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 Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2018 
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Thanks for filling me in guys.

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Thu Apr 05, 2018 2:54 am
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Thanks for the clarifications, BL

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Thu Apr 05, 2018 3:00 am
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A film in a country you've never visited: Ashes of Time

About halfway through this movie, after having to repeatedly check Wikipedia to understand the plot, I just surrendered myself to the gorgeous visuals and instantly it became ten times more enjoyable.

Ashes of Time follows several characters: a for0hire swordsman, a woman out to avenge her brother's murder, a bizarre brother/sister pair with an insane secret, etc. All of these stories overlap.

There is only one flaw to this movie, and to me that was the writing. Or, not even the writing, but just the pacing. There are sequences in which really interesting characters are introduced, then a voice over will suddenly be like "I never saw that man again. But I heard he moved to an island and then died a year later." I found the epilogues really unsatisfying for the most part. The movie is based on a book that is a prequel to another novel, and a lot of the work of the movie is giving backstory to those characters.

But where I found the story itself a little lacking, the visuals are amazing. Wong Kar-wai has such a distinctive style and there were certain shots that were worth the price of admission on their own. The performances are also good, though the characters mainly hit on the same note of "tortured and unhappy". Everyone in this movie is depressed, and that leads to a lack of tonal variation that was a little hard to take. Still, the cast is really strong and even a shot of someone walking down a hallway has power to it.

I kind of wish that I hadn't been so worried about following the story from the beginning. Once I began to let the movie be a primarily artistic/visual experience (as opposed to a mostly narrative one) I really began to enjoy it. It's not my favorite of Kar-wai's work, but neither is it the misfire I felt it to be in the first 30 minutes. Still, I found that many images (or that use of slow-motion that he's so fond of) evoked his other films, especially In the Mood for Love, and those comparisons didn't do Ashes of Time any favors.


Thu Apr 05, 2018 7:13 am
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An Italian language film: Erik the Conqueror

This was one that I expected to be like "Okay, it isn't really my area of interest. But I'm expanding my horizons, blah, blah, blah." I was really shocked by how much I enjoyed this film.

The movie begins with a violent raid on a Viking encampment by British troops. The Viking leader has two young sons, and he orders them to be taken away to safety. The king is killed by the British and as the camp is overrun, the man protecting the children is killed. One of the sons, Eron, makes it onto a fleeing Viking ship, while the younger son, Erik, is left behind sobbing in the bloodied waters. When the King arrives and criticizes the man who led the raid (the King wanted diplomacy, not violence), the man's assistant assassinates the King. The mourning Queen (now in charge of the country), finds Erik and decides to adopt him.

Fast forward like 30 years and Erik is heir to the throne, trying to make a name for himself by defeating the Vikings once and for all. Eron is one of the main leaders of the Vikings. Along the way there are betrayals, battles, escapes, romance, and some sexy twins dancing with swords.

Right now, all the things I have to say about this movie are positive. To begin with, the action in the film incorporates violence in a way that feels jarring and intense, but never quite exploitative. In the first two minutes you see a man (MILD SPOILERS)
grab a woman holding a baby and impale the mother and baby with the same spear
. The violence feels real and brutal, and it serves a story filled with people who deeply feel grudges and want revenge.

Second, the look of the film is gorgeous, especially the colors used. It's almost painterly at times. The color palette is lush without ever feeling garish. There are some beautiful, impactful shots and it's neat seeing an action film from someone who uses these same techniques mainly for horror (the film is directed by Mario Bava).

Finally, the movie takes some really surprising twists and turns. The sexy twins I mentioned before actually play a key role, each of them becoming involved with one of the brothers. They are given much more depth than the typical sexy love interest, and their compassion tends to bring out the best in each brother. One of my main qualms with sword-and-sandal type movies, you will be just SHOCKED to learn, is the treatment of women. And while I'm not hailing this movie as amazingly progressive in this regard, it's women are real characters who have an impact on the plot, it minimizes the use of sexual violence (though one scene where
Eron threatens to rape the queen feels kind of out of place, and she's classy enough not to mention it later, point to the queen
), and it shows the women to be just as brave and/or stoic as the men.

The film ends on a non-graphic, but incredibly powerful and memorable image. I would highly recommend this movie.


Fri Apr 06, 2018 9:11 am
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I need to see something tonight. Moving to a new house has put me way behind.

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Fri Apr 06, 2018 11:28 pm
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Thief wrote:
I need to see something tonight. Moving to a new house has put me way behind.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_(1986_film)

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Sat Apr 07, 2018 1:55 am
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Thief wrote:
I need to see something tonight. Moving to a new house has put me way behind.


4th Man Out was on Netflix Instant last time I checked. It's got a short run time (like 85 minutes), and it's a sweet little comedy about a guy who comes out as gay to his group of male friends. It is super cute and very funny. I don't know if you know who Parker Young is, but I quite enjoy him as an actor and he plays the gay man's best friend (the main plot point of the story is how their friendship changes after the one comes out).


Sat Apr 07, 2018 5:26 am
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Takoma1 wrote:
4th Man Out was on Netflix Instant last time I checked. It's got a short run time (like 85 minutes), and it's a sweet little comedy about a guy who comes out as gay to his group of male friends. It is super cute and very funny. I don't know if you know who Parker Young is, but I quite enjoy him as an actor and he plays the gay man's best friend (the main plot point of the story is how their friendship changes after the one comes out).


Thanks for the rec. I don't have Netflix, so I don't know if I can watch it. But if I do see it, it's apparently one that fits various criteria.

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Sat Apr 07, 2018 5:55 am
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Thief wrote:

Thanks for the rec. I don't have Netflix, so I don't know if I can watch it. But if I do see it, it's apparently one that fits various criteria.


What services do you use to watch films?


Sat Apr 07, 2018 6:29 am
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Takoma1 wrote:

What services do you use to watch films?




Image

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Sat Apr 07, 2018 6:53 am
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Death Proof wrote:



Image


Well, it's a nice step up from "Watching whatever's playing in the backseat of the minivan in the next lane".


Sat Apr 07, 2018 7:16 am
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Takoma1 wrote:

What services do you use to watch films?


Hulu, Amazon Prime, and a hamster running on a wheel.

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Sat Apr 07, 2018 8:00 am
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Thief wrote:

Hulu, Amazon Prime, and a hamster running on a wheel.



Fuckin' Trump. Our Puerto Rican brothers are relying on rodent-powered projectors and that fat fuck is off playing golf.

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Sat Apr 07, 2018 8:58 am
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Thief wrote:

Hulu, Amazon Prime, and a hamster running on a wheel.


