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 Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019 
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Takoma1 wrote:


Hopefully For a Few Dollars More sticks around for a while...Unless I might have the trilogy in my DVD collection?

I faintly remember Meryl Streep's arc from She-Devil, but I do remember the "Come Grow With Us" ad involving Linda Hunt.

Can't say I've seen any film with Kentucker Audley or Kentucky Adler. Is Christmas, Again better than Empire Records?

Sorry, Takoma. But I did have to be honest with why I didn't care for Double Jeopardy. It watches easily enough, but I'm probably going with Girls Trip instead.

A bit of a snowstorm today means that I'm going to stay home and watch some films.

Finish one that I started, Girls Trip and maybe one other.


Mon Mar 04, 2019 1:04 am
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Apex Predator wrote:
Can't say I've seen any film with Kentucker Audley or Kentucky Adler. Is Christmas, Again better than Empire Records?


Haven't seen Empire Records, but I did really like Christmas Again (I watched it during the December challenge, so my review of it is in Thief's other challenge thread).

The other film I mentioned, Sun Don't Shine, is directed by Amy Seimetz and I also thought it was pretty good.


Mon Mar 04, 2019 2:42 am
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Empire Records is a pretty irrelevant movie. It's watchable, but there is absolutely no reason to.


Mon Mar 04, 2019 3:06 am
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Takoma1 wrote:
Morvern Callar


It's probably not for all tastes, my gf at the time walked out on it, but this is an incredible movie.


Mon Mar 04, 2019 3:10 am
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Takoma1 wrote:
really don't like Miranda July.

Neither does Madeline :shifty:


Takoma1 wrote:
For that category I've been looking at Leave No Trace, Hysteria, and Movern Callar.

Maybe you should watch all of them. Didn't that ever occur to you? :P Maybe we can all handle more than one female-helmed film a month!


Mon Mar 04, 2019 7:49 am
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crumbsroom wrote:
It's watchable, but there is absolutely no reason to.

Bald Robin Tunney is a reason.

(I can't remeember anything else about the film.)


Mon Mar 04, 2019 7:51 am
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crumbsroom wrote:

It's probably not for all tastes, my gf at the time walked out on it, but this is an incredible movie.


Like, style-wise, or for content reasons? I know it's early in the month, but I've just about reached my quota for sexual violence and/or violence against children.

Jinnistan wrote:
Maybe you should watch all of them. Didn't that ever occur to you? :P Maybe we can all handle more than one female-helmed film a month!


Well, they're all on my to-watch list. I just meant what I'd actually write up.


Mon Mar 04, 2019 8:13 am
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Alright! Just got home from my NYC trip a while ago. Lots of interesting recommendations here, but I won't start watching anything at least until tomorrow.

Will catch up with your replies and recs tomorrow. Thanks!

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Mon Mar 04, 2019 12:49 pm
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Takoma1 wrote:
Like, style-wise, or for content reasons? I know it's early in the month, but I've just about reached my quota for sexual violence and/or violence against children.


It was content reasons. I can't remember well enough to say neither of your concerns play any part at all, but I don't think so. Don't take my word on that, though. I frequently forget huge chunks of movies. Her problem was that it was more of a fact that their is a grim intensity to the film that wasn't my ex's thing. At all. Ever. She didn't like anything that made her feel uncomfortable, and I'm pretty sure this movie definitely does that.


Mon Mar 04, 2019 1:20 pm
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Jinnistan wrote:
Bald Robin Tunney is a reason.

(I can't remeember anything else about the film.)


Something about a Day or something?

Between the three of you, you've convinced me to go with Christmas, Again.


Tue Mar 05, 2019 4:02 am
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Ernest and Celestine (2013)
See a film with a woman's name (March)
See a film with two names (don't have to be male and female) (February)


Did you know there is a natural aversion between bears and mice? In this film, you'll learn all about it.

Celestine is a mouse who lives in an orphanage and interns in a dentist's shop where she's tasked with getting bear teeth for use as a replacement for mouse teeth. But she wants to be an artist (she has a sketchbook with her always)

Ernest (Forest Whitaker) is a grumpy bear whose family wants him to be a judge. But living at the edge of the village, he works at being a one man music band instead.

The problem begins when she gets stuck in a garbage bin after an attempt to acquire a tooth goes wrong (she gets the tooth, but gets spotted in the process). Ernest rescues her, but he's hungry enough to eat anything. Celestine convinces him not to eat her and helps him break into an empty candy shop.

Unfortunately he gets into trouble and is eventually arrested. Celestine helps him escape, but in return he's got to help her do something big. This will ultimately lead them into more trouble and a possible friendship.

This animated film has charm to spare. There's some clever animation involving a mouse gym where mice are chased by a fake bear and lift weights looking like a mousetrap. Also there's the concept of a father running a candy shop and a mother running a bear tooth shop.

If I can fault anything, the messages to this one feel like it's not treading on new ground. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with them. But they do kinda feel well-worn.

But it's definitely worth seeing and I recommend it for those weary of the big budget (non-Pixar/Disney) animated films.


Tue Mar 05, 2019 4:31 am
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A film from the current IMDb 250 whose ranking includes the #3 (i.e. 13, 23, 32): Life of Brian

This is definitely my favorite thing that I've seen from the Monty Python crew.

