement refers to "hell". OK, in a way. The furnace can just as easily refer to fossile fuel buried beneath the earth. And just as these zealots have neglected Mother and her home, polluting and shitting all over it, the home proves to be only so resilient before igniting.


Apex Predator wrote:
Come to think of it, Enemy never had a message, I don't think.
Well, that makes an interesting example of a film to think about.

Apex Predator wrote:
I also argue that the poem is a reference to Noah.
I don't see it.
The poem is "the word", the scripture given on high, the impetus of the zealotry. It's important that the film never actually uses words to describe the poem, instead using images of creation. It's intended to be transcendant. It's the need of the zealots to ascribe to a single strict reading of the "word", usually in a way that flatters their selfishness, that leads to the sectarian divisions which fuel the film's chaotic dissolution.

I'm sure that Aronofsky would love to compose a work of art that would prove as inspirational as this poem, but even in his more smug moments, I seriously doubt that he would single out Noah as being that work.

Apex Predator wrote:
pretentious poppycock .... I first coined that term
I don't believe you coined that term.


Mon Sep 24, 2018 11:39 am
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Jinnistan wrote:


Savages.

It does get awfully silly, and none of the "extended cuts" do its humor any favors, but again, this was a rollicking theater experience for me where the collision of silliness and uncertain audience expectation (and maybe an illicit substance or two) added up to magic. There were cheers in the S-Mart epilogue. Cheers. When was the last time you saw a movie that reduced a doubting crowd to cheers in a theater? Maybe Bubba Ho-Tep, except no one showed up to watch it.

I'm with you, I love Army Of Darkness and I think anyone who doesn't is a double-weenie.


Mon Sep 24, 2018 11:49 am
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Heh, would you believe that is the first time I've seen that review?

Anyway, I think we may just have to agree to disagree although I do find your take on the film to be valid as well.

Also under would you believe: I also found Army of Darkness to be less effective than the first two parts of the trilogy. Some funny moments, but I think it moves away from the more serious tones of the first two films.


Tue Sep 25, 2018 4:32 am
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I am of the friendship-ending opinion that Army of Darkness is the only one that I like. I find the first two kind of tedious and corny.


Tue Sep 25, 2018 5:14 am
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Takoma1 wrote:
I am of the friendship-ending opinion that Army of Darkness is the only one that I like. I find the first two kind of tedious and corny.

* adds Takoma1 to ignore list *

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Tue Sep 25, 2018 5:33 am
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Takoma1 wrote:
I am of the friendship-ending opinion that Army of Darkness is the only one that I like. I find the first two kind of tedious and corny.

Sigh... I was with you (although not in agreement with you) for the first sentence. But Evil Dead II is tedious? No ma'am. No. Bad Takoma.


Tue Sep 25, 2018 6:48 am
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Wooley wrote:
Sigh... I was with you (although not in agreement with you) for the first sentence. But Evil Dead II is tedious? No ma'am. No. Bad Takoma.


The only way I can describe it is that it is so in-your-face that it just shuts me down. It's like when my students are overexcited and all crowd around me wanting to talk to me and it's so many voices saying so many things at such a loud volume that I just shut off and can't process anything. It's too heightened and my instinctive response is to tune out. I just find it impossible to enjoy. Weirdly, the only way I can enjoy it is when I see short clips from it.


Tue Sep 25, 2018 6:55 am
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Evil Dead II is brilliant, but I can totally get that criticism about it. I believe its unrelenting over enthusiasm from one scene to the next is one of the reasons I burnt out on it so many years ago, and never revisited it.

The original is one of the greatest things ever though. It's one of those films that even its imperfections make it perfect.


Tue Sep 25, 2018 7:45 am
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crumbsroom wrote:
Evil Dead II is brilliant, but I can totally get that criticism about it. I believe its unrelenting over enthusiasm from one scene to the next is one of the reasons I burnt out on it so many years ago, and never revisited it.

The original is one of the greatest things ever though. It's one of those films that even its imperfections make it perfect.


To be clear, I don't have a problem with the films themselves, per se. They are just, by their intentional design, not something I can enjoy watching.


Tue Sep 25, 2018 8:50 am
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Wait, Takoma doesn't like Evil Dead 2?

One, I can kind of understand due to a few scenes. But two? Crazy talk.


Tue Sep 25, 2018 10:19 am
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Yeah, there's a pretty clear divide between the assaultive approaches of the first two and the live action cartoon stylings of Army of Darkness. Evil Dead II has elements of both approaches, but its relentless pacing and sense of escalation place it closer to the former. I lean towards the former (which explains my near constant raving about Demons - hey guys, Demons is great!) but I like the rickety Harryhausen style effects of the third film.

As for the remake, it's good enough but lacks the texture of Raimi's films and a Campbell-level presence. Don't Breathe from the same director is a huge step up in my humble opinion.

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Tue Sep 25, 2018 10:20 am
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Apex Predator wrote:
Wait, Takoma doesn't like Evil Dead 2?

One, I can kind of understand due to a few scenes. But two? Crazy talk.


