Recently Seen

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Thief
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Thief » Mon Mar 02, 2020 1:38 pm

Wooley wrote:
Fri Feb 28, 2020 3:06 am
Whew.
Jojo Rabbit.
Man, that got me.

I also would say that, given that I have not seen Marriage Story and therefore have no idea how good Dern's performance was, I kinda can't believe Johansson didn't win the Oscar for that.
I've always felt her actual ability was under-appreciated, that she got kinda written off as an ingenue... I feel like we can put the conversation completely to rest now.
It got to me as well. I'm still processing it, but probably my favorite from 2019 so far, close to Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Charles » Mon Mar 02, 2020 9:15 pm

Universal Soldier, 1992 (B-)

A movie where soldiers are resurrected and used as special forces. It's not entirely satisfying as an action movie, and it's Emmerich, so the drama is shite as well. The whole thing has a rather dark undertone thorughout, but there's no dramatic or narrative payoff to that, and the whole undead thing makes the stakes feel low and the atmosphere heavy. It doesn't really go anywhere. It's not horrible, there's some funnies and we see JCVD's ass, but it could have done a lot more.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Takoma1 » Mon Mar 02, 2020 9:25 pm

Charles wrote:
Mon Mar 02, 2020 9:15 pm
Universal Soldier, 1992 (B-)

A movie where soldiers are resurrected and used as special forces. It's not entirely satisfying as an action movie, and it's Emmerich, so the drama is shite as well. The whole thing has a rather dark undertone thorughout, but there's no dramatic or narrative payoff to that, and the whole undead thing makes the stakes feel low and the atmosphere heavy. It doesn't really go anywhere. It's not horrible, there's some funnies and we see JCVD's ass, but it could have done a lot more.
I kind of love Universal Soldier.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Charles » Mon Mar 02, 2020 9:45 pm

Takoma1 wrote:
Mon Mar 02, 2020 9:25 pm
I kind of love Universal Soldier.
I like the concept and I think it has potential. I remember hearing really intriguing things about the latest entry, so I decided to start watching the series now to build up to it. Also I think it's a classic? Cult classic? And I like seeing the classics.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Takoma1 » Mon Mar 02, 2020 10:06 pm

Charles wrote:
Mon Mar 02, 2020 9:45 pm
I like the concept and I think it has potential. I remember hearing really intriguing things about the latest entry, so I decided to start watching the series now to build up to it. Also I think it's a classic? Cult classic? And I like seeing the classics.
I think that it fits comfortably into that cult classic category.

I've also heard good things about the last two entries.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by ThatDarnMKS » Mon Mar 02, 2020 11:09 pm

It’s insane to me how much better Universal Soldier Day of Reckoning (and Regeneration but less so) is that the original. It’s a DTV miracle. Be sure to check them both out. Regeneration is a straight forward action flick. Day of Reckoning is like Hyams watched a bunch of Noe, Refn, Blade Runner and Apocalypse Now and made it.

The original is solid enough.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Torgo » Tue Mar 03, 2020 12:21 am

The Crow is a classic revenge tale that I'm very glad I finally watched, and it's about time, especially since I claimed it was my favorite movie when I was in middle school despite never having seen it (what can I say? It was the cool thing to do). There's a lot that sold me on this movie - the gritty look and feel, the grungy industrial soundtrack, the roster of "that guys," etc., but it's Brandon Lee's performance that really won me over. I've watched many movies about revenge, and while this isn't the best one I've seen, it's the first one in a long time to make me think about the worst way I could be wronged and how I would respond. Lee's passionate, vulnerable and, in spite of his costume and being impervious to harm, relatable performance has everything to do with this. Storywise, it's not the most original movie of its kind - I know I've seen that cathedral finale in something else - and it reiterates the relationship between Eric and his bird companion a few too many times. Still, the movie does everything so well that these are just minor concerns, and besides, it does what a lot of movies like this one forget to do: make room for funny amidst all its coolness (I still chuckle at Eric saying "ow" after taking a bullet).
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Takoma1 » Tue Mar 03, 2020 12:32 am

Torgo wrote:
Tue Mar 03, 2020 12:21 am
The Crow is a classic revenge tale that I'm very glad I finally watched, and it's about time, especially since I claimed it was my favorite movie when I was in middle school despite never having seen it (what can I say? It was the cool thing to do). There's a lot that sold me on this movie - the gritty look and feel, the grungy industrial soundtrack, the roster of "that guys," etc., but it's Brandon Lee's performance that really won me over. I've watched many movies about revenge, and while this isn't the best one I've seen, it's the first one in a long time to make me think about the worst way I could be wronged and how I would respond. Lee's passionate, vulnerable and, in spite of his costume and being impervious to harm, relatable performance has everything to do with this. Storywise, it's not the most original movie of its kind - I know I've seen that cathedral finale in something else - and it reiterates the relationship between Eric and his bird companion a few too many times. Still, the movie does everything so well that these are just minor concerns, and besides, it does what a lot of movies like this one forget to do: make room for funny amidst all its coolness (I still chuckle at Eric saying "ow" after taking a bullet).
While Lee's death casts a bit of a shadow over the film, I agree that it's pretty great. The relationships are well sketched out between the benevolent characters, and the backdrop of Devil's night adds great atmosphere. Some of the lines pop really well ("Mother is the name of God on the lips and hearts of all children").
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by ThatDarnMKS » Tue Mar 03, 2020 12:34 am