I don't actually have that much to say about it. There were some bits that I know from endless quoting ("He's not the Messiah, he's a very naught boy!" or the "Bright Side of Life" singalong), but some other parts that I'd not heard before, like the large mob interacting with Brian's mother like a sulky child ("That wasn't a minute!" "Yes it was!") or the Roman soldier's Latin writing lesson.

I'd also say that this film is the one that felt like it had the most coherent plot, with wiggle room for silly asides, but not letting itself get pulled off course by them. The cast does a great job in their varied roles.

It was also nice that there are very few cringy moments (some brown-face in the beginning sequence; a joke about a sexual encounter only being a rape "at first"), and just generally no sense of any groups being singled out for ridicule. The film works nicely as a larger commentary on human habit (the desperation for a sense of order without caring specifically about where that authority comes from). A Roman soldier shrugging and saying "I like orders" to a line of men about to be crucified is both funny and chilling.

I sometimes find the Python humor (with their shrill female impersonations and intentionally clumsy style) a bit grating in larger doses, but this is maybe the only Python feature film I could see myself rewatching in one go.


Tue Mar 05, 2019 9:37 am
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Death Proof wrote:
A film with the number 3 (Three, Third, etc.) in its title (not a sequel): Three Kings
A film with a title that starts with the letters E or F: The Faculty
A film from the current IMDb 250 whose ranking includes the #3 (i.e. 13, 23, 32): City of God
A film from the 1920s: Nanook of the North
A documentary: Jiro Dreams of Sushi
The third part on a film franchise: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
A film with the word "Spring" in its title: Spring Breakers
A film directed by a woman: Pet Semetary
A film with a woman's name in its title: Foxy Brown
A film about salesperson or stores (Salesperson Day, March 1): Mannequin
A film set in New Orleans (Mardi Gras, March 5): Tightrope
A film about math or mathematicians (Pi Day, March 14): October Sky
A film from Ireland (St. Patrick's Day, March 17): Song of the Sea
A film about aliens or alien abductions (Alien Abduction Day, March 20): Strange Invaders
A film from Spike Lee (born March 20): Inside Man


I've seen most of these, but good recs. Thanks!

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Tue Mar 05, 2019 9:41 am
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Charles wrote:
A film with the number 3 (Three, Third, etc.) in its title (not a sequel): Probably a rewatch of Three Colors: Blue
A film with a title that starts with the letters E or F: F.A.R.T: The Movie
A film from the current IMDb 250 whose ranking includes the #3 (i.e. 13, 23, 32): (see list here) Castle in the Sky looks nice
A film from the 1920s: Probably The Passion of Joan of Arc
A documentary: Either Divine Horsemen by Maya Deren or Triumph of the Will, we'll see how long I wanna watch
The third part on a film franchise: Die Hard 3, it's been a while
A film with the word "Spring" in its title: Spring
A film directed by a woman: Detroit
A film with a woman's name in its title: I'll try to find time for Jeanne Dielman
A film about salesperson or stores (Salesperson Day, March 1): Not sure about this
A film set in New Orleans (Mardi Gras, March 5): Oh, that might be a tough search as well
A film about math or mathematicians (Pi Day, March 14): Pi
A film from Ireland (St. Patrick's Day, March 17): Calvary
A film about aliens or alien abductions (Alien Abduction Day, March 20): Extraterrestre, 2011
A film from Spike Lee (born March 20): Chi-Raq

I'll also try to finish February


Haven't seen many of these so I might pick up some ideas. I know Joan of Arc and Chi-Raq has been on my radar for a while.

Here are some suggestions for the New Orleans category:

Films set in New Orleans

Of the ones I've seen, I would recommend...

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans
Beasts of the Southern Wild
JFK
The Pelican Brief
Runaway Jury
A Streetcar Named Desire

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Tue Mar 05, 2019 9:47 am
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Takoma1 wrote:
Just some recs for you guys (these are all on Amazon Prime unless otherwise noted):

A film with the number 3 (Three, Third, etc.) in its title (not a sequel): Three Identical Strangers** or The Third Eye (fun/trashy Italian Psycho rip-off)
A film with a title that starts with the letters E or F: Erik the Conqueror; Farewell My Lovely; First Reformed; For a Few Dollars More; Free Fire
A film from the current IMDb 250 whose ranking includes the #3 (i.e. 13, 23, 32): These are hard to find streaming, but Psycho (#33) and Diabolique (#230) are great. The Handmaiden (#233) is on Amazon Prime and it is excellent!
A film from the 1920s: Nosferatu; The Kid; Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
A documentary: Chicken People; Cropsey; Blood Brother; I Am Not Your Negro**; Samsara; 4 Little Girls
The third part on a film franchise: Red Riding In the Year of Our Lord 1983 (Hulu)***; Thor Ragnarok (Netflix)
A film with the word "Spring" in its title: Spring (Shudder)
A film directed by a woman: She-Devil (the combo of Roseanne and Meryl Streep must be seen); The Fits; You Were Never Really Here; Lady Bird; Beyond the Lights; The Hitch-Hiker (50s version)
A film with a woman's name in its title: Heathers; A Fish Called Wanda; Lila Says; Ginger Snaps; Dakota Skye
A film about salesperson or stores (Salesperson Day, March 1): Christmas Again
A film set in New Orleans (Mardi Gras, March 5): Double Jeopardy (partly set in N.O.)
A film about math or mathematicians (Pi Day, March 14): Between the Folds
A film from Ireland (St. Patrick's Day, March 17): Breakfast on Pluto; Let Us Prey
A film about aliens or alien abductions (Alien Abduction Day, March 20):Annihilation; The Arrival;this amazing short
A film from Spike Lee (born March 20): 4 Little Girls; When the Levees Broke;

