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 Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2018 
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I like the Before movies (haven't seen the last one) but thought they were a bit overrated. 2 people talking for 90 minutes. It's like an Eric Rohmer film.


Mon Feb 19, 2018 10:41 am
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ski petrol wrote:
I like the Before movies (haven't seen the last one) but thought they were a bit overrated. 2 people talking for 90 minutes. It's like an Eric Rohmer film.


If somebody told me that the film was just that, I would've agreed with you. But the truth of the matter is that I found myself captivated with their interactions, and at the end, I wanted to see more of them. Looking forward to the other two, to see where Linklater takes the characters.

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Mon Feb 19, 2018 10:49 am
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What do the inhabitants of this thread think about Linklater's experimental film Boyhood? If you've already discussed this, links to the posts will suffice. Or just to the first if there are a series of posts, and I'll find my way!

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The Future Unreels


Mon Feb 19, 2018 12:04 pm
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Gort wrote:
What do the inhabitants of this thread think about Linklater's experimental film Boyhood? If you've already discussed this, links to the posts will suffice. Or just to the first if there are a series of posts, and I'll find my way!
I'm not typically a Linklater fan. I think his movies mostly fall into the category either of commercial pablum or dull indie cliches involving characters exchanging half-baked stoner-intellectual monologues. Boyhood is the first time I felt like he fully conceived and executed a satisfying movie in the latter mode, which is kind of funny considering he had to go to such lengths to pull off that feat. It helps that we basically spend the whole movie reaching the point where we can be forgiving of those stoner-intellectual monologues that crop up at the end, but I think it's well-earned by then. What I appreciate is that Linklater took this concept of filming a year at a time but didn't build it around major milestones in the boy's life. Instead, I think it functions more like how memory actually works: it's an assemblage of random but impactful snippets from a person's life. Playing in an alleyway takes on as much if not more importance as losing your virginity in memory. It's one of the few movies that made me feel like I'd occupied another person's life for a while.

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Mon Feb 19, 2018 12:14 pm
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An oft-quoted film
A comedy film



Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

Quote:
"Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony."


The Monty Python comedy troupe started working together in the late 60s. Specializing in a surreal type of comedy, they enjoyed the success of having a TV show, stage show, albums, and ultimately films. Monty Python and the Holy Grail is their second film, but actually the first one to feature original material. In the film, the group makes fun of the Arthurian legend, among many other things.

Aside of a sketch or two, this was my first experience with the Pythons. The main plot of the film follows King Arthur (Graham Chapman) as he travels across England trying to recruit men to join the Knights of the Round Table. In his travels, he encounters God, a Black Knight (John Cleese), a three-headed knight (Chapman, Terry Jones, Michael Palin), a killer rabbit, and Tim. But there's also a castle full of "helpful" women, a wedding, and a murder investigation.

The strength of this film is in the absurdity; Directors Jones and Terry Gilliam take a surreal approach to their comedy, full of zany and silly occurrences. Add to that the cleverly funny dialogue and some great physical comedy, and you have a recipe for a damn funny comedy. Cleese is always a delight to watch, but I also enjoyed Palin's over-the-top approach to his characters.

With such a clever dialogue and so many funny lines, I can see why someone would end up quoting some of them in real life. All in all, I don't think there was a single time where I slapped at my knees, laughing out loud, but I can say I was smiling all the way through. I will surely be checking out their other films later.

Grade: A-


Notice how I didn't use that word...

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Tue Feb 20, 2018 4:45 am
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Thief wrote:
These are the ones I might have in store for the next days/week...

An NAACP Image Award winner for Best Picture: Precious
A romantic film: Before Sunrise
An oft-quoted film: Monty Python and the Holy Grail

A feature-length anime: Spirited Away
A film made for less than $5,000,000: Boyhood
A film from the 1900s: The Great Train Robbery


Adding to what I have planned...

A film directed by a woman: Detroit
A film from the 1950s: Sunset Blvd.
A political film: The Post
A film from the 1970s: All the President's Men
A hand-drawn animated film: Belladonna of Sadness

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Tue Feb 20, 2018 4:54 am
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Thief wrote:
A hand-drawn animated film: Belladonna of Sadness

Don't know if you have kiddies in the house, but I forgot to warn you that this is recommended as an "after-hours" selection, unless you're looking for a creative way to teach them about the birds and the bees. ;)

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Tue Feb 20, 2018 6:39 am
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Captain Terror wrote:
Don't know if you have kiddies in the house, but I forgot to warn you that this is recommended as an "after-hours" selection, unless you're looking for a creative way to teach them about the birds and the bees. ;)


:D Yeah, I know. I'm about to watch it now, but yeah, I read it's pretty explicit in terms of violence and birds & bees.

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Tue Feb 20, 2018 7:29 am
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A film with a primarily minority cast: Black Panther

Long story short: really enjoyed it. Fantastic cast and an understated tone that was welcome relief from the joke-fest that the Marvel movies have become.


Tue Feb 20, 2018 8:30 am
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Thief wrote:
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

Grade: A-

Somebody's begging for a good spanking.

Captain Terror wrote:
I forgot to warn you that this is recommended as an "after-hours" selection, unless you're looking for a creative way to teach them about the birds and the bees. ;)

And the rape and the satan :shifty:


Tue Feb 20, 2018 11:35 am
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BL wrote:
I'm not typically a Linklater fan. I think his movies mostly fall into the category either of commercial pablum or dull indie cliches involving characters exchanging half-baked stoner-intellectual monologues.

Meh, I kinda think this is reductive. I agree that his worst films (Newton Boys, School of Rock, Bad News Nears) certainly fall into the category of 'commercial pablum', but I don't find anything really cliched about something like Slacker, or rather it created the cliche that it became (maybe, I'm still not convinced). I think that Dazed and Confused is much better than simply a "stoner" comedy, I think Waking Life is a little precious at times but I admire its commitment (and also not cliched as I can't think of anything else like it), and although it's not overall as great as Blade Runner I think that A Scanner Darkly is the most Dickian adaptation to date. Also, although I don't find the Before films to be the masterpieces that I've seen some on RT describe them, I do find them mostly engaging and enjoyable.