Torgo wrote:
Tue Mar 03, 2020 12:21 am
The Crow is a classic revenge tale that I'm very glad I finally watched, and it's about time, especially since I claimed it was my favorite movie when I was in middle school despite never having seen it (what can I say? It was the cool thing to do). There's a lot that sold me on this movie - the gritty look and feel, the grungy industrial soundtrack, the roster of "that guys," etc., but it's Brandon Lee's performance that really won me over. I've watched many movies about revenge, and while this isn't the best one I've seen, it's the first one in a long time to make me think about the worst way I could be wronged and how I would respond. Lee's passionate, vulnerable and, in spite of his costume and being impervious to harm, relatable performance has everything to do with this. Storywise, it's not the most original movie of its kind - I know I've seen that cathedral finale in something else - and it reiterates the relationship between Eric and his bird companion a few too many times. Still, the movie does everything so well that these are just minor concerns, and besides, it does what a lot of movies like this one forget to do: make room for funny amidst all its coolness (I still chuckle at Eric saying "ow" after taking a bullet).
The industrial soundtrack of that film defined my taste in music for far too much of my life. NIN’s cover of Dead Souls is just... I’m doing a chef’s kiss right now.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Thief » Tue Mar 03, 2020 12:48 am

I'm a fan of The Crow. The seams are extremely visible in terms of how the director and editor had to work around Lee's death, particularly in two or three crucial scenes (particularly, the conversation between Sarah in Eric's apartment) but I can't fault them for that. But the whole atmosphere and the colorful (or colorless?) characters really fill the screen. Wincott is excellent as the bad guy and what we get of Lee is pretty good. The shootout at the gang meeting is a kickass action scene.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Takoma1 » Tue Mar 03, 2020 1:34 am

BIG SPOILERS FOR IN THE CUT IN THIS POST, AND THEY AREN'T IN TAGS. IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THE FILM, SKIP THIS POST.
ThatDarnMKS wrote:
Mon Mar 02, 2020 12:05 am
While not the easiest watch (due entirely to tone and subject matter as the film doesn’t revel in the usual cruelties one would expect from such a story), I would love to hear more in depth thoughts from you as I think you’d find the themes of female sexuality/liberation conflicting with the threats of male sexual violence to be as interesting as I did.
Having rewatched it, it's still kind of a miss for me.

On the positive side:

1) This time around I was appreciative of the bold color scheme of the film. It is absolutely drenched in red and the softened at times by green. There are also a lot of highly symbolic touches, such as the huge lighthouse she draws on her chalkboard later echoed in a small lighthouse figurine on a desk, or the somber woman in a wedding dress standing on a subway platform.

2) Meg Ryan's performance is really good. And it avoids feeling like "I'm a mess! Look how unkempt I am! Gimme an Oscar!". The other performances are also very solid and there aren't really any weak links.

3) The strong female point of view takes away a lot of the usual exploitative garbage you'd normally get with a film like this--namely the sex and nudity is very balanced and there is no need for us to see any of the murders.

4) Most of the sex manages to walk a really fine line of being kind of wrong and also being really sexy and that nicely parallels what is happening with the main character.

5) The understanding of Ryan's character and her sexual conflict is really on point. Notice that all of the paintings in her apartment show women in a state of pleasure, not eroticized male bodies. What she wants is not a man, per se, but rather to be desired and loved. That need gets jumbled up with her physical, more base sexual needs. I hope that everyone on this forum has read Come As You Are (aw, who am I kidding, none of you have read it), Emily Nagoski's book about female sexuality. She writes really powerfully about a disconnect that ends up messing up a lot of women (and many men), namely the opposition between being turned on mentally and being turned on physically. I won't do a deep dive (but I will link a really interesting talk of hers HERE. Key quote: "wanting and liking are related, but they are not the same"), but I think that this notion plays a lot into what In the Cut is exploring.

6) I liked the borderline supernatural element of the quotes on the subway. I mean, "it's off in the distance it came into the room it's here in the circle"? MWAH!

On the down side:

1) I still think that the film's handling of characters of color (and specifically black characters) is kind of a mess. Malloy refers to her student as her "colored boyfriend" and she barely bats an eye. Most of the black women we see are sex workers. There's the black woman in the bar who Malloy uses to teach Frannie about the old "stare at them" trick. The only black male character of any prominence is her misogynistic student who assaults her and whose main use is teaching her about street slang. It's very cringey.

2) Ryan's character is a mess but like . . . really a mess. She meets a student off-campus at a dive bar?! I mean, no.

3) I think that whether the film intended to or not, it allows Malloy to escape too much scrutiny via what I think of as "the low bar". You know how in Twilight Edward is stalking Bella, but then he gets to be not so bad because the film then introduces an actual rapist? Like it or not, the film kind of gets into this dynamic. Malloy and Rodriguez are foils, mirrors of each other. One is a killer, the other promises "the one thing I'll never do is hurt you". Malloy is given caring (borderline paternal) moments, such as putting her shoe on or giving her a bath. Rodriguez attacked his wife, while Malloy lives with his wife to be close to the kids and chastely sleeps on the couch.

But Malloy is also casually racist, misogynistic, and homophobic. The kind of person who jokes "All you need is a pair of tits, two holes, and a heartbeat". It's weird watching Frannie later be super cold to him, because Malloy says things just as bad, if not worse, than Rodriguez. And it doesn't seem like the movie is making a point that she is blinded by love.

Malloy is shown to be sexually aggressive and yet a very attentive lover, prioritizing her pleasure. The flip of this is Rodriguez, who "marries" women with a ring before violently killing them--"disarticulating" them as the film puts it, taking away their voices, their tongues, their lives.

And here's the problem I have there: people like Malloy are the camouflage for people like Rodriguez. Rodriguez is able to say horrible, objectifying, demeaning things about women, and no one thinks twice about it. Malloy excuses Rodriguez attacking a woman, because of course he was "just trying to scare her". The structure of the film leaves Malloy as the "good one" and Rodriguez as the "bad one" and it feels too cut and dry. I was frustrated by the lack of acknowledgement of this, there's no time given in the film for any of those implications to land on Malloy. And Frannie is too traumatized to see past wanting to be with someone who makes her feel safe. Her curling up on the floor with him at the end just feels too neat.