** A MUST SEE!

***You'll want to watch the other two films first, but they are all excellent. I saw them all in the theater back to back to back (they were all released at the same time in 2009)


Seen many of these, but thanks for the alternates.

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Tue Mar 05, 2019 9:52 am
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Apex Predator wrote:
Can't recommend Double Jeopardy. The legality of the premise took me out of the film which only works as a star vehicle.


I have to agree with this. Starting with the weak premise; I mean, when has this "legality" stopped a hero woman from murdering her "bad husband" on film before? In addition, I don't think the execution was very good. To me, it was a run-of-the-mill, 90s crime thriller with little grab.

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Tue Mar 05, 2019 9:56 am
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Thief wrote:

I have to agree with this. Starting with the weak premise; I mean, when has this "legality" stopped a hero woman from murdering her "bad husband" on film before? In addition, I don't think the execution was very good. To me, it was a run-of-the-mill, 90s crime thriller with little grab.


You people are insane.

I haven't watched Double Jeopardy in years, but I can still vividly remember Ashley Judd being chased down the beach by the police, the part where she's trapped in the car that goes off of the ferry, or the part where she realizes that her
husband killed the woman who was his accomplice.


Ashley Judd is fabulous, Tommy Lee Jones does his thing, and Bruce Greenwood is delightfully hatable.

The plot is unique and it's the perfect kind of dumb fun. The idea that, if convicted of a specific crime, you then have a free pass to actually commit that crime is delightfully bonkers.


Tue Mar 05, 2019 10:15 am
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A documentary: McQueen

I'm a big fan of Project Runway, and the designers and judges often reference Alexander McQueen in terms of the construction or concept of a garment. While I love watching people make clothing, I'm not all that on top of contemporary (or even historical) fashion design. I thought that this film would be a good way to gain some understanding of a designer who is frequently referenced.

This was a pretty good documentary, using interviews with friends and family mixed with archive footage of McQueen (home movies and TV interviews) to explore McQueen's life and process.

Even if you're not that in to fashion, McQueen makes for a very compelling subject. When talking about him, people will often say "He was like a director" or "He was like a sculptor". McQueen's design is not just seen in his clothing--it's seen in how he chooses to present his work. McQueen's show Voss, for example, takes place inside a glass cube modeled like a sanitarium, complete with bandaged models twitching and stumbling their way through the space. In the finale, a central cube opens to reveal a plus-sized woman covered in moths. [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nK_KA9U9rqo[/youtube]

The film does take on the question of McQueen being misogynistic (his premiere show features women dressed and styled as if they have just been raped, complete with dresses ripped strategically to expose breasts and models who stumble down the runway in distress, and is titled "Highland Rape"), but I was only partially convinced by the explanations that the show is inspired by his having witnessed domestic abuse committed by his brother-in-law. The "Highland Rape" show seems mostly to be intended as provocation. Later shows seem to approach the female body with more respect and nuance, and McQueen's inner demons seem to be more genuinely showing themselves in the art. It is clear that the many women who worked with him (both as fellow designers or as models) felt a lot of affection and respect for him. He pushes the models to be strange, animalistic, alien--he uses them as actresses rather than clothes hangers. As one woman says in the film, "His clothes made me feel like I could be feminine, but at the same time, don't f*ck with me."

This documentary reminded me a lot of Amy, the documentary about Amy Winehouse. You have this incredibly gifted person, plagued by demons and too powerful to be helped. My heart really broke for Jane, McQueen's sister (the one who was abused by her husband), who lost both her mother and her brother in the space of two weeks. The more McQueen gets close to success and power, the more isolated he becomes. The film lightly touches on abuse (implied to be sexual, but never clearly explained) that McQueen experienced as a child, but it's never entirely clear if McQueen is suffering from trauma, depression, or some combination of the two.

It can sound pretentious to say "It's not just fashion, it's art", but that's how McQueen's work feels, especially watching the actual presentations of the fashion shows. During Voss, models pull their dresses apart. There is of course a commercial element to it, but it feels like the primary goal of his work is personal artistic expression.

I'd recommend this one, especially if you don't think of yourself as being into fashion.


Tue Mar 05, 2019 11:49 am
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Being from and sitting in New Orleans right now (on a Mardi Gras break at my apartment) I recommend:

The Beyond
Cat People (1982)
King Creole
Live And Let Die
The Toast Of New Orleans
When The Levees Broke: A Requiem In Four Acts
Hard Times


Obviously, A Streetcar Named Desire is still the best film ever set in New Orleans.
If we're allowing it, Easy Rider.