I thought Boyhood was...pretty good. Well made and acted, but, like Ethan Hawke in general, kinda bland and too earnest. I prefered Bernie, actually, which I thought was both very funny and unexpectedly moving.


Tue Feb 20, 2018 11:47 am
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Thief wrote:
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
"Just then, the animator suffered a fatal heart attack!"

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Tue Feb 20, 2018 3:18 pm
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Jinnistan wrote:
Somebody's begging for a good spanking.


And after the spanking, the oral sex. :P

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Wed Feb 21, 2018 12:18 am
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Jinnistan wrote:
Meh, I kinda think this is reductive. I agree that his worst films (Newton Boys, School of Rock, Bad News Nears) certainly fall into the category of 'commercial pablum', but I don't find anything really cliched about something like Slacker, or rather it created the cliche that it became (maybe, I'm still not convinced). I think that Dazed and Confused is much better than simply a "stoner" comedy, I think Waking Life is a little precious at times but I admire its commitment (and also not cliched as I can't think of anything else like it), and although it's not overall as great as Blade Runner I think that A Scanner Darkly is the most Dickian adaptation to date. Also, although I don't find the Before films to be the masterpieces that I've seen some on RT describe them, I do find them mostly engaging and enjoyable.
To each his own; they're all unwatchable shit to me.

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Wed Feb 21, 2018 12:24 am
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BL wrote:
I'm not typically a Linklater fan. I think his movies mostly fall into the category either of commercial pablum or dull indie cliches involving characters exchanging half-baked stoner-intellectual monologues. Boyhood is the first time I felt like he fully conceived and executed a satisfying movie in the latter mode, which is kind of funny considering he had to go to such lengths to pull off that feat. It helps that we basically spend the whole movie reaching the point where we can be forgiving of those stoner-intellectual monologues that crop up at the end, but I think it's well-earned by then. What I appreciate is that Linklater took this concept of filming a year at a time but didn't build it around major milestones in the boy's life. Instead, I think it functions more like how memory actually works: it's an assemblage of random but impactful snippets from a person's life. Playing in an alleyway takes on as much if not more importance as losing your virginity in memory. It's one of the few movies that made me feel like I'd occupied another person's life for a while.

Jinnistan wrote:
Meh, I kinda think this is reductive. I agree that his worst films (Newton Boys, School of Rock, Bad News Nears) certainly fall into the category of 'commercial pablum', but I don't find anything really cliched about something like Slacker, or rather it created the cliche that it became (maybe, I'm still not convinced). I think that Dazed and Confused is much better than simply a "stoner" comedy, I think Waking Life is a little precious at times but I admire its commitment (and also not cliched as I can't think of anything else like it), and although it's not overall as great as Blade Runner I think that A Scanner Darkly is the most Dickian adaptation to date. Also, although I don't find the Before films to be the masterpieces that I've seen some on RT describe them, I do find them mostly engaging and enjoyable.

I thought Boyhood was...pretty good. Well made and acted, but, like Ethan Hawke in general, kinda bland and too earnest. I prefered Bernie, actually, which I thought was both very funny and unexpectedly moving.

Can't say that I've seen very many of Linklater's movies. [goes and counts] I've seen 6 out of 28. I own precisely one: the one I asked about. I'd like to own Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly because I like the rotoscoped stylistics. When I watched School of Rock I thought, "This is Linklater? I thought he had more class." But it simply said to me that he usually makes films he wants to make, but sometimes to make money in order to do the ones he likes making he does more mainstream movies with Jack Black.

Not sure how long ago, I first read about Boyhood. Maybe it didn't even have a title. It was a planned project. Sounded cool. I had thought of doing a film like that back when I was 15, but there was no chance mine would ever get done (even started). To hear that someone with possibilities was planning one made it something to watch for.

And then time passed, I didn't read anything about it being in production. Wham! 2014 and it's out, and done. I thought surely a main character would die, possibly the very boy at the center. You never know what's liable to happen over 12 years. But he got it done and I had to see it.

I was not surprised that it seems to have little traditional plot. In fact, a standard plot would be hard to construct and then successfully complete over a 12-year span. I like BL's comparison to "how memory actually works." And, like Jinnistan, I find it kind of bland. I've wondered if it improves with a rewatch, but I have such a backlog of movies I'd like to see that that particular Blu has never enticed me to plop it in the machine a second time. It stares me down occasionally but hasn't won, to date.

Linklater does projects that I find fascinating, even if the films may not be riveting. Tape inspired me to write something that could be done in a closed set. Never shot it, though. As a frustrated fictional film maker who only got to make hundreds of institutional videos over 23 years, I kind of envy Linklater's career. I wonder if that causes me to be less "harsh" in my judgment of his output.

For Boyhood I thought (as I watched it), "How would you select a kid to literally grow up in front of your lens? There is no way in hell you could know that he/she was a good or even passable actor. It would have to be a craps shoot." Yet, Linklater pulled off the casting. I was at first disappointed to see that Ethan Hawke was in the film, but I thought he played a directionless father pretty well. He impressed the hell out of me in Explorers and Dead Poets Society (which I saw in the reverse order). And since then he's always seemed "adequate" but never has seemed to shine quite as brightly. I disliked Slackers because it was the first film to put me to sleep (since 1957 when I saw five minutes total of Sleeping Beauty, with a loooong, sweet nap sandwiched between the beginning and end). I've never seen all of either film.

