Recently Seen

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Jinnistan
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Jinnistan » Wed Jan 15, 2020 11:25 pm

1917 - 8/10

Technically impressive and handsome production, this war film isn't so sappy as Private Ryan (though not with a lack of trying in some instances) and secures a more emotional connection than Dunkirk, mostly through the central performance of George MacKay. It adds virtually nothing of dramatic significance to the genre outside of its admittedly gorgeous series of panoramas. It will probably win the Oscar for BP this year, and will probably be one of the more accomplished BP winners of the decade. I'm not sure if that's a high compliment to the Academy of Arts and Sciences.


Permeation - 3/10

Christ with the croup, what kind of creative vacuum have I stepped into here? Very indie film (premiered in Portland) which is a remarkable example of how today even a modestly priced digital camera can make the emptiest art-house fungus look like truffle tagliatelle. Also like The Tenant (theme of the month), it's some schlub in a dank little room with another imaginary woman and sinister airs. It attempts to squeeze this into full-Lynch mode, minus all of Lynch's sensual grace. Instead, it broods and bitches about the darkness and art and not knowing what to art about. I don't like the term "pretentious", so instead I'll say that it's full of portentous dialogue you can expect from a 20 year old inexperienced poseur on the terrifying verge of realizing he should have been an accountant instead.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Takoma1 » Wed Jan 15, 2020 11:28 pm

Wooley wrote:
Wed Jan 15, 2020 10:30 pm
I agree that she doesn't have to earn or fight for things, that's why she was such a frustrating character for the whole film and why she became to me an unlikable character, which had me genuinely bummed out because I wanted to like her and root for her but she is not only her own worst enemy, she's not very good for anyone else either and she gets worse as the movie goes along to the point of seeming just a hopeless case and then we cut to all-better-now, in fact, better than you might have expected.
She is frustrating, but she also feels very real to me.

She makes all of her decisions out of fear (of how she will look to others and what she will have to admit to herself). She's acting out of a sort of self-defense/willful delusion. And then finally it's too much.

I think that there's a difference between being stupid/incompetent and being immature. Frances is charming in her own way, and she's clearly not a malicious or intentionally hurtful person. I never felt like she was hopeless. I think that most people--especially in their 20s--are their own worst enemy. She didn't need to become a better person, she just needed to redirect her energy and look forwards instead of backwards.

The film is mostly interested in the ways in which Frances attempts to prolong her "post college" glow, even as her peers are moving into a different phase of life. About how, by trying to stay the same person, she becomes someone who is out of the loop.

I'm trying to imagine a scene or two that would come between the moment outside the dorm and the "happy montage" at the end, and I can't think of anything that would actually add value to the film.

But, hey, I know that this film is not universally loved and that many people are just annoyed by Frances.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Wooley » Thu Jan 16, 2020 4:29 am

Takoma1 wrote:
Wed Jan 15, 2020 11:28 pm
She is frustrating, but she also feels very real to me.

She makes all of her decisions out of fear (of how she will look to others and what she will have to admit to herself). She's acting out of a sort of self-defense/willful delusion. And then finally it's too much.

I think that there's a difference between being stupid/incompetent and being immature. Frances is charming in her own way, and she's clearly not a malicious or intentionally hurtful person. I never felt like she was hopeless. I think that most people--especially in their 20s--are their own worst enemy. She didn't need to become a better person, she just needed to redirect her energy and look forwards instead of backwards.

The film is mostly interested in the ways in which Frances attempts to prolong her "post college" glow, even as her peers are moving into a different phase of life. About how, by trying to stay the same person, she becomes someone who is out of the loop.

I'm trying to imagine a scene or two that would come between the moment outside the dorm and the "happy montage" at the end, and I can't think of anything that would actually add value to the film.