Wed Mar 06, 2019 2:20 am
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Would you believe the first time I've heard of McQueen was a lyric in a Nicki Minaj song? Yep. Unless Madonna name dropped him at one point.

I get it, Takoma. Double Jeopardy is to you what the 1998 Avengers is to me, a guilty pleasure. Maybe you don't feel guilty about it (and you shouldn't).

Considering (I believe) New Orleans is only one part of Easy Rider, I'm going to say it's not allowed. It would work under road trip, though.


Wed Mar 06, 2019 3:05 am
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Apex Predator wrote:
I get it, Takoma. Double Jeopardy is to you what the 1998 Avengers is to me, a guilty pleasure. Maybe you don't feel guilty about it (and you shouldn't).


The only people who should feel guilty about their feelings toward Double Jeopardy are the certain people in this thread unable to appreciate its greatness.


Wed Mar 06, 2019 8:27 am
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Wooley wrote:

Obviously, A Streetcar Named Desire is still the best film ever set in New Orleans.

I mean, I was gonna say The Savage Bees but yours is cool too I guess.

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Wed Mar 06, 2019 8:45 am
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A film with the word "Spring" in its title: Bedford Springs

I like giving little indie films a spin. Not because I'm into bad films, but because it's so fun finding something that no one else has heard of that's kind of great (see The Hatred or Salvage or Crush the Skull). Yeah, a lot of them are pretty half-baked, but there is the occasional gem.

This film is not a gem.

It's a good thing I don't give films scores or grades, because I probably couldn't honestly grade this one, considering I spent about half of it reading articles online.

Fundamentally, the film is very derivative. It wants to be fun and snarky, but instead of the main character being a lovable scamp, he comes across as a tool. Please enjoy him berating a waitress. Please enjoy him calling a record store employee a bitch for no reason. He's not funny enough that it's fun spending time with him, and the supporting cast is just as underwhelming. Just . . .blah. One character is an overweight woman who, well, that's the joke! She's so fat! Hee!

The film follows its lead, Guy, as he plans a half-baked robbery of sorts (breaking in to an old factory where it's rumored some bank robbers left their haul). By the time they actually got into the robbery, I so didn't care. There's a lady who falls for our "hero", for reasons that are entirely unclear to me.

Skip.


Wed Mar 06, 2019 9:02 am
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Captain Terror wrote:
I mean, I was gonna say The Savage Bees but yours is cool too I guess.

Well, clearly I foolishly overlooked that classic.


Wed Mar 06, 2019 11:43 pm
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Wooley wrote:
Well, clearly I foolishly overlooked that classic.

:D
If yall want to find an obscure one, check out Number One, starring Charlton Heston as an aging Saints QB. Probably impossible to find now, I haven't seen it since childhood.

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Wed Mar 06, 2019 11:53 pm
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Wooley wrote:
Being from and sitting in New Orleans right now (on a Mardi Gras break at my apartment) I recommend:

The Beyond
Cat People (1982)
King Creole
Live And Let Die
The Toast Of New Orleans
When The Levees Broke: A Requiem In Four Acts
Hard Times


Obviously, A Streetcar Named Desire is still the best film ever set in New Orleans.
If we're allowing it, Easy Rider.



LOVE Cat People and Live and Let Die.

I've heard the Levee doco is supposed to be excellent.

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Thu Mar 07, 2019 12:01 am
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Takoma1 wrote:
A film with the word "Spring" in its title: Bedford Springs

I like giving little indie films a spin. Not because I'm into bad films, but because it's so fun finding something that no one else has heard of that's kind of great (see The Hatred or Salvage or Crush the Skull). Yeah, a lot of them are pretty half-baked, but there is the occasional gem.

This explains a lot. I thought you were crazy, myself. A masochist.
Then I realized that I watch every old 70s grind-house and 80s street-movie there is whenever I can find one, no matter how cheap or apparently bad, just in case one transcends (and sometimes they do).


Thu Mar 07, 2019 12:02 am
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Death Proof wrote:


LOVE Cat People and Live and Let Die.

I've heard the Levee doco is supposed to be excellent.

I definitely thought it was good.


Thu Mar 07, 2019 12:03 am
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Takoma1 wrote:

The only people who should feel guilty about their feelings toward Double Jeopardy are the certain people in this thread unable to appreciate its greatness.


And that's the first time I saw greatness and Double Jeopardy in the same sentence. ;) :D

Anyway, I didn't feel like doing much after work so I plowed through another title.

The Three Stooges in Orbit
See a film whose title features the number 3 that isn't a sequel
A film about aliens or alien abductions.


I think there's a problem with the feature length Stooges on film.

In shorts, their greatness at blending physical violence and lowbrow humor can shine. But at feature length, I think you have to deal with either a watered down Stooges or or a film that's probably too dumb and violent for its own good.

Or then again, I'm more fond of Curly as the Third Stooge and think Curly Joe is just a pale remake.

Anyways, the Three Stooges are dealing with a couple of problems in Hollywood as the film opens. One is Curly Joe's desire for home cooked meals keep getting them kicked out of apartments. Two is that the TV show they're pushing isn't fully appreciated by their producer and sponsor who give them 10 days to change the formula or lose their spot.