Got it--I'd been giving recommendations under the assumption that you had Netflix.


Sat Apr 07, 2018 11:18 am
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Some modified recommendations that are more Prime/Hulu friendly :)

Sorry if some are repeats of what others have said, or repeats of ones you've already seen.

An Italian language film: Gomorrah (Amazon, haven't seen it yet, but heard good things)
A Best Picture winner from before 1970: Don't seem to be any for free, but you can rent The Lost Weekend for $3 (Amazon)
A film about homosexuality or alternate lifestyles: Tiger Orange, Boy Meets Girl (Hulu)
A film starring someone you dislike: I don't know, Sean Connery's Macbeth is free on Prime and only 85 minutes long.
A sequel: The Collection (Amazon)
A film about filmmaking: Best Worst Movie (Amazon)
A silent film: Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Amazon)
A film based on a play: I'll repeat that Prime has Moonlight, but it also has Beckett! Both pretty awesome!
A film with no CGI or special effects: Much Ado About Nothing (on Hulu--and also based on a play!)
A G-rated film: A Little Princess and The Last Unicorn, both on Prime
A film in a country you've never visited: If you've never been to Japan, please watch Blade of the Immortal on Hulu
A film featured in the Criterion Collection: Cameraperson (Amazon)
An experimental film: Poison (Amazon)
A docu-drama: Polytechnique--one I haven't seen but is on my to-see list (Amazon)
A fantasy film: Again, Blade of the Immortal (Hulu); Zathura or The Last Unicorn (both on Amazon)
A film with a character's name as the title: Hugo, Django, Becket, Rufus, Stander (all on Amazon)
An Iranian film: I think someone else recommended The Salesman--it gets great reviews and is on Prime
A coming-of-age story: Moonlight works here, as well
A film under 90 minutes long: Cabinet of Dr Caligari (mentioned above) is only 67 minutes long.
A film by Ingmar Bergman: Yikes. Nothing I can find for free.
A film with a female protagonist: The Girl with All the Gifts (Amazon); The Pact (Hulu)
A film famous for its twist/ending: Society (Amazon)
A film with less than five major characters: Home Sweet Home (it ain't good, but only three people in it); Man from Earth; 10 Cloverfield Lane
A Bollywood film: Eega (murdered man returns as vengeful fly) is on Prime!


Sat Apr 07, 2018 12:44 pm
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Takoma1 wrote:
Some modified recommendations that are more Prime/Hulu friendly :)

Sorry if some are repeats of what others have said, or repeats of ones you've already seen.

An Italian language film: Gomorrah (Amazon, haven't seen it yet, but heard good things)
A Best Picture winner from before 1970: Don't seem to be any for free, but you can rent The Lost Weekend for $3 (Amazon)
A film about homosexuality or alternate lifestyles: Tiger Orange, Boy Meets Girl (Hulu)
A film starring someone you dislike: I don't know, Sean Connery's Macbeth is free on Prime and only 85 minutes long.
A sequel: The Collection (Amazon)
A film about filmmaking: Best Worst Movie (Amazon)
A silent film: Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Amazon)
A film based on a play: I'll repeat that Prime has Moonlight, but it also has Beckett! Both pretty awesome!
A film with no CGI or special effects: Much Ado About Nothing (on Hulu--and also based on a play!)
A G-rated film: A Little Princess and The Last Unicorn, both on Prime
A film in a country you've never visited: If you've never been to Japan, please watch Blade of the Immortal on Hulu
A film featured in the Criterion Collection: Cameraperson (Amazon)
An experimental film: Poison (Amazon)
A docu-drama: Polytechnique--one I haven't seen but is on my to-see list (Amazon)
A fantasy film: Again, Blade of the Immortal (Hulu); Zathura or The Last Unicorn (both on Amazon)
A film with a character's name as the title: Hugo, Django, Becket, Rufus, Stander (all on Amazon)
An Iranian film: I think someone else recommended The Salesman--it gets great reviews and is on Prime
A coming-of-age story: Moonlight works here, as well
A film under 90 minutes long: Cabinet of Dr Caligari (mentioned above) is only 67 minutes long.
A film by Ingmar Bergman: Yikes. Nothing I can find for free.
A film with a female protagonist: The Girl with All the Gifts (Amazon); The Pact (Hulu)
A film famous for its twist/ending: Society (Amazon)
A film with less than five major characters: Home Sweet Home (it ain't good, but only three people in it); Man from Earth; 10 Cloverfield Lane
A Bollywood film: Eega (murdered man returns as vengeful fly) is on Prime!


Wow, this is amazing! Thanks for the extra effort. Some of those will definitely be useful.

I browsed over Gomorrah, but didn't realize it was Italian. Might check it out.

Really didn't know Cabinet of Dr. Caligari was on Amazon. That's one of those I've been meaning to watch for a loooong time, so this one I will most surely watch.

I saw Cameraperson last year on a recommendation from Popcorn Reviews, and I loved it. I've also paid it forward recommending it to several people. Everyone loves it.

Eega reads like something I might be interested in :D

I've seen Zathura, Hugo, The Pact, and 10 Cloverfield Lane.

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Sun Apr 08, 2018 12:45 am
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I officially started last night with Boyhood (a coming-of-age story). Will post my review later, but I liked it quite a bit.

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Sun Apr 08, 2018 12:52 am
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For Iranian films, "Where Is The Friend's House" is great. My favorite Kiarostami, and probably his most straight forward and accessible film.

Bollywood offers the wonders of Disco Dancer. Or for more serious fare, Sholay is very good if you can muscle through the long run time.


Sun Apr 08, 2018 12:53 am
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Here's some recommendations:

An Italian language film: The Conformist
A Best Picture winner from before 1970: Rebecca
A film about homosexuality or alternate lifestyles: Stranger by the Lake
A film starring someone you dislike: Punch-Drunk Love (Adam Sandler)
A sequel: Cube Zero (I feel like it's average, but I still think it's worth watching)
A film about filmmaking: American Movie
A silent film: L'Inferno (1911) (this is available on Youtube)
A film based on a play: 12 Angry Men (the 1997 remake)
A G-rated film: Mary Poppins
A film in a country you've never visited: Through a Glass Darkly
A film featured in the Criterion Collection: The Browning Version
An experimental film: Holy Motors
A docu-drama: Threads (1984)
A fantasy film: A Ghost Story
A film with a character's name as the title: Laura (1944)
An Iranian film: The House is Black
A coming-of-age story: Moonlight
A film under 90 minutes long: Koyaanisqatsi
A film by Ingmar Bergman: You've probably already seen it, but I'll recommend Persona. If not though, I'll say Through a Glass Darkly again.
A film with a female protagonist: Red Desert
A film famous for its twist/ending: Twelve Monkeys/The Usual Suspects/Oldboy/Memento
A film with less than five major characters: All is Lost (one character)

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Sun Apr 08, 2018 1:54 am
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Thief wrote:
I officially started last night with Boyhood (a coming-of-age story). Will post my review later, but I liked it quite a bit.