But, hey, I know that this film is not universally loved and that many people are just annoyed by Frances.
I agree she's very real, one of the many reasons I liked the movie. Like I said, I have a friend (and now that I think about it, maybe more than one) who is just like her, but more like she is at the end.
Sometimes people who are not bad people still cause harm and damage around them by their behavior and I felt like Frances could really be a bummer for anyone who cared about her or depended on her and she certainly made a number of social situations awkward, she lied about almost everything in her life, she took advantage of the willingness of others to help her, and she never showed any signs the whole movie of getting any better. None of that makes the movie any worse, in many ways it makes it more interesting, but it did make me finally give up on her, as people must eventually when they have an anchor of a person in their life, if they want to move forward with their own, right before the movie suddenly made everything ok. So that was a bit jarring.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by DaMU » Thu Jan 16, 2020 4:49 am

While I was visiting family, some of us watched the first handful of Buck Rogers serials, and...

um...

they're really fucking fun.

Within their own limited budgets and goals, the two-reelers play. They have momentum, striking art design, an ability to develop/build a dramatic (melodramatic) situation. My brother and I were laughing at one sequence where Our Intrepid Heroes had to evade futuristic searchlights, but at the same time, I was hoping they successfully bobbed and weaved out of the way, and the searchlight had this clever design where a sphere in the middle of the light "ramped up" by spinning around on its axis. It's easy to see how this kind of thing left such an impression on Lucas and Spielberg and Annie Wilkes.

Also, we were losing our minds over how much from that first run of "episodes" seemed to influence The Phantom Menace, especially a crucial treaty and seeking the alliance of a resistant "big boss" of an isolationist power.
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The above-written is wholly and solely the perspective of DaMU and should not be taken as an effort to rile, malign, or diminish you, dummo.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Thief » Thu Jan 16, 2020 1:52 pm

Wow, I remember watching Buck Rogers (and Battlestar Galactica) back in the day with my older brother. Hadn't thought about it in a while.
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The Guy in the Trenchcoat
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by The Guy in the Trenchcoat » Thu Jan 16, 2020 5:11 pm

What's Up Doc is a good ass movie.
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Takoma1
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Takoma1 » Thu Jan 16, 2020 10:25 pm

Wooley wrote:
Thu Jan 16, 2020 4:29 am
I agree she's very real, one of the many reasons I liked the movie. Like I said, I have a friend (and now that I think about it, maybe more than one) who is just like her, but more like she is at the end.
Sometimes people who are not bad people still cause harm and damage around them by their behavior and I felt like Frances could really be a bummer for anyone who cared about her or depended on her and she certainly made a number of social situations awkward, she lied about almost everything in her life, she took advantage of the willingness of others to help her, and she never showed any signs the whole movie of getting any better. None of that makes the movie any worse, in many ways it makes it more interesting, but it did make me finally give up on her, as people must eventually when they have an anchor of a person in their life, if they want to move forward with their own, right before the movie suddenly made everything ok. So that was a bit jarring.
I think that she shows no signs of changing for most of the film because she's in such a state of denial and so determined to portray a certain image to the people around her. But I think that you can see her perception of herself slipping as the film goes on. If you look at the expression on her face, she is genuinely joyful in the first half of the film and then clearly faking it as the film goes on.

I think it's significant that
she and Sophie aren't speaking at the end. Also, again, Frances isn't dancing. Things have leveled out for her, but I think that there are still some gaps and disappointments in her life.
While she is annoying and very self-centered, I felt like she didn't really burn that many bridges. I thought her behavior mostly fell into the forgivable range.

I think that what you see as a flaw (the sudden "happy" ending), is what I like about the film. A happy and productive life was right there the whole time, and all she had to do was take a little leap to grab it. The thrust of the film is getting her to the point that she's willing to take that leap because she simply can't backpedal anymore. The suddenness of the turnaround illustrates just how attainable it was the whole time, and how many silly knots she tied herself into trying not to grow up.
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Takoma1
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Takoma1 » Thu Jan 16, 2020 10:26 pm

The Guy in the Trenchcoat wrote:
Thu Jan 16, 2020 5:11 pm
What's Up Doc is a good ass movie.
Aside from some uncomfortably dated jokes, it's a pretty fun time.
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undinum
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by undinum » Fri Jan 17, 2020 12:24 am