Thinking about the dynamics with the "romantic lead" makes me wonder if a big part of my problem isn't to do with the novel that served as the source material for the film. I don't have much interest in reading it to find out.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Torgo » Tue Mar 03, 2020 2:53 am

Thief wrote:
Tue Mar 03, 2020 12:48 am
I'm a fan of The Crow. The seams are extremely visible in terms of how the director and editor had to work around Lee's death, particularly in two or three crucial scenes (particularly, the conversation between Sarah in Eric's apartment) but I can't fault them for that. But the whole atmosphere and the colorful (or colorless?) characters really fill the screen. Wincott is excellent as the bad guy and what we get of Lee is pretty good. The shootout at the gang meeting is a kickass action scene.
When I first saw Wincott and his flowing black hair, I was a little worried that he'd bring the cheese, but thankfully, he brought class and nuance to the role.
I liked Knowing more than most, but it's a shame that Proyas peaked with his second feature (Dark City) because he's an original.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Thief » Tue Mar 03, 2020 3:14 am

Knowing is a bold film, I'll give him that.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Charles » Tue Mar 03, 2020 8:57 pm

I like that Knowing commits. Not a far of the actual ending however.

The Neon Demon, 2016 (A+)

This movie went on so many roads I didn't expect and went so far on each of them, geez Louise! I don't know that it's meant to be commentary on anything, it does go too far for that and it's too focus on the uniqueness on the main character for me to get that impression, though it's obvious what's it's trying to say if it is trying to say that. It absolutely still works as a visceral, first degree horror thriller though. Visually arresting and shocking in so many scenes. Scenes cut much later than comfortable and, as mentionned, it goes pretty far, all the way up to the credits. Visually, one of the most arresting things I've seen. Pure art.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Takoma1 » Wed Mar 04, 2020 12:47 am

The Court Jester was an . . . odd little film. I guess I liked it? It had a weird vibe.

EDIT: I did really enjoy the twist on the "horny royal corners helpless woman" scene, as Jean realizes she can't escape and just says, "Oh certainly! And don't worry, they say it isn't catching." The physical comedy of her lunging toward the increasingly concerned king ("But let us not talk about their swollen, twisted, pain ridden bodies. Hold me, take me in your arms, tell me I am yours!") was a sweet reversal.

Also, the music was much better than I expected. And young Angela Landsbury as the melodramatic princess always threatening to throw herself from the highest turret.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Patrick McGroin » Wed Mar 04, 2020 12:56 am

The Pawnbroker - 8/10 - Finally ran across this 1964-65 Sidney Lumet directed drama. Rod Steiger stars as the title character, pawn shop owner and Holocaust survivor Sol Nazerman. He drifts through life as a sort of ghost, having lost everything in the concentration camp and has reduced his existence to a series of daily transactions. His employee is Jesus Ortiz, an exuberant young local whose greatest dream is to open his own pawnshop. Nazermans Harlem pawnshop is a front for a local crime lord and it is Nazermans discovery that the man is also a pimp that triggers a breakdown of sorts after it's revealed that he was forced to watch his wife being violated by a Nazi officer. The movie garnered more than its share of controversy for its time but it also comes off a little static, like a stage adaptation. Steigers performance carries the movie and he was reportedly irked that he lost that year’s Best Actor Oscar to Lee Marvin.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Patrick McGroin » Wed Mar 04, 2020 10:16 pm

Stu wrote:
Mon Mar 02, 2020 5:54 am
I agree; now, get your ass in Apex's thread, and give me some backup, eh? :D
I sort of perused the discussion and it looks like one of the main problems people had with it was the family's decision to not take up residence at or near the waterfall. But the farmhouse they were living in looked like a long term project. Probably months in the making. Maybe they stumbled across the waterfall after the fact and weighed the benefits versus the disadvantages. Weather, a stable food supply, the remoteness, the mother's condition and delivering a baby in adverse conditions etc. Or maybe they just wanted to be closer to population centers where they could forage like they were obviously doing when the movie opened. Or they wanted a location with optimal radio reception. There's plenty of reasons as well as a pattern to their reasoning.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Takoma1 » Wed Mar 04, 2020 10:50 pm

Patrick McGroin wrote:
Wed Mar 04, 2020 10:16 pm
I sort of perused the discussion and it looks like one of the main problems people had with it was the family's decision to not take up residence at or near the waterfall. But the farmhouse they were living in looked like a long term project. Probably months in the making. Maybe they stumbled across the waterfall after the fact and weighed the benefits versus the disadvantages. Weather, a stable food supply, the remoteness, the mother's condition and delivering a baby in adverse conditions etc. Or maybe they just wanted to be closer to population centers where they could forage like they were obviously doing when the movie opened. Or they wanted a location with optimal radio reception. There's plenty of reasons as well as a pattern to their reasoning.
The issue I take with it is that there are several points where the film introduces elements that raise some big questions and then just . . . doesn't answer them.

For example, if you can scream in a place, then you can also hammer a nail there, run an electric drill, whatever. The fact that one of the children is only just now learning this place exists seems strange and borderline unbelievable. It also introduces the broader element that the creatures adapt to continuous noise and then never addresses that either.