So my assessment of a Linklater film is tied up in my admiration of his career, and my general decision to give him a pass just because he tries things that might be hard to do and that might fail, but he finishes them. I wonder what projects he's thought of but never pushed forward, or got started on and abandoned in preproduction.

So I wondered if anyone else cared for Boyhood, and if so, why. Obviously I liked it simply because of what it was, and who got to do it! Therefore, I discounted my own positive response to the film.

Thanks for your replies

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I had fun. Thanks for reading!

"The wealthy and powerful always remind us that cream rises to the top.
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!)


The Future Unreels


Wed Feb 21, 2018 8:13 am
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I thought Boyhood was alright. It was well-made, the acting was pretty good, and I can respect it for its ambition and creativity. However, I also felt like it was largely reliant on its gimmick and that it was kind of bland at some points. I probably won't watch it again, but I'm still glad I saw it at least once.

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Wed Feb 21, 2018 9:48 am
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I guess we need someone willing to issue Boyhood love up in here.

As far as I was concerned, the best film of 2014.


My favorite moment was this quiet scene where Ethan and his wife were playing a country tune. Simple and unassuming, yet touching.


Wed Feb 21, 2018 10:44 am
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Thief wrote:

Adding to what I have planned...

A film directed by a woman: Detroit
A film from the 1950s: Sunset Blvd.
A political film: The Post
A film from the 1970s: All the President's Men
A hand-drawn animated film: Belladonna of Sadness


You're gonna love this, I feel.


Wed Feb 21, 2018 10:46 am
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Apex Predator wrote:

You're gonna love this, I feel.


I don't wanna get hyped up, but I'm really looking forward to it.

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Wed Feb 21, 2018 10:51 am
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Thief wrote:

I don't wanna get hyped up, but I'm really looking forward to it.


It is very good. It surpasses its reputation, in my opinion.


Wed Feb 21, 2018 10:59 am
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Takoma1 wrote:

It is very good. It surpasses its reputation, in my opinion.
It's one of those movie that I think actually benefits from having been lampooned to death by Looney Tunes and the like. Those "I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille!" parodies isolate the campiness of it and somewhat tamp your expectations for anything beyond that, but the movie overall is so much more complex and...peculiar than any parody is going to get at.

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Wed Feb 21, 2018 11:02 am
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BL wrote:
the movie overall is so much more complex and...peculiarthan any parody is going to get at.


Yup.

There is a part not even 15 minutes into the movie where I was just like "Is this . . . actually happening?!". The movie is both deeply weird and surprisingly emotional (as in her
visit to the movie set and interaction with the director
).


Wed Feb 21, 2018 11:25 am
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Takoma1 wrote:

Yup.

There is a part not even 15 minutes into the movie where I was just like "Is this . . . actually happening?!". The movie is both deeply weird and surprisingly emotional (as in her
visit to the movie set and interaction with the director
).


Or when they reveal why that studio person keeps calling...


Thu Feb 22, 2018 1:15 pm
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A film from the 1930s
A hand-drawn animated film



Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

Quote:
"Famed is thy beauty, Majesty. But hold, a lovely maid I see. Rags cannot hide her gentle grace. Alas, she is more fair than thee."


Jealousy and envy are two emotions that many of us feel, but usually refuse to admit it. It can drive us from denial to fear and anger in no time. In the worst cases, jealousy can even drive people to murder. That is the backdrop behind Disney's first animated feature film, but obviously, catered for children with a simple, black-and-white approach.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs follows the titular princess (Adriana Caselotti), who happens to be mistreated by her stepmother, the Queen (Lucille La Verne), because of her beauty. When her Magic Mirror (Moroni Olsen) reveals to the Queen that she finally isn't the "fairest" in the land, the Queen decides to take things to the last consequences by ordering a huntsman to kill her. Luckily for Snow White, the Huntsman does have a conscience and decides to let her go, forcing her to seek shelter deep in the forest with seven dwarfs.

Anyway, we all know the story, but regardless, I don't remember seeing this whole in my life. Putting it in the context of the times, one can see why the film was groundbreaking, in terms of animation and blowing up a simple story into a full feature film for kids, which was a genius strategy from Disney that we all know paid off. But taking all that aside, the film was quite underwhelming, particularly for an adult. The story is thin, and stretched out to the point of tediousness, and there is literally no depth to the characters.

On the plus side, the voice performances are quite good. Caselotti is competent and serviceable, but La Verne is pretty good. Most of the actors voicing the dwarfs are also pretty good and manage to somewhat keep things afloat during the long stretch of the middle act. Also, the songs are fun and enjoyable. Finally, the animation is top-notch, with the peak moments being in the first act when Snow White flees into the forest, and the last act when the dwarfs chase the Queen up the mountain.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs happens to be an interesting and worthy watch for any cinephile, but as far as entertainment goes, there are many that are more fair than thee.

Grade: C+

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Fri Feb 23, 2018 2:37 am
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And to complete this unique, bizarro doubleheader of animation...


A film from the 1970s
A hand-drawn animated film



Belladonna of Sadness (1973)

Quote:
"Are you the devil?"
"I am you... I want to give you power; as you wished."
"A tiny thing like you!"
"It's your fault that I'm tiny... I can become as big and as strong as you want me to. It's all up to you."


Once in a while comes a film that, regardless of its overall merits, still manages to surprise you in some way. That is the case with Belladonna of Sadness, a Japanese animated film that relies mostly on static, hand-drawn pictures and collages instead of traditional animation. Add to that, the nature of the plot, which is loaded with sex, violence, and psychedelia, and you surely have a unique film in your hands.

Set in Medieval France, Belladonna of Sadness follows Jeanne (Aiko Nagayama), a young poor woman, that is brutally raped by the Lord of the region and his minions, on the day of her marriage with Jean (Katsutaka Ito). As a result, their relationship and lives spiral out of control, leading Jeanne to make a pact with a spirit that may or may not be the devil himself.