I think that they are what they want to be. I understand why a ton of people like and love them. They are successful on their own terms, but they just aren't for me. Sorry, ya'll!


Tue Sep 25, 2018 10:29 am
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Rock wrote:
Yeah, there's a pretty clear divide between the assaultive approaches of the first two and the live action cartoon stylings of Army of Darkness. Evil Dead II has elements of both approaches, but its relentless pacing and sense of escalation place it closer to the former. I lean towards the former (which explains my near constant raving about Demons - hey guys, Demons is great!) but I like the rickety Harryhausen style effects of the third film.

As for the remake, it's good enough but lacks the texture of Raimi's films and a Campbell-level presence. Don't Breathe from the same director is a huge step up in my humble opinion.

I think that was one of my major problems with the remake. No character elevated to the level of me giving a single shit about them at all until the final girl finally emerges and then you care about her for half an hour and the movie's over. And she wasn't really that great. I thought the director missed completely.


Tue Sep 25, 2018 10:53 am
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Takoma1 wrote:
I find the first two kind of tedious and corny.

C'mon, Tak. Army of Darkness is clearly the corniest. Like, proudly so, unabashed. Wearing the corn like a triumphant crown.


Tue Sep 25, 2018 11:13 am
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Jinnistan wrote:
C'mon, Tak. Army of Darkness is clearly the corniest. Like, proudly so, unabashed. Wearing the corn like a triumphant crown.


The third one is corny in a way I find enjoyable. In the other two I find it off-putting. For a while I had Army of Darkness on heavy rotation when I was doing housework.


Tue Sep 25, 2018 11:43 am
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Look, I've watched Army Of Darkness a thousand times, I love the movie, it never stopped playing when I was in college and I've watched it a good many times over the last 24 years (yes I graduated from college 24 years ago) as well, so I feel I can say without hesitation that it is by far the corniest and silliest of the three films; it's just good fun.
But there is an edge, a real edge to the first two, balanced better with comedy and Grand Guignol in the second film, in my opinion, that makes them the real meal. Army Of Darkness is like a dessert that turns out to be a piece de resistance, like a flaming Bananas Foster or Baked Alaska down here in New Orleans.


Tue Sep 25, 2018 12:43 pm
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I'm pretty sure I saw the first two Evil Dead films when I was a kid, since one of my older brothers was a horror film freak. I'm sure he must've rented them at some point, but I don't remember them at all. Later, when I was a teen, I went to the theater to see Army of Darkness with some friends, not knowing that it was a sequel or even a sequel to what. We still consider it one of our weirdest and most awkward film experiences. We definitely weren't in on the joke of it all, and I suppose it all went way over our heads without the proper frame of reference.

Anyway, I revisited the first one a couple of years ago and really wasn't much of a fan. Like Tak said, I can understand why people appreciate it, but I just wasn't into the tone for some reason. I have plans on watching the second one, but I'm in no rush.

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Tue Sep 25, 2018 9:37 pm
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Tomorrow, review of The 39 Steps (1935) will happen.

Trying to make a final push for September as I'm watching an Iranian version of Borat or Candid Camera. Also plan on trying to catch Marty (1950s Oscar winner), The Saratov Approach (set in Eastern Europe), and Sour Grapes (food film) before Sunday night. Oh, and I'd also like to catch The Crime of Monsieur Lange (Jean Renoir) Friday/Saturday night. Although it wouldn't count for anything, it would likely mark my first Renoir so there's that. Likely, I will end up with 10 or more films seen for September which marks the first time since January where I accomplished that feat. :up:

Probably will take October off of Thief's thread as I try to catch up on both some horrors (Get Out, A Quiet Place) and some 2018 films (Black Panther, the Chicago Bears documentary). Hopefully, I can continue my hot streak.

Oh, and I got Francofonia (2016), The Workshop (2018!), and Mongolian Ping Pong (2006) to look forward to as well.


Sat Sep 29, 2018 5:23 am
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Apex Predator wrote:
Tomorrow, review of The 39 Steps (1935) will happen.

Color me a fan.


Sat Sep 29, 2018 5:54 am
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Wooley wrote:
Color me a fan.


I enjoyed it as well.


Sat Sep 29, 2018 6:32 am
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Apex Predator wrote:
Probably will take October off of Thief's thread as I try to catch up on both some horrors (Get Out, A Quiet Place) and some 2018 films (Black Panther, the Chicago Bears documentary). Hopefully, I can continue my hot streak.


I'm planning to put it on hold for October and try to do something similar, but horror-related. Once I figure it out, I'll let you all in so you can join if you want.

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Sun Sep 30, 2018 12:29 pm
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See an Alfred Hitchcock film
See a British film
See a film with a number in the title


The 39 Steps (1935)

Richard Hannay (Robert Donet) is a Canadian on vacation in London. One night, he takes in a show featuring a mentalist who can remember and spit out various facts (including the last British heavyweight champion and the distance between Montreal and Ottawa). A fight leads to gunfire and Richard chooses to survive rather than find out what happened.

