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 Apex Predator's Film Thread Volume 2.0 
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Ghostbusters (2016)
See a film with a past/present member of SNL

Erin (Kristen Wiig, SNL 1) is trying very hard to land a tenureship at Columbia. But when googling her name, she notes to her horror that her onetime colleague Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) is trying to sell their book online. They were working on proving the existence of paranormal phenomenon such as ghosts when Erin decided to depart, worried more about money and credibility. Abby and engineer Jillian (Kate McKinnon, SNL 2) agree to pull back the book in exchange for Erin joining them on a call. The call ultimately leads Erin to believe again, but all three are fired from their jobs after a video of theirs goes viral.

While Jillian tries to create ghost capturing equipment, Erin and Abby try to get their business off the ground. They hire himbo receptionist Kevin (Chris Hemsworth) and eventually subway ticket taker Patty (Leslie Jones, SNL 3) who has a knowledge of New York City and a re-purposed hearse. They try to capture the ghost and finds the paranormal activity leads to unexpected situations.

Also featuring Cicely Strong (SNL 4) and various cameos (including SNLs 5-6), the cast is solid enough. While not quite at hilarious levels, I rarely found the film less than amusing. I found that McKinnon stole the film from the other three and it benefited when it allowed her quirky nature to shine through. Jones also felt more like an equal and less like a sidekick or lesser character. And Hemsworth once again shows that once his roles in the MarvelVerse comes to an end, he might find traction as a comic actor.

The conflict between the main two characters is solved so quickly one wonders why it was brought up in the first place or why it was such a big deal. Much like the original, it felt like the special effects overcame the film's third act. And with all the winks and nods to the original, it doesn't allow this film to stand on its own two feet as much as it should have.

Overall, this wasn't too bad but it could have been better.

NEXT: A shrink tries to find himself on a long distance journey. I wish he had stayed lost.


Fri Jan 04, 2019 3:22 am
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Definitely enjoyed Baby Driver as well; it's a shame that, as an Edgar Wright movie, people may now necessarily take note of how great its action scenes were, because it really did have some of the best vehicular-based stunts I've seen in a movie since Fury Road, y'know?

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Fri Jan 04, 2019 3:39 pm
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Apex Predator wrote:
Ghostbusters (2016)
See a film with a past/present member of SNL

Erin (Kristen Wiig, SNL 1) is trying very hard to land a tenureship at Columbia. But when googling her name, she notes to her horror that her onetime colleague Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) is trying to sell their book online. They were working on proving the existence of paranormal phenomenon such as ghosts when Erin decided to depart, worried more about money and credibility. Abby and engineer Jillian (Kate McKinnon, SNL 2) agree to pull back the book in exchange for Erin joining them on a call. The call ultimately leads Erin to believe again, but all three are fired from their jobs after a video of theirs goes viral.

While Jillian tries to create ghost capturing equipment, Erin and Abby try to get their business off the ground. They hire himbo receptionist Kevin (Chris Hemsworth) and eventually subway ticket taker Patty (Leslie Jones, SNL 3) who has a knowledge of New York City and a re-purposed hearse. They try to capture the ghost and finds the paranormal activity leads to unexpected situations.

Also featuring Cicely Strong (SNL 4) and various cameos (including SNLs 5-6), the cast is solid enough. While not quite at hilarious levels, I rarely found the film less than amusing. I found that McKinnon stole the film from the other three and it benefited when it allowed her quirky nature to shine through. Jones also felt more like an equal and less like a sidekick or lesser character. And Hemsworth once again shows that once his roles in the MarvelVerse comes to an end, he might find traction as a comic actor.

The conflict between the main two characters is solved so quickly one wonders why it was brought up in the first place or why it was such a big deal. Much like the original, it felt like the special effects overcame the film's third act. And with all the winks and nods to the original, it doesn't allow this film to stand on its own two feet as much as it should have.

Overall, this wasn't too bad but it could have been better.

NEXT: A shrink tries to find himself on a long distance journey. I wish he had stayed lost.


I wasn't crazy about the last act, but overall, I enjoyed it. I really dug Hemsworth's performance, and they all had pretty good chemistry.

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Fri Jan 04, 2019 11:28 pm
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I think if they were able to do Ghostbusters 2, it might have been better than this one.

You're right about the chemistry and being able to move beyond the (original) first film would have probably made the story better. And maybe with some experience, Feig would have been better able to work with CGI and greenscreen.

But I guess it's not meant to be. :(


Sat Jan 05, 2019 3:35 am
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Cinema International just revealed its lineup for Spring.

Bit disappointed there's no Orphanage, but there is a new Pablo Larrain to watch.

Lineup:

January:
I Wish (2012)

February:
I Am Evidence (2017)
In the Fade (2017)
7 Boxes (2014)*
Neruda (2016)*

March:
The Future Perfect (2017)*
The Liberator (2014)*
The Queen of Spain (2017)*

April:
Darkwater (2018)---Not a horror movie unless you don't like Asian Carp.


Sun Jan 13, 2019 10:23 am
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Thief wrote:

I wasn't crazy about the last act, but overall, I enjoyed it. I really dug Hemsworth's performance, and they all had pretty good chemistry.

I found the Hemsworth thing a little... comme ci comme ca. In that I didn't think the writing of his character was very good, but his natural humor shone through. But that's compounded by the fact that a lot of his "dialogue" was apparently improvised and it's not that good. Now, I don't need everybody to be great at everything, but I thought he pulled off the character that they gave him pretty well, given that he did not have good dialogue and some of that may have been his fault. Does that make sense?


Sun Jan 13, 2019 3:00 pm
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Wooley wrote:
I found the Hemsworth thing a little... comme ci comme ca. In that I didn't think the writing of his character was very good, but his natural humor shone through. But that's compounded by the fact that a lot of his "dialogue" was apparently improvised and it's not that good. Now, I don't need everybody to be great at everything, but I thought he pulled off the character that they gave him pretty well, given that he did not have good dialogue and some of that may have been his fault. Does that make sense?


Yeah, I understand your point. To be honest, I don't remember much of his dialogue, but I do remember having fun with his delivery and his performance, so I might agree with you.