The uniqueness of this film lies in the images. The hand drawings used end up being both gorgeous to look at, while also conveying the necessary emotions of despair, tragedy, anger, and temptation of each scene. There is also clever use of psychedelic images and music in certain scenes that work well to the plot. The voice performance of Nagayama is effective, driving home the anguish and insecurities of the young woman. Tatsuya Nakadai, who voices the spirit, also does a great job.

My main issue is with the film's goal in the end. There is a particularly awkward epilogue that kinda threw me off, leaving me puzzled afterwards. What is the message of the film? I mean, there is an obvious message of female empowerment, but to pair that with all the phallic imagery, pacts with the devil, and the French Revolution? Ehh, it's kind of an awkward road to that message.

Ultimately, this is a film that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to a fellow cinephile. Not necessarily because the plot is great (like I said, it's kind of fuzzy and messy), but because the canvas chosen to paint that message is unlike anything I had seen before.

Grade: B

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Fri Feb 23, 2018 3:33 am
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Thief wrote:
My main issue is with the film's goal in the end. There is a particularly awkward epilogue that kinda threw me off, leaving me puzzled afterwards. What is the message of the film? I mean, there is an obvious message of female empowerment, but to pair that with all the phallic imagery, pacts with the devil, and the French Revolution? Ehh, it's kind of an awkward road to that message.

I saw this at a small theater and at the end of the film a woman sitting behind me made us all laugh when she said out loud, halfheartedly, "Yay, women are awesome." Like you say, it's pretty clear that's what the movie wants us to think but it's got a strange way of saying it.
The target audience for this one is admittedly pretty small. The combination of 70s psych-rock and the beautiful/scary imagery just happens to be aimed squarely up my alley, so I'll probably watch this one more often than the average Joe. (This is not to suggest that I'm in favor of including dogs in my orgies, incidentally. I'm not a monster.)

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Fri Feb 23, 2018 5:35 am
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A political film
A film from the 1970s



All the President's Men (1976)

Quote:
"Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king's horses and all the king's men
Couldn't put Humpty together again"


Everything is fixable. Everything has a solution. At least that's what I tell my IT clients when dealing with some issue. What a lot of people don't understand is that sometimes, the solution might not be the one you'd prefer. However, the above nursery rhyme, in which the title of this film is based on, states that there are things that we just can't put back together again. They are beyond repair, no matter how much you or your men try to fix it. That is the basis of the plot of this film, which unraveled leading to President Nixon's resignation.

All the President's Men follows Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman), two young reporters on the Washington Post that stumble upon the story of a burglary attempt at the Democratic National Committee in Washington, DC. What was thought to be a minor incident spiraled into one of the biggest political scandals leading to the first and only President resignation (so far!) in the history of the US.

This film is one of those examples where you already know what's happening, and yet is so finely crafted that you can't help but be thrilled by it. Kudos to director Alan J. Pakula for achieving that without the need of gunshots or car chases. His direction is concise and tight, with things moving at a perfect pace. Instead of the usual thriller/action tropes of today, we are presented with two men struggling to find the truth, to put the pieces of the puzzle together. Redford and Hoffman are immediately likable as the reporters, who are supervised by editor Bob Bradlee (Jason Robards). Robards, however, ends up stealing every scene he's in. Great performance.

Directors making non-fictional/historical/biographical films should pay attention to Pakula's direction and learn a few things. Even though we know the conclusion, we believe Woodward and Bernstein's struggle. Multiple times in their investigation they hit dead ends or found themselves defeated. But there's always a solution, even if it comes in the form of a leaked document or a mysterious informant hidden in an underground garage. There was a solution for the Watergate scandal. Fortunately it wasn't the solution that Nixon and all his men wanted.

Grade: A-

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Sun Feb 25, 2018 4:50 am
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I remember feeling that Pakula's direction in that one was somewhat dry stylistically, but the basic story was still just so intriguing, that it made up for any flaws it may have had. It certainly holds up better than its new Nixon-era scandal movie, the unfocused, talky-ass The Post; Spielberg, how could you!

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Sun Feb 25, 2018 3:16 pm
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Which is a perfect segue into my next review!...

A political film
A drama film



The Post (2017)

Quote:
"Those days have to be over. We have to be the check on their power. If we don't hold them accountable, then, my God, who will?"


In a democracy, there are traditionally three powers (executive, legislative, judicial). The purpose is to keep the integrity of the government and avoid one branch to become excessively powerful through a system referred to as "checks and balances". But what happens when the exaggerated partisanism and corruption has all three branches subjugated? For a long time, the press has been referred to as the "fourth power" or "fourth estate" because of its wide reach and influence on the people. That responsibility is the premise of Spielberg's latest film.

Set in the early 70s, The Post focuses on two characters: Katharine Graham (Meryl Streep), the apparently indecisive and somewhat reluctant owner of The Washington Post, and Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks), her editor-in-chief. As Graham tries to take control of her newspaper at a time when women were not supposed to have positions of leadership, she and Bradlee have to also deal with the discovery of the Pentagon Papers, which revealed the true nature of US involvement in the Vietnam War, and the legality of making them public.

On the surface, there isn't a lot of things wrong with the film. The Post features a solid story, a remarkable cast, and competent directing, and there are some interesting points that are brought up about the role of women in society. Why is it that the film ends up being so... unremarkable? The Post feels like Spielberg in auto-pilot. The film is so inert and lifeless, with little to no bite to it, that I couldn't help roll my eyes at some points near the end as forced monologues rolled by, and supposedly rousing speeches were said.

Hanks and Streep do their best, with the latter probably getting the better part. But Hanks? As much as I like him, he was just Hanks playing a character. I never saw him owning the role. Compare that to Robards' superb performance in All the President's Men, which I saw a day before and well, it pales. Is it Hanks' fault or is it our excessive familiarity with his persona? The cast is rounded out by Bob Odenkirk, Matthew Rhys, Tracy Letts, and Sarah Paulson. The latter delivers a particularly cringe-inducing, unsubtle monologue near the end.