But their luck may be turning around when they answer an ad by an eccentric professor and inventor (Emil Sitka) for boarders. He may be even able to help them with their other problem involving a electronic animation machine. Despite getting a bit of the creeps, they agree to move in.

But it's his other invention, a hybrid vehicle that combines a tank, helicopter, and a submarine, that draws the interest of several Martian spies. The Stooges agree to help him test this vehicle in front of the Air Force after his daughter Carol (Carol Christensen) distracts Air Force captain Tom Andrews (Edson Stroll) with her charm and good looks.

There's some pretty good moments (such as the helicopter portion being good at throwing pies). And I can't help but to think that those costumes by the Martians might have somehow influenced the look of Ghost.

But I did feel as though it felt a bit watered down in its humor. There's a bit too much of the "Hey everyone, you got to see this. Right now! Look, there's nothing wrong." routine. Some nagging plot points didn't get resolved, which I get it, it's a 3 Stooges film.

If you find the idea of characters reading Martian subtitles (in English) to find out what is going on funny, give this one a whirl on Prime. If not, then skip.


Sat Mar 09, 2019 3:32 am
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Apex Predator wrote:
The Three Stooges in Orbit
See a film whose title features the number 3 that isn't a sequel
A film about aliens or alien abductions.


I think there's a problem with the feature length Stooges on film.

In shorts, their greatness at blending physical violence and lowbrow humor can shine. But at feature length, I think you have to deal with either a watered down Stooges or or a film that's probably too dumb and violent for its own good.

Or then again, I'm more fond of Curly as the Third Stooge and think Curly Joe is just a pale remake.

You also have to remember that the Stooges were a good 30 years from their prime at this point. Their first shorts were made during the Depression, while In Orbit was made with Beatlemania just around the corner. As a lifelong fan, I can hardly sit through their feature films. And you're right, Curly Joe was just not Curly Howard (or even Shemp for that matter).

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Sat Mar 09, 2019 4:05 am
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Apex Predator wrote:

And that's the first time I saw greatness and Double Jeopardy in the same sentence. ;) :D

Anyway, I didn't feel like doing much after work so I plowed through another title.

The Three Stooges in Orbit
See a film whose title features the number 3 that isn't a sequel
A film about aliens or alien abductions.


I think there's a problem with the feature length Stooges on film.

In shorts, their greatness at blending physical violence and lowbrow humor can shine. But at feature length, I think you have to deal with either a watered down Stooges or or a film that's probably too dumb and violent for its own good.

Or then again, I'm more fond of Curly as the Third Stooge and think Curly Joe is just a pale remake.


Yeah, even as a kid I would just lose interest when Curly wasn't in the picture. Shemp Howard was OK, but nothing like Curly, and Joe just did nothing for me.
It's not that Moe and Larry aren't legit, it's just that Moe is kind of the straight-man of the group and Larry's humor is a lower-energy vibe so Curly is always the tour-de-force and he is really hard to replace. I don't think anyone else who was in that role ever came close to filling his shoes.


Sat Mar 09, 2019 4:13 am
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Wooley wrote:

Yeah, even as a kid I would just lose interest when Curly wasn't in the picture. Shemp Howard was OK, but nothing like Curly, and Joe just did nothing for me.
It's not that Moe and Larry aren't legit, it's just that Moe is kind of the straight-man of the group and Larry's humor is a lower-energy vibe so Curly is always the tour-de-force and he is really hard to replace. I don't think anyone else who was in that role ever came close to filling his shoes.


More or less the same, Wooley. Shemp/Curly Joe just didn't have the same chemistry with Larry and Moe as the original Curly did.

Yeah, Captain. I'm aware that this is well past their prime.

Just a bit mystified that both Maltin and Videohound gave this 2.5 out of 4. I mean it's watchable and there's some funny moments. But it's definitely not a cut above average.


Sun Mar 10, 2019 8:44 am
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The third part on a film franchise: Maniac Cop 3

I haven't seen the first two parts of this series (aside from maybe a few minutes on TV when I was younger). This installment follows a brash (borderline reckless) policewoman who gets involved in a complicated hostage situation. When she seemingly kills a hostage (who was actually in on the robbery) and is then shot herself, the officer's reputation is ruined. The Maniac Cop (a police officer who was burned to death and then raised from the dead) sets out to take revenge. At the same time, the woman's partner investigates the hostage situation to clear her name.

The film is horror, but mostly it's a dark comedy. It shows a Chicago that is corrupt from top to bottom, a city packed with selfish, evil, amoral creeps who make perfect fodder for the Maniac Cop. There's the city official who wants the injured officer taken off of life support because it will make the bad publicity go away faster. There are the two reporters who bury the part of the footage that will clear the officer's name, and in a later scene callously interview a boy whose sister has just been murdered. There's the robbery suspect who decides to get a large settlement out of the whole situation. There's even a heartless ER doctor who says that the policewoman belongs "in a rock garden". But too much of the film is just murder after murder, and not many of them are memorably staged.

I do find a lot of appeal in stories about "monsters" (supernatural or just killers) with borderline "moral" agendas. The Maniac Cop has his own set of priorities (he wants to take the comatose policewoman as a bride), and it's interesting watching the partner work both parallel to and against that agenda. The film also has a fun final shot.