Uncut Gems: great movie, better moviegoing experience. Packed house opening night, not a single whine or walkout, whole audience as enthusiastically in-tune as any I've ever been a part of. (Except for me being the only one to burst out laughing at "Fred Flinstein", and another guy being the only one to burst out laughing at the Amar'e Stoudemire reference. Which just makes me love it more.) Not one of our city's four massive multiplexes is getting it, which is just so depressing. Not that I'd voluntarily go to one rather than pay my eight bucks member rate at the arthouse where I don't have to smell wing sauce and hear video games and pick seats in advance on a computer screen. And well really it means more money and traffic to that wonderful arthouse and thus a greater likelihood of experiences like this in the future. Fuck chicken wings and computers and uptight multiplex managers who think calling them ranch-flavoured curators of the cultural apocalypse is confusing harassment rather than spirited discourse.
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Patrick McGroin
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Patrick McGroin » Fri Jan 17, 2020 12:59 am

The Phenix City Story - 6/10 - This is a 1955 documentary style noirish thriller based on real life events. There's a 15 or so minute opening segment featuring a reporter interviewing the actual participants. I suppose it was added as a preamble of sorts. The movie itself tells the story of Phenix City, Alabama which at the time was known as "Sin City" because of it's myriad gambling, drugs and prostitution rackets and it's proximity to Ft. Benning, Georgia. John McIntire and Richard Kiley star as Albert and John Patterson, father and son attorneys who eventually tire of all the crime and corruption. The police are on the crime lords payroll and turn a blind eye and the town's repeated pleas to the state capital fall on deaf ears. The elder Patterson finally gives in to the entreaties of the local Citizens Committee and decides to run for state Attorney General. He of course is disposed of by the criminal gang and his son takes over in his stead. The state government finally takes heed of what's been going on in PC and sends in troops and declares martial law. John Patterson eventually ran for and won the Governors office, beating George Wallace. There's stuff here to recommend with it's casual violence and sardonic tone but then there's also some questionable moments. There's a scene involving a black child that never took place and was added, I'm assuming, for shock value. I found the likely and cavalier reasoning behind it and it's execution particularly repugnant. I chose to DVR this because of it's 100% Tomatometer but come to find out it was from a total of seven reviewers.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by ThatDarnMKS » Fri Jan 17, 2020 4:56 am

Bad Boys for Life is soft, generic and safe filmmaking. Bad Boys 2 is a masterpiece. Take from that what you will.
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The Nameless One
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by The Nameless One » Fri Jan 17, 2020 1:06 pm

ThatDarnMKS wrote:
Fri Jan 17, 2020 4:56 am
Bad Boys for Life is soft, generic and safe filmmaking. Bad Boys 2 is a masterpiece. Take from that what you will.
I remember watching bad boys 2 when I was 13 and thinking it was garbage
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by ThatDarnMKS » Fri Jan 17, 2020 2:34 pm

The Nameless One wrote:
Fri Jan 17, 2020 1:06 pm
I remember watching bad boys 2 when I was 13 and thinking it was garbage
We’re often wrong at 13.
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Charles
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Charles » Fri Jan 17, 2020 4:38 pm

MKS, what's your Michael Bay ranking like? Just curious
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by The Nameless One » Fri Jan 17, 2020 5:12 pm

ThatDarnMKS wrote:
Fri Jan 17, 2020 2:34 pm
We’re often wrong at 13.
I dunno, I started smoking weed at 14 so that's probably the last lucid year of my life. Srsly though, two and a half hours long, that's all you need to know that this represents the worst of Bay*

*There is this strange notion which developed over time where Michael Bay is, beyond his formal capabilities, not a trash director... you are all delusional and possibly American
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by ThatDarnMKS » Fri Jan 17, 2020 7:15 pm

The Nameless One wrote:
Fri Jan 17, 2020 5:12 pm
I dunno, I started smoking weed at 14 so that's probably the last lucid year of my life. Srsly though, two and a half hours long, that's all you need to know that this represents the worst of Bay*

*There is this strange notion which developed over time where Michael Bay is, beyond his formal capabilities, not a trash director... you are all delusional and possibly American
Delusional: check. American: check. Unequivocally correct that Bad Boys 2 is a masterpiece: also check.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by ThatDarnMKS » Fri Jan 17, 2020 7:20 pm

Charles wrote:
Fri Jan 17, 2020 4:38 pm
MKS, what's your Michael Bay ranking like? Just curious
I haven’t seen 13 Hours yet... but off the top of my head, gonna say this:

Bad Boys 2
Pain & Gain
The Rock
Bad Boys
6 Underground
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Transformers: The Last Knight (such controversy on this one!)