It's tough to grade the film. As it finished, I was thinking maybe a B- or a C+, if I pushed it. But the more I think of it, the more I'm baffled by how stale it was. Again, I just can't pinpoint what's wrong with it, and this might signal that the issue had more to do with the script and Spielberg's direction, but I didn't actively dislike it. That keeps it away from the D realm. In many ways, it reminded me of Lincoln, which pretty much left a similar impression in me. This has made me wonder, when was the last time that Spielberg really did a great picture? Somebody should hold remind Spielberg of his glory days, and hold him accountable. Because if we don't, then by God, who will?

Grade: C

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Sun Feb 25, 2018 11:22 pm
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ski petrol wrote:
I like the Before movies (haven't seen the last one) but thought they were a bit overrated. 2 people talking for 90 minutes. It's like an Eric Rohmer film.


I need to watch some Rohmer films then. Any req's?

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Sun Feb 25, 2018 11:46 pm
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topherH wrote:

I need to watch some Rohmer films then. Any req's?

I will vouch for his Moral Tales. The feature length ones are stronger than the shorts, but they're best watched in order.

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Mon Feb 26, 2018 8:27 am
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Rock wrote:
I will vouch for his Moral Tales. The feature length ones are stronger than the shorts, but they're best watched in order.


I checked TSPDT a few days ago and apparently he made a ton of films, criterion had that boxset but i wasn't aware it's OOP, so hopefully the library has it.

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Mon Feb 26, 2018 8:39 am
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topherH wrote:

I checked TSPDT a few days ago and apparently he made a ton of films, criterion had that boxset but i wasn't aware it's OOP, so hopefully the library has it.
The Tales of the Four Seasons is also another thematically linked series of Rohmer films that is worth checking out. Their heavy influence on Call Me by Your Name would make for some particularly timely viewing.

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Mon Feb 26, 2018 8:42 am
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BL wrote:
The Tales of the Four Seasons is also another thematically linked series of Rohmer films that is worth checking out. Their heavy influence on Call Me by Your Name would make for some particularly timely viewing.


Nice. These should keep me busy for a while.

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Z |Gavras, 1969| -
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The Hateful Eight |Tarantino, 2015| +

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Mon Feb 26, 2018 8:47 am
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You know what's a good Linklater film despite those sometimes hard to get through monologues is Tape.


Mon Feb 26, 2018 11:51 am
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A Romantic Film:

A Christmas Prince

I am reminded of the great philosopher who once stated, "They were who we thought they were. And we let them off the hook!"

A Christmas Prince is exactly what you think it is. Frivolous, predictable, silly, perhaps a bit trite.

But its weaknesses are also its strengths. It works as mindless escapism as we learn whether Amber (Rose McIver, iZombie) can successfully pull off a scheme to become tutor to Princess Emily (Honor Kneafsey, Miss You Already), a girl with spina bifida but tons of spunk. Why wasn't she named Annie in 2014?

Mind you, she didn't want to deceive Prince Richard (Ben Lamb, The White Queen) by posing as an American tutor. But she's willing to play along to get the real scoop for a tabloid she's working for. But wouldn't you know it, she finds that he's nowhere near as callous as his playboy reputation (and an early cab mishap) suggests. And gasp, she might be falling for him!

Slowly, the Queen (Alice Krige, Star Trek: First Contact/Sleepwalkers) falls for her charms as well. But what will happen when the truth comes out?

Like I said, it's predictable, frivolous, and silly. But I managed to be won over by its modest charms as well.

Probably because there's no great statement, no depressing news, and that fictional country and castle look pretty doggone nice in the real world we're in now.


Mon Feb 26, 2018 2:27 pm
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ski petrol wrote:
You know what's a good Linklater film despite those sometimes hard to get through monologues is Tape.

Yep. I liked it. That makes at least two of us. 8-)

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Tue Feb 27, 2018 9:15 am
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Thief wrote:

If somebody told me that the film was just that, I would've agreed with you. But the truth of the matter is that I found myself captivated with their interactions, and at the end, I wanted to see more of them. Looking forward to the other two, to see where Linklater takes the characters.


That was my thought after Before Sunrise. I do need to see the other two as well.


Tue Feb 27, 2018 12:38 pm
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A Best Picture nominee
A film from the 1950s



Sunset Boulevard (1950)

Quote:
"There once was a time in this business when I had the eyes of the whole world! But that wasn't good enough for them, oh no! They had to have the ears of the whole world too. So they opened their big mouths and out came talk. Talk! TALK!"


It is well known that the advent of sound films in the late 1920s wasn't well received by everyone. Many silent actors resented the new technology which was dubbed by some as the "Talkie Terror". Actors that couldn't make the transition were relegated to supporting roles, and in the worst cases, slipped into obscurity. One can only imagine the impact it would have in someone's psyche to see your career vanish for something that is arguably an advance, and that you have almost no control of. That is the backdrop of Billy Wilder's 1950 film.

Sunset Boulevard follows Joe Gillis (William Holden), a down-and-out writer in Hollywood who is about to lose his apartment and his car. One day, completely by chance, he runs into the mansion of Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson), a middle-aged, former silent movie star that now lives in seclusion, reminiscing of her days of glory, under the guard of her servant, Max (Erich von Stroheim). When Joe finds out that Norma is writing a film titled Salomé in an attempt to make a comeback (or "a return", as she prefers to call it), he offers to doctor her script expecting some money in return. Eventually, he moves into Norma's mansion and becomes her lover; a "kept man", as they called it.