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Sun Jan 13, 2019 11:02 pm
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Hector and the Search for Happiness (2014)
See a road trip film

I remember in RT asking about suggestions to finish out my long gestating 2014 project (too bad I wasn't able to save the post before the forums destructed). This was one of them that was submitted.

My apologies in advance.

Hector (Simon Pegg) is a shrink who's lost his smile so he convinces his long-suffering girlfriend Claire (Rosamund Pike) that he needs to travel around the world to find out what makes others happy. But his journey takes several detours along the way.

There's multiple actors who might have some fun off screen as they got to hang out and get a nice paycheck for a few days work. But none of that translates on screen.

There's some moments where you wonder who was this made for. We see what is presumably Hector's inner child as he travels with cartoonish depictions of the journey. At the same time, there's also some very adult things that happen that might scar kids.

Right about the point he left Hong Kong to head to a monastery, I wanted to punch him square in the face. Here's why (mild spoilers follow):

Once in Hong Kong, he meets a beautiful young woman who is interested in his work. Fine. Afterwards, they spend the night in his hotel room.
Way less fine. Then he sets up a lunch where she's ultimately taken by her pimp. Yep, you guessed it, she's a high class call girl.

So, he gets to talk to a businessman who apparently paid for her for the night. Does he confront him about a possible ruined relationship? Punch him square in the jaw? Nope, he says his goodbyes like nothing happened. WTF, film?


I think the charges of racism are a bit harsh because every character consists of the thinnest possible sketch right down to the main people. The homilies are just weak. And this is the same director that did Hannah Montana: The Movie?

Get outta here with that noise!

NEXT: The art may be strong, but how was the film?


Wed Jan 16, 2019 10:56 am
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Loving Vincent (2017)

The first thing you notice is how artistic the animation is on Loving Vincent. I think having 100 painters or so working on it might be a good explanation for it. It feels like you're walking in an oil painting, perhaps done by Van Gogh himself.

While it took four years to get the technique down (also involving extensive green screen), I kind of wish they spent as much time on the story.

The story? Armand (Douglas Booth) is entrusted by his postman father (Chris O'Dowd) to deliver Vincent's last letter to his brother Theo. While reluctant at first, he ultimately makes the trip to Paris. But complications ensue as he learns of Theo's death and more of how Vincent died and how he lived his final days.

I liked how they did the whole mystery angle to keep you hooked as you're watching the art unfold onscreen. But I do wish they had revealed more about his life while it was taking place.

Also, the mystery itself turns out to be much ado about little. Don't worry about how he died, worry about how he lived, one character says. We would if the filmmakers would share that. But if you make such a big deal about the mystery, try to solve it or do something that made sense.


It does tackle some of the mental issues suffered by Van Gogh and how everything affected the life of his loving brother Theo . And yes, they do tackle why he cut off his ear.

This animated tale is well done, but I think the story lacks something to keep up with the impressive animation.

Next: Speaking of lacking, a priest worries about how his church will depict a nativity scene without a centerpiece.


Thu Jan 17, 2019 3:23 am
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A Parish Priest's Christmas (1906)

A priest realizes that his nativity scene is missing baby Jesus and when he realizes he doesn't have enough money to buy one, decides to ask his parishioners for help. But they're a bit short too. Perhaps, Christmas might prove to be surprising for them anyway?

Although I wish they had been a bit more clear with the premise of the film (I had to look it up afterwards, usually a minus), I did enjoy the final couple of minutes which felt well done considering when this film was made. This film was made by Alice Guy-Blache, the world's first female director so there's that as well.

It's pretty short and on Youtube so if you have 6-7 minutes to spare, then why not?

NEXT: This variation on an old chestnut has 99 problems, but Doctor Who ain't one.


Thu Jan 17, 2019 11:11 am
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Apex Predator wrote:
Loving Vincent (2017)

The first thing you notice is how artistic the animation is on Loving Vincent. I think having 100 painters or so working on it might be a good explanation for it. It feels like you're walking in an oil painting, perhaps done by Van Gogh himself.

While it took four years to get the technique down (also involving extensive green screen), I kind of wish they spent as much time on the story.

The story? Armand (Douglas Booth) is entrusted by his postman father (Chris O'Dowd) to deliver Vincent's last letter to his brother Theo. While reluctant at first, he ultimately makes the trip to Paris. But complications ensue as he learns of Theo's death and more of how Vincent died and how he lived his final days.

I liked how they did the whole mystery angle to keep you hooked as you're watching the art unfold onscreen. But I do wish they had revealed more about his life while it was taking place.

Also, the mystery itself turns out to be much ado about little. Don't worry about how he died, worry about how he lived, one character says. We would if the filmmakers would share that. But if you make such a big deal about the mystery, try to solve it or do something that made sense.


It does tackle some of the mental issues suffered by Van Gogh and how everything affected the life of his loving brother Theo . And yes, they do tackle why he cut off his ear.

This animated tale is well done, but I think the story lacks something to keep up with the impressive animation.

Next: Speaking of lacking, a priest worries about how his church will depict a nativity scene without a centerpiece.


I'm curious about this one mostly because of the animation.

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Thu Jan 17, 2019 11:26 am
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Mostly agree with your Loving Vincent thoughts. The frosting was pretty but the cake underneath wasn't quite fully-baked. Here's my thoughts from last year:
Captain Terror wrote:
Of course the first thing one has to mention about this one is the technique used to create it. (The actors were filmed in live action, after which each individual frame was recreated as a separate oil painting done in the style of Van Gogh. Something like 60,000 paintings all told.) Now I gotta admit, as an artist I'm pretty lazy so when I hear about an undertaking like this my first thought is "why would you make your life so difficult?" So I'm not necessarily impressed with the concept such as it is. Also, a process so tedious and time-consuming is not exactly in the spirit of Van Gogh, given that a large part of his appeal is the immediacy of his paintings. Still, the results are lovely to look at so, well done. I certainly appreciate the labor involved. The problem is that the end result is a 90-minute movie that one must sit through and I can't say that it totally succeeds on that level. Like if you remove the oil painting gimmick I'm not sure I'd want to sit through the live action version of this. I'm a Van Gogh fan so the events in the film are not anything I didn't already know, and the acting & script has a sort of amateur hour vibe to it. Saoirse Ronan is in there somewhere and maybe another guy I've heard of, but that's about it for star power. And the directors don't really have any past credits to hang their hats on. So while I hate to discourage anyone from watching something that took so much effort to create, I nevertheless think that a much shorter version of this would've been a better idea. This is a case where I'd probably watch the "making of" features more often than the actual film.