Everything else.
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The Nameless One
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by The Nameless One » Fri Jan 17, 2020 8:39 pm

ThatDarnMKS wrote:
Fri Jan 17, 2020 7:15 pm
Delusional: check. American: check. Unequivocally correct that Bad Boys 2 is a masterpiece: also check.
Hmmm, revisiting 13 year old me is not ideal but my curiosity is piqued... like, I don't even like Bay's sincere attempts at whatever his idea of art is, Pain and Gain was a bloated mess just like the rest of his outre. But this whole thing about Michael Bay fascinates me. I will digress that I think a solid chunk of Transformers 3 is astonishing
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Patrick McGroin
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Patrick McGroin » Fri Jan 17, 2020 8:45 pm

I really enjoyed 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi. It's probably my favorite Bay movie (haven't seen 6 Underground though) Just tune out the clunky jingoism. The awkward "manly men bonding" parts should be familiar enough to anyone who's ever watched a Bay movie.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Thief » Fri Jan 17, 2020 8:52 pm

I jumped off the Bay wagon after Pearl Harbor. Too much crap. I gave Transformers a chance because I was a fan of the cartoon/toys and thought it would be fun, but it still stands as one of the worst pieces of shit I've seen. I have no intention of jumping back in.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by topherH » Fri Jan 17, 2020 9:55 pm

I never got on
State of Siege |Gavras, 1972| +
Deadpool |Miller, 2016| +
Z |Gavras, 1969| -
The Confession |Gavras, 1970| +
Missing |Gavras, 1982| +
The Revenant |Inarritu, 2015| +
The Hateful Eight |Tarantino, 2015| +

+ Recommended
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Captain Terror » Fri Jan 17, 2020 10:07 pm

Thief wrote:
Fri Jan 17, 2020 8:52 pm
I gave Transformers a chance because I was a fan of the cartoon/toys and thought it would be fun, but it still stands as one of the worst pieces of shit I've seen. I have no intention of jumping back in.
To this day, the only Bay film I've ever seen. Scarred me to the point where I lost all interest in anything else.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Macrology » Fri Jan 17, 2020 10:11 pm

I don't think I like any Michael Bay movies except Bad Boys II. And I'm not even sure why I like that one.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by ThatDarnMKS » Fri Jan 17, 2020 10:22 pm

The Nameless One wrote:
Fri Jan 17, 2020 8:39 pm
Hmmm, revisiting 13 year old me is not ideal but my curiosity is piqued... like, I don't even like Bay's sincere attempts at whatever his idea of art is, Pain and Gain was a bloated mess just like the rest of his outre. But this whole thing about Michael Bay fascinates me. I will digress that I think a solid chunk of Transformers 3 is astonishing
Bad Boys 2 is like the best parts of TF3 cranked to 11 and played out feature length.

I think Bay is fascinating because he operates in harsh extremes. So many auteurs are preoccupied with subtlety and nuance while Bay goes so tastelessly far in the other direction that I find him fascinating.

However, it’s only when I feel Bay is unbridled that I love him. When he tries to make conventional studio films like Pearl Harbor or the 1st TF film, he suffers from a clash of trying to appeal to anyone other than his insane self and all his inequities come to the surface.

Bad Boys 2 is him at his purest and most excessive. It’s his Inland Empire or Tree of Life.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by ThatDarnMKS » Fri Jan 17, 2020 10:23 pm

I think those inexperience with Bay should either start with his McTiernan-esque, actually “good” films like the Rock and Bad Boys or go straight insane with Bad Boys 2 or Pain and Gain.

The first Transformers is him trying to make a Spielberg film and he sucks at it.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Macrology » Fri Jan 17, 2020 11:46 pm

Who else has seen Bi Gan's Long Day's Journey Into Night? I remember seeing posts about it several months ago, but god knows where they are in this thread.