Sunset Boulevard is a story about past glories and current frustrations. Be it the down-and-out writer that "had some talent", the faded, middle-aged actress that used to be "the greatest of them all", the old director that used to be named alongside D.W. Griffith and Cecil B. DeMille, or the young female writer they tried to force into being an actress. Now that the glory days of each are long gone, each of them seem to be trying to spill some of that old glory into their lives, like fiction oozing into reality. Whether it is Joe trying to "write" a new story to his "character" by working for Norma, or Norma putting up live shows for Joe - the Norma Desmond Follies - while Max makes every single effort to "direct" and orchestrate Norma's life the way he feels more convenient.

If I were to complain about something, I would say that the relationship between Joe and Betty felt underdeveloped. But other than that, the film was an excellent showcase of great acting as far as everyone's concerned. Ultimately, in the stage of life, they all got what they wanted. Joe got a "nice" story with a twist ending, even if it was at his own expense; Max had the chance to direct the cameras one last time for Norma; and she, well she had the chance to have the eyes of the whole world on her for one last time en route for her "close-up".

Grade: A

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Thu Mar 01, 2018 2:21 am
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A film with a face on the poster
A Best Picture nominee



Phantom Thread (2017)

Quote:
"The mistakes I've made, I've made again. They can no longer be ignored. There are things nagging at me. Things that now must be done. Things I simply cannot do without you. To keep my sour heart from choking. To break a curse. A house that doesn't change is a dead house."


A lot of what happens in Phantom Thread has to do with superstition or curses, and how people live with the belief in the existence of them. Most of the characters are living under a spell of which they can't seem nor want to break free. Whether it's the spell of work and prestige, or of memories gone by and loved ones long gone. Whether it's the curse of bachelorhood or marriage, almost every character seems either trapped by it or willing to be.

Set in 1950's London, Phantom Thread follows Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis), a highly sought dressmaker that spends his days stuck between his work and a strict everyday routine of which he doesn't like to stray from. Woodcock's life and work is controlled and overseen by his overprotective sister Cyril (Lesley Manville) who even chooses when to dump Reynolds' lovers. This routine is spun out of control when Woodcock falls for Alma (Vicky Krieps), a young waitress that manages to hold her own against both Reynolds and Cyril.

Most of Reynolds' behavior can be attributed to different "curses", so to speak. He sees himself as a "confirmed bachelor... incurable", while his strict routine which could easily be diagnosed as some level of OCD now, could feel like a curse to him and others; food should be prepared a certain way, breakfasts should be quiet and devoid of confrontations, schedules should be tightly kept, and deadlines should be met without failure. But perhaps most relevant, he seems to be also cursed, or haunted, with memories of his dead mother. This leads him to achingly reminisce of her, carry a lock of her hair, and at some point, hallucinate about her as he longs for her presence. His sister seems to be the one filling that maternal void, intentionally or not. Cyril seems to be "cursed" with taking care of him and his business. Her uptight demeanor and strict approach helps to keep Reynolds in check while allowing no deviation from the usual routine.

Meeting Alma puts all those curses to the test, curing him of some, but plaguing him with others. Their first meeting is equal parts charming, equal parts awkward. And although she seems a bit thrown off by Reynolds peculiar quirks upon moving together, she is determined to take the wheel of the relationship ("Let me drive for you"). As a result, the relationship evolves in an endless twirl of ups and downs, love and hate, need and tolerance, as each partner plagues the other with their respective "curses".

There is a scene in particular, very simple, that for some reason caught my attention. When Woodcock is receiving the princess in his shop, she "parades" down the hall while greeting the seamstresses that stand in line one by one with her hand, as they bow in reverence. Because of lack of interest, distraction, or whatever, the princess stopped greeting when she was about to reach Alma. It wasn't necessarily intentional. It was the equivalent of a basketball player walking out of the court as he greets his fans, usually with little to no interest. Some he will reach and touch, some he will not. But the face of Alma after this "rejection" was one of disbelief and insult. Shortly after that, she approached the princess to wish her "good fortune" for her wedding, but also to state clearly "I live here".

Alma is both a curse and an antidote to Reynolds, while also being cursed herself. Her "curse" is that she craves to be at Reynolds' side, she craves that position. Alma is determined not to be just another seamstress in Woodcock's shop, not to be another girl that he brushes aside when tired of. Each and every one of Alma's actions is meticulously done to set herself apart from the others, break away from the pattern, or break a curse, perhaps. Reynolds like quiet breakfasts? Well, let's make the more sound she can. He doesn't like surprises? She doesn't care. She'll send everybody home and prepare a special dinner for him. He detests too much better? Well, let's just pour the whole tub of it on the pan.

I'm pretty sure I could go on and on talking about it. Anderson's direction is flawless, all three lead performances are magnificent, and Jonny Greenwood's score is gorgeous. This is one of those films where you feel like every shot, every single scene and frame is so rich. Everything has a purpose. Like an elegant dress, the more I pull away, the more I uncover; the more I think of it, the more I find myself caught in its spell, cursed.

Grade: A+

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Fri Mar 02, 2018 9:24 am
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A feature length anime


Spirited Away (2001)

Quote:
"Once you do something, you never forget. Even if you can't remember."


Definitely anime isn't my cup o' tea. I have little experience with the genre, but I usually can't get into their overall aesthetics and philosophical sensibilities of their plots. The ones I do remember have been unremarkable, messy, or both. This is only my second film from Studio Ghibli (the first one was Princess Mononoke, back in the day) and considering the praise it gets, I was surprised by how little I enjoyed it. But bear with me as I elaborate.

Spirited Away follows Chihiro (Rumi Hiiragi), a 10-year old girl who ends up trapped in a mysterious magical world along with her parents, who somehow end up turning into pigs. Trying to escape, Chihiro meets Haku (Miyu Irino), a young boy who tries to protect her from the creatures and inhabitants of the place, while advising her to look for a job in Yubaba's bathhouse. As she tries to find her way out, Chihiro meets a wide array of characters which include Kamaji, a spider-like old man; No-Face, a mysterious masked spirit; and Lin, a fellow human that befriends her.