It's something that bothered me a little as I watched (because I was swept up in the story) but then grew more and more in my mind after it was finished.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Jinnistan » Fri Mar 06, 2020 6:16 am

A Hidden Life - 8ish/10

Allegedly, this was to be Malick's first motion picture to use a structured script since....let's say Great Balls of Fire. It's the first film of his recent renaissance where his stylistic tableau feels ill-suited to its dramatic necessities. Malick's use of montage editing feels natural in his previous four films because they are all, in one way or another, essentially ruminations, soaked in memory and channeled by the memory's associative selection of scene fragments and emotional logic. By the time Life gets to the third act, Malick's aesthetic finally finds its groove, as Franz, our conscientious objector, contemplates his thematic struggle as his daily existence bleeds into banal cruelty in a Nazi prison. Here, Malick's flood of nostalgia, passion and grace finds his trademark magic, perhaps most evocatively in a recurring shot of a light at the end of the tunnel, a cold calloused corridor that would make Cormac McCarthy shudder. About the worst that could be said is that Scorsese has already masterfully, arguably more convincingly, expressed an identical theme in Silence, the isolated spiritual solace of a corporeal prisoner, or the inner reflection that Dylan saw "somewhere so high above this wall".

The dramatic handicap occurs in the film's first act primarily. It's here in these establishing scenes where Malick's hyperediting does no service at all for the characters we're introduced to or the themes at play. It's here where I finally feel the need to sympathize with his critics' complaints for his lack of mise en scene. To be kind, I suspect that many of these scenes perhaps exist in a longer cut, sacrificed for the need to keep the film under three hours. One scene, a pastoral tracking shot of Franz with his wife Franziska strolling down the small village road, seems as if it were staged as a continuous shot, but chopped into a succession of jump cuts perhaps as necessary trimming. This would be the exact type of scene to establish the quiet, placid pace of country life, but instead it seems rushed and compressed. I'm not sure how many other scenes were designed as whole sets, but the editing makes them seem as improvisatory and haphazard as his more scriptless efforts, and without any of their intended dream-logic. One scene does manage to last about a minute and a half without a cut, Franz's interview with Nazi officer Matthias Schoenaerts, and again it suggests the strengths of having a few very key scenes being much more deliberately paced and choreographed. Whether or not a longer cut can alleviate these initial dramatic hurdles is not for me to determine, but ultimately the film's rhythms find their dovetail in Malick's sensibilities, and the result is powerful enough to satisfy. I hate to say that this may also be my least favorite of Malick's recent ventures, but of course that's extremely relative.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Wooley » Fri Mar 06, 2020 9:55 pm

Torgo wrote:
Tue Mar 03, 2020 12:21 am
The Crow is a classic revenge tale that I'm very glad I finally watched, and it's about time, especially since I claimed it was my favorite movie when I was in middle school despite never having seen it (what can I say? It was the cool thing to do). There's a lot that sold me on this movie - the gritty look and feel, the grungy industrial soundtrack, the roster of "that guys," etc., but it's Brandon Lee's performance that really won me over. I've watched many movies about revenge, and while this isn't the best one I've seen, it's the first one in a long time to make me think about the worst way I could be wronged and how I would respond. Lee's passionate, vulnerable and, in spite of his costume and being impervious to harm, relatable performance has everything to do with this. Storywise, it's not the most original movie of its kind - I know I've seen that cathedral finale in something else - and it reiterates the relationship between Eric and his bird companion a few too many times. Still, the movie does everything so well that these are just minor concerns, and besides, it does what a lot of movies like this one forget to do: make room for funny amidst all its coolness (I still chuckle at Eric saying "ow" after taking a bullet).
I never forgave the film for not following the comic.
This is a funny criticism since I actively chide others for this kind of reasoning and considering it terrible film-criticism.
I should go back and re-watch it with an open mind. Except that I remember the climax being silly and ridiculous. But maybe that's because of the comic, too.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Wooley » Fri Mar 06, 2020 10:02 pm

Charles wrote:
Tue Mar 03, 2020 8:57 pm
I like that Knowing commits. Not a far of the actual ending however.

The Neon Demon, 2016 (A+)

This movie went on so many roads I didn't expect and went so far on each of them, geez Louise! I don't know that it's meant to be commentary on anything, it does go too far for that and it's too focus on the uniqueness on the main character for me to get that impression, though it's obvious what's it's trying to say if it is trying to say that. It absolutely still works as a visceral, first degree horror thriller though. Visually arresting and shocking in so many scenes. Scenes cut much later than comfortable and, as mentionned, it goes pretty far, all the way up to the credits. Visually, one of the most arresting things I've seen. Pure art.
Did you like Only God Forgives?
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Charles » Fri Mar 06, 2020 10:24 pm

Wooley wrote:
Fri Mar 06, 2020 10:02 pm
Did you like Only God Forgives?
I haven't seen it yet. I only saw this one, Bronson, Drive and Valhalla Rising, but that one was a really long while ago.

Did you like Neon?
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Torgo » Sat Mar 07, 2020 12:38 am

See Refn's Pusher trilogy as well. It's the rare trilogy whrere every entry is very good.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Takoma1 » Sat Mar 07, 2020 1:19 am

I don't usually post a review in two places, but I'd absolutely love to discuss this one with anyone who has seen it, so . . .

Three Outlaw Samurai

I am just head over heels for this film and, while I'm absolutely horrible with titles, I don't even think I'd heard of it before.

This is the kind of film that is hard to summarize, because so much happens to advance the plot that there's a different major element happening about every 15-20 minutes.

As it begins a lone samurai, Shiba, stumbles across a mill where three peasants are holding a young woman hostage. At first ready to rescue her from what looks like pretty uncouth behavior, he soon learns that she is the daughter of the local magistrate and that they are holding her hostage so that the magistrate will change his policies to help the starving peasants after a bad crop. Allying himself with the peasants, Shiba is drawn into a power struggle between the magistrate and the peasants. This struggle encompasses the magistrate, his daughter, the peasants, a whole slew of less-than-honorable mercenaries, and two other "rogue" samurai who find themselves on different sides of the conflict at time goes on. The film is a mix of action, romance, suspense, and drama.

Like I said earlier, this is one of those films where so much happens in so little time. It makes me reluctant to go into too much detail, but here are some non-spoilery things that I just loved.

