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 Apex Predator's Film Thread Volume 2.0 
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Since RT went down, Volume 1 has been lost to the ethers.

Although it's a bit of a shame, I think Volume 2 can be a major improvement.

Expect the following:

Hot takes on various films old and new
Controversial opinions
Cheap plugs for my upcoming Youtube channel
Occasional rants on Amazon Prime and Netflix
Appreciation of Turner Classic Movies
Occasional use of ThisTV

I think that's all :up:

First reviews will consist of the following:
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Grand Hotel
Command and Control
Beatles: 8 Days a Week---The Touring Years
Free Fire
Trolls
Red Nose Day Actually
Henry and Me
It Comes at Night


Thu Dec 21, 2017 5:45 am
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Looking forward to your reviews!

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Thu Dec 21, 2017 10:08 am
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In.


Thu Dec 21, 2017 9:04 pm
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I've only seen one of the films you have on that list, but I'll try and support this thread whenever I can.

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Fri Dec 22, 2017 4:34 am
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Apex Predator wrote:
my upcoming Youtube channel


Nice. What it is?

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Fri Dec 22, 2017 7:48 am
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Glad your thread is back!

Of your list I've only seen Free Fire, which I watched late one Friday night. I thought it was a hoot, if ultimately maybe a bit disappointing in how it wraps everything up. It also had several laugh-out-loud moments. I hope you enjoy it.


Sat Dec 23, 2017 9:21 am
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Captain Terror wrote:

Nice. What it is?


Looking to start a film review channel. Was going to do it a few months ago, but life got in the way. Not letting the naysayers get to me.

I survived RT, I think I can survive YouTube critics.


Sat Dec 23, 2017 11:52 am
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Takoma1 wrote:
Glad your thread is back!

Of your list I've only seen Free Fire, which I watched late one Friday night. I thought it was a hoot, if ultimately maybe a bit disappointing in how it wraps everything up. It also had several laugh-out-loud moments. I hope you enjoy it.


You may have some bad news waiting for you on that one. :-|


Sat Dec 23, 2017 11:53 am
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I liked Free Fire. "Hoot" works - lightweight stuff, but fun. Not my favorite Ben Wheatley film.


Sat Dec 23, 2017 11:55 am
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Apex Predator wrote:

Looking to start a film review channel. Was going to do it a few months ago, but life got in the way. Not letting the naysayers get to me.

I survived RT, I think I can survive YouTube critics.
Yay, I love watching film-related essays on Youtube; good luck with it, Apex!

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Sat Dec 23, 2017 12:28 pm
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I'll make sure to subscribe to you once you get your channel up and running. Just make sure to post a link to it here.

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Sat Dec 23, 2017 12:30 pm
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Apex Predator wrote:

Looking to start a film review channel. Was going to do it a few months ago, but life got in the way. Not letting the naysayers get to me.

I survived RT, I think I can survive YouTube critics.


Looking forward to that.

As for Free Fire, I'm with T1 and JJ. Ultimately empty, but I think that was by design. Made me laugh out loud more than once.

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Sat Dec 23, 2017 12:47 pm
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Captain Terror wrote:
As for Free Fire, I'm with T1 and JJ. Ultimately empty, but I think that was by design. Made me laugh out loud more than once.


Exactly. Perfect late night fluff. It doesn't achieve anything lofty, but I don't think that it was going for anything lofty. It's a movie that is 90% awkward downtime during a shootout and I loved it.


Sat Dec 23, 2017 11:32 pm
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Mr. Smith Goes To Washington remains one of my favorite movies I've seen. It is probably my favorite Jimmy Stewart performance and is in my top-3 Claude Rains performances.


Sun Dec 24, 2017 3:08 am
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Wooley wrote:
Mr. Smith Goes To Washington remains one of my favorite movies I've seen. It is probably my favorite Jimmy Stewart performance and is in my top-3 Claude Rains performances.


I just about wanted to give him an Oscar towards the end...since you've seen it, you know why.

And yeah, Claude Rains was aces in this.


Sun Dec 24, 2017 7:02 am
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Add me to the list of people who enjoyed Free Fire. Not Wheatley's best (still Kill List for me) but definitely enjoyable. Armie Hammer and Brie Larson were both good.

PS - Glad to see you decided to do your thread over here Apex. Looking forward to those reviews.


Sun Dec 24, 2017 9:08 am
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Apex Predator wrote:

I just about wanted to give him an Oscar towards the end...since you've seen it, you know why.

And yeah, Claude Rains was aces in this.


There should be a law that requires all Congressmen to watch Mr Smith once per year.

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Sun Dec 24, 2017 1:28 pm
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Quite a few films that I've seen since RT gave up the ghost.

Let's tackle the Thanksgiving films first. Will deal with Mad Love briefly because I already dealt with it in depth at the Horror thread and on Facebook in the Axis of Very Evil forum.

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

When a Senator dies, a political machine debates who they can get to replace him. Primarily, someone who will let slide a giant dam that they intend to build on some property that will make them rich.

After a couple of candidates are found unworthy, one person gets the idea to nominate Jefferson Smith (Jimmy Stewart) from their kids.

Smith is a boy scout leader, of course, and agrees reluctantly. In part because the senior Senator Paine (Claude Rains) knew his father before he was killed.

After touring Washington DC and driving his handlers mad, Smith allows some reporters to make fools of him which nearly gets him tossed out of the Senate (!). He then confronts a bunch of reporters, punching out some of them (!) before finding out why they ridiculed him in the papers.

While dealing with that, Smith along with reluctant secretary Clarissa (Jean Arthur) work on a bill that will authorize the government to buy land for a boys camp to be paid back by the boys with whatever change they can. The political machine, led by Jim Taylor (Edward Arnold), is fine with this until they learn where the land is located...the same spot as the dam.

The machine decides to destroy Smith as he starts to prepare for a fight.

Perhaps it was based on a different, more simple time. But what would be an odd mixture of Capra uplift about the corrupt Congress works, mainly because Capra holds back on the sentimentality that would mark his later work.

Although now that I think about it, there's not really a lot of depth to the characters outside of Clarissa and perhaps Senator Paine. Still, the film overcomes that with great performances from Stewart (you'll want to give him an Oscar after the filibuster), Rains, and Arthur (whose character I'd argue is the audience surrogate for Mr. Smith). Even Arnold does fine as the evil Taylor.