There is an undeniable charm in the film and its colorful characters. The voice performances are solid, and the animation is top-notch. But as the film progressed, I found myself confused by a plot I consider messy and unfocused. Perhaps all the symbolism was lost in me or was too elevated for my tastes? I don't know, but there was a point where I felt the film was just throwing random events just because, and sometimes even retracing its steps for no reason.

Some examples are the visits of the "stink spirit" and No-Face to the bathhouse. Both seemed to unfold in a similar way with both characters wreaking havoc, but still they seemed to be drawn for far too long. Also, the introduction of Yubaba's twin sister in the second half of the film felt like coming out of left field. Finally, the final revelation about Haku's real identity and its significance to Chihiro felt a bit like a deus ex machina. Something conveniently pulled to close things out, even though it made reference to something that hadn't been mentioned before.

I remember seeing Princess Mononoke some time in the late 90's and having a similar reaction to it. A beautifully animated film with some charm, but a somewhat messy plot. Even if I can't remember it properly, I haven't forgotten. Perhaps that's why I've stayed away from Studio Ghibli films, despite all the praise they get. Perhaps anime is just not for me. Only time will tell if I'll forget this, or if I'll check out another.

Grade: C

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Sat Mar 03, 2018 3:27 am
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Thief wrote:
Some examples are the visits of the "stink spirit" and No-Face to the bathhouse. Both seemed to unfold in a similar way with both characters wreaking havoc, but still they seemed to be drawn for far too long.


I can't comment on the length of these sequence (haven't watched the movie recently enough), but both give critical clues about the rules of this world and specifically relate to the reveal about Haku.

From the stink spirit we learn that the form of a creature in this world might not be who it really is. Through empathy Sen is able to see through the repulsive outside to give help to the "real" self inside.

From the visit of No Face we see how bad behavior can snowball and also that you can become literally warped from being around (or consuming!) the wrong crowd.

Magic characters (and witches, in particular) having twin sisters is a super, super common trope (see The Worst Witch, Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Bewitched,, etc), so I didn't mind that plot element.

To me the plot flows well and all makes sense. But it is certainly slowly and/or erratically paced. For me the charm of the visuals more than makes up for any slowness in the progression of the plot.

EDIT: I will also double down on recommending that you check out a Satoshi Kon film. They are plotted much more like "real" movies, especially Tokyo Godfathers. You might also enjoy the mostly-realistic (I mean, it's set in an alternative present, but it follows real world rules--no magic) action/thriller Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade. It's a story about a SWAT type officer who witnesses a young woman's suicide bombing and then later becomes involved with her (very similar looking) sister. Trailer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8oui3kAkUqE


Sat Mar 03, 2018 4:54 am
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Takoma1 wrote:

I can't comment on the length of these sequence (haven't watched the movie recently enough), but both give critical clues about the rules of this world and specifically relate to the reveal about Haku.

From the stink spirit we learn that the form of a creature in this world might not be who it really is. Through empathy Sen is able to see through the repulsive outside to give help to the "real" self inside.

From the visit of No Face we see how bad behavior can snowball and also that you can become literally warped from being around (or consuming!) the wrong crowd.

Magic characters (and witches, in particular) having twin sisters is a super, super common trope (see The Worst Witch, Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Bewitched,, etc), so I didn't mind that plot element.

To me the plot flows well and all makes sense. But it is certainly slowly and/or erratically paced. For me the charm of the visuals more than makes up for any slowness in the progression of the plot.

EDIT: I will also double down on recommending that you check out a Satoshi Kon film. They are plotted much more like "real" movies, especially Tokyo Godfathers. You might also enjoy the mostly-realistic (I mean, it's set in an alternative present, but it follows real world rules--no magic) action/thriller Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade. It's a story about a SWAT type officer who witnesses a young woman's suicide bombing and then later becomes involved with her (very similar looking) sister. Trailer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8oui3kAkUqE


Thanks for sharing those notes. This is the kind of film that frustrates me in many ways because, 1) I know it's well liked by a lot of people and I recognize there is craft and care involved in it, so I really wanted to like it; and 2) because maybe it makes me feel a bit "dumb" for not getting it. That maybe the more spiritual and philosophical themes that are usually present in the genre are above me and I just don't seem to get it. It drives me crazy, really.

Thanks for the recs, though.

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Sat Mar 03, 2018 5:45 am
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Anyway, with that, I close February with this tally...

A film with a face on the poster: Phantom Thread
An Italian language film:
A film directed by a woman:
A film with a one word title: Life
An NAACP Image Award winner for Best Picture:
A Best Picture nominee: The Shape of Water
A film from the 1930s: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
A film from the 1950s: Sunset Boulevard
A Spanish language film:
A James Bond movie: You Only Live Twice
A political film: The Post
A romantic film: Before Sunrise
An oft-quoted film: Monty Python and the Holy Grail
A film with a character's name as the title:
A silent film from a foreign country:
A comedy film: Blazing Saddles
A film about a heist: Now You See Me
A feature-length anime: Spirited Away
A film made for less than $5,000,000:
A drama film:
A film with a primarily minority cast:
An NC-17-rated film:
A film from the 1900s: The Great Train Robbery
A film from the 1970s: All the President's Men
A hand-drawn animated film: Belladonna of Sadness

Like January, I ended up watching a total of 15 films (for 60% of my goal). Steady does it.

My clear favorite from this month was Phantom Thread (followed closely by Sunset Boulevard). The worst? The Post.

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Sat Mar 03, 2018 6:03 am
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For those interested, check out the first post where I've already put up the new categories for March.