1) The Blood.

This is a film where the action sequences are both wonderfully cinematic and full of details that make them seem more real than what I normally associate with samurai battles. There is blood. Not in neat spurts or artistic smears, but splashed on the characters' clothing, on their hands. The men sweat through the backs of their clothes as they fight. Movements are at times graceful and at other times clumsy. And whether the fight is between two men or twenty, it always feels consequential.

2) The Relationships

This is a film that operates a multitude of relationship dynamics: friendships, loyalties, romances, etc. Even those that are pretty stereotypical of such films have a degree of nuance to them. The film manages to demonstrate that it is possible to respect but not love, to love but not respect, to care but not to act, and so on. Many of these relationships are complicated and the film doesn't hide the fact that many of them are not sustainable. There are many sequences that depend on characters interacting with strangers, not knowing their motivations, and there can be conflict and at the same time sympathy for both characters.

3) The Women

For the first 30 minutes of the film, the women are pretty typical of this type of movie. They are objects to be bartered over, or their mistreatment is used to evoke anger and emotion in other characters and the viewer. (This is not to say that their treatment feels exploitative, but rather that they are very much passive characters whose fates are entirely in the hands of the men around them). But for the last hour, the women are given dimension. They are conflicted. They are brave. They are, *GASP* physically capable and willing to fight (and die) for the cause. They are near equal to the men in their emotion, conflict, and impact on the plot.

4) Character Evolution

This is a film that lets its character grow and change, but not in unbelievable ways. There are no miraculous changes of heart. The characters gain new perspectives and understandings, but certain elements of them remain intact. This is not a movie that is afraid to kill off characters, and it adds a welcome degree of unpredictability to everything. Characters might seem on the right path, only to be cut down.

I watched this one on the Criterion Channel, and I'm sorry to say that it doesn't seem to be streaming elsewhere. I really highly recommend it. Tetsuro Tanba in the role of Shiba is perfect in every way as the stoic, principled hero. If you get the chance, check it out.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by ThatDarnMKS » Sat Mar 07, 2020 1:41 am

Love Three Outlaw Samurai (Sword of the Beast by Gosha is similarly good) and I found an essay that compared his works to Peckinpah to be fairly apt. There's a sense of nihilistic fatalism to the struggles that these violent men end up finding themselves in and a condemnation of the system that created them. In that regard, he's similar to Kobayashi as well.

The film is indelibly linked to Chang Cheh's remake Magnificent Trio, which I saw first. I've found no online trivia or any reference of these two being connected so I was shocked when the eerie familiarity of scenes kept creeping in while watching TOS. I thing despite his reputation, Cheh puts his women to more clever and important use, which defines the starkest changes in the third act. It's strange how much Cheh gradually reduced the roles of women in his films until they become homogeneous in their homosocial values. If you can track that one down (I'd wager Prime may have it given how much Shaw they have), it's worth a watch for comparison's sake. Wuxia and Chanbara have as much of an influential relationship as Western and Chanbara but it's rarely referenced much among film scholars.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Takoma1 » Sat Mar 07, 2020 1:51 am

ThatDarnMKS wrote:
Sat Mar 07, 2020 1:41 am
Love Three Outlaw Samurai (Sword of the Beast by Gosha is similarly good) and I found an essay that compared his works to Peckinpah to be fairly apt. There's a sense of nihilistic fatalism to the struggles that these violent men end up finding themselves in and a condemnation of the system that created them. In that regard, he's similar to Kobayashi as well.

The film is indelibly linked to Chang Cheh's remake Magnificent Trio, which I saw first. I've found no online trivia or any reference of these two being connected so I was shocked when the eerie familiarity of scenes kept creeping in while watching TOS. I thing despite his reputation, Cheh puts his women to more clever and important use, which defines the starkest changes in the third act. It's strange how much Cheh gradually reduced the roles of women in his films until they become homogeneous in their homosocial values. If you can track that one down (I'd wager Prime may have it given how much Shaw they have), it's worth a watch for comparison's sake. Wuxia and Chanbara have as much of an influential relationship as Western and Chanbara but it's rarely referenced much among film scholars.
The woman in Three Outlaw Samurai who
fights the jailer to free the samurai is just . . . something I feel like I haven't seen before. She fights. And there's that "Oh, my! I just stabbed someone!" beat that's not unfamiliar. But then the jailer fights back and stabs her. She uses the last of her strength to push the keys to the samurai so that he can free himself. Not knowing her, he can only call her "Woman." He never knows who she is or why she's helping him.
It's just a dynamic that I don't think I've seen in a samurai film before. It was incredibly refreshing.

Also, you owe me some replies on the novel I wrote you about In the Cut!
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Macrology » Sat Mar 07, 2020 1:59 am

I also love Three Outlaw Samurai. I caught it randomly on television over a decade ago (maybe on IFC? I forget), so I don't remember the particulars all that clearly, but I bought it a while back during a Criterion sale and intend to show it once I start Samurai Movie Night back up. So I may have more to say about it soon.
I get the impression that Hideo Gosha is highly regarded in Japan but not as well known in the West. On a similar note, I watched Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji a while ago (which is available on Arrow video and maybe their streaming service), which floored me. The fact that it's virtually unknown outside of Japan is truly baffling.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Takoma1 » Sat Mar 07, 2020 2:45 am

Macrology wrote:
Sat Mar 07, 2020 1:59 am
I also love Three Outlaw Samurai. I caught it randomly on television over a decade ago (maybe on IFC? I forget), so I don't remember the particulars all that clearly, but I bought it a while back during a Criterion sale and intend to show it once I start Samurai Movie Night back up. So I may have more to say about it soon.
I was just really floored by how it approached many of the mainstay elements of samurai films and put a twist on them that took the film to another level.