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Thu Jan 17, 2019 11:43 am
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A Christmas Carol (2015)

For the past year, I've more or less being trying to watch films that met particular categories in Thief's thread. For December, he suggested a series of Christmasy categories.

I've seen several Christmas Carol films (the one with Reginald Sim and I think maybe the Patrick Stewart one?), but I've never fully been on board with those.

My original thought was fine, I'll go watch the Jim Carrey A Christmas Carol movie. Knock out both the category and the animated film one as well.

NOPE

After a bit of a search on InstantWatch, I stumbled on this recently arrived version on Amazon Prime. Featuring sixth Doctor Who Colin Baker (not to be confused with the superior Tom) and just barely over an hour, I thought "Well, what's the harm?"

Ha ha ha ha!

Colin Baker does show up as promised to serve as narrator (as Charles Dickens, no less) but the problems start with Ebenezer (Anthony DP Mann, who also directed).

For starters, he looks more like clerk Bob Cratchit (played here by Dave Hudson).

Second, he's more like you might find in a community theater version than in a $1,000,000 movie (yes, that's the actual cost).

Well, this pretty much follows closely to the original book with Marley and the three ghosts deciding to pay a visit to the heartless Scrooge. Although I'm sure Dickens would not like to be known as writer of this one (suggested by or based on, maybe).

The writing, the direction, CGI (yes, there's CGI but it's pretty poorly done, big surprise) are all pretty poorly done. And then, let's talk about the music. Instead of a musical with full songs, you get on the nose snippets that make you wonder if this is really from the directors of God's Not Dead.

Colin Baker tries, bless his heart, but even he can't overcome the amateurishness of all this.

Considering he's played Dracula, Phantom of the Opera, and Scrooge, considering he's directed 6 of his 7 films he's been in, and considering he's written 3 of them, it's fair to say that Anthony DP Mann is perhaps a Tommy Wiseau in the making. Too bad this doesn't come close to the unintentional entertainment of The Room.

Boil this one in its figgy pudding.

NEXT: Loud, dumb box office bust.


Fri Jan 18, 2019 3:17 am
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Thief wrote:

I'm curious about this one mostly because of the animation.


I gave this one a B.

The animation is great, the story's not too bad. Just keep expectations in check.


Fri Jan 18, 2019 3:19 am
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Monster Trucks (2017)

The big surprise isn't that the millions of dollars spent on making the creature named Creech more likable didn't work. It didn't. It isn't that it appears to have taken a long time to get from concept to screen; the song Home at the end kinda confirms this.

It's that a film that got off to a slow start improved as it went.

Teenaged Tripp (Lucas Till) is a young man whose parents split over the local oil factory. His mother (Amy Ryan!) is currently seeing sheriff Rick (Barry Pepper) and being a typical teen, he doesn't see eye to eye with the new beau. He also pines to turn his fixer-upper truck into a big truck to impress this girl who is into a rival.

But one night while working in the junkyard belonging to Mr. Weathers (Danny Glover), he happens upon Creech, an oil drinking creature that combines ET with tentacles. At first frightened, Tripp comes to see the charms of the creature even as it places him against oil company owner Reece Tenneson (Rob Lowe) who wants him captured and deep-sixed. With the help of smart Meredith (Jane Levy), he attempts to get Creech back home to his parents and to freedom.

It takes a little while for this movie to find a rhythm, but once it does, it starts to be compelling and interesting. I liked how they didn't dumb down Meredith's character or turn her into a love-struck damsel in distress. It allowed her to science (the same can be said for Thomas Lennon's scientist who works as Reece's assistant).

I could have dealt without the belching and vomiting, but it comes pretty close to being OK. And that's something I wouldn't have guessed during the opening 10-15 minutes.

NEXT: Unconventional actor makes the rounds of one Santa Claus for a competition.


Tue Jan 22, 2019 1:28 am
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Santa Quest (2014)

John Dunsworth (the landlord Lahey on Trailer Park Boys) has been chosen to represent Canada in the Santa Games, a competition testing various athletes in various Santa-esque activities like staying on top of a rocking reindeer, porridge eating, and package stacking.

But having been a while since he believed in Santa, John decides to travel to several locations such as Italy where the real Saint Nicholas is buried (or is he?), visit a Christmas market in Austria, and a Santa village in Finland. Along the way, he thinks about Santa Claus and the idea of belief. He has some fun, but he takes wearing the Santa suit seriously (pains are taken not to harm the belief of various kids).

It captures both the highs and lows of Santa (the village is a high point while participating at a debauched SantaCon in New York, um yeah).while also diving into age (John is the oldest contestant, by far) and family. But things in this documentary go by in such a breezy fashion.

There are a few moments that I found a bit jarring involving a radio station and in a gym. Also, it felt at times like the film was a bit unfocused (time is taken showcasing a tour of Trailer Park Boys, albeit a Christmas themed one).

But as documentaries go, this one was fairly entertaining.

Next: An animated comedy about the Nativity?


Sat Feb 02, 2019 11:52 am
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The Star (2015)
How do you make an animated comedy based on the Nativity Story? More importantly, considering those backing you, how do you keep it from being sacrilegious?

This movie's answer: keep closely to the script for the humans and let the animals do their funny best to keep it entertaining.

Bo (Steven Yuen) is a donkey working in a grain mill who longs for bigger and better things, drawing the attention of dove Dave (Keegan-Michael Key) who longs to ride in the royal caravan himself. Dave helps Bo escape and in his running, he befriends a pregnant Mary (Gina Rodriguez).

Although her boyfriend Joseph (Zachary Levi) is reluctant, they make a trek to Bethlehem due to a census. Meanwhile, Bo along with Dave and sheep Ruth (Aidy Bryant) vow to protect Mary from people hired by King Herod (Christopher Plummer) to take out a rumored Messiah.

Humor is fairly gentle and honestly, there's less violence here than in the Lion King. Other voices include Kelly Clarkson, Mariah Carey, Tracy Morgan, and Kristen Chenowith.