I liked Boyhood, but not as much as I expected to. Maybe it had just been overhyped by the time I saw it.

I did think that it went above and beyond the "gimmick" of the aging characters.


Sun Apr 08, 2018 3:20 am
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Some recommendations:

An Italian language film: The Perfume Of The Lady In Black (1974)
A Best Picture winner from before 1970: Ben Hur (1959)
A film about homosexuality or alternate lifestyles: Thelma (2017)
A film starring someone you dislike: Under Siege (1992) (Steven Segal)
A sequel: Omen IV: The Awakening (1991) (Trasherific)
A film about filmmaking: The Big Picture (1989)
A silent film: The Wind (1928)
A film based on a play: Gaslight (1940)
A G-rated film: Coco (2017)
A film in a country you've never visited: The House at the End of Time (2013) (Venezuela)
A film featured in the Criterion Collection: Eyes Without a Face (1960)
An experimental film: Daisies (1966)
A docu-drama: Ghostwatch (1992)
A fantasy film: Dragonslayer (1981)
A film with a character's name as the title: Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl (1998)
An Iranian film: About Elly (2009)
A coming-of-age story: Girlhood (2014)
A film under 90 minutes long: This is Spinal Tap (1984)
A film by Ingmar Bergman: Fanny and Alexander (1982)
A film with a female protagonist: Lady Terminator (1988) (Trashtacular)
A film famous for its twist/ending: Shattered (1991) (ok it's not famous but the twist is bitchin')
A film with less than five major characters: The Quiet Earth (1985)


Sun Apr 08, 2018 5:19 am
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Seen the ones in red...

Popcorn Reviews wrote:
Here's some recommendations:

An Italian language film: The Conformist
A Best Picture winner from before 1970: Rebecca
A film about homosexuality or alternate lifestyles: Stranger by the Lake
A film starring someone you dislike: Punch-Drunk Love (Adam Sandler)
A sequel: Cube Zero (I feel like it's average, but I still think it's worth watching)
A film about filmmaking: American Movie
A silent film: L'Inferno (1911) (this is available on Youtube)
A film based on a play: 12 Angry Men (the 1997 remake)
A G-rated film: Mary Poppins
A film in a country you've never visited: Through a Glass Darkly
A film featured in the Criterion Collection: The Browning Version
An experimental film: Holy Motors
A docu-drama: Threads (1984)
A fantasy film: A Ghost Story
A film with a character's name as the title: Laura (1944)
An Iranian film: The House is Black
A coming-of-age story: Moonlight
A film under 90 minutes long: Koyaanisqatsi
A film by Ingmar Bergman: You've probably already seen it, but I'll recommend Persona. If not though, I'll say Through a Glass Darkly again.
A film with a female protagonist: Red Desert
A film famous for its twist/ending: Twelve Monkeys/The Usual Suspects/Oldboy/Memento
A film with less than five major characters: All is Lost (one character)


I'm a huge fan of PTA, but Punch-Drunk Love is one of two films of his I haven't seen (the other is Inherent Vice). For some reason, I've never gotten around to it. This might be an opportunity, but I don't dislike Sandler :D

I've only seen the first Cube, which I liked but don't remember much about. I think I would prefer to rewatch it before venturing into the sequels.

I think I mentioned this before, but I was captivated by an eerily creepy gif image I saw of L'Inferno, and been looking for an excuse to watch it. This might be the time.

I've seen both versions of 12 Angry Men (saw the 1997 first before I even knew about the original).

Even though I've seen Mary Poppins, it's been too loooooong. A rewatch might be an option.

Love the Holy Motors recommendation. Seen it, loved it, but it always thrills me to see other people recommending it.

I think I might have a hard time with the twist ending one, since I have a thing for them, I've probably seen most of what is considered "twist" films :D

Thanks, Pop!

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Sun Apr 08, 2018 1:37 pm
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Rump wrote:
Some recommendations:

An Italian language film: The Perfume Of The Lady In Black (1974)
A Best Picture winner from before 1970: Ben Hur (1959)
A film about homosexuality or alternate lifestyles: Thelma (2017)
A film starring someone you dislike: Under Siege (1992) (Steven Segal)
A sequel: Omen IV: The Awakening (1991) (Trasherific)
A film about filmmaking: The Big Picture (1989)
A silent film: The Wind (1928)
A film based on a play: Gaslight (1940)
A G-rated film: Coco (2017)
A film in a country you've never visited: The House at the End of Time (2013) (Venezuela)
A film featured in the Criterion Collection: Eyes Without a Face (1960)
An experimental film: Daisies (1966)
A docu-drama: Ghostwatch (1992)
A fantasy film: Dragonslayer (1981)
A film with a character's name as the title: Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl (1998)
An Iranian film: About Elly (2009)
A coming-of-age story: Girlhood (2014)
A film under 90 minutes long: This is Spinal Tap (1984)
A film by Ingmar Bergman: Fanny and Alexander (1982)
A film with a female protagonist: Lady Terminator (1988) (Trashtacular)
A film famous for its twist/ending: Shattered (1991) (ok it's not famous but the twist is bitchin')
A film with less than five major characters: The Quiet Earth (1985)


I saw Omen IV back in the day and even though I don't remember much about it, I do remember not being very impressed by it.

Eyes Without a Face might be an option. I've seen it mentioned a loooot on forums and social media and it intrigues me.

See what I said above about twist endings? :D But seriously, it's been a good while since I saw Shattered. It might not be a bad idea to rewatch it someday.

Thanks, Rump!

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Sun Apr 08, 2018 1:41 pm
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A film with no CGI or special effects
A coming-of-age story



Boyhood (2014)

Quote:
"What's the point? I mean, I sure as shit don't know. Neither does anybody else, okay? We're all just wingin' it, you know? The good news is you're feeling stuff. And you've got to hold on to that."


I'm not an expert on Richard Linklater. This is only the fourth film of his I've seen. But if there's anything I've noticed from those is that he likes to ask his audience, and perhaps himself, questions about his characters, and consequently, about our state of being. What is like to be a teenager? what is like to be in love? what is like to grow up? That last one is the question that flows through this unique coming-of-age story, for which Linklater took a unique route to answer.