Outside of some quibbles and one scene that goes a hair too far (I'd suspect the local paper would WANT to report this story), this film earns all its classical plaudits.

Mad Love

Not much really to get into. It's The Hands of Orlok as a clinically mad doctor (Peter Lorre) with a serious obsession for a horror actress (Frances Drake) who agrees to repair/restore the hands of a concert pianist (Colin Clive, Frankenstein) after a train wreck mangles them.

Of course once the doctor attaches the hands of a knife throwing murderer to the pianist, the fireworks begin.

Subtle, it ain't. But there's pleasures to be had here as the film moves quick enough to leave plot holes behind until afterwards.

Grand Hotel

This reminded me of that episode of Moonlighting where David is talking about how he would like to see a TV series set in a bus stop.

The grand hotel in Berlin where "Nothing Much Ever Happens" has several stories that take place under the nose of the oblivious narrator/doctor:

An aging ballerina (Greta Garbo) has lost her thrill and wishes to be left alone.
An industrialist (Wallace Beery) desperately tries to get a deal passed to save his business from ruin.
A stenographer (Joan Crawford, what a beauty!) agrees to work for the industrialist while keeping her eyes open for an acting career.
A Baron (John Barrymore) tries to steal/gamble enough money to pay off a pressing debt.
An accountant of the industrialist (Lionel Barrymore) wants to make the most of his last days on Earth (I wonder if Lost Holiday cribbed/got inspired from this story)

People meet, fall in love, fight and otherwise connect in various ways over the course of a weekend. Even the staff is having memorable days as a lobby person is waiting on news of his pregnant wife giving birth!

John, as the Baron, keeps the film flowing due to his joy of life and likable nature. I might have liked to have seen a sequel/prequel involving his character.

Lionel's segment is the most interesting due to his willingness to enjoy life and perhaps tell off the industrialist. Some nice visuals of the hotel are pretty solid as well.

Beery's story is the least interesting, by the way.

NEXT: Missile maintenance goes awry in Arkansas while a rock group gets some style and crashes America proper.


Fri Dec 29, 2017 6:58 am
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The only one I've seen of those is Mr. Smith, but it's been too long (saw it in 2009). I remember liking it, even if I didn't think it was a masterpiece. Should probably rewatch it one of these days.

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Fri Dec 29, 2017 9:03 am
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Thief wrote:
The only one I've seen of those is Mr. Smith, but it's been too long (saw it in 2009). I remember liking it, even if I didn't think it was a masterpiece. Should probably rewatch it one of these days.


I can argue that sometimes it takes more than one try to see why a classic is usually considered this way.

But I wouldn't force the issue. See it again when you're ready. 8-)


Sat Dec 30, 2017 7:40 am
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Command and Control

Food for thought: There are 6,800 nuclear warheads in the US.

So who's watching America's supply of nukes? Who's maintaining them and keeping them from exploding?

The answer: Supposedly the government and its employees.

We look back at the 1980 incident involving an accident when someone drops an unauthorized wrench onto a fuel line leading to a rupture in Damascas, Arkansas. Hours pile up as those responsible are reluctant to reveal what happened and debate rages on what to do between those at the base and those in charge hundreds of miles away. Then a bold plan is agreed on.

If you want to spend sleepless nights worried about more important things than our latest tweet from the President or who's right in the eternal Taylor Swift/Katy Perry/Kanye West saga, here's a good documentary to do the trick.

Also, you'll probably get angry at one point as the government proves to be good at throwing people under the bus.

Food for thought 2: It turns out that this is merely one of dozens of incidents, thanks to recently unearthed documents from the government. :shock:

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week---The Touring Years

Whatever your feelings are on the Robert Langdon thrillers he's somehow botched, Ron Howard has done well here.

It certainly didn't hurt that there was a ton of archival footage that is more than enough to make you a Beatles fan (if you weren't already), that we actually get interviews with all four musicians (some of which is archival as well), or that the interviews with others is universally well chosen (from Malcolm Gladwell who points out that Beatlemania started a trend to Whoopi Goldberg who recalls being able to see them at Shea Stadium).

Then throw in the tunes and recordings of the Beatles as they enjoy their romp through the world but start to reconsider thanks in small part to Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys.

Although it doesn't get into what caused them to break up, it's still a worthy documentary that allows you to understand what made them so popular. And it ends well too.

Food for thought 3: The touring years consist of only five years where they traveled from Liverpool to (eventually) all reaches of the globe, 1962-7.

It appears I'll have to look for the companion doc Good Ol' Freda now.

NEXT: A bunch of blokes (and one lady) get involved in a shootout, some small creatures sing and dance (and annoy their neighbors), and a much belated sequel to a holiday chestnut.


Sat Dec 30, 2017 8:03 am
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Free Fire

I don't share everyone else's opinions that it was a lark of a shootout. Maybe because I'm getting too old?

But a weapons deal involving a South African dealer (with an odd accent so you know it has to be Sharlto Copley playing him) and several members of the IRA goes horribly wrong when one of the dealer's minions spots one of the IRA's minions from some drama from the night before.

And what follows next is what might happen if Quentin Tarantino decided to let Reservoir Dogs spend the entire time in that warehouse. And drain the color code names of any character.

Let's see if I can explain about the characters.

There's the arms dealer with the indeterminate accent and tastes in fancy wardrobe
There's the former Black Panther guy who has an amusing habit that might be the best joke in the film.
There's the curly headed guy who's very protective of his sister (I think he's played by Jack Reynor from Transformers 4?)

There's the bearded Robert Wagner who keeps trying to find a solution to things (played by Armie Hammer)

There's the elder IRA guy who don't give two flips about nobody and who sounds/acts like he's from a Guy Ritchie film.
There's the younger IRA guy who may or may not have a thing for the woman
There's the young punk who woots when he sets off an explosion that might take out other people and who probably did what he's accused of.
There's his less than bright friend.

And of course, there's the woman who's there as an intermediary (Brie Larson, Room)

There may well be others, but when you're spending half the time keeping these people straight, it's hard to care when someone gets shot or even when the (inevitable) double crosses begin.

Glad some of you found something to enjoy in this. Too bad, I'm not among them.

Still, Youth in Oregon and the Dirty Dancing remake are worse.

Trolls

Light-hearted goofy fun, but it lacks the depth that sets better animated films out from the merely alright.