I felt like this could have been more entertaining, more funny. Some of the actors hired didn't have enough to do.

But considering what they had to work with, the result was good enough that it could pass for fare to watch after opening Christmas presents.

Next: A very important movie about the power of reporting..


Sun Feb 03, 2019 9:20 am
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Spotlight (2015)

Good old fashioned reporting seizes the day in this examination on how a new editor named Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber) decides to have a team of journalists investigate a priest accused of serial molestation. Although this search is complicated by external forces in Boston (apparently there are a lot of Catholics in Boston) and some nervous people in the Globe, the team (led by Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams) learns that as they examine the priest, they're noticing a pattern that could blow the lid off of a major scandal. But at the same time, the clock is ticking.

This film works as a first class thriller as they learn the logistics of both the activity and its cover-up (one jolting moment is when one of the reporters learns that one of the priests lives in HIS neighborhood). Film serves as a major argument about the power of journalism as they fight for the truth to be revealed and for the public to know even as forces try to keep things under wraps.

The act of circling names on a spreadsheet really makes it hit home.


Well acted, superbly written and directed, it makes perfect sense to see this win Best Picture at the Oscars.

Next: The Rest of December!


Fri Feb 08, 2019 3:35 am
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Still need to see that one; here's hoping it won't be as dry as I thought The Post was, eh?

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Fri Feb 08, 2019 2:23 pm
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Stu wrote:
Still need to see that one; here's hoping it won't be as dry as I thought The Post was, eh?


I didn't find it too dry, so go for it.


Sat Feb 09, 2019 3:20 am
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I also want to check that one out, but it's not on any streaming service. It's the only Best Picture winner I haven't seen from the last 15 or so years.

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Sat Feb 09, 2019 8:38 am
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Thief wrote:
I also want to check that one out, but it's not on any streaming service. It's the only Best Picture winner I haven't seen from the last 15 or so years.


It was on Netflix just a few months ago.

The only ones I've apparently missed are Moonlight (hoping February will be the charm) and Argo. It's a distinct possibility that this year will be among them depending on who wins.


Sat Feb 09, 2019 11:06 am
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Apex Predator wrote:

It was on Netflix just a few months ago.

The only ones I've apparently missed are Moonlight (hoping February will be the charm) and Argo. It's a distinct possibility that this year will be among them depending on who wins.


Well, I only got into Netflix last month, so maybe I missed it by a hair.

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Sun Feb 10, 2019 4:13 am
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The rest of December:

Neither of these films were good enough to get their own entry or recommended by yours truly. But they're good enough to get a recap.

Dead of Winter (2014)

The concept behind this one is interesting. An ex-con is hired to take a group of people geocaching where they solve riddles and find clues to eventually have one team win some cash.

But the problem begins when one of the contestants loses his head.

The idea behind this one is interesting; the execution not so much. You got some real "charming" personalities in the mix A mystery that gets obvious in the final third. A love triangle that turns obvious. And an ending that happened because the filmmakers ran out of cash themselves.

It's the equivalent of walking around the block in a foot of snow.

Grandmother's House (2001)

Filipino horror tries to mix Tyler Perry melodrama with Poltergeistian thrills on a budget that couldn't go over $1,000.

Yeah, as you can guess, that went real well.

Basically, two families agree to go to their mother's ancestral home to have a powwow session with their estranged younger sister living there. But thanks to evil spirits in the family (or something), strange things start to happen.

The melodrama and horror turn out to be a poor mix. Worse, the film more often than not forgets that it's supposed to be scary.

The chemistry between the youngest sister and the gay man, who was the oldest sister's assistant is a pleasant surprise; the scene where he is celebrating finding the place where he can get bars on his cellphone was aces.

I've seen judgement houses that were scarier...and better run.

Next: 2018 in review!


Sun Feb 10, 2019 7:06 am
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Here's all the films I've seen in 2018 (not including re-watches) along with brief thoughts on each of them:

Kill It With Fire:
Hector and the Search for Happiness---Perhaps with far better hands this could have worked. But Pegg's character proves unlikable and I had more fun speculating how Pike's character transferred into Gone Girl.

A Christmas Carol (2015)---Almost fell into the Room/Miami Connection school of so bad, it's good. Too bad it's just so inept outside of Colin Baker's Dickens.

Very Bad:
Pecking Order---Wants very bad to be a Best in Show style documentary about Chickens in New Zealand, but the only interesting things happen off-screen.

The Bye Bye Man---The mythology wasn't that hard to explain. But why Faye Dunaway and Carrie-Anne Moss are in this confounds me.

David and Goliath (2015)---This is what happens when you try to turn a few minutes of action into a full-fledged film replete with British accents, uncovered tattoos, and lessons on the dangers of appeasement.

The Vault---Someone took a so-so heist movie and grafted a terrible horror film with it. PS: Way more interested in the head teller than in Franco's character.

Bad:
Slap Shot 2---Outside of the Hanson brothers, everyone involved needs to be locked in the penalty box for pissing away the legacy of a comedy.

The Devil and Father Amorth---The h is silent in this documentary, but it's harder to determine what is less real. The story of the good Father or the exorcism itself replete with sound effects that feel like they came from The Exorcist.

Grandmother's House---Ultra low-budget Filipino film tries to merge Tyler Perry melodrama with Poltergeist with the expected results, although there's spinoff potential between the outcast sister and the rich sister's gay planner.

The Only Living Boy in New York---Pretentious poppycock features a ludicrous love triangle and a third act that would be laughed out of reputable book houses everywhere.

Hide and Seek (2010)---Not sure we needed a Bollywoodesque thriller about a mall reunion of people involved in a birthday tragedy, but here we are.

Wedding Unplanned---Ludicrous story of a one night stand who's more or less obligated to plan for the wedding of the man she was with and his fiancee. Borderline misogyny played for laughs, but not everything flopped.

mother!---Jennifer Lawrence was fine, but not a huge fan of having to look outside the film for deeper meanings. That sequence once the book gets published...huh?

Hellraiser---At times a cut above the standard horror shlock, but between the British accents in New Yawk and the somewhat laughable story, it sinks into not good territory.

Canadian Bacon---I apologize for thinking Michael Moore could do a regular motion picture after sitting through enough of his documentaries and some of the stretches of truth he goes through.