This one's pretty meh, but it's not awful.


Tue Mar 12, 2019 7:46 am
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A film set in New Orleans (Mardi Gras, March 5): Candyman Farewell to the Flesh

To begin with: I am a HUGE fan of the original Candyman. I think that it's an amazing example of urban horror, with a memorable protagonist and a memorable villain and some truly haunting, intriguing imagery. It also has a fantastic climax and denouement.

The sequel moves the action from Chicago to New Orleans and introduces us to a new protagonist in the form of Annie. Annie's father was killed years ago, and her brother always claimed it was Candyman who killed him. When Annie's brother confronts an historian who later ends up dead, he is accused of murder. Determined to help her brother, Annie begins to look into the story of Candyman and discovers that her own family's history is intertwined with his.

This isn't a bad film by any stretch of the imagination, though Annie isn't nearly as interesting as Virginia Madsen's character from the original. With its New Orleans setting, the plot element of a white woman investigating an urban legend rooted in the black community is even more pronounced, and the film doesn't quite stick the landing in this regard. This film has more black secondary characters (such as a priest, a homicide detective, and one of Annie's students), but they tend to pop in and out of the narrative. The fact that all of the Candyman's victims are white seems like it's adding an element, but the Candyman and his motives are kind of poorly defined. In trying to give the Candyman a more extensive backstory the film adds too much structure to his vendetta and his killings. It seems to both add logic and at the same time violate it. This portrayal of Candyman is . . . well . . . sexier, I guess? Tony Todd is more of a seducer and there's less animal rawness to him. It's a perfectly fine shift to the character, but the character feels much more predictable this time around. Todd has fantastic presence, and I just wish the film had built more interesting scenes around him.

One thing I will really applaud the film for is its effects. A scene where Annie scratches Candyman and bees emerge from the scratches is pretty great. A flashback showing Candyman's execution is bloody and grim.

This film had the challenging task of living up to a pretty original and engaging prior film. It tries to build atmosphere, but never manages to touch the grungy horror of the previous film's Cabrini Green setting or the emotional rawness of Vanessa Williams' distraught mother. It's fine, but it had pretty big shoes to fill.


Tue Mar 12, 2019 8:54 am
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Takoma:

If you hadn't seen the third Candyman film, keep it that way. Pretend the series ends with Farewell to the Flesh.

I saw Maniac Cop 3 years before when I was younger and I had thought a lot of it centered around a bachelor party gone wrong (perhaps featuring some of the corrupt characters?). Shows you how poor my memory can be at times.


Tue Mar 12, 2019 9:22 am
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Apex Predator wrote:
Takoma:

If you hadn't seen the third Candyman film, keep it that way. Pretend the series ends with Farewell to the Flesh.


Yeah, I have no interest in the third film. The sequel was passable, but it mostly reaffirms my general policy of skipping sequels to films I really like.


Tue Mar 12, 2019 10:14 am
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Some quickies on what I've seen so far...

Fire in the Sky (1993, rewatch) Remembered seeing this in theaters back in the day, even though I didn't remember much about it. It wasn't as good as I remembered, but still a solid film. Some shaky performances and dialogue, and you get the sense that the filmmakers are stretching the story as much as they can. Good, creepy effects, though.

Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened (2019) Not great, but still a compelling watch. Interesting to see a "clusterfuck" in the making while the social media "zombies" and wannabe-socialites wallow in the consequences of their wants.

Chi-Raq (2015) Lots of impressive things done here, with lots of things that just feel too heavy-handed. But when has Spike Lee been subtle? I don't know, I was never bored, but I'm still trying to figure out precisely how I feel about this.

You Were Never Really Here (2017) Pretty good film with a slow, deliberate pacing and a great performance from Joaquin Phoenix.

Mandy (2018) Such a weird mess of schlock, but that's the fun of it: seeing how the film revels in its own excesses. Nicolas Cage is great, but so is Linus Roache, who has become one of my favorite character actors.


Potential next films: Metropolis, Imitation Game or Hidden Figures, maybe rewatch High Fidelity for the salesperson one.

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Tue Mar 12, 2019 12:50 pm
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Thief wrote:
Potential next films: Metropolis

I was able to catch this one in a theater recently, accompanied by live piano. It's a really beautiful movie and it was nice to finally see all those iconic images in the right context.


Tue Mar 12, 2019 7:38 pm
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Thief wrote:
Potential next films: Metropolis, Imitation Game or Hidden Figures, maybe rewatch High Fidelity for the salesperson one.


Metropolis is so good. Even seeing it on a TV as opposed to a movie theater one, one is struck by the iconic images that have influenced dozens of sci-fi films for decades to come. Also, there's a compelling story in the mix.

Imitation Game was decent. But keep in mind that the film does have a tendency to play fast and loose with the facts. One check at the goofs in IMDb will confirm this.

If you're seeking a math oriented film, I suspect that Hidden Figures will be better. In case you're wondering, I'm going with The Theory of Everything.which will leave me with two best picture nominees for 2014.

Almost at the halfway point of Scapegoat, and it's not good. The elements are there for a good drama, but the execution is so wanting.