I'm honestly not sure how to feel about the film. It's an astonishing achievement - that much is clear - but at times it feels like a big budget remake of his first feature, Kaili Blues. Their structure is nearly identical: a mosaic of fragmentary poetics that resolves into a unified continuum of memory and space. But Bi Gan demonstrates one of the most accomplished and intelligent uses of single take cinematography I've ever seen, weaving all the disparate thematic threads he builds during the first half of the film into one dream-like tapestry of overlapping identities and time periods. Kaili Blues came at this structure a little more haphazardly, and a large share of its charm falls within those rough edges; Long Day's Journey Into Night risks being too sleek, but some part of me can't help but feel like that's the point.

One of the qualities that initially bothered me about Long Day's Journey Into Night is how transparently it wears its influences. Kaili Blues was clearly indebted to filmmakers like Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Hou Hsiao-hsien, but it integrated their influence pretty seamlessly. That influence carries over into his second feature which, as many critics have noted, is also saturated with the influence of Alfred Hitchcock, David Lynch, Andrei Tarkovsky, and film noir in general. I didn't notice other critics mention this, but his long-take manipulation of time within space reminds me of Angelopolous and Jancsó (although he isn't as explicitly political as those filmmakers).
But the most pronounced influence (particularly apparent in the first half) is Wong Kar-Wai: the use of voice-over, the poetic perception of time, romantic and nostalgic yearning, even clothing as signifier of memory and feeling. The most common criticism I came across, which resonated with me, is that Bi Gan's film has so little of the emotional richness that suffuses Wong Kar-Wai's oeuvre. It's aping his tropes, but only captures the glossy surfaces.

But as I've sat with the film in my mind, I began to wonder if that was partly the point. I thought of a quote from Proust: “Sometimes passing in front of the hotel he remembered the rainy days when he used to bring his nursemaid that far, on a pilgrimage. But he remembered them without the melancholy that he then thought he would surely someday savor on feeling that he no longer loved her. For this melancholy, projected in anticipation prior to the indifference that lay ahead, came from his love. And this love existed no more.”
I'm not sure Bi Gan quite taps into that sensibility, but it got me thinking about various aspects of the film. For one, how explicit his influences and homages are. From the beginning of the film, Bi Gan cues us into the parallel phenomena of memories, dreams, and movies, and how they are governed by similar rules. Looking through this lens, the fragmented memories of the first half - their veracity explicitly questioned in voice-over - are deeply colored by noirs, especially those by Hitchcock and Lynch. There are blatant homages throughout to Blue Velvet, Stalker, and Ivan's Childhood, and more oblique homages to Hitchcock (shots of characters ascending stairwells) and others.

What begins to emerge is something incredibly nuanced: a man who reflects upon his past, whose memories muddle with his dreams and take on the color of films he's seen. The first half is a fractured detective story of a man tracking down a woman he once loved, interspersed with memories from that time of his life. But those memories are vague and sometimes surreal, charged with symbolic weight, like the green dress his lover always wears.
The shift from mosaic to long take happens when the character drifts off in a movie theater, and it's demarcated by the title screen (finally) and a shift to 3D (which I didn't get to experience, but would love to). In this sequence, when the man is on the verge of finding the woman he's sought, the intersecting phenomena of movies, dreams, and memories fuse into one seamless whole where they all comfortably coexist. It is riddled with rhymes of motifs and symbols that appear, sometimes offhandedly, in the first half: pomelos, apples, ping pong, dyed red hair, torches and honeycombs, karaoke songs, etc. As in Kaili Blues, the identities of characters become fluid and ambiguous, like a woman reminiscent of the woman he was looking for, and a child who might be the child that woman aborted or who might be his dead friend Wildcat.
In this context, the obvious homages take on real texture and significance, because it's a demonstration of how the experience of watching movies can inflect and distort our memory of actual lived experience. His memory of Wildcat trying to sell rotten apples collides with an homage to Tarkovsky. The doubling effect of Vertigo reflects his own conflicted and splintered feelings about the woman he's tried to track down. This whole sequence, which is carefully framed and constructed to resemble both a dream and a film, reconciles all these impulses and creates a space of unreality (or heightened reality) where time and circumstance defy logic and even physics to create a world where his unresolved feelings and uncertainties can find some sense of closure and continuity. And like Kaili Blues, it concludes with a subtle and sublime moment where time is subverted to magically restore the emotional possibilities a character thought they had lost long ago.