Apparently, the Trolls are just goofy creatures that love to party, sing, and hug. But this doesn't set well with the Bergens who celebrate Trollstice once every year where Trolls are more like a delicacy.

When a bunch of trolls are kidnapped in honor of the King (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) for a celebration by a chef (Christine Baranski) with plans for the throne, it's up to perpetually sunny Princess Poppy (Anna Kendrick) and always sour Branch (Justin Timberlake) to rescue them.

There will be music (considering the leads, that's a big duh right there). There's some feels (Branch does have a backstory, after all). And there's some silly moments.

But Trolls is too content to dive in the shallow end when films such as Zootopia and Moana have done better in appealing to both adults and young ones.

It's alright, if forgettable.

Red Nose Day Actually

For those who wondered/cared about what happened to most of the people from Love Actually, this fifteen minute short might give you some clues (I don't think they ever explained what happened to Alan Rickman's character, but unfortunately he's a no show).

Considering it's an ad for whatever Red Nose Day is supposed to represent, it concentrates more on laughs than feels (which come from the last segments).

Highlights include an accident that occurs while dancing to a Drake tune and one kid's disastrous search for a red nose that ends up with an overeager clerk (the last shot is the best joke, by the way).

It's not bad for 15 minutes and I think it can be found online?

NEXT: A kid's journey to overcome cancer leads to an infomercial breaking out, a couple of holiday specials, and one of the best horrors of 2017.


Mon Jan 01, 2018 6:41 am
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Apex Predator wrote:
Free Fire

when you're spending half the time keeping these people straight, it's hard to care when someone gets shot or even when the (inevitable) double crosses begin.

Glad some of you found something to enjoy in this. Too bad, I'm not among them.


Sad face!

I don't think that I had quite as hard a time keeping track of who was who, and I can see why you might have found that irritating.

Like I said earlier, I found it to be perfect late-night fluff.


Sat Jan 06, 2018 10:33 am
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Henry and Me

My continuing pursuit in seeing just about every 2014 movie made...

Supposedly, this is about a kid who is pretty normal until one day he falls ill. One can tell that it's cancer because he's bald and weaker than he was.

But he meets a special man with a New York Yankees pin. And before you can say "The magic starts to happen", the hall turns into a subway car and the kid gets some lessons in can do spirit and perseverance with Yankees past and present.

The film does a decent job with integrating the Yankee team with the story of the sick kid and the man. The best jolt comes from finding out who "Henry" really is.

But it does play too often as an infomercial as the boy's fight takes second place to a lot of back slapping.

Richard Gere does fine as Henry, a bunch of Yankees play themselves, and Chazz Palminteri shows up somewhere. Cindy Lauper does a maudlin version of Time After Time twice (I guess we can't See Her).

And it still just barely reaches 61-62 minutes. As far as baseball shots go, it's a weak fielder's choice.

Trolls Holiday

Just like the movie, but in a smaller package.

Poppy decides since they destroyed the Bergen's one holiday with her message of inner peace and happiness in the movie that they need a new holiday and decides to give them one of the Trolls's.

Her friend Branch tries to convince her that it's a bad idea, but she and her other friends go full out for this.

It takes a frustrated Bridget and Branch to convince her to stop with the singing, glitter throwing, and various other activities that drive King Gristle mad. But maybe, just maybe her kind gesture might have been the spark needed to fix things?

I think a better special might have better shown that what Poppy and the other trolls were doing might have been considered offensive to the Bergins. But the special, like the film itself, is never into going for the deeper points.

It's more concerned with repeating a certain Madonna song over and over again.

The result is alright, I guess, for a half hour special based on a just above average movie. Just don't expect more.

I don't see them delivering it.

It's a Wonderful Life

On Christmas Eve, I was working as I was learning how to close for the first time. The strangest thing started to happen...after being dispirited most of the season, I think the Christmas bug finally got to me.

I already caught a bad cold bug which I'm still fighting to this day. But things started to click for me.

Anyhoo, it was time to finally let this perennial have another shot. (I decided to stop watching A Christmas Story due to burnout. Will probably pick it up again in a few years).

It seemed like a newer print and more importantly, it felt like they explained some things that always felt a bit hidden to me.

Such as why Clarence fell into the water. It was a preventative measure where he would let George play hero rather than try to save him from committing suicide.


The film could have drawn some depth into the characters. George doesn't so much as commit a sin before his disillusionment, while Mr. Potter looks and acts like he could be twirling a mustache while tying up Mrs. Bailey to the railroad tracks.

Something else I've never understood.

Why does George keep Uncle Billy around in the Savings and Loans? Was it a favor to pops? Or is he secretly OK with having to deal with close shaves from bank examiners and cops all the time?


But as far as dramatic uplift in the third act goes, Wonderful Life does fine. And I guess that's what matters most.


Sat Jan 06, 2018 11:30 am
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It Comes at Night

I've seen some people's reviews come in for this and they seem to be, well, underwhelming.

I found it to be best horror and best film of the year so far.

A family of husband, wife, and child have to do the unsettling business of putting their grandfather out of his misery in the opening moments. You see, he has gathered a disease and it proves easier to pull the plug than try to treat it.

The three of them as well as their dog try the best they can to move on and avoid catching the disease themselves.

A complication ensues when they catch a man breaking into their home one night. He reveals the story that he's just trying to get water to survive for himself and his family, including their young son.

The father (Joel Edgerton) is skeptical at first, but a wary truce develops as the decision is made to unite the two families together in order to get the chores done and provide an extra measure of safety (plus chickens!).

But tensions rise between the two families as things are said, not said, and overheard.

In many ways, this reminded me of a horror film from several years ago and a gripping novel from several years before that.

10 Cloverfield Lane for how the threats inside were greater than the ones outside. And Last Town on Earth for how so much of the film rose on whether our protagonist should believe this newcomer with his story.


I felt like the ending might have been a bit rushed, but that last shot was chilling.

In some ways, it reminded me of The Invitation with its last shot. And unlike say The Blackcoat's Daughter, not only is the finale set up earlier in the story, but it makes logical sense when looked at in comparison to the rest of the film.


Highly recommended.

Next: Must finish a certain Christmas film. Then on to more of 2017!


Sat Jan 06, 2018 11:45 am
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Apex Predator wrote:
And unlike say The Blackcoat's Daughter, not only is the finale set up earlier in the story, but it makes logical sense when looked at in comparison to the rest of the film.