Wed Mar 13, 2019 1:54 am
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Thief wrote:
You Were Never Really Here (2017) Pretty good film with a slow, deliberate pacing and a great performance from Joaquin Phoenix.


You Were Never Really Here is one of my favorite films from the last year or so. And it is incredibly rich and rewarding on a second viewing.


Wed Mar 13, 2019 5:42 am
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A film with a woman's name in its title: Coffy

This is the well-known Pam Grier film about a woman who infiltrates a world of drug dealers and pimps in order to get revenge for her sister's drug addiction.

This was a really fun flick. Yes, the BOOBS BOOBS BOOBS of it all is a little tiresome and dated (the film dodges male nudity like a homophobic 14 year old), but this element is largely mitigated by the sheer awesomeness of Coffy's power. Coffy is both an active protagonist and a shrewd player. She isn't afraid to get her hands dirty, but neither is she too proud to say something when her enemies underestimate her. Even more so, Coffy's abilities are repeatedly connected directly to her black womanhood, whether it's hiding razor blades in her afro or being immediately dismissed as a real threat by a drug pusher who wants to know the name of the man who ordered her to hurt him.

The film is also wise in the way that it isolates Coffy from any support. She befriends a police officer (one of the only officers in the film who isn't corrupt), but an attack leaves him sidelined and Coffy is on her own.

The film also doesn't shy away from the racial politics involved in inner-city drug and violence. It's at times pretty blatant, and it does not pardon the black or white men involved in the exploitation of drug addicts, and specifically those whose addiction arises from societal marginalization.

This is a pretty fun watch and I'd recommend it if you haven't seen it yet.


Wed Mar 13, 2019 7:49 am
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Takoma1 wrote:
A film with a woman's name in its title: Coffy

This is the well-known Pam Grier film about a woman who infiltrates a world of drug dealers and pimps in order to get revenge for her sister's drug addiction.

This was a really fun flick. Yes, the BOOBS BOOBS BOOBS of it all is a little tiresome and dated (the film dodges male nudity like a homophobic 14 year old), but this element is largely mitigated by the sheer awesomeness of Coffy's power. Coffy is both an active protagonist and a shrewd player. She isn't afraid to get her hands dirty, but neither is she too proud to say something when her enemies underestimate her. Even more so, Coffy's abilities are repeatedly connected directly to her black womanhood, whether it's hiding razor blades in her afro or being immediately dismissed as a real threat by a drug pusher who wants to know the name of the man who ordered her to hurt him.

The film is also wise in the way that it isolates Coffy from any support. She befriends a police officer (one of the only officers in the film who isn't corrupt), but an attack leaves him sidelined and Coffy is on her own.

The film also doesn't shy away from the racial politics involved in inner-city drug and violence. It's at times pretty blatant, and it does not pardon the black or white men involved in the exploitation of drug addicts, and specifically those whose addiction arises from societal marginalization.

This is a pretty fun watch and I'd recommend it if you haven't seen it yet.


I don't think I've ever around to this one, but Pam Grier is pretty much always amazing. She's arguably given Tarantino the best performance he's ever got from an actor, and that's saying something.


Wed Mar 13, 2019 7:59 am
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crumbsroom wrote:

I don't think I've ever around to this one, but Pam Grier is pretty much always amazing. She's arguably given Tarantino the best performance he's ever got from an actor, and that's saying something.


She has a magnetism and presence that is undeniable. And the film around her isn't as trashy as the genre name would suggest--it's actually pretty well constructed.


Wed Mar 13, 2019 8:06 am
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You seen Foxy Brown? I think I like that a bit better on the whole, although Coffy has a better beginning and ending.

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Wed Mar 13, 2019 10:56 am
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Rock wrote:
You seen Foxy Brown? I think I like that a bit better on the whole, although Coffy has a better beginning and ending.


I have seen Foxy Brown, but I have to say that the
grungy rape scene toward the end was too much for me and it just pushed the rest of the film out of my memory so that that one scene is all I really remember and my very visceral, negative reaction to it. Coffy certainly exploits Coffy/Grier's body, but does not victimize her--she always maintains a degree of control and power. The combination of exploitation and sexual violence in Foxy Brown was a no-go for me. Which is a shame because I know that up to that point I was enjoying the film.
.

On the whole I think that I much prefer Coffy and could actually see myself rewatching it.


Wed Mar 13, 2019 11:06 am
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No one has mentioned that one of the highlights of Coffy has to be the terrific Roy Ayers soundtrack, one of the best of the genre.


Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:02 pm
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Scapegoat (2009)
See an Irish film

This TV movie from the BBC in Northern Ireland deals with the murder of Patricia Curran in 1952 and the tough dilemma faced by Dr. Lewis (Stuart Graham).

He's tasked with evaluating Iain Gordon (Martin McCann) and determining whether he can be considered insane by his defense team. But in his examination of evidence, Dr. Lewis makes the disturbing discovery that Gordon might be the scapegoat in this murder. This leads him to some difficult discussions and decisions to make.

Admittedly, this murder (based on a true story, natch) does have the necessary elements for a good movie to be made. Issues such as class, religion, family drama, and homosexuality all pop up at various points. The potential is there.