Pretty Bad:
The Hungry---I guess I'll never get into Titus Andronicus, will I? Some moments of revenge are well done, but the story was just meh.

Flipper's New Adventure---The island sequences are kind of cute but they had to go and bring the robbers back into the equation, didn't they?

Director's Cut---The commentary on the filmmaking is fine, but they forgot to make this a horror or turn Penn Jillette bad, didn't they? Blame director Adam Rifkin (Detroit Rock City).

Dead of Winter (2014)---Some interesting ideas in this geo-caching game from hell, but the last third just kind of sucked.

Nasty Rabbit---The cheap stereotypes didn't help, but it appears that Arch Hall Jr. might have made a passable supporting character actor.

XXX: Return of Xander Cage---Like the opening stunt, this was kinda underwhelming in its turn towards Fast and the Furious territory with some terrible performances.

Meh:
A Parish Priest's Christmas---Although the last minute almost redeems this, they could have made some things clearer up to that point.

Francofonia---There's an interesting story involving a Nazi, a French man, and some art museum pieces during World War 2. But this documentary does a confusing job of telling it.

The Tribe---It was interesting diving into the world of deaf students in the Ukraine, but as the film slogs towards its conclusion, I was just done.

Monster Trucks---Outside of the very odd main creature and some odd tone shifts, there's parts of this film that prove to be...entertaining.

Take Me to the River (2015)---There's an interesting film about a gay kid from California and his adjustment to his less understanding Nebraska relatives. But the director never reveals his cards right up to a facepalm worthy ending.

It was...OK
We Will Part---There's parts of this Swedish romance covering its ups and downs that are fine, but there's parts that don't work.

K-9 and Company: A Girl's Best Friend---Sarah Jane and K-9 make for an interesting team, but they spend too much time with weak Brendan. Bravura climax to the story, though.

Meshes of the Afternoon---Some interesting camera tricks keep you watching this short, but I wish it had ended better.

Modest Reception---Somewhat interesting film about a man and woman who is giving away money for some unknown reason is marred by a slack last 20 minutes or so.

Schoenfeld Boulevard---Fat teen girl finds her calling, but like adolescence, there's moments of grace and moments of awkwardness.

Stranger with a Camera---Evenhanded documentary of a Canadian filmmaker killed by a Kentuckian who didn't care for his message. Perhaps too even-handed.

Othello---Not sure why they cut out half the film and had Orson Welles as the titular character, but the Venetian scenery and some choice line deliveries made this passable.

Valerian---Much like Avatar, there was some really nice visual scenes. Also much like Avatar, the storyline was far too simple for its own good. Still undecided on Dane DeHaan's tough guy performance.

Santa Quest---The landlord from Trailer Park Boys takes on Santa for some games in Finland in this amusing, although somewhat scattered documentary. Nice moments of insight at times.

The Angry Birds Movie---Animated film that takes a while to get to the gameplay portion everyone's been waiting for. Some fitful adult humor on anger management and being true to yourself keeps you watching before that point.

Derren Brown: The Push---It plays like The Game only Brown keeps insisting on explaining everything happening. It struggles to build momentum, but that last part was a pleasant surprise.

A Christmas Prince---Middling Christmas/royalty comedy about how a reporter itching for a scoop ends up falling for her target. Doesn't pretend to be more than it is. Probably the nicest we've seen out of Alice Krige.

Set It Up---Film wants to be a romcom about two people setting up their bosses while not seeing the news right in front of them. Some charming moments (yay Pete Davidson), but might have worked better had they not try to avoid the obvious.

Decent:
Talent Has Hunger---Documentary about the trials and tribulations of a group of young cello players over a series of years. Could have used more insight.

Dedh Ishqiya---Bollywood comedy about two con men who try to scam a wealthy widow and her daughter. The misogyny was unnecessary, but there's something notable about this one as well (can't say without spoiling it).

Food on the Go---Too short documentary about how Italian cuisine is affected by its adoption in South America and the US. Feels at home on the Food Channel.

Never Give a Sucker an Even Break---WC Fields and the pipes of his niece Gloria Jean are the whole story in this tale of a surreal script.

Derren Brown: Sacrifice---There's some affecting moments in this somewhat manipulative tale of a red-hatter turned hero.

The Star---Animals say the darnest things in this somewhat loose adaption of the Nativity Story that's perfect in the background for opening presents.

Welcome Mr. President---Thanks to luck, a never-do-well librarian/storyteller becomes the President of Italy in this somewhat underdeveloped farce with a kicker of a final punchline.

Born in China---Nature documentary gets a bit manipulative at times, but the photography of China and their animals is cute all the same.

A Good Day for a Hanging---Somewhat unusual Western about a sheriff and a charming cowboy accused of murder. Of course, it would star Fred McMurray.

Above Average:
The Imitation Game---Don't trust the facts presented in this drama/thriller about the man responsible for creating the Enigma code breaker.

Wildland---Maybe the remaining 40 minutes or so further flesh out the (mostly) young men in a wildfire unit that hurries up and waits until danger occurs.

A Corner on Wheat----Not everything meshes in this short, but at times, it works pretty well.

An American In Paris: The Musical---The set design changes are impressive, but some of the comedy is too back of the room for its own good and the acting is touch and go in places. One pretty powerful sequence, though.

The Boy---Two thirds of a solid thriller about a woman in England on an unusual babysitting assignment. Too bad, the final third has to happen.

Jurassic World---A bit sexist at times, but this somewhat overblown action reboot of the Jurassic Park franchise does just enough to keep things moving.

93Queen---Somewhat scattered documentary on the first female group of paramedics in Queens features an interesting woman at its core, but wants to spend too much time outside the story at its core.

National Parks Adventure---It feels like a glorified ad for the National Parks service, but once the family takes charge, it proves to be interesting.

Singing in the Rain---Perhaps a better villain might have made this classic musical about movies turning to sound stand out more. Well, there's some good professionalism from Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor and some nifty dance sequences.

Singing with Angry Bird---Perhaps the time cut from POV's documentary might have shown more on why he's angry? But there's some uplift when he convinces his students to include their parents in a joint concert.