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Sat Mar 03, 2018 6:17 am
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Thief wrote:
Thanks for sharing those notes. This is the kind of film that frustrates me in many ways because, 1) I know it's well liked by a lot of people and I recognize there is craft and care involved in it, so I really wanted to like it; and 2) because maybe it makes me feel a bit "dumb" for not getting it. That maybe the more spiritual and philosophical themes that are usually present in the genre are above me and I just don't seem to get it. It drives me crazy, really.

Thanks for the recs, though.


I think that a lot of the Ghibli films run on amazing visuals and understated emotions. I don't think it's that you don't get it. It's probably more that you don't vibe with the understated mix of melancholy and optimism that fuel the character development.


Sat Mar 03, 2018 6:20 am
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Thief wrote:
I decided to create a new thread for my new monthly challenge, so I hope it's not too much of an issue.



A Best Screenplay winner made before 1990: Chinatown
An action film: John Wick
A horror film in a foreign language: Ju-On
A B-movie: The Tingler
A British film or British comedy: The Boat That Rocked
A film over 170 minutes long: The Human Condition (all 3 parts over 170 minutes each)
A film with a color in the title: Three Colors: Red
An adventure/fantasy film: The Beastmaster
A film from the 1960s: The Apartment (1960)
A film that won Best Cinematography award (pre-1990): Barry Lyndon (1975)
An animated film: The Last Unicorn
A film by Akira Kurosawa: The Hidden Fortress
A G-rated film: Mary Poppins
A film from the IMDb Top 250: City of God
An exploitation film: The Human Tornado
A generic romantic comedy: Forgetting Sarah Marshall
A film based on a play: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
A film based on a Shakespeare play: The Tempest (1982)
A German language film: Wings of Desire
A Palm D'Or winner: All That Jazz
A western film: The Quick and the Dead
A film recommended by a reliable person: Floating Weeds (Roger Ebert)
A film with a primarily minority cast: Waiting to Exhale
A film with a season in the title: Captain America: The Winter Soldier
A film about food: Ratatouille

Go.

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Sat Mar 03, 2018 7:09 am
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Death Proof wrote:
An action film: John Wick
A film with a color in the title: Three Colors: Red
An animated film: The Last Unicorn
A film by Akira Kurosawa: The Hidden Fortress
A G-rated film: Mary Poppins
A generic romantic comedy: Forgetting Sarah Marshall
A film based on a play: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
A German language film: Wings of Desire
A film with a season in the title: Captain America: The Winter Soldier


I particularly agree with the above. Especially The Last Unicorn and Wings of Desire. Wings of Desire is . . . something else. I love the whole movie, but Peter Falk in particular really touches my heart in this one.

My picks would be:

A Best Screenplay winner made before 1990: Dog Day Afternoon
An action film: The Man from Nowhere (this is currently my favorite action movie, period)
A horror film in a foreign language: The Devil's Backbone OR Baskin
A B-movie: Crush the Skull
A British film or British comedy: Shallow Grave (a VERY dark comedy)
A film over 170 minutes long: Lagaan (224 minutes)
A film with a color in the title: Blue Ruin
An adventure/fantasy film: The Eagle (2011) OR Ink (2009)
A film from the 1960s: For a Few Dollars More
A film that won Best Cinematography award (pre-1990): Thief of Bagdad
An animated film: Song of the Sea OR The Boy and the World
A film by Akira Kurosawa: High and Low--a gritty thriller/police procedural
A G-rated film: The Emperor's New Groove
A film from the IMDb Top 250: Seven Samurai
An exploitation film: Foxy Brown
A generic romantic comedy: The Proposal (Reynolds and Bullock do amazing things to elevate this one)
A film based on a play: Noises Off!
A film based on a Shakespeare play: 10 Things I Hate About You
A German language film: I'll second Wings of Desire or Anatomy
A Palm D'Or winner: Black Orpheus
A western film: Destry Rides Again or Seraphim Falls
A film recommended by a reliable person: *shifty eyes* The Zero Effect
A film with a primarily minority cast: I Will Follow (an early Ava DuVernay film, really good)
A film with a season in the title: Winter Light
A film about food: Big Night


Sat Mar 03, 2018 7:51 am
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Takoma1 wrote:

I particularly agree with the above. Especially The Last Unicorn and Wings of Desire. Wings of Desire is . . . something else. I love the whole movie, but Peter Falk in particular really touches my heart in this one.



It's too bad Faraway So Close didn't turn out as well, although it did have an appearance by Nick Cave, which is almost as good as having Tom Waits in your movie.

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Sat Mar 03, 2018 8:09 am
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This is what I've seen (in red) and comments in bold...

Death Proof wrote:
A Best Screenplay winner made before 1990: Chinatown
An action film: John Wick
A horror film in a foreign language: Ju-On
A B-movie: The Tingler
A British film or British comedy: The Boat That Rocked
A film over 170 minutes long: The Human Condition (all 3 parts over 170 minutes each)
A film with a color in the title: Three Colors: Red (is there an "order" to see the Colors trilogy? I haven't seen any of them)
An adventure/fantasy film: The Beastmaster
A film from the 1960s: The Apartment (1960)
A film that won Best Cinematography award (pre-1990): Barry Lyndon (1975)
An animated film: The Last Unicorn
A film by Akira Kurosawa: The Hidden Fortress
A G-rated film: Mary Poppins (it's actually been a while. I wouldn't mind a rewatch)
A film from the IMDb Top 250: City of God
An exploitation film: The Human Tornado
A generic romantic comedy: Forgetting Sarah Marshall
A film based on a play: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
A film based on a Shakespeare play: The Tempest (1982)
A German language film: Wings of Desire
A Palm D'Or winner: All That Jazz
A western film: The Quick and the Dead
A film recommended by a reliable person: Floating Weeds (Roger Ebert)
A film with a primarily minority cast: Waiting to Exhale
A film with a season in the title: Captain America: The Winter Soldier
A film about food: Ratatouille

Go.


Thanks for the others!

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