I will admit that it's not a subgenre with which I'm overly familiar. I am not expert. But I do think that I've seen enough samurai films to appreciate what felt like a really fresh approach that managed to walk a really fine line between realism/cynicism and romanticism.
I get the impression that Hideo Gosha is highly regarded in Japan but not as well known in the West. On a similar note, I watched Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji a while ago (which is available on Arrow video and maybe their streaming service), which floored me. The fact that it's virtually unknown outside of Japan is truly baffling.
I was really shocked to go the the IMDB page and just . . . not know any of the names involved with the film. Like, zero. Again, how is this not a title that's frequently mentioned? Yes, I'm a bit high on it because I just finished it. But it's easily top 5 for me in terms of samurai films. I didn't talk about it much in my earlier write-up, but I loved the look of it like the moment where a messy duel momentarily becomes artsy as the two men pass behind a screen.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Ergill » Sat Mar 07, 2020 6:27 pm

I dig Three Outlaw Samurai. Own it even, and it's not like I have a big collection or anything. It's been too long of a minute for me to go into any detail on it though. I just remember being a fan of the griminess, the splashy style, and the characters. I might give Sword of the Beast another go after MKS's rec, as I don't remember that one winning me over so much. Gosha's probably due some more attention.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by ThatDarnMKS » Sat Mar 07, 2020 7:13 pm

Takoma1 wrote:
Sat Mar 07, 2020 1:51 am
The woman in Three Outlaw Samurai who
fights the jailer to free the samurai is just . . . something I feel like I haven't seen before. She fights. And there's that "Oh, my! I just stabbed someone!" beat that's not unfamiliar. But then the jailer fights back and stabs her. She uses the last of her strength to push the keys to the samurai so that he can free himself. Not knowing her, he can only call her "Woman." He never knows who she is or why she's helping him.
It's just a dynamic that I don't think I've seen in a samurai film before. It was incredibly refreshing.

Also, you owe me some replies on the novel I wrote you about In the Cut!
It is a very cool element but I was struck by...
How many of the women seemed to exist only to die helping/motivating the men and it stands in stark contrast to TMT, where they are pivotal to the outcome of the climax beyond becoming victims.
You are making me want to rewatch TOS though to provide more detailed thoughts as it's been at least half a decade since I watched it during a chanbara binge.

I definitely owe your thoughts on ITC a response and have been trying to find the time to give it the write up it deserves but I keep turning back to my script and tweaking it. The deadline of the 27th has my mind firing all over that thing and every bit of feedback I get has been tremendously helpful with this draft.

To give an inkling to my ITC response, the gist will be...
The movie just kind of hates men and I think it's supposed to be ugly and upsetting that "he's the good one" despite how many toxic flaws he has. It's about the slightest victory of women in the face of submersion in toxic masculinity.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Takoma1 » Sat Mar 07, 2020 7:49 pm

ThatDarnMKS wrote:
Sat Mar 07, 2020 7:13 pm
It is a very cool element but I was struck by...
How many of the women seemed to exist only to die helping/motivating the men and it stands in stark contrast to TMT, where they are pivotal to the outcome of the climax beyond becoming victims.
You are making me want to rewatch TOS though to provide more detailed thoughts as it's been at least half a decade since I watched it during a chanbara binge.
I'll have to watch the other film to compare, but I really appreciated just how many female characters of note there were. And on top of that, all of them were important to the plot.

I get your point that many of them end up helping the male characters, but even a character like the prostitute or the widow of the man who was killed seemed to have more depth than that. I thought that the film was pretty shrewd in depicting the way that women are able to have power in a male-centric society like the one in the film.

We can talk In the Cut in early April. :D
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Torgo » Sun Mar 08, 2020 2:57 pm

The Driver is as enjoyable as it is lean and mean. Being a fan of cinematic action movies like this one, the title, 90-minute runtime and familiar (yet by no means dull) opening scene made me assume I knew exactly what I was in for, but thankfully, it ended up surprising me. Regardless, it does have all the hallmarks of this genre that made me fall in love with it, namely exciting car chases, evidence cleanups and scenes where the anti-hero and the cop try to out-badass each other. I was surprised to find out that the movie was a critical and commercial disappointment because it frequently reminded me of darlings of its genre like Drive and Le Samourai. While it's not quite as good as those movies, you should still check it out if you're in the mood for something similar.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by topherH » Sun Mar 08, 2020 3:32 pm

The Scarface discussion peaked my curiosity for De Palma revisits and some newbies.

Blow Out - I enjoyed this quite a bit more this time around than when I watched in my binge mode years.

Dressed to Kill - The Hitchcock parallels are fun and entertaining.

The Untouchables - This one borders on a mixed bag. On one hand you have some balls out violence (Scarface) and on the other side a Kevin Costner (The Postman) clean cut movie. Connery and De Niro are the standouts for me.

I guess I need to revisit Carlito's Way and I'm waiting on Body Double this week.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by ThatDarnMKS » Sun Mar 08, 2020 5:03 pm

The Driver is like Streets of Fire in that Hill should have cast a better actor for the lead. Nothing against Ryan O'Neil, but I feel like his lack of natural charisma is why it and Barry Lyndon are both often forgotten about in the works of their respective directors, despite being among their strongest films.

I think the Driver may actually be Hill's best, though Hard Times certainly gives it a run for its money.

Also, Blow Out is perfect and DePalma's best film.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Torgo » Sun Mar 08, 2020 5:28 pm

I liked O'Neal in the part a little more than you did, but speaking of him, does he ever...you know, emote? I've seen him in this movie, Barry Lyndon, Zero Effect and the "oh man, oh God" clip from Tough Guys Don't Dance and I've yet to see him smile or laugh. He just broods.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Wooley » Sun Mar 08, 2020 5:37 pm

Charles wrote:
Fri Mar 06, 2020 10:24 pm
I haven't seen it yet. I only saw this one, Bronson, Drive and Valhalla Rising, but that one was a really long while ago.