Far From Men---A couple of solid lead turns help this short story from Albert Camus about two men facing a difficult choice also featuring nice Algerian scenery. The story outside of that is a bit underwhelming, though.

The Crime of Monsieur Lange---Some sexism (shades of Weinstein) detracts from otherwise amusing story of book editors driven towards running things their way.

Deep Red---Underwhelming reveal and some sexism detracts from otherwise solid Argento murder mystery of mysterious dolls and a black gloved killer.

Ghostbusters (2016)---Amusing comedy of sisters fighting ghosts for themselves benefits from solid chemistry, but could have used some more confidence and a bit less reverence towards the original film.

The Bank Dick---Amusing comedy about a bank detective a bit over his head when the story about him capturing a bank robber goes out. How many of his film finales deal with cars btw?

The Sadist---Surprisingly good Arch Hall Jr. performance anchors this decent B-film of a trio of baseball enthusiasts with car trouble who come into a junkyard just as two thrill killers show up.

Following---Some sexism, but this short Christopher Nolan film does benefit from an interesting premise.

Good
Suspicion---Outside of an underwhelming finale, this is a pretty solid second tier Hitchcock dealing with a woman wondering about her husband and fearing he's a possible killer.

Murder Party---Perhaps they could have been less contemptuous of the art world, but still you get a pretty good idea of the building blocks Jeremy Saulnier would use in his later films. Pretty funny in places as well.

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir---Funny back and forth sparring between a woman desperate to provide for herself and a sea captain determined to set the record straight on his life...and death.

Norman---The climax is a bit underdeveloped, but nice character study of a man willing to use his connections to help himself and others he comes to care about. Great performance from Richard Gere.

The Workshop---Although there's some unsettling moments, it's a pretty solid reflection of a young man dealing with modern life and working on a group novel led by an author dealing with some writing blocks.

Loving Vincent---Perhaps they could have done a better job of emphasizing his life and moving away from the mystery at its core. But the visuals with 100 painters are gorgeous and the mystery does keep you enthralled.

The Accountant---May not hold up to scrutiny, but this accountant/assassin film does have a solid Ben Affleck performance at its core with some solid supporting ones. Bonus points for getting the accounting portions right.

It Happened One Night---Some sexist moments, but also some undeniably funny ones featuring solid chemistry between Gable and Colbert. Best part: the scene where he scares off a blackmailer.

Baby Driver---It gets a bit lost in its final 20 minutes, but until then, this cross between musical and Drive does benefit from some solid stunts and clever uses of music.

Frantz---Story of forgiveness amid post-World War I between a family and a man who has some bad news. The story could have been a bit tighter, but I do approve of the ending.

Om Shanti Om---The Avengers of Bollywood films as a man who dreams of Bollywood stardom finally gets his dreams answered, but there's a twist. Good fun and dark mystery somehow co-exist well enough.

Edge of Tomorrow---It's fun seeing Tom Cruise get smacked around by giant robotic arms! This may be the closest we get to a video game working in film, although I wish they kept Blunt's character as tough in the third act as she was in the first two.

Very Good
The 39 Steps---Another Hitchcock film about a man trying to clear his name and his reluctant female companion. Thrilling with a clever twist.

Murder My Sweet---Marlowe finds himself caught up in finding a missing girl and murder. Some nifty visuals and Powell is convincing as the detective.

Whose Streets?---Powerful documentary explores the aftermath of cops killing an unarmed man in Ferguson, Missouri. Shows what really happened in the protests and also serves as a cautionary tale about not always believing what the news tells you.

From Russia with Love---First taste of Connery as Bond indicates that he was the best man for the job. Some moments of sexism, but also manages to combine thrills, action, and some clever lines in an intoxicating mix. And where's Russia in all of this?

The Philadelphia Story---The story of a man, a reporter, and a photographer thrown into a society wedding involving the man's ex proves to be hilarious once we get past the noxious beginning. Also, it gets emotionally complex. Good performances, although the ending feels random.

Excellent
Coraline---Story of a moody teen searching for a better group of parents and excitement finds out to be careful what she wishes for. Some first class nightmare fuel.

Life Itself (2014)---The life of reporter/critic Roger Ebert is well told in this documentary that focuses on his dealings with rival/co-worker Gene Siskel as well as the last few years of his life. Also serves as a first class love story.

Dark Money---If you want to know why Washington is the way it is, check out this documentary on PACs corrupting Montana government and the brave reporter determined to get the story told.

The Shape of Water---A few odd moments aside, this tale of forbidden love between a mute woman with a love for old school film and a creature found by an evil FBI agent is a reworking of Creature from the Black Lagoon.

Dunkirk---Old fashioned derring-do is mixed in with new CGI technology in this World War 2 pic from Christopher Nolan that might have used a tad more development in its characters, but manages to be rousing anyway.

Les Diaboliques---The plan of two women to off the man they have in common goes terribly wrong in this thriller that makes good use of writing and acting. Nifty final third.

Battleship Potemkin---The film was emotionally manipulative, but it packs a wallop between the sequences on the boat in the beginning and the Odessa steps sequence.

Born Yesterday---Judy Holiday deserves Best Actress for the daffy moll who gets some education from reporter William Holden. Enjoyable climax.

Bringing Up Baby---Put upon scientist Cary Grant is dragged along by Katherine Hepburn's niece of the museum matron he's trying to impress in a saga that involves a baby leopard, a rare dino bone, and multiple misunderstandings. Plus Swinging Door Susie!

Must See
Spotlight---Very important film about the power of journalism works as a first rate thriller as a group of reporters break down a massive scandal involving a cover-up of pedophile priests amid the very Catholic area of Boston.

The Conversation---Thriller about an expert obsessed with a surveillance tape featuring a couple he's been hired to tail. A masterpiece of writing, acting and direction. Will probably leave you unsettled in the climax.

My Life as a Zucchini---Story of an orphan who learns his way around an orphanage and finds possible love is a mix of unsettling moments (how they got here) and hilarious ones (their first look at snow). It may be short, but it's also just about perfect.

Sunset Boulevard---First class tale of two people who have been rejected by society finding respite in each other as he tries to make her comeback happen and how love got in the way. Some biting laughs and some creepy moments.