Boyhood follows Mason Evans, Jr. (Ellar Coltrane), a 6-year old kid living with his single mother (Patricia Arquette) and his older sister, Samantha (Lorelei Linklater). The film shows us how both kids grow up as their mother struggles to provide for them, and their father (Ethan Hawke) tries to stay in contact with them. Filmed over the course of 12 years, the film goes beyond traditional filmmaking, actually showing us some of the growth process within this characters.

Through all the film, Linklater juggles issues of love and marriage, academic and professional frustrations, alcoholism, responsibility, stability, and existentialism, among many others. But in general, the theme that most resonated with me is the one presented in the above quote: the fact that at the end of the day, nobody knows anything, and we're all just trying to figure out our way as we go on, young and old. That's something that I've been struggling with in recent years, and I was surprised to see in the film pretty much the same ponderings and questions I've been having, as I've approached (and hit) the big 4-0.

Some of this questions are neatly presented through the parents and how differently each of them approaches life. The mother, by looking for stability in other relationships and a stable job and physical possessions, which she later regrets, or the father, who seems to try live for the moment and pursue his dreams, although sometimes not fully embracing his responsibilities as a parent, until he seemingly reaches a stable point in his life. At one point, Mason comments how he realizes his parents don't know much more than he does about life. What Linklater closes the film with seems to be the moral of the story; instead of trying to seize moments, we should just let the moment seize us.

Grade: A-

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Mon Apr 09, 2018 5:52 am
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Kudos on liking Boyhood, Thief. Good review/grade.

And off I go with:

An Italian Language film
A Film with no CGI or Special Effects


Welcome Mr. President (2013)

Some Italian kingmakers convince legislators to give a vote of no confidence by selecting an historical figure as Italy's new president when the current one resigns. So they elect Giuseppe Garibaldi president in hopes of being able to select an unified candidate that's suitable later.

But when they change their minds, there's one little problem.

Current law indicates that if there's a person with that name, then he becomes President.

As it turns out, Peppino (Claudio Bisio) is an amateur fisherman and reader of stories to children in the local library that just got shut down by the government.

The kingmakers try to talk him into resigning. He agrees at first, but at the time of the big speech, he decides to change his mind and become Italy's leader to the free world.

Although he has a couple of missteps at first which leads him to ridicule by the press, his kindness and problem solving skills quickly win favor of Italy's electorate.

The kingmakers go to multiple lengths to try to sink Peppino's career, but events keep backfiring on him.

But Peppino learns of some information that places him in a tough place.

There were a decent amount of laughs and some heart in this Italian comedy which had echoes of a more ribald Dave and even Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

Some odd sexual politics, some running jokes that fall flat, and a lack of menacing villain are the major drawbacks.

Overall, I give a mild recommendation and consider it worthy of a second term.

Grade B-


Mon Apr 09, 2018 8:54 am
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A film about homosexuality or alternate lifestyles: Tropical Malady

I really, really liked this movie. It was weird and sexy (but mostly weird-sexy), and haunting and otherworldly.

The film's structure is very strange--it is two movies in one, but with overlapping actors and themes.

The first half follows a soldier who has been assigned with his troop to figure out who/what is killing cattle in a rural community. While out on patrol, he meets a local man. The two become friends, but their friendship quickly morphs into a romance. The romance itself is incredibly innocent (at one point the soldier slips a note into the other man's pocket that reads "I like you"), but at the same time there is a building tension between the men and a kind of casual sensuality between them that is really interesting. For a movie with no explicit sex, there are sequences that are incredibly erotic, partly because so much is conveyed through casual physical contact. By the time the love interest playfully licked the soldier's hand and fingers, it felt almost shocking to see the sexual nature of their relationship emerge form what had been sidelong looks, bodies leaning into each other, and knowing smiles.

Then, abruptly, a new movie begins (complete with title card and short credits). A prologue tells the story of a shapeshifting shaman who is killed while in the form of the tiger. The shaman's spirit haunts the woods. The story then begins with a soldier (played by the same actor who played the soldier in the first half, but not, I think, meant to be the exact same character) who is sent to solve the disappearance of some missing cattle and also a villager who has gone missing. While in the woods, the soldier encounters the tiger spirit (played in human form by the same actor who played the young man in the first half). The relationship/encounter between the tiger spirit and the soldier plays like a dark parallel to the romance from the first half: the tiger spirit is always naked. There is a scene where the soldier and the spirit fight/wrestle in a field and while of course you can impose some erotic charge to it, it is also violent and dangerous. In another scene a monkey tells the soldier "You are his prey and his companion". Pursuing the tiger leaves the soldier more and more isolated and vulnerable. The first half of the story basically has no anti-gay elements. No one is homophobic or tries to shut down the romance. But the second half has something much more sinister to say about romance (and possibly gay romance).

I also liked the inversion of how you think of characters in these stories. Usually the soldier character is the more worldly/predatory, but it's interesting that it is the illiterate village boy who becomes the predator in the second half. The soldier is constantly seen picking off leeches, and there's an idea there about the way that the jungle can dominate a man.

Also, about a third of the way into the movie, the young man says "Remember my uncle who can recall his past lives?" and my brain went "WHOA!!!!". A few years ago I quite enjoyed Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, but Tropical Malady came out a full six years earlier. And yet! It IS the same director. So that was a fun little jolt.

In any event: I would highly recommend this movie. It is strange and different and does visually really cool stuff with its jungle setting. I read that when it premiered at Cannes people walked out and booed it. I say those people are nuts. This one is definitely worth seeing. I liked it even better than Uncle Boonmee.


Tue Apr 10, 2018 7:50 am
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So in an odd coincidence, a movie that I picked purely based on its title (I am a shallow creature) turned out to be more strongly themed in terms of homosexuality than Tropical Malady!

A film featured in the Criterion Collection: The Colour of His Hair

Okay, after picking out a nifty title, it turned out that The Colour of His Hair is a short film (about 25 minutes long). It's half documentary-ish, but the other half is a performance of a film script that was written back in the 1960s as part of the effort to get Parliament to change the laws making homosexuality a criminal offense. A big part of changing the law wasn't that it was wrong to persecute people for their sexuality, but rather that such laws made a ton of people vulnerable to blackmail and other variations of extortion. The scene acted out in the movie follows the conversation of two young men who have just received an anonymous blackmail note. One wants to go to the police, but the other is worried that they will be arrested for being lovers. Their house will be searched. Their parents will learn they are gay. One fears that he will be fired. The documentary half is a meandering look through a Gay and Lesbian News/Media Archive in London.