He meets Annabella, a woman who as it turns out is a spy on the run from two agents with trenchcoats and a knack for tying up the phone system. During the night, she gets killed and he evades the agents by trading suits with a milkman. Of course, he gets accused of her murder and is forced on the run.

In his search to find a professor in a small Scottish town, he must elude police and gain the trust of Pamela (Madeline Carroll), a woman he befriends on the train. She is reluctant to help at first, but as they get to know each other, she starts to realize he's not as bad as he first appeared.

Although it won't rank in my top 5 Hitchcocks, pretty good Hitchcock is still better than a lot of films out there. Imagine The Fugitive mixed in with some It Happened One Night minus two thirds of the misogyny and you get a good idea for what you're in for. It's clear that we have a Master at work here as he blends thrills, humor, and drama deftly.

But there are some shaky moments. I referred to them as moments where "Gee, it wasn't a good thing to be a woman back then" in Thief's thread:

Such as the time where Richard tries to kiss Pamela on the train when they first met. Of course his pleas to pretend they're a couple so he can elude the cops totally backfires. And there's the general "Oh look, a woman is trying to tell us something. How cute!" that happens when she tries to reveal things to the cops. To be fair, the woman agent indicated that the authorities wouldn't believe them anyway.


Hmm, maybe there's less misogyny than I thought in this. Come to think of it, Pamela does seem fairly well rounded for a 1935 female character.

I'm leaning towards a B+ now for this one.

Next: A film not on the docket for September, but yeah, I had to see this one.


Mon Oct 01, 2018 6:06 am
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Thief wrote:

I'm planning to put it on hold for October and try to do something similar, but horror-related. Once I figure it out, I'll let you all in so you can join if you want.


If it's horror based, I may do it. Just understand that I'm looking to use the month to tackle what I've not seen (trying to avoid re-watches if at all possible).


Mon Oct 01, 2018 6:07 am
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Out of competition

The Crime of Monsieur Lange (1936):

As the film opens, Lange (Rene Lefevre) and his girlfriend Valentine (Florelle) are in a bit of a pickle. They're sent to an inn near the Belgian border in the hopes of getting a night's rest before escaping to freedom. But several people at the inn recognize him based on the description and Valentine decides to tell them what happened before passing judgment on them.

We go back in time to find Lange working as a clerk in a publishing company that has come across some tough times. His boss Batala (Jules Berry) is a bit of a financial scam artist (and also very unscrupulous when it comes to women). He dismisses Lange's westerns of Arizona Jim before getting the idea of publishing them using selective advertisements in the work to please one disgruntled person.

Lange is pleased to find his works getting published until he finds out what is going on. More pleased is a cyclist who's laid out due to an injury who's glad to see Lange standing up for himself. But his girlfriend finds herself in a situation, thanks in small part to her job as a laundry deliverer working with Valentine.

But the wolves are at the door demanding payment. Batala decides to scram on the next train leaving his employees in the lurch. The employees surprisingly bond with the son of the ailing top creditor and a decision is made to form a collective, a decision that helps the company grow quickly. But an unexpected Christmas visitor leaves Lange with a tough decision to make.

On the plus side, the story telling remains brisk and you can tell efforts were made to make this feel like a breezy comedy/melodrama. You do get caught up in the plights of Lange, Valentine, the cyclist, and his girlfriend as well as the other employees. Plus, I'm sure it's my first Renoir so there's that.

But um, there's yet another film that

Dives into misogyny with Batala turning out to be the Harvey Weinstein of his day. One particularly creepy moment involves him locking the door of his office as he's complementing the cyclist's girlfriend on her looks. This eventually leads to her getting pregnant, presumably due to Batala. And the film barely even reveals that she lost the baby which leads to...nothing?


Also, did I miss something or how did the collective turn things around so fast for them? This wouldn't be the first time that the employees knew more about how to run a company than the boss (see also 9 to 5), but without so much as an explanation, we're supposed to buy this? OK, movie, sure..

This was...fine. I feel like giving this a B- because I'm glad that I saw it. But it could have been better.

Next: Probably tackling another 2018 film.


Mon Oct 01, 2018 6:45 am
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I'm trying to gather a list of Halloween and/or 2018 films for October that I want to tackle. Here's what I have so far:

Horror:

Definites:
A Quiet Place (RB)
Hereditary (RB)
Get Out (FV)
Friend Request (Netflix)
Truth or Dare (Netflix)
Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (Prime)
Murder Party (Netflix)

Possibles:
The Haunting (1961 version) (?)
Unsane (Prime)
Scarecrows (Prime)
Dead of Winter (Prime)
Boo: A Madea Halloween (Prime)

2018:

Probables:
The Workshop (CI)
Hold the Dark (Netflix)
Black Panther (Netflix)
85: The Greatest Team in Football History (Prime)
Dark Money (PBS)
Acorn and the Firestorm (Tape)

Possibles:
Kirk Cameron: Connect (Netflix)
Pad Man (Netflix)
Destination Wedding (Prime)
Hannah (Prime)

If you know of any great horrors on Prime, Netflix, or TubiTV or any 2018 films from there, I really could appreciate some help.


Mon Oct 01, 2018 9:53 am
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