The Blackcoat's Daughter's finale makes plenty of logical sense when looked at in comparison to the rest of the film. It might require a rewatch, but it's also clear that it's set up much earlier than is initially apparent.


Sat Jan 06, 2018 1:44 pm
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Jinnistan wrote:
The Blackcoat's Daughter's finale makes plenty of logical sense when looked at in comparison to the rest of the film. It might require a rewatch, but it's also clear that it's set up much earlier than is initially apparent.


I'll rewatch The Blackcoat's Daughter when pigs start flying out of my ass. What a shite movie.


Sat Jan 06, 2018 1:48 pm
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Apex Predator wrote:
It Comes at Night

I've seen some people's reviews come in for this and they seem to be, well, underwhelming.

I found it to be best horror and best film of the year so far.


I find you to be correct in this assumption.


Sat Jan 06, 2018 1:50 pm
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Captain Terror wrote:

There should be a law that requires all Congressmen to watch Mr Smith once per year.

A-fucking-men.


Sat Jan 06, 2018 3:48 pm
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Apex Predator wrote:
It Comes at Night

I've seen some people's reviews come in for this and they seem to be, well, underwhelming.

I found it to be best horror and best film of the year so far.

A family of husband, wife, and child have to do the unsettling business of putting their grandfather out of his misery in the opening moments. You see, he has gathered a disease and it proves easier to pull the plug than try to treat it.

The three of them as well as their dog try the best they can to move on and avoid catching the disease themselves.

A complication ensues when they catch a man breaking into their home one night. He reveals the story that he's just trying to get water to survive for himself and his family, including their young son.

The father (Joel Edgerton) is skeptical at first, but a wary truce develops as the decision is made to unite the two families together in order to get the chores done and provide an extra measure of safety (plus chickens!).

But tensions rise between the two families as things are said, not said, and overheard.

In many ways, this reminded me of a horror film from several years ago and a gripping novel from several years before that.

10 Cloverfield Lane for how the threats inside were greater than the ones outside. And Last Town on Earth for how so much of the film rose on whether our protagonist should believe this newcomer with his story.


I felt like the ending might have been a bit rushed, but that last shot was chilling.

In some ways, it reminded me of The Invitation with its last shot. And unlike say The Blackcoat's Daughter, not only is the finale set up earlier in the story, but it makes logical sense when looked at in comparison to the rest of the film.


Highly recommended.

Next: Must finish a certain Christmas film. Then on to more of 2017!

Maybe I just need to watch it again with different expectations. I was seriously underwhelmed. But again, expectations.


Sat Jan 06, 2018 3:53 pm
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Jinnistan wrote:
The Blackcoat's Daughter's finale makes plenty of logical sense when looked at in comparison to the rest of the film. It might require a rewatch, but it's also clear that it's set up much earlier than is initially apparent.


At what point did you realize that we were dealing with

a connected story with one character being the same years later? To me, I think it was about the point that she started to recognize the road.


I think some of your criticisms involving It Comes at Night meaning less than it did are the ones I have for The Blackcoat's Daughter. I suspect both films have rabid camps on both sides.


Sun Jan 07, 2018 7:52 am
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Wooley wrote:
A-fucking-men.


Will agree with this as well. Although I'd just extend that to all elected officials in DC.


Sun Jan 07, 2018 7:53 am
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Wooley wrote:
It Comes at Night

Maybe I just need to watch it again with different expectations. I was seriously underwhelmed. But again, expectations.


Expectations get all of us sometimes (you mentioned Citizen Kane in the Horror thread and I was underwhelmed by that).

If you feel like you want to give it another try, go for it. If not, I think you got some good company in the "It was alright" camp.


Sun Jan 07, 2018 7:55 am
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I might as well copy and paste my brief write-up of It Comes at Night from the horror thread.

Something I like to see in horror films is when they establish horror more through the actions of the characters rather than the events which happen around them. My interpretation of It Comes at Night is that it's a twist on this concept. While other horror films which utilize this technique still have the other forces present, this film reveals no info on what virus/infection it was which caused the apocalypse. This action makes it all the more clear that this is what the director was going for. I also liked the dream sequences, because I feel like their purpose was to foreshadow
Travis's death
, but in a non-obvious way that you don't pick up on until after you watch the film. Anyways, this isn't my favorite horror film of 2017 (A Ghost Story is), but I still liked this one quite a lot. I haven't seen anyone say "This is one of the best horror films made in years" yet, but it certainly qualifies for this bestowal in my opinion.

-

Anyways, Apex and I have somewhat similar praises for this movie. We both liked how it established horror more from the growing hostility of the characters rather than the non-human forces. I saw this technique utilized in other recent horror films I liked such as 10 Cloverfield Lane and Beneath. However, what makes this an unconventional film is that it reveals nothing about the virus, infection, or whatever it was which cased the apocalypse while other films would give at least a few details about them. This extra layer of creativity is what I think sets it above the "I just thought it was a pretty good horror film" bar.

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Sun Jan 07, 2018 8:17 am
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Apex Predator wrote:
At what point did you realize that we were dealing with

a connected story with one character being the same years later? To me, I think it was about the point that she started to recognize the road.

I want to point out before going into spoiler mode that I appreciate the fact that the film kept me guessing throughout, had me reevaluating and recontextualizing what I had seen, so that I'm not so sure that the when of it makes a lot of difference. But that being said....
The connection between the two unconnected narrative tracks was something that I was looking for as soon as the second one - the Emma Roberts one - was introduced. For awhile, I thought that the couple was Kat's parents, and that we were seeing what had happened to them on the way to pick her up. It became clear to me that "Joan" was actually Kat when it was revealed in the diner (about halfway in the film) that they were actually the parents of Rose, and that this was 9 years after the events at the college. At this point, to me, it was clear that Joan was actually Kat and that she would be responsible for Rose's death.

As I said, this is halfway or so through the film, before we shift tracks again - a transition bookended by the mysterious phone call in the hallway. It isn't until the third act that we learn the reality of the demonic entity that has been influencing Kat (Both Tak and I agree that interpretations allowing for "hallucination" or mental illness instead of the supernatural are silly and nonsensical.) This requires a reorientation of most of Kat's prior scenes, and it's here that we can infer that Kat had been under the influence of this entity as early as the schoolmaster's office when he catches her slyly smiling at no one in particular.