Generally speaking, I liked this short. There is a movie that I really love called Victim about a married man who is being blackmailed for being gay. This was like the condensed version of that film. The fictional scene is intercut with real media of things like news clippings about different people being blackmailed, such as a teacher being blackmailed by students or a man being blackmailed by his own mother. Some details are just heartbreaking, such as a man who gets paranoid that the police are going to raid his house, and so he goes home and burns all of his love letters.

The items from the archive were interesting (hilariously, one box just seems to contain candid porno polaroids, while another book is like a scrapbook someone made of gay porn, and I love the idea of someone solemnly donating them to the archive). And I did appreciate a remark at the end by one of the narrators that the archive skews strongly toward white, middle-to-upper class men and that the archive can only reflect what is given to them ("Men who choose to leave their mark") and that the archive needs to work harder to seek out other voices that are not represented.

The title, it turns out, comes from a poem called "Oh who is that young sinner?". In the poem a man is being arrested for the "color o his hair", but hair color is clearly a thin representation for another attribute that some people are born with.


Tue Apr 10, 2018 9:04 am
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Some SPOILERS maybe?...

A silent film
A film under 90 minutes long
A film famous for its twist/ending



Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari (1920)

Quote:
"I must know everything. I must penetrate the heart of his secret! I must become Caligari!"


Knowledge is a good thing. As a teacher, and an endless curious myself, I consider learning and discovering things a unique experience. But when is knowledge "too much"? Many people argue that knowing too much can end up being a bad thing. This even extends to religious teachings where the serpent tells Adam and Eve how eating from the "tree of knowledge of good and evil" would turn them into gods, "knowing good and evil", but ultimately, ended up being a "bad thing". Even in casual conversations, we tend to use the phrase "It's better that I don't know", and a lot of people use the same statement when talking about people that are suffering from certain illnesses or when something bad happens ("it's better that he/she doesn't know"). Knowledge is denied or shielded, in order to maintain a certain level of "normalcy" or status quo. That might be the case in this seminal silent film from Germany.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari follows Francis (Friedrich Feher), a young man sharing the story of how his fiancée (Lil Dagover) ended up in a trance-like state. He tells the story of how he met the titular doctor (Werner Krauss), who traveled around the country using a somnambulist called Cesare (Conrad Veidt) to perform "tricks". Caligari and Cesare claim to both provide knowledge to whoever asks, even if that knowledge is not good or well received by others. "Knowledge" from Caligari and Cesare sparks a chain of events that involve murders, kidnapping, deceit, and a police investigation.

There's a lot to be said about this film. For a 1920 film, it features several groundbreaking techniques in its broken narrative, set design, and twist ending. The performances have that exaggerated theatrical flair, but regardless of that - a sign of the times - I found them effective. The film moves at a nice pace and the direction is brisk. The twist ending, of which I surprisingly had no knowledge, caught me off guard.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari plays with that concept of knowledge and what we do with it. Whether we choose to embrace our fate or just push it away, deny it, and pretend nothing happened. Is Francis better knowing his actual state of mind, or is he better off not knowing? Does the doctor really know how to cure him now? Do we actually know what part of the film is real? In the end, we are left with little to no knowledge about what actually happened. But what I do know is that I'd seen a really good film.

Grade: B+

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Tue Apr 10, 2018 11:56 pm
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I love The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. It's one of my favorite silent films.
As for your confusion over the ending, what happened was that Francis was delusional and he had false beliefs of the characters from his flashback. Dr. Caligari was non-dangerous in reality, and he's going to try and cure him of his delusion. In the flashback, we were basically listening to a delusional man say a false story about several characters from the asylum.

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Wed Apr 11, 2018 12:14 am
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Popcorn Reviews wrote:
I love The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. It's one of my favorite silent films.
As for your confusion over the ending, what happened was that Francis was delusional and he had false beliefs of the characters from his flashback. Dr. Caligari was non-dangerous in reality, and he's going to try and cure him of his delusion. In the flashback, we were basically listening to a delusional man say a false story about several characters from the asylum.


I got that. I wasn't really confused by it, but rather pondering on how ambiguous it is...

I noticed this, and then read other people commenting the same, on how both the "real" story and the "flashback" story feature the same bizarre trees and skewed buildings, which might be a way for the director to say that even this "reality" might not be what we think of.

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Wed Apr 11, 2018 12:27 am
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Strange. I didn't notice that about the ending before. I'll have to revisit the movie someday with that in mind.

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Wed Apr 11, 2018 12:34 am
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There's a remake of Caligari starring Doug Jones. Not as good as the original, but still worth checking out.


Wed Apr 11, 2018 7:42 am
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I usually don't see remakes of really famous films. However, I did see the remake to 12 Angry Men recently. I felt like it was watered down and that it lessened the emotional power of a few moments from the original, but I still recommend it, because the strengths of the original film were still present in it.

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Wed Apr 11, 2018 7:52 am
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A sequel: Bride of Re-Animator

It's been a real long time since I've seen Re-Animator, but I remember liking it well enough to give the sequel a go.

Doctors Dan Cain and Herbert West, having somehow escaped any repercussions from the massacre that ended the first film, are back, having discovered the true secret to reanimation in Peru. Dan, still mourning the loss of his girlfriend Meg, agrees to go along with Herbert's plan to build a woman out of parts stolen from the hospital's crematorium/mortuary. The centerpiece of the cobbled together woman is Meg's heart. Complicating things are Dan's romance with the gorgeous Francesca, the presence of a detective with an inkling of what they are up to, and the decapitated (but very much alive) head of their nemesis.

It was hard, while watching this movie, not to compare it to Frankenhooker, which I just watched a month ago. Both are campy films in which heartbroken men use medical know-how to build a new woman out of spare parts in an attempt to resuscitate their lost loves. Both movies were pretty funny, but I felt like Bride of Re-Animator had some tonal inconsistency. The actresses playing Francesca and the reanimated woman put some real emotional heft into their performances (feeling rejected by Dan, the "bride" says "You made me" in a voice that is all at once unbelieving and sad and angry, and it's a moment and a line-delivery that belongs in a film without a creature made out of fingers and an eyeball). Their acting makes the final act of the film feel far more impactful and gives it a welcome emotional center, but it also doesn't quite fit with the broader performances around them, especially Herbert West's over-the-top mad scientist.