But the results of this? Um, no. Not only is there an intrusive narrator, but there's also the case where a lot of the facts (inconsistencies) get dumped into the narrative by a family of investigators that pops up out of nowhere (the family that investigates together...). Most of the elements barely get mentioned (considering the runtime is that of a Dateline NBC episode), I guess it's not surprising. So even the passionate confrontation towards the end is more or less wasted.

Although I maintain that one of my worst nightmares is to be caught up as a defendant in a crime where my own team of lawyers don't believe me and are willing to sell me down the river.


Overall, disappointing and perhaps the worst film I've seen so far in March.


Thu Mar 14, 2019 3:24 am
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A film about math or mathematicians (Pi Day, March 14): A Brilliant Young Mind

A young man, Nathan, probably autistic, loves math but struggles socially. After the death of his father, he and his mother live in an unhappy equilibrium. Nathan is tutored by a teacher at the local high school, who is dealing with both a physical disability and an addiction to painkillers. When Nathan is given the chance to try out for the International Mathematics Olympics, it opens him up to new experiences.

Having worked with special needs students for the last 10 years or so, I'm generally pretty wary of films that star children/teens with disabilities. It can be annoying and just downright frustrating to watch the way that those differences are portrayed.

This movie actually got more right for me than it got wrong. Specifically, it really doesn't dance around the fact that Nathan can be a frustrating, and even cruel child, and it also shows a lot more empathy to the "bad guy" than most films of this type.

On the first point, I appreciated that even though Nathan shows a lot of growth, his aversion to physical touch and his need for routine are things that are not entirely in his control. It's not a matter of him "growing up". People don't just grow out of autism.

On the second point, the film dips into a particularly sad subplot involving a student who is hostile toward Nathan at the math camp they all attend. It would be easy to cast this character as a one-dimensional bully, but instead the film slowly shows us how his social isolation and his tragic inability to connect to his peers (one particularly harrowing scene involves him trying to get his tablemates into quoting Monty Python, which they greet with bafflement and eventually derision). His despair manifests itself as self-harm. For this character, there isn't really any resolution. Ultimately he serves as a reminder of what Nathan's life might be without his social support system, but I appreciated that the film shows that for students with behaviors and mindsets like this, their off-putting personalities are not in their control.

Much of the film is also taken up by Nathan's friendship/romance with Chinese math student Zhang Mei. It's a bit eye-rolley that as soon as Nathan shows up to math camp, there are two girls who show an immediate interest in him. The low-key love triangle situation the film pushes didn't really wash with me, but the character of Zhang Mei is a fun one and I enjoyed her a lot.

I'd easily recommend this film. It manages to avoid the cliches of so many films about children/adolescents with disabilities (and also the cliches about "underdogs entering intense competition").


Thu Mar 14, 2019 10:01 am
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So . . .

I, of course, just finished watching A Brilliant Young Mind. In this film, the character of Nathan's father pops up in a few flashbacks. And he's all nurturing and supportive and I had that moment where your brain is like "Sidenote: kinda sexy."

Okay. I finish A Brilliant Young Mind and go to start my film from Ireland, My Name is Emily.

There is a brief, brief scene where the main character is sitting at the bottom of a pool and the gym teacher dives in and pulls her out. And again my brain was like, "Sidenote!". I was like "WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?!".

So as I always do, I'm looking at what else the actors from A Brilliant Young Mind have been in, and I get down to the guy who plays the dad. And as I'm skimming his films, I see . . . My Name is Emily . . . Swimming Teacher".

What are the odds?!


Thu Mar 14, 2019 10:31 am
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A film from Ireland (St. Patrick's Day, March 17): My Name is Emily

A young woman named Emily grows increasingly anxious as her birthday approaches. Years earlier, her father was involuntarily committed to a mental institution. When he fails to send her his annual birthday postcard, she decides to run away to find him and break him out of the hospital. With the help of a classmate named Arden (running from his own family issues), Emily sets off on a cross-country trek.

This film was kind of sneaky and clever in terms of how it presents both of its young characters. Emily is kind of obnoxious, actually, like a very, very close cousin to the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope. But where the movie distinguishes itself is in realizing that Emily's bizarre philosophical rambling is actually a product of her insecurities and her need to see the world as being confused and against her (and her father). In one really satisfying scene, Emily steals from a mom-and-pop grocery store. "You said we needed breakfast!" she twinkles. But Arden immediately makes it clear that it's not cute or endearing. He genuinely likes Emily, but he also sees the way that some of her mannerisms are an armor that she wears. He is empathetic, but he also grounds their relationship by being the pragmatic balance to her more impulsive side.

The film also shows how easy it can be for someone (and especially a teenager) to feel that the world is against them. Emily is often teased or belittled at school, by both her peers and her teachers. From her point of view her father--the one person who told her it was okay to be weird--was stolen from her. With no one to really confide in or relate to, Emily becomes more and more isolated and more and more skewed in her view of the world around her.

On the whole I quite liked this movie. It spends its entire running time walking on the edge of cliche, but the performances are strong and the characters are more nuanced than might be at first apparent. My one real complaint was that I found the constant use of a voice-over kind of grating.

And sexy swim instructor never did make another appearance. Oh, well.


Fri Mar 15, 2019 9:31 am
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