The Postman Always Rings Twice---Classic film noir focusing on a drifter, a woman with ambition, and the owner of a hamburger shop. Not only does Lana Turner look gorgeous, she's also cunning. Clever finale.

Classic
Metropolis---The battle between the elite and the poor is joined by a rich person's son in love with a poor girl. Great visuals, sequences, everything is gold.


Sun Feb 17, 2019 11:04 am
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Apex Predator wrote:
Here's all the films I've seen in 2018 (not including re-watches) along with brief thoughts on each of them:

Bad:

Hellraiser---At times a cut above the standard horror shlock, but between the British accents in New Yawk and the somewhat laughable story, it sinks into not good territory.

Above Average:

Jurassic World---A bit sexist at times, but this somewhat overblown action reboot of the Jurassic Park franchise does just enough to keep things moving.

Singing in the Rain---Perhaps a better villain might have made this classic musical about movies turning to sound stand out more. Well, there's some good professionalism from Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor and some nifty dance sequences.

The Bank Dick---Amusing comedy about a bank detective a bit over his head when the story about him capturing a bank robber goes out. How many of his film finales deal with cars btw?

Must See

Sunset Boulevard---First class tale of two people who have been rejected by society finding respite in each other as he tries to make her comeback happen and how love got in the way. Some biting laughs and some creepy moments.

The Postman Always Rings Twice---Classic film noir focusing on a drifter, a woman with ambition, and the owner of a hamburger shop. Not only does Lana Turner look gorgeous, she's also cunning. Clever finale.

Classic
Metropolis---The battle between the elite and the poor is joined by a rich person's son in love with a poor girl. Great visuals, sequences, everything is gold.


I mean, you seriously have Hellraiser, which, despite all its flaws, still raises peoples' interest more than 30 years after its release multiple tiers below the Angry Birds Movie. Come on, man.
And Singing In The Rain and The Bank Dick in the same tier as the dreadfully Saturday Matinee-on-its-best-fucking-day Jurassic World?
What are the fucking criteria here?!
At least Sunset Boulevard is almost properly represented (I would have gone straight to Classic without exhaling and put it well above the very good and worth remembering but hardly in the same league Postman), and of course Metropolis where it belongs.
Rant ended.


Sun Feb 17, 2019 3:23 pm
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Wooley wrote:

I mean, you seriously have Hellraiser, which, despite all its flaws, still raises peoples' interest more than 30 years after its release multiple tiers below the Angry Birds Movie. Come on, man.
And Singing In The Rain and The Bank Dick in the same tier as the dreadfully Saturday Matinee-on-its-best-fucking-day Jurassic World?
What are the fucking criteria here?!
At least Sunset Boulevard is almost properly represented (I would have gone straight to Classic without exhaling and put it well above the very good and worth remembering but hardly in the same league Postman), and of course Metropolis where it belongs.
Rant ended.


The criteria is based on how I rated them on a scale of A+ to F.

I found Hellraiser to be interesting at times in how it portrayed Pinhead and the messed up love story, but other elements such as Kirsty and her boyfriend and her father didn't click at all. One scene featuring a restaurant conversation between Kirsty and her father just felt like it was in a different sort of film altogether. Oh, and British accents in New York City?

Angry Birds was fine in the shut your brain off and enjoy animated entertainment that big studios outside Disney tend to come up with these days.

Singing in the Rain disappointed me. Although the dancing was fine and the singing was fairly good, I think the film suffered when those things didn't happen. The story struggled to keep up, particularly the villain for the piece.

It made sense that it was Judy Holliday's understudy. Holliday would have knocked it out of the park.


The Bank Dick was a marginal improvement on Never Give a Sucker an Even Break. I think he works better as a cuckolded husband than as a crazy uncle. The plot about him getting a chance to live out his favored detective novels even though he's over his head in the bank was not bad. The sequence where he took over as director came outta left field. Also, I think his humor is an acquired taste. Some moments clicked, some not so much.

Also, that's two WC Fields films that I've seen whose climax depends on auto mayhem. Does he do that in all of them?


Much like Angry Birds Movie, Jurassic World was another one of those shut your brain off and enjoy movies. At times, they came fairly close to bringing back the wonder and excitement of the first film.

But then again, the kids were annoying. And the way they knocked off the nanny felt particularly cruel.


Perhaps I underrated Boulevard a tad (although we're arguing about films I rated an A on, so it couldn't be that much). Both Boulevard and Postman rode undercurrents of cynicism to high spots on this list.

Plus the punchline on Postman makes me feel like it belongs up there with Boulevard.


I hope my further thoughts have helped on the matter. And I'm out before someone melts down over mother! and its placement.


Mon Feb 18, 2019 7:35 am
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Please understand that I intend this as a friendly discussion, we've known each other too long (on a movie forum) and I've held you in too high a regard for this to be any kind of attack on your taste or your process.
I say this because I am well-aware of how things can come across when people can't see each other's faces or hear the inflections in their voices.

Well, I understand what you're saying, I think I'm just struggling with the notion that An American In Paris, considered by many to be the single greatest American musical of all time, or Singing In The Rain, considered by the American Film Institute to be the single greatest musical of all-time, can be considered merely as good as a throwaway like the '16 Ghostbusters or Jurassic World. That's the place in history of those films, "Eh, they're about as good as the Ghostbusters remake or the fifth installment in the Jurassic series". I'm struggling there. Or The Bank Dick, which Stanley Kubrick put on his list of his ten favorite films or Roger Ebert included in his Great Movies, just right there with Jurassic World and Ghostbusters '16. Begging the question, of course, if Ebert and Kubrick were alive, would Jurassic World and Ghostbusters '16 be included in The Great Movies and what might Kubrick have bumped from his list to include them.
You see where I'm coming from, I'm sure, that there is the subjective of how much you or I actually just liked the movies when we saw them and then there is (admittedly also subjective but with a lot more input and history) the historic place of great films and how odd it seems to see them held up alongside current films that have not only not withstood any test of time, but likely won't and weren't even considered particularly good the week they came out.
It does not help, of course, that I've seen Singing In The Rain at least a dozen times.
Of course, you're right, arguing over an A versus an A+ is a strange conversation, but I guess I feel like, if Sunset Boulevard, which was on every list of the greatest films of all time I could find when I started watching the classics in earnest years ago and absofuckinglutely lived up to its billing, can't get an A+, what can?
The answer, obviously, is Metropolis. ;)


Mon Feb 18, 2019 11:57 am
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The idea that Hellraiser is a bad film just blows my mind. I mean, between
Frank's resurrection sequence
and the surrealism and dread and visual impact of the sequence in Kirsty's hospital room it's one of the more memorable horrors that I saw as a teen.