Did you like Neon?
Haven't seen it yet. People were trashing it everywhere.
But people also trashed OGF and I thought that was practically made for me.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Wooley » Sun Mar 08, 2020 5:39 pm

topherH wrote:
Sun Mar 08, 2020 3:32 pm
The Scarface discussion peaked my curiosity for De Palma revisits and some newbies.

Blow Out - I enjoyed this quite a bit more this time around than when I watched in my binge mode years.

Dressed to Kill - The Hitchcock parallels are fun and entertaining.

The Untouchables - This one borders on a mixed bag. On one hand you have some balls out violence (Scarface) and on the other side a Kevin Costner (The Postman) clean cut movie. Connery and De Niro are the standouts for me.

I guess I need to revisit Carlito's Way and I'm waiting on Body Double this week.
Agreed on all the films, especially Untouchables.

I am a fan of both CW and BD.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Rock » Sun Mar 08, 2020 6:16 pm

I think O'Neal's lack of charisma works in his favour in The Driver and Barry Lyndon, but I found him strained in What's Up, Doc?, where he's trying to ape Cary Grant without any of Grant's magnetism or comic timing.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by ThatDarnMKS » Sun Mar 08, 2020 6:16 pm

Torgo wrote:
Sun Mar 08, 2020 5:28 pm
I liked O'Neal in the part a little more than you did, but speaking of him, does he ever...you know, emote? I've seen him in this movie, Barry Lyndon, Zero Effect and the "oh man, oh God" clip from Tough Guys Don't Dance and I've yet to see him smile or laugh. He just broods.
I really don't think he does. At least not well. It suits him for a roll like The Driver but I do think that it becomes limiting. He can't have those bursts of emotion and seething anger beneath the surface like Gosling or that effortless charisma like Delon.

I can't help but imagining a version of the Driver with someone like McQueen or Eastwood in the driver's seat and seeing it perform substantially better and be more well received.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by BL Sometimes » Sun Mar 08, 2020 6:56 pm

I think O"Neal was convincingly emotive in Paper Moon, probably his best role. Though it helps that, as in Barry Lyndon, he's playing a fraud. As an actor, he struggles to convey sincerity, which is kind of perfect for playing a floundering con man:

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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Charles » Sun Mar 08, 2020 7:39 pm

Wooley wrote:
Sun Mar 08, 2020 5:37 pm
Haven't seen it yet. People were trashing it everywhere.
But people also trashed OGF and I thought that was practically made for me.
With what I've seen of Refn, just his name as director is enough to make me watch his stuff, regardless of critics. Being divisive makes his movies even more intriguing.

Final Destination, 2000 (B+)

It's a pretty creative movie that doesn't fall into the trap of other teen horror from the time. The characters aren't great, but they're above par and the plot never becomes too ridiculous. It's a cut above its peers for sure.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Patrick McGroin » Sun Mar 08, 2020 8:06 pm

Captive State - 5/10 - This is a political thriller masquerading as a scifi/space invasion movie. You're either going to get into this or find yourself unable to connect. There is no real setup outside of a two minute or so prologue. The rest involves a multitude of characters appearing onscreen and going through their paces with no establishing preambles. You're able to follow it if you're paying any sort of attention and the director's intent is readily apparent but unfortunately so is his big reveal at the end. So what you're left with are characters and a story you're not really invested in. The two biggest stars are John Goodman and Vera Farmiga but they're largely wasted. Not so much because of the bad writing but because of that maddening story structure. I give it a break even score to mostly mirror how people's takes will probably fall.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by ThatDarnMKS » Sun Mar 08, 2020 8:09 pm

Refn fans need to watch TOO YOUNG TO DIE OLD. Its the best season of TV since TWIN PEAKS: THE RETURN
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Takoma1 » Sun Mar 08, 2020 8:26 pm

Torgo wrote:
Sun Mar 08, 2020 5:28 pm
I liked O'Neal in the part a little more than you did, but speaking of him, does he ever...you know, emote? I've seen him in this movie, Barry Lyndon, Zero Effect and the "oh man, oh God" clip from Tough Guys Don't Dance and I've yet to see him smile or laugh. He just broods.
He's visibly exacerbated at times in What's Up Doc?. That's . . . all I got.

There's a certain appeal to people who are subdued, but O'Neal has never managed to seem like a real person to me in anything he's been in. I actively disliked Barry Lyndon, and O'Neal was probably 80% of that.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Ergill » Sun Mar 08, 2020 9:06 pm

Torgo wrote:
Sun Mar 08, 2020 5:28 pm
I liked O'Neal in the part a little more than you did, but speaking of him, does he ever...you know, emote? I've seen him in this movie, Barry Lyndon, Zero Effect and the "oh man, oh God" clip from Tough Guys Don't Dance and I've yet to see him smile or laugh. He just broods.
He's a limited actor for sure, but I don't think of him as unemotive in Zero Effect. Seemed like a serviceable version of a bigwig untethered by blackmail. Barry Lyndon is simply a different beast altogether since it's wrapped in heavily ritualized trappings. I think his vacancy and obliviousness works well there, with more disarming emotions breaking through here and there, the best bits having to do with his natural and adopted sons.
ThatDarnMKS wrote:
Sun Mar 08, 2020 8:09 pm
Refn fans need to watch TOO YOUNG TO DIE OLD. Its the best season of TV since TWIN PEAKS: THE RETURN
Emphasis on "fans" I think. I'm more of a Refn onlooker. He's really talented and distinctive, but veers into the overbearing. Too Young had a lot of good, sometimes hilarious and often upsetting moments, but the relentless nihilism and slow-cinema affectations wore out their welcome. (It took me a while to recognize Hart Bochner.) Number of "big statement" moments didn't really land with me either. I watched it all regardless and I will give him a salute.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by ThatDarnMKS » Sun Mar 08, 2020 9:54 pm

Ergill wrote:
Sun Mar 08, 2020 9:06 pm
He's a limited actor for sure, but I don't think of him as unemotive in Zero Effect. Seemed like a serviceable version of a bigwig untethered by blackmail. Barry Lyndon is simply a different beast altogether since it's wrapped in heavily ritualized trappings. I think his vacancy and obliviousness works well there, with more disarming emotions breaking through here and there, the best bits having to do with his natural and adopted sons.