The only real remaining question for me at the end was whether or not this entity was still inhabiting the boiler or not, and we learn that it was probably permanently expelled in the exorcism by the schoolmaster. This is maybe the first 'possession' film where it seems voluntary and desired showing this demonic possession explicitly as a form of emotional compensation - something that was only suggested in a film like Emily Rose, or maybe a couple of others.


The loneliness, the isolation from both or either the seasonal affective disorder (the film was originally titled February) or the social alienation of boarding school (statistically, disorders like schizophrenia tend to manifest during the late-teen/early 20s years), makes for an explanation for this (and, no doubt, religious repression ala Haxan, The Devils, etc), but most impressively to me is the way the film aesthetically reflects this sense of bleak isolation, almost sterile surfaces and a constant dreadful sense of darkness burning underneath it (like a heater, for example). The rich soundtrack and sound mixing help a great deal as well.

There are also criticisms to be had. Most of Tak's were structural, I think. We agreed that
Rose's death scene was anti-climatic, I felt it was a too obvious attempt to stylistically reference the Arbogast death scene from Psycho, and Tak didn't appreciate how Rose turned out to be a Janet Leigh-like false protagonist who was so easily disposed.


Apex Predator wrote:
I think some of your criticisms involving It Comes at Night meaning less than it did are the ones I have for The Blackcoat's Daughter. I suspect both films have rabid camps on both sides.

I wouldn't say that any feeling I had for It Comes At Night raises to the level of rabid, in fact I would have welcomed more emotional engagement than what I got. The ending of Blackcoat was far more emotionally resounding for me. I can say that, at least, the two films can be considered comparable in their sensual quality. That is to say, I still prefer Blackcoat's qualities, the icy camera creeps, evocative sound design, the haunting images, etc, but I can respect the tension and claustrophobic atmosphere of Night, and my review used words like "handsome" and pointed out the effective use of lighting. Storywise is where it makes or breaks, and ultimately the story seemed to amount to something like
A family tries to survive an unknown disease; they fail.


Like I said, for me, it ultimately doesn't add up to much.


Sun Jan 07, 2018 3:24 pm
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Jinnistan, give me time to reflect on your answers. May have counterpoints/clarity in my responses.

Finally, I went and checked out my year's best according to Letterboxd. Unusual choices.

Most watched actor: Charles Lane (It's a Wonderful Life/Mr. Smith Goes to Washington)
Most watched director: W.S. Van Dyke (The Thin Man movies)

Not sure what that was saying exactly, but I may be skewing more on the older films.

For those wondering, I do have future films to discuss/review:

Never Give a Sucker an Even Break
Born Yesterday
Bad Santa (rewatch)
Flipper's New Adventure
The Bank Dick
The Accountant
Norman: The Moderate Rise...
Slap Shot 2: Breaking the Ice
From Russia with Love

Since I'll be here until Saturday morn, I may have more films to get into between now and then.


Fri Jan 12, 2018 4:56 am
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Apex Predator wrote:
Finally, I went and checked out my year's best according to Letterboxd. Unusual choices.

Most watched actor: Charles Lane (It's a Wonderful Life/Mr. Smith Goes to Washington)
Most watched director: W.S. Van Dyke (The Thin Man movies)

Unusual indeed. Then again, Charles Lane was in seemingly every movie ever made.
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Fri Jan 12, 2018 5:07 am
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Day One:

Never Give a Sucker an Even Break

It's nice to finally see a WC Fields film.

Too bad it was this one.

In a plot that owes itself more to Movie 43 than one would think (or want to), WC Fields (who essentially plays himself) tries to sell a film producer a ridiculous script involving a swanky plane, a couple of odd passengers, and a mother/daughter team in a giant treehouse (Margaret DuMont plays the man-hating mother). Meanwhile his niece Gloria (Gloria Jean) looks desperately for him. When the film gets turned down, Fields is called to help deliver a woman to a maternity ward. But it turns into a wild ride.

Gloria Jean is of sound musical voice (she reminds me of a 1940s Kristen Chenoweth) and Fields is able to make a quip and physical humor work at times. But too much of this is predicated on fat drunk men are funny humor which doesn't age well (especially considering this would be his last starring role). The hangdog style of the film doesn't help matters, nor does the wasting of DuMont in a role that doesn't play to her strengths as a straight woman).

Overall, it's somewhat funny and decent. But I don't think I'm going to embrace more of Fields's work.

Born Yesterday

Now this is more like it. Really more like it.

Harry Brock (Broderick Crawford) is a millionaire out on Washington DC to influence people into giving him scrap iron contracts. He's in town along with his lawyer Jim (Howard St. John) and his longtime girlfriend and former chorus girl Billie Jean (Judy Holliday).

But he quickly comes to believe that Billie Jean needs some lessons in manners and education so he hires newspaper reporter Paul (William Holden) to tutor her. But unexpected things start to happen when she starts to get smarter...

It kind of plays like My Fair Lady that's played in a more optimistic manner. Holliday is great at playing dumb even as she smartens up (and wears glasses). Holden is a mixture of patience and concern as he attempts to make the best of a tough situation. Crawford proves to be good as the brutish Harry who could stand a few lessons in being couth himself.

Cukor plays the film strongly, knowing when to let things get silly and when to serious things up.

This may be the second film I've seen in the last few months that started the third act by having the main character reflect on some words posted in a monument.

Bad Santa

Mostly it still holds up well as Willy (Billy Bob Thornton) participates in a scheme to clean out a Phoenix mall of its holiday assets along with assistant Marcus (Tony Cox) and his mail order bride.

But this year's different. He meets a friendly bartender named Sue (Lauren Graham) who has some hangups and turns out to be surprisingly good with kids. This might come in handy as he slowly starts to warm up to The Kid (Brett Kelly), a sad sack with a not so spry granny and a bully problem.

Although some scenes hasn't improved with time

Such as the man who hits on him in a bar while simultaneous accusing him of being gay.


Its odd mix of ribald humor (including perhaps Bernie Mac's best hour if you don't include his stand up or TV series) and sentimentality has.

Plus, maybe one of the best inappropriate uses of classical music in a modern film that I can think of.

Next:
A dolphin and boy, Fields plays a detective, and a bookkeeper with a secret life.


Sat Jan 20, 2018 7:09 am
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Apex Predator wrote:
Day One:

Never Give a Sucker an Even Break

It's nice to finally see a WC Fields film.