Maybe it's because I'm currently fostering an injured animal, but I didn't care for the animal violence in the film. I felt like the cruelty of it wasn't balanced out by the campy tone. I also had really mixed feelings about the movie positioning Dan as a protagonist. One thing that I liked about Frankenhooker was that the movie clearly knew that it's main character was a creep and that his behavior toward the women in the film was wrong and gross. But in Bride of Re-Animator, Dan (especially as juxtaposed with the more extreme Herbert) is given sad music behind his scenes, even as he creepily imposes unprofessional sexual and romantic feelings onto a terminally ill woman under his care. His eventual
rejection of the reanimated "bride" also comes off as particularly heartless. Him telling her "You aren't Meg--Meg's dead!!" is meant to show that he is facing reality and moving on. But instead it comes off as horribly cruel. When the "bride" becomes (understandably) angry and jealous of Francesca, Dan calls her a "monster". This from the guy who went along with putting the decapitated head of his patient on a body just so that he can live out a fantasy of being with his girlfriend again. The movie lets the blame and the weight of the wrong-doing fall (literally) on West, and Dan gets a romantic-ish ending as he pulls Francesca to safety and the two embrace. Meh.


Wed Apr 11, 2018 12:05 pm
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Popcorn Reviews wrote:
I usually don't see remakes of really famous films. However, I did see the remake to 12 Angry Men recently. I felt like it was watered down and that it lessened the emotional power of a few moments from the original, but I still recommend it, because the strengths of the original film were still present in it.


I saw the 12 Angry Men remake first when I was in my late teens, before I even knew there was an original. Thought it was pretty good. The original is better, though.

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Wed Apr 11, 2018 12:22 pm
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I was glad that I saw Dr. Caligari. But to be honest, I found both Nosferatu and Destiny to be better at what they did.


Thu Apr 12, 2018 2:43 am
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Apex Predator wrote:
I was glad that I saw Dr. Caligari. But to be honest, I found both Nosferatu and Destiny to be better at what they did.


I haven't seen Destiny, but I found Nosferatu's middle act a bit sluggish. Fortunately, it picks up in the last act, but because of that, I think I found Caligari to be more consistent.

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Thu Apr 12, 2018 2:52 am
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A film in a country you've never visited
A docu-drama
A film with less than five major characters



Polytechnique (2009)

Quote:
"You in mechanical engineering? Women usually go for civil engineering. It's easier"


According to Engineers Canada, women make up more than half of the Canadian population, yet they represent only 13% of the practicing licensed engineer population of the country. This massive misrepresentation is not unique to the North American country. The closest statistic I could find from the US was from 2004, where female engineers were at 11%. Traditionally, the field of engineering is seen as "male-centered" and females that try to enter it might be subject to mockery, discrimination, misogyny, and in extreme cases, violence. Canadian director Denis Villeneuve offers us a glimpse of that in this 2009 docu-drama.

Polytechnique chronicles the 1989 shooting at the École Polytechnique in Montreal where 25-year old Marc Lépine entered the university armed with a rifle, killing 14 women and injuring many others. Lépine claimed he was "fighting feminism" and specifically targeted women, which he saw as a "threat" to the male workforce. Villeneuve's film takes a quasi-documentary approach to the event slightly focusing on not more than three characters, including Lépine (portrayed by Maxim Gaudette). The other characters that take up most of the narrative are Valérie (Karine Vanasse), the engineering student subjected to the above interview, and Jean-François (Sébastien Huberdeau), a male student who tries to help some of the victims as the massacre starts.

This is the fourth Villeneuve film I've seen and I have to say that he has crept up to the top tier of my favorite active directors. Although he chooses a more clinical approach to this film, not really connecting with the characters, he shows a real skill in building tension and dread throughout its duration. He also uses a broken narrative to try to show the same event through different perspectives. The lack of a real emotional connection to the characters might be a hindrance, but despite that, the film still manages to be effective.

I didn't know much about this film when I decided to see it a couple of days ago (thanks to Takoma for the recommendation), so I wasn't prepared to how "appropriate" or "timely" it might be given the US current situation. After the shooting, a Polytechnique student started a movement to demand stricter gun control in Canada, which resulted in the passing of a gun regulation bill in 1995. Regardless of that, many people still wonder what can be done to change the misogynist attitudes of the people. I was reading an interview with Pierre Leclair, who was head of communications for the police and was at the scene with journalists, only to find her own daughter dead inside a while later. In the interview, he says "I'm not so sure we've learned anything." Let's hope that knowing about this tragedies and seeing films like this one, we can learn a bit.

Grade: A-

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Thu Apr 12, 2018 5:15 am
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If anyone's curious about the interview I mentioned, here's the link...

The awful echoes of Marc Lépine

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Thu Apr 12, 2018 5:18 am
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Thief wrote:
Polytechnique (2009)

Grade: A-


Glad you liked it!

A Best Picture winner from before 1970: Marty

Marty was made in 1955, and on the surface it's the story of a shy but kind man trying to find love. What I found incredibly surprising was that the film ultimately turns into an examination (and rejection) of what these days we might call toxic masculinity.

Marty is a 35 year old butcher who lives with his mother. All of his younger siblings are married. Marty is unlucky in love: we see a painful phone conversation in which he is repeatedly turned down for a date, asking about several possible Saturdays before giving up. Later in the film, Marty goes to a dance hall, where we again see him rejected by a women when he asks her to dance.

Then we meet Clara. A friend of Marty's is on a date with Clara, but when a sexier woman shows up, he offers Marty $5 to essentially tag into the date. Marty refuses, but the friend finds another person to swap and from Marty's point of view we see Clara (sitting at a table while the two men--her original date and the "sbustitute"-- stand around her). We see the look on Clara's face as she realizes what happens. Humiliated, she leaves the dance hall, and Marty follows. After a short crying jag, the two end up dancing together. Then they go for a walk. Then they go back to Marty's place. They are both very gentle souls and it's clear that they like one another.

But as the third act of the film sets in, the sexist culture around Marty starts to make him doubt his affections. Several of his male friends ask him about the "dog" he ended up with the night before. They say she looks like she's 50 years old. They say that Marty's sure to find better prospects (ie sex) if he'll ditch Clara and go out on the town with them. The drama ultimately hinges on the question of whether Marty will follow his instincts or the opinions of those around him.

The film does two things very well, in my opinion.

First, it makes Marty very believable as someone who is nice but socially awkward. When he realizes that Clara likes him, he tells her the story of his father's death. He is over-excited and he tells the story with the excitement of a child--the look on Clara's face shows that she's charmed by his ramblings, but I was like "Stop talking about death!". After so much rejection, Marty doesn't know how to handle a woman who is interested him, and he almost blows it when he tries to kiss Clara, she pulls away (with a really assertive "No!") and he tries to force a kiss on her and then yells at her for not letting him kiss her. (While the movie does a pretty good job of examining sexist BS, I did not like the fact that Clara apologizes to Marty for not letting him kiss her. I mean, okay, fine. But he never apologizes for grabbing her and trying to physically force himself on her.) The two reconcile, however, and Marty is thrilled when Clara repeatedly says that she wants to see him again. The glimmers of hope as Marty realizes that he's not being brushed off are very sweet, and you can tell that this is a man who has been very wounded by past rejection.