Emphasis on "fans" I think. I'm more of a Refn onlooker. He's really talented and distinctive, but veers into the overbearing. Too Young had a lot of good, sometimes hilarious and often upsetting moments, but the relentless nihilism and slow-cinema affectations wore out their welcome. (It took me a while to recognize Hart Bochner.) Number of "big statement" moments didn't really land with me either. I watched it all regardless and I will give him a salute.
The "devout" would probably be a more accurate description of the folks that should watch it. I recognize that many fans gave up as well. I found it to be hypnotic, gorgeous, hilarious, violent, affecting, unique and incredibly self-aware and satirical of his "fetishes" as he would call them. Juxtaposing his extremelty stoic Miles Teller with traditional, frat boy like detectives killed me. That and the use of Mandy.

I also think the series, like Drive, ends up being among his least nihilistic work, even if it's the kind of series in which he can have a room full of detectives chant fascism!
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Patrick McGroin » Sun Mar 08, 2020 10:55 pm

Brightburn - 4/10 - There's usually a valid reason why a movie comes and goes without much fanfare. This isn't an overlooked gem or even a "pleasant surprise". The official synopsis says it all, "What if a child from another world crash-landed on Earth, but instead of becoming a hero to mankind, he proved to be something far more sinister?" Maybe if James Gunn had actually directed this instead of just producing it it would have stretched out a bit to fit that intriguing premise. As it is they don't do enough in it's 90 minute runtime. The super sociopathic kid is a bit of a dingus and Elizabeth Banks is a thumbnail sketch as his over protective mother. There are moments of dark creativity though where you sense Gunn's influence but the film is mostly satisfied with marching to a conventional beat.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Jinnistan » Mon Mar 09, 2020 4:13 am

Rock wrote:
Sun Mar 08, 2020 6:16 pm
I found him strained in What's Up, Doc?, where he's trying to ape Cary Grant without any of Grant's magnetism or comic timing.
I thought he was going for more of a Jimmy Stewart, perpetual guffaw thing. Anyway, he fell short of that as well.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Macrology » Tue Mar 10, 2020 7:06 pm

Wild Dog Dingo

A Soviet film from 1962 with a rather misleading title. I wonder if anyone here has seen it - I'd never heard about it before. I happened to catch it at a local screening, a couple who shows pretty esoteric films on a semi-regular basis in their backyard. There's a scarcity of information about it online, but it really deserves more attention.

It's a coming of age film made at the height of Khrushchev's Thaw, so it has virtually none of the propaganda flavor one expects in Soviet films. The film is admittedly uneven, with several scenes that feel pretty stilted, and it is very resolutely Russian (including recitations of Lermontov and scenes from Chekhov - made more disorienting by the fact that whoever did the subtitles on the copy we watched refused to translate quotations). But it's also one of the most earnest and fragile films I've seen on the subject of early adolescence, with a multitude of moments that ring so achingly, awkwardly true, and it has that peculiarly Slavic gift for evoking the poetics of quotidian life. Most movingly, it captures the female protagonist's delicate, conflicted relationships with the men in her life, namely her estranged father, his adopted foster son (also her first crush), and her childhood friend, a Mongolian boy who begins falling for her as she falls for the other boy.

In fact, even the parts of the film that felt stiff and forced came across as touching, as if they were part of a deliberate design. The film itself is like the experience of adolescence, with its growing pains, its mix of awkwardness, fading childhood purity, and emotional turmoil.

I don't usually post screen grabs or video clips when I talk about films, but this film is so underseen and so worthy, I feel like it's necessary to give some idea of what it's about, so I scrounged a few glimpses from a Google search. In spoilers below.
Image

Image

Image

And some blessed soul uploaded one of my favorite scenes, which conveys the quiet poetry of the film:
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Patrick McGroin » Thu Mar 12, 2020 7:33 pm

Ride the Pink Horse - 9/10 - If you've never heard of this, don't let the title faze you. This is a 1947 film noir directed by and starring Robert Montgomery . More importantly it's adapted from a Dorothy Hughes novel and co-written by Ben Hecht and Charles Lederer with an unaccredited assist by producer Joan Harrison, who had a unique affinity for these kinds of dark thrillers. Montgomery plays Gagin, an ex WWII GI who shows up in the small New Mexico border town of San Pablo. He's there with revenge in mind but also to blackmail a rich gangster named Frank Hugo. He's in possession of a check that incriminates Hugo in illicit wartime activities. He meets numerous players including FBI agent Bill Retz, who's also there looking for answers after the death of Gagin's wartime friend Shorty. There are also locals involved including Pancho (Thomas Gomez), who runs a ramshackle carousel and befriends Gagin after a night of heavy drinking. And Pila (Wanda Hendrix) a young girl who somehow senses that Gagin is in imminent danger of dying and sets out to look after him.

This is an especially solid example of a noirish thriller with great characters and impressive dialogue and Montgomery sets up numerous scenes with a discerning eye.The dangers and potential costs to the dour hero are casually laid out with no fanfare or melodrama. I really ended up liking this and highly recommend it.
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