Too bad it was this one.

Overall, it's somewhat funny and decent. But I don't think I'm going to embrace more of Fields's work.


I'm a giant Fields fan, but I admit he's an acquired taste so I won't try to change your mind. I will point out that you 100% picked the wrong film to be your first. Sucker is a movie for those that are already converted, something to watch when you're already a devoted fan. I peeked ahead at your Letterboxd and see that you've already seen The Bank Dick which is one I'd recommend to a beginner, so it could just be that Fields isn't for you. But I'm here for you if you need more recs. :)

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Sat Jan 20, 2018 8:04 am
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Captain Terror wrote:
There should be a law that requires all Congressmen to watch Mr Smith once per year.


...and The Wire.

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Sat Jan 20, 2018 8:42 am
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Captain Terror wrote:

I'm a giant Fields fan, but I admit he's an acquired taste so I won't try to change your mind. I will point out that you 100% picked the wrong film to be your first. Sucker is a movie for those that are already converted, something to watch when you're already a devoted fan. I peeked ahead at your Letterboxd and see that you've already seen The Bank Dick which is one I'd recommend to a beginner, so it could just be that Fields isn't for you. But I'm here for you if you need more recs. :)


Part of the problem is that I jumped in with the back end of his catalogue. I think I needed to see him more when he was in his prime and less when he was undergoing the ravages of alcoholism.

Spoiler: Bank Dick was an improvement over Sucker, but it's still no Marx Brothers. Or Abbott and Costello.

Admittedly, he's a pretty talented juggler. Did see a bit of that on video.


Sun Jan 21, 2018 9:42 am
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Apex Predator wrote:

Part of the problem is that I jumped in with the back end of his catalogue. I think I needed to see him more when he was in his prime and less when he was undergoing the ravages of alcoholism.


Yeah, I would recommend that a beginner start with his two-reelers (The Dentist, The Pharmacist, The Barber Shop, etc). First, they're two-reelers, so they're easy to digest. Second, they're from the 30s, when he was younger and in decent health. Despite an occasional Prohibition joke, his characters are not drunks in these shorts.

Still, his humor has a weird rhythm to it that can be hard to get accustomed to. I've found that his stuff gets funnier the more I watch it, after I've memorized every line. At one time The Bank Dick was something I only kind-of-liked, but over the years it's become one of my favorites. Having to rewatch something 5 times in order to get into it is a lot of effort, I realize. He's someone that my family always watched when I was a kid, so I've had a lifetime to warm up to him.

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Sun Jan 21, 2018 1:50 pm
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Captain Terror wrote:

Yeah, I would recommend that a beginner start with his two-reelers (The Dentist, The Pharmacist, The Barber Shop, etc). First, they're two-reelers, so they're easy to digest. Second, they're from the 30s, when he was younger and in decent health. Despite an occasional Prohibition joke, his characters are not drunks in these shorts.

Still, his humor has a weird rhythm to it that can be hard to get accustomed to. I've found that his stuff gets funnier the more I watch it, after I've memorized every line. At one time The Bank Dick was something I only kind-of-liked, but over the years it's become one of my favorites. Having to rewatch something 5 times in order to get into it is a lot of effort, I realize. He's someone that my family always watched when I was a kid, so I've had a lifetime to warm up to him.


Will keep this in mind. I'd guess some of these might slip through to Youtube, maybe?

I think you might have a point when it comes to getting used to his humor, though. Some bits clicked, others didn't. Maybe with experience, I can get into it more.


Mon Jan 22, 2018 6:59 am
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OK, you can add reviews for both Bye Bye Man and Edge of Tomorrow to my growing list. Will work on Day 2's highlights tomorrow.


Mon Jan 22, 2018 7:00 am
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It may be short, but I'll get into each of the three films I saw on

Day Two:

Flipper's New Adventure

I do get the appeal of having a pet (having owned/been owned by multiple cats and briefly one dog). But I never understood how a dolphin would work.

Sure, on the surface, they're clever. But they lack the understandable communications of more domestic animals.

Anyway, I'm fallen off the point here. This second film that serves as both a sequel to the original Flipper and a backdoor pilot for the series begins as Sandy (Luke Halpin) is about to be separated from the titular dolphin.

So he does what any 14 year old boy would do. He takes off on boat with the dolphin right behind as they make their way to the Bahamas!

While both his temporary guardian (Joe Higgins) and his father (Brian Kelly, replacing Chuck Conners) go searching for him, Sandy assists the wife and two girls of a British rich man in surviving life in the Bahamas. But his kidnappers who are trying to elude authorities as they're escaped convicts decide to come back...for some unknown reason.

Things I learned by watching:
Halpin was only 17 when filming this.
You can get away with learning skills out of nowhere as long as you cite the right film.
Dolphins have one helluva headbutt.

Movie was pretty doggone dumb, but it's at least family appropriate. And it does fit into one/two of Thief's categories in his thread. So there.

After getting lectured that I needed to be more aggressive in picking films and not just let it come to me, I decided to take a swing at the other WC Fields film on my parents's DVR (The Dentist also came on for New Year's but they didn't record it).

The Bank Dick

Fields plays Egbert, a detective obsessed layabout whose ways don't sit well with either his wife, his mother-in-law, or their younger daughter.

But after failing to direct a comedy about high society people reduced to playing football, Egbert manages to luck into a bank robber cold cocked while sitting on a park bench. After an incredible story, he gets hired as a security guard complete with free calendar.

But wait, there's more. He convinces his older daughter's fiancee to invest into a scheme involving mines that threaten to blow up thanks to a bank examiner (Franklin Pangborn, the producer in Never Give a Sucker). So Egbert tries to do the right thing, by getting him soused so he will have to delay things until his potential son-in-law can get paid his bonus and make things right.

And I should totally mention that Shemp Howard plays the owner/bartender.

But as perchance, there was a second robber that day and he wants more money...

On the one hand, there's no real singing in this one. So that was kind of disappointing. On the other, having more of a plot did make the film easier to follow even when the film takes some real hairpin turns.

Things I've learned while watching:
I'm guessing Fields never thought highly of marriage.
You can bluff your way into directing by just being less drunk than the real director.
The car chase that ends this is chaotic and I have no idea how nobody got seriously hurt when filming these.

Overall, it's an improvement on Never Get a Sucker. But it still didn't fully click for me. I'll take on Capt. Terror's advice and look for some of his two reelers.