Second, the movie does a pretty good job of critically examining the messages that men (all men, even the less desirable ones) receive about how to treat women. Aside from calling Clara (and other women) "dogs", there's a particularly funny (and disturbing) scene of Marty and his friends hanging out. While looking at a pin-up magazine, one of the friends tells about a Micky Spillane novel he is reading. He talks about the main character shooting a woman in the stomach. He then remarks, "He sure knows how to handle women", and then goes on to list all of the female characters who give the main character action. They talk down about Clara again, saying she's too old (at 5 years younger than Marty). One friend muses that men ought to marry a woman 20 years younger, that way "when he turns 40 she's still a hot young 21 year old." Another friend points out "But then he'd have to marry her when she's one year old." "Oh yeah," responds the friend, "I hadn't thought of that."

It's an interesting look at what is basically self-sabotage, as Marty becomes convinced to ditch Clara. He and his friends are so sure that there's something better out there, that they don't mind blowing off dates to chase something else. Clara is a catch: she's kind, patient, smart (she works at a college), and doesn't let Marty's lack of self-confidence (or his frequent discussion of his job as a butcher) put her off. The film really nails the way that a combination of low self-esteem and social pressure can make even kind people make unkind, unwise decisions.


Thu Apr 12, 2018 10:13 am
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A film about filmmaking


Shadow of the Vampire (2000)

Quote:
"I will not allow you to destroy my picture!"
"This is hardly your picture any longer"


Many filmmakers are notoriously obsessive with their work. The lengths that some of them will go to achieve what they want in their films is sometimes impressive, or even scary. David Fincher would shoot 25 to 50 takes per scene to make sure his actors understand their characters' motivations, Alfred Hitchcock would berate and demean his cast to make sure they stood in line, James Cameron's attention to detail in The Abyss almost resulted in two drownings, Werner Herzog actually built and hauled a 320-ton steamboat through a South American forest, F.W. Murnau actually hired a vampire to play Count Orlok while filming Nosferatu... or did he? Well, at least that's the premise from this film.

Set in a "fictional reality", Shadow of the Vampire follows Murnau (John Malkovich) as he is finishing filming his classic vampire film Nosferatu. Unbeknownst to the rest of the cast and crew, Murnau has reached an agreement with Max Shreck (Willem Dafoe), the actor who would play Count Orlok, who happens to be an actual vampire. The director tries to hide this dismissing Schreck eccentric behavior as part of his preparation, in an effort to achieve realism. Unfortunately, as the filming approaches the end, Murnau starts losing control of his "actor" and the film itself.

There are many strengths and many weaknesses to this film. The main strengths are in the cast. Both Malkovich and Dafoe are superb in their roles. Although Dafoe usually gets the most praise for his quirky portrayal of Schreck, I was more caught by Malkovich who managed to successfully portray the obsession and madness of this fictional "Murnau". Another strengh lies in director E. Elias Merhige's attention to detail and respect for the original film. I've read that he used some scenes from it during some scenes of the film, and although I couldn't find anything to confirm that, if he did it, he did it pretty well.

As for the negatives, I'm not sure that Merhige and his people were sure what kind of film they were making. I'm not sure if it was due to my expectations of something a bit more serious, but I sensed some tonal dysfunctions throughout the film which ranged from eerily dark to absurdly comedic. I acknowledge that the premise of the film does fall in the realm of absurdity, but I would've preferred for them to play it more straight and maintain the atmosphere of darkness and creepiness they sometimes had. The film still manages to be effectively eerie at times, particularly the very final scene, but I think the effect could've been better.

As it is, Shadow of the Vampire manages to be a well-acted and interesting film. The premise was quirky enough for the film to be great, but like Murnau, I suppose Merhige lost some control of the film. I only hope he wasn't bitten by Dafoe.

Grade: B-

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Fri Apr 13, 2018 6:06 am
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I saw Shadow of the Vampire in the theater when it came out. I agree with your criticism about the vision of the film. I think that its dark comedy is its strongest suit ("Why not the script girl?!?!").

It does have a wonderfully rewarding relationship with Nosferatu.


Fri Apr 13, 2018 9:34 am
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A G-rated film: Tarzan

So, Tarzan is rated G, but, like, how? This was one of the more intense, disturbing Disney movies that I can ever remember. Just to run down a few items: the film begins with an adorable baby gorilla being chased by a leopard, and then the gorilla's parents listen in horror as the baby scream while being devoured by the leopard (rated G! Also, this part made me cry, thanks movie!); baby Tarzan's parents are killed by the leopard, their bodies shown half under a upturned table and blood all over the floor (rated G!); at the end of the film
the villain gets tangled in some vines and hangs himself, the shadow of his hanged body showing in a lightning flash
(rated G!).

Setting aside the questionable rating, I thought that this was a pretty mediocre film. Tarzan's movements along the trees are very inspired by the skateboarding culture that was popular at the time (I thought maybe I was imagining this, but the trivia section of the IMDb confirms it) and it feels very much like straining to be cool. I'll admit that the Phil Collins song "You'll Be In My Heart" is a song I like; but the rest of the score/soundtrack was pretty unremarkable.

I thought the look of the film was okay, and I really liked the stylized look of the leopard. The worst part of the movie is the "wacky sidekick"--a young gorilla voiced by Rosie O'Donnell. Why does an African gorilla have a strong Brooklyn accent and talk like a wanna-be gangster? It's not so much O'Donnell's fault, as the writing for the character is incredibly grating. A scene where some gorillas trash a camp belonging to humans is funny at first, but then quickly wears out its welcome as it turns into a music piece that ends with the gorillas scatting (as in singing, not pooping, but pooping would have been more entertaining) and *cringe cringe cringe*. The movie is already pretty short (88 minutes), so it's weird to have several scenes that feel like padding.

The relationship between Tarzan and Jane is decently developed. Jane is one of those pseudo-feminist Disney women, shown to be "tough" in certain scenes, but mincing around and screaming for help when needed for the plot. She also falls in love with a man who thinks he is a gorilla, so, you know, choices, Jane, choices. Tarzan himself is given a decent enough plot arc as someone caught between two worlds, belonging completely to neither. The villain (a hunter) is completely one-dimensional and memorable only for Brian Blessed's bombastic performance.

This movie was just very . . . okay. I give it a C.