I'm glad you liked The Conversation so much.


Mon Feb 18, 2019 12:22 pm
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Takoma1 wrote:
The idea that Hellraiser is a bad film just blows my mind. I mean, between
Frank's resurrection sequence
and the surrealism and dread and visual impact of the sequence in Kirsty's hospital room it's one of the more memorable horrors that I saw as a teen.

I also struggle with the notion that Hellraiser is not only bad but actually falls in a lower tier altogether than Flipper's New Adventure and XXX: The Return Of Xander Cage and, again, way below The Angry Birds Movie.


Mon Feb 18, 2019 12:58 pm
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Wooley wrote:
Please understand that I intend this as a friendly discussion, we've known each other too long (on a movie forum) and I've held you in too high a regard for this to be any kind of attack on your taste or your process.
I say this because I am well-aware of how things can come across when people can't see each other's faces or hear the inflections in their voices.

Well, I understand what you're saying, I think I'm just struggling with the notion that An American In Paris, considered by many to be the single greatest American musical of all time, or Singing In The Rain, considered by the American Film Institute to be the single greatest musical of all-time, can be considered merely as good as a throwaway like the '16 Ghostbusters or Jurassic World. That's the place in history of those films, "Eh, they're about as good as the Ghostbusters remake or the fifth installment in the Jurassic series". I'm struggling there. Or The Bank Dick, which Stanley Kubrick put on his list of his ten favorite films or Roger Ebert included in his Great Movies, just right there with Jurassic World and Ghostbusters '16. Begging the question, of course, if Ebert and Kubrick were alive, would Jurassic World and Ghostbusters '16 be included in The Great Movies and what might Kubrick have bumped from his list to include them.
You see where I'm coming from, I'm sure, that there is the subjective of how much you or I actually just liked the movies when we saw them and then there is (admittedly also subjective but with a lot more input and history) the historic place of great films and how odd it seems to see them held up alongside current films that have not only not withstood any test of time, but likely won't and weren't even considered particularly good the week they came out.
It does not help, of course, that I've seen Singing In The Rain at least a dozen times.
Of course, you're right, arguing over an A versus an A+ is a strange conversation, but I guess I feel like, if Sunset Boulevard, which was on every list of the greatest films of all time I could find when I started watching the classics in earnest years ago and absofuckinglutely lived up to its billing, can't get an A+, what can?
The answer, obviously, is Metropolis. ;)


The American in Paris isn't the Gene Kelly classic. It's the stage version that aired on PBS last year and got some theatrical viewings abroad.

Pretty sure Kubrick wouldn't replace The Bank Dick with Ghostbusters 2016 or Jurassic World (more likely, it might be replaced with Enemy or Blue Ruin). If Ebert was alive, I'd bet they'd get 2 or maybe 2.5 stars out of 4.

To be sure, it's difficult to decide what deserves an A and an A+ or where the line would be drawn. If it'd help, I'd argue Sunset Boulevard would be more likely to get an A+ than The Postman Always Rings Twice.

Historical context is something that I could look at for future reference. I like to think I'm gaining more of that sort of perspective than some whipper snapper video reviewers who would consider a film made before 1980 to be classic or ancient.

I wasn't necessarily worried about your opinion; it's the person who I've already clashed with on mother! that concerns me.


Tue Feb 19, 2019 3:35 am
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Takoma1 wrote:
The idea that Hellraiser is a bad film just blows my mind. I mean, between
Frank's resurrection sequence
and the surrealism and dread and visual impact of the sequence in Kirsty's hospital room it's one of the more memorable horrors that I saw as a teen.

I'm glad you liked The Conversation so much.


It had some memorable moments, sure. Some interesting ideas. But there were issues (the British accents in New York, how did the rest of the family not know there was something going on in the house...or with their wife/mother?) that took me out of it.

You would think watching one guy obsess over a few minutes of footage for hours on end would be dull, right? Not with crisp writing, well drawn characters, or a story that keeps your interest. At one point, I jumped when I heard a floor buffer AND I'VE USED ONE OF THOSE BEFORE.


Tue Feb 19, 2019 3:46 am
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Apex Predator wrote:
It had some memorable moments, sure. Some interesting ideas. But there were issues (the British accents in New York, how did the rest of the family not know there was something going on in the house...or with their wife/mother?) that took me out of it.


I'm not quite sure what you mean by this.

Who is the "rest of the family"? Frank is in the house and he dies at the beginning, leaving behind no trace. Then Larry and Julia move into the house, where Frank is resurrected in the attic. Julia starts luring men home during the day so that Frank can kill them to feed.

Kirsty DOES figure out that something is going on (despite the fact that she lives at her own place), but she thinks Julia is having an affair. Plus Julia is shown to be kind of aloof anyway, so her behavior is pretty well within the range of what people already know about her.


Tue Feb 19, 2019 9:13 am
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Apex Predator wrote:
it's the person who I've already clashed with on mother! that concerns me.

Simmer down, Pex. Just because you're wrong doesn't mean we can't be friends.


Tue Feb 19, 2019 9:42 am
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Takoma1 wrote:

I'm not quite sure what you mean by this.

Who is the "rest of the family"? Frank is in the house and he dies at the beginning, leaving behind no trace. Then Larry and Julia move into the house, where Frank is resurrected in the attic. Julia starts luring men home during the day so that Frank can kill them to feed.

Kirsty DOES figure out that something is going on (despite the fact that she lives at her own place), but she thinks Julia is having an affair. Plus Julia is shown to be kind of aloof anyway, so her behavior is pretty well within the range of what people already know about her.


Larry, mainly. I do know Kirsty does figure things out eventually, otherwise we have no third act. Considering how close Larry gets several times to finding out what Julia is doing (or at least suspecting she might be having an affair), it took me out of what was happening.

Plus, that house isn't exactly huge.


Tue Feb 19, 2019 9:57 am
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