The Accountant

Ben Affleck plays Christian Wolff, an accountant who works at a strip mall just outside Chicago. The business is called ZZZ Accounting (lol, a play on ZZZZ Best, a classic case of accounting fraud). Naturally, he also works as a forensic accountant (just think CSI but for companies that are either dead or dealing with major financial turmoil).

He also has regular contact with a Voice who calls him Dreamboat and verbally comments on the latest developments.

Not bad, considering as a child, he was considered to have severe autism. His father gives him an unusual regimen in the hopes of straightening him (and his normal brother) out.

He gets requested on the account of CEO Lamar Blackburn (John Lithgow) of Living Robotics wants him to do an audit of the company as junior accountant Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick) has found some discrepancies. The case appears open and shut when the CFO dies of an insulin overdose...or is it?

But is he just a mild mannered accountant? FinCen Director Ray King (JK Simmons) doesn't believe so and places a junior associate on the case where she learns some shocking things.

I think this might be one of Ben Affleck's most committed performances to date; it's leagues better than when he couldn't even keep a Tennessee accent in a certain war film. Film manages to get most if not all of both autism and accounting details right (it turns out the scheme uncovered is a callback to another financial scandal involving the 1980s; kudos to Bill Dubuque for the mostly smart script. And the film is pretty well acted as well, right down to Jon Bernthal and Jeffrey Tambor.

But the film does have a few liabilities. Although a lot of the film does play as a jigsaw puzzle going back into an early scene in the film, some of the twists and reveals don't add up to very much. One particular revelation late turns out to be more of a shrug than what it should have been. The primary mystery feels like it should have had more complications than it did.

Things I learned while watching:
If you want to get anywhere, blackmail is the way to go. Even for huge government figures on their way out.
Some of Christian's collection indicates a rough childhood, much like Citizen Kane.
Am I the only one to think Jean Smart should be a bigger star than she is?

But all in all, part one shows a solid profit. And I expect part two to be a smart investment as well.

Next: A solid turn from Richard Gere and a misbegotten sequel to a classic comedy.


Tue Jan 23, 2018 2:17 pm
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Norman (not typing the rest of the title as spoilers might follow)

Richard Gere plays the titular character, a small time New York hustler whose currency is connections. Sort of like a pre-technology Facebook or Craigslist where he can hook you up with person A who can do a favor for you and so on.

One particular day, he meets up with an Israeli politician (Lior Ashkenazi, Foxtrot) who's going through a rough patch in his career. Although he's reluctant to accept, Norman is able to convince him to let him pay for a pricy pair of shoes and they slowly become friends.

Cut to three years later. The pol is now prime minister to Israel and Norman's star is on the rise. Problem is that a rabbi (Steve Buscemi) needs $14 million to keep his church going and other people want favors of the prime minister.

Meanwhile, the new prime minister has needs of his own in Israel. He's trying to get his son accepted into Harvard. His efforts into creating a permanent peace in the Middle East has run into some blowback from Parliament and news reports from an unnamed source. People in his inner circle want him to cut ties with the American even though they are friends.

Good lead performance that allows you to sympathize with Norman even if you don't completely like him as it's clear that he's in clearly over his head. The rest of the cast (Dan Stevens! Charlotte Gainsbourg! Hank Azaria!) does fine with what it has.

Having said it, it does run a bit slow at times and you can see what's probably on the way

About the second time they mention a specific allergy that Norman has


Still I have one question that I hope someone else who's seen this could answer. This spoiler does touch upon the last shot in the film so beware.

At the end, we see that the church has been paid for as the Harvard admissions person is getting married by the rabbi. But who fronted the money? I think we can rule out the raunchy businessman due to him not getting what he wanted (aka access to the Prime Minister). So was it the Harvard guy? Did Norman front the funds himself due to some guilt over the last conversation he had with the rabbi?
Did the prime minister help to bail him out? I saw the ANONYMOUS part, but was unclear as to who came through. I know the church probably came up with the other half.


As a character study, showcase for Richard Gere and Ashkenazi, it's not bad. But don't expect any explosions or other funny business.

Slap Shot 2: Breaking the Ice

No spoilers are necessary for this one. But it's also pretty much without merit.

The Charlestown Chiefs are still going through the motions in their old league. They haven't been very successful, but they still have the Hanson brothers and former NHL player Sean Linden (Stephen Baldwin).

But things change when they get bought by maverick businessman Richmond Claremont (a rare sane Gary Busey). He's got ideas of moving them to Omaha, hiring female coach Jessie Dage (Jessica Stein) and having them take part in a choreographed series of games where they lose against the stacked talent of the Omaha Breakers.

The pay is an improvement, being on TV occasionally is nice, but when both the head coach and Sean want to know when they can start to play real games against the superteam, well things kinda hit the fan.

The good news is that the Hanson brothers are as funny as ever. The bad news is that they're sent away for over half the film and get maybe a couple of scenes when they return.

The mentor/rookie tandem of Sean and Gordie (David Paetkau) will remind you too much of a much better tandem in Bull Durham. The comedic antics feel more like desperation. The plot moves predictably from one scene to the next (of course the lead guy on the other team will rub multiple members of the Chiefs wrong).

The end result is probably closer to Blues Brothers 2000 which had the occasional good moment in the middle of a timewaster than Caddyshack 2 which was and remains garbage (Jackie Mason is no Rodney, but y'all know that)

Next: Perhaps one of the finer hours of a secret agent, a really bad horror from 2017, and yet another 2014 film (but this might be good)!


Wed Jan 24, 2018 2:05 pm
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Eh, I'll break this up to two sections for easier digestion.

From Russia With Love

The film that got me on the front page of Letterboxd for about a week or so so fond memories. Even though zero percent of the film takes place in Russia?

Anyhoo, the film takes its own sweet time to get going. The head of SPECTRE hires a Russian defector named Rosa Kreb and the reigning chess champion in a semi-complex scheme involving using a Turkish cipher clerk, James Bond (Sean Connery), a cipher machine, and a Russian assassin (Robert Shaw). The eventual result would be the death of Bond and the cipher machine ending up in their hands.

Bond meanwhile is called on the carpet by M (Bernard Lee) and told that a Turkish agent is willing to defect to the West and will bring a cipher machine from the Russkies, but only if he's able to personally handle the case. Bond, being a red blooded yet impossibly cool British spy, agrees.