Fri Apr 13, 2018 11:56 am
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Takoma1 wrote:
the rest of the score/soundtrack was pretty unremarkable.

Precisely.

I always wanted Phil Collins and Stevie Nicks to do a duet. You could be prepared to hear things that you had heard before, as with all their songs.

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Fri Apr 13, 2018 12:53 pm
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Takoma1 wrote:
(While the movie does a pretty good job of examining sexist BS, I did not like the fact that Clara apologizes to Marty for not letting him kiss her. I mean, okay, fine. But he never apologizes for grabbing her and trying to physically force himself on her.)

And we're still facing that cultural imbalance even today. You've written well about that on several occasions.

I wonder if we aren't supposed to react to the scene in the way you did. Could it have been that far ahead of its time, maybe calling out such unequal expectations? I have no idea. I suspect not. I suspect it merely mimicked the things that women and men were expected to do. But, you never know.

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

Rematch Resurrection Catalog for Rounds 1-4 New post 180721 -- YTMN's Remake Rematch Thread.
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Fri Apr 13, 2018 12:58 pm
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Thief wrote:
A film about filmmaking

Shadow of the Vampire (2000)

Grade: B-

I don't think I understood the film as well as you did when I watched it! I didn't pick up on any of the dark comedy that you and Takoma see in it, either. But it's probably actually intended. I just had the general expectation of a more serious type of film, kind of like you say you did.

Maybe I'd have a different response if I watched it again...but I don't want to. So I probably won't. :) It might be interesting, though...now that I've watched and analyzed the two Nosferatu movies.

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

Rematch Resurrection Catalog for Rounds 1-4 New post 180721 -- YTMN's Remake Rematch Thread.
Thread Resurrected 21 Jul 2018. Thread abandoned 1 Aug 2017. Thread COMPLETE 25 May 14 (2d time!)
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Fri Apr 13, 2018 1:05 pm
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Takoma1 wrote:
I saw Shadow of the Vampire in the theater when it came out. I agree with your criticism about the vision of the film. I think that its dark comedy is its strongest suit ("Why not the script girl?!?!").


I liked that line. I laughed at it. I'm sure I would've appreciated more its comedic leanings if it would've been more consistent. Regardless, I think it's an interesting film and worth a watch.

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Sat Apr 14, 2018 12:25 am
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Takoma1 wrote:
A G-rated film: Tarzan

So, Tarzan is rated G, but, like, how? This was one of the more intense, disturbing Disney movies that I can ever remember. Just to run down a few items: the film begins with an adorable baby gorilla being chased by a leopard, and then the gorilla's parents listen in horror as the baby scream while being devoured by the leopard (rated G! Also, this part made me cry, thanks movie!); baby Tarzan's parents are killed by the leopard, their bodies shown half under a upturned table and blood all over the floor (rated G!); at the end of the film
the villain gets tangled in some vines and hangs himself, the shadow of his hanged body showing in a lightning flash
(rated G!).


Wow, this got past the censors? I thought All Dogs Go to Heaven 2 was traumatizing.

Another reminder that the ratings system can be questionable: 9 to 5 is rated PG. So is Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.


Sat Apr 14, 2018 2:07 am
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A G-rated film
A film with a character's name as the title
A film you remember from your childhood
A film under 90 minutes long



Dumbo (1941)

Quote:
"That's it! Dumbo! You flew! Boy, am I stupid. Why didn't I think of this before? Your ears! Just look at 'em, Dumbo! Why, they're poifect wings! The very things that held ya down are gonna carry ya up, and up, and up!"


Psychologist Abraham Maslow defined "love and belonging" and "esteem" as two of the tiers in his hierarchy of needs. As humans, we seek the acceptance of our peers and we need that feeling of belonging. This is particularly true in our childhood, when we look for that sense of belonging within our families and friends. After that, we also look for respect from others to feed our self-esteem. Mockery, insults, ostracism, and neglect; all of these can end up having adverse effects in a child which can range from depression to a lack of self-confidence. I'm not sure if this applies to elephants, but at least that's the backdrop behind one of Disney's first animated feature films.

Dumbo follows the titular character, a baby elephant who is given that name in mockery by the older elephants who are supposed to take care of him. Ridiculed by his big ears, and with his mother caged for trying to protect him, Dumbo finds himself alone and friendless. Not only that, but the circus starts using him as part of the clown posse, where he is subjected to more abuse. His only friend is a mouse (Edward Brophy) who decides to take the elephant under his wing to shield him from insults and keep his spirits up.

Dumbo is a film that I've held close to my heart since I was a child. Even though I can't remember actually seeing the film, I do remember listening/reading the LP audiobook countless of times as I grew up. The image of the poor elephant holding his mom's trunk through the cage always stuck with me as one of the saddest images from my childhood. And that is one of the biggest achievements of the film, as both the story and the animators manage to create a character that's so charming in its innocence that you just can't help but feel for him. The overall animation of the film is spotty, but every image of Dumbo seems to be drawn with so much care that you just have to go "awwww!" while sticking your finger at the "overstuffed hay bags" that mistreat him.

Despite all my introductory psychological mumbo-jumbo, the story is very simple and very child-oriented. This is no surprise, considering it is based on a children's story with just eight drawings and a few lines of text. Because of this, the film is just a couple of minutes over the hour mark, which helps it feel more breezy. However, there is a certain disjoint over how the moral is presented. One of the more known traits of Dumbo is that he can fly, and yet that isn't even brought up until the last 10 minutes. In a way, it might feel like an excuse to take him out of his slump and bring him up. Still, I would've preferred a more clearer message of "love yourself" and "accept yourself the way you are", which I think might be good for the children.

Still, despite its narrative flaws and simplistic story, the film has an undeniable charm. Like a child, I found myself caught in it once again, and I can't wait to show it to my nephews.

Grade: B

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Sat Apr 14, 2018 5:50 am
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Thief wrote:
the story is very simple and very child-oriented. This is no surprise, considering it is based on a children's story with just eight drawings and a few lines of text. Because of this, the film is just a couple of minutes over the hour mark, which helps it feel more breezy.

A few years ago I made an attempt to catch up on the Golden Age Disney movies, and I was struck by how slight some of them seemed as an adult. Like Bambi's plot hardly even qualifies as a plot. And that's not a complaint; I find Hollywood's current tendency to overstuff everything with bombast to be really tedious. In the case of Bambi, pretty much one thing of consequence happens plot-wise, and yet every human who's ever seen it remembers what that thing is. It should serve as a reminder to us that sometimes "simple and charming" is enough, especially for children's entertainment.

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Sat Apr 14, 2018 9:13 am
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