The first half of the film primarily takes place in Istanbul as Bond and the Turkish cipher clerk get closer together and work towards the acquisition of the machine. The second half takes place in the Orient Express. Both halves feature some classic Bond scenes that were successfully parodied decades later in Austin Powers.

One of the things that stood out is how this movie took advantage of the Turkish culture for some interesting scenes: the belly dancing scene, the gypsy feast, the drop at the Hagia Sophia. And it doesn't hurt that Connery is the best Bond; he can throw a good quip without being too jokey (Moore), he can save himself using the gifts from Q without being overly reliant on them (Brosnan), and he's not overly dour (Dalton, Craig).

A couple of scenes don't wear well. There'll be some fodder for Connery haters, particularly for the way he treats women here.

But this film is iconic for a good reason. Not sure it's the best Bond, but it's sure a good one.

PS: My father has met the belly dancer named Lisa Guirat (Nelson) who stopped acting and ran three bars/nightclubs in Majorca, Spain. She fell in love with the place after dancing in a Christmas revue and it appears that she wrote her own entry in IMDb.

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0347493/bio?ref_=nm_ov_bio_sm

The Only Living Boy in New York

Recent college grad Thomas Webb (Callum Turner) is still trying to make his place in the world. He wants to be a writer even though his publisher father Ethan (Pierce Brosnan) dismissed his work as a teen. Ethan also is married to the fragile Judith (Cynthia Nixon, supposedly because Annette Bening turned it down).

Into Thomas's life comes two people. Alcoholic writer WF (Jeff Bridges) encourages his creativity and encourages him to live. Johanna (Kate Beckinsale) is Ethan's mistress, but she suspects that Thomas also wants to bed her despite him insisting that he wants her to leave his father's life.

Complications ensue as Johanna and Ethan start a relationship that will threaten both his family ties, but also his budding relationship to Mimi (Kiersey Clemons).

This twee little film from Marc Webb announcing his return from blockbuster superhero fare spins its wheels from the opening credits as the film seems to be more interested in throwing in classic folk/rock tunes and uncovering cliches in male coming of age indie films (growing up with the help of an older woman, daddy issues, tearful confessions in the rain, etc.). A majority of the blame can be tossed on Allan Loeb (Collateral Beauty) and his script. But scenes that should have registered some emotion come across as flat.

Of the actors, only Jeff Bridges registers as the enigmatic and world-weary WF. The other actors try but they can't overcome a cliched script or generally unlikable characters. The only character that you actually root for is Mimi.

She ends up in Croatia for the last 30 minutes or so.


This film is pretentious poppycock. Avoid.

Next: An urban legend that grows as others tell about it and a Groundhog Day set in the world of the future as a hero learns to step up.


Thu Jan 25, 2018 12:03 pm
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I saw Edge of Tomorrow in the theater randomly (I had to wait two hours for someone to get off of work) and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Looking forward to your thoughts. I thought it was a blast and it's just light enough that the
slightly far-fetched happy ending
didn't bother me at all.


Thu Jan 25, 2018 12:10 pm
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I enjoy From Russia with Love a lot. It is my favorite Bond. I think it has the perfect balance of Bond tropes with a more-or-less serious approach (at least when compared to other entries).

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Thu Jan 25, 2018 12:32 pm
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The Bye Bye Man:

Don't Say It, Don't Think It.

Welp, three college coeds led by Douglas Smith stumble across this nice off-campus house at a cheap rate. They break it in with a housewarming party, complete with seance. But the person leading it gets some bad mojo, which happens to be the exact same words as what the lead guy stumbles across in a nightstand.

It turns out that when they start to go back and research what is going on, it may or may not have to do with several series of previous killings, one of which takes up the opening minutes. But in their quest to find out what is going on, they'll have to be wary of what's in front of them and worry that maybe, just maybe, they've already opened things up for the boogeyman.

The titular character, in case you were wondering/cared, is used as an excuse to blame really deviant behavior such as murder and more.

There's something to be said about a horror film who depends on the idea and the spread of it leading to greater power. But we've already been down that road before (Candyman). And you'll spend too much time wondering about where you seen things on the screen done better by other horror films to care much about what happens to the characters.

Those hoping for a few dumb laughs will walk away as disappointed as those who are fans of the two (more or less) cameo appearances in the film.

Carrie-Anne Moss has two scenes. Faye Dunaway has one.


And yes, writer Jonathan Penner who remains best known for somehow combining Sandra Bullock and George Plympton in the same film, manages to sneak in a cameo as the landlord. LOL.

Don't watch it.

Edge of Tomorrow

Press secretary/major William Cage (Tom Cruise) is reluctant to push a general (Brendan Gleeson) and his agenda because it involves him heading to the front lines. Next thing he knows, he's busted down to private and placed in a ragtag group.

He gets placed into the equivalent of the D-Day invasion in Saving Private Ryan against evil world-desiring aliens and although he manages to kill several creatures, he manages to die.

But he wakes up, unharmed, in a pile of sleeping bags. What's going on?

Eventually, he gets to know Rita Vratski, the Savior of Verdun (Emily Blunt), a war hero who may be able to explain what's going on. As he keeps dying/coming back to life, he learns how to be a better warrior. And they start to get to know each other better.

He also learns that if he is going to keep his "gift", he'll have to keep dying. Wounded is the worst thing that can happen, particularly if he gets a blood transfusion.

Director Doug Liman does a good job allowing us to see that the days are repeating without getting too much into endless repetition. The film plays at times like a video game with all the continues and plot twists. It also plays on (more intriguingly) what it takes to become a hero in a grim environment, particularly when you don't have the aptitude or training for it. And outside the big two actors, Bill Paxton is intriguing as Master Sergeant Farrell, giving Cage a dose of his new reality.

But at times, particularly close to the end, it does start to run out of its "parlor tricks". Part of the problem might be that as William gets better at becoming a hero, he loses some of the humanity that makes him relatable. But also part of the problem is that the villains are more or less generic mechanical aliens. Not helping is the issue that Cage's J Company cohorts are barely two dimensional, unable to have more than little ciphers here and there.

As a sci-fi thriller film, this was pretty fun. Perhaps it would have been better if it had been 20 minutes shorter or had a better third act.

Still, watching Tom Cruise get beat up by mechanical arms is good for several chuckles.


Fri Jan 26, 2018 7:46 am
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