If anyone else has thoughts, or can dredge up a previous post, I'd love to hear them. (In the process of writing this post, I think I convinced myself to love this film.)

Some further reading:
Nick Pinkerton eloquently expresses some of the doubts that I had at Reverse Shot, while Dennis Lim captures just as well what I most admire about the film at Film Comment.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Rock » Sat Jan 18, 2020 4:21 am

I actually rewatched Bad Boys II a few weeks ago after watching 6 Underground...and I still can't get on board. Bay doing whatever the hell he wants appeals to me more in concept than in execution, and I find the end product too mean and crass to be a genuinely fun action movie and too bloated to work in the tasteless, dark comic vein of a Neveldine/Taylor joint. The movies I like from him don't exactly show restraint, but they have some grounding or organizing principle to keep him focused, like the stronger script and performances in The Rock and Pain & Gain, the extended stretches of action in 13 Hours and Dark of the Moon, and the (relatively) compact runtime and scale of Bad Boys and 6 Underground.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by ThatDarnMKS » Sat Jan 18, 2020 4:39 am

Rock wrote:
Sat Jan 18, 2020 4:21 am
I actually rewatched Bad Boys II a few weeks ago after watching 6 Underground...and I still can't get on board. Bay doing whatever the hell he wants appeals to me more in concept than in execution, and I find the end product too mean and crass to be a genuinely fun action movie and too bloated to work in the tasteless, dark comic vein of a Neveldine/Taylor joint. The movies I like from him don't exactly show restraint, but they have some grounding or organizing principle to keep him focused, like the stronger script and performances in The Rock and Pain & Gain, the extended stretches of action in 13 Hours and Dark of the Moon, and the (relatively) compact runtime and scale of Bad Boys and 6 Underground.
Everything else is on the money except that Bad Boys 2 isn’t amazing. It is too mean, too crass, too bloated and that’s what makes it perfect. Like how Heaven’s Gate’s excess in every shot of its 4 hour length makes it a masterpiece.

Bad Boys 2 is the movie Neveldine/Taylor have aspired to but not quite made. And I’m a big fan of theirs.

Everything they make proves that they know that Bad Boys 2 is the pinnacle of THAT... style of cinema.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Rock » Sat Jan 18, 2020 4:42 am

ThatDarnMKS wrote:
Sat Jan 18, 2020 4:39 am
Everything else is on the money except that Bad Boys 2 isn’t amazing. It is too mean, too crass, too bloated and that’s what makes it perfect. Like how Heaven’s Gate’s excess in every shot of its 4 hour length makes it a masterpiece.

Bad Boys 2 is the movie Neveldine/Taylor have aspired to but not quite made. And I’m a big fan of theirs.

Everything they make proves that they know that Bad Boys 2 is the pinnacle of THAT... style of cinema.
Admit it, you just like it for the morgue scene. If it were up to you, it would be nothing but morgue scenes.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by ThatDarnMKS » Sat Jan 18, 2020 5:26 am

Rock wrote:
Sat Jan 18, 2020 4:42 am
Admit it, you just like it for the morgue scene. If it were up to you, it would be nothing but morgue scenes.
What you think I’m gonna do with some big ole dead titties?


Also... is that the only time Bay has had nudity in a movie? Strange given his propensity for objectifying women.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Rock » Sat Jan 18, 2020 5:39 am

ThatDarnMKS wrote:
Sat Jan 18, 2020 5:26 am
What you think I’m gonna do with some big ole dead titties?


Also... is that the only time Bay has had nudity in a movie? Strange given his propensity for objectifying women.
I feel like Pain & Gain had some? Haven't seen it since it came out though so I might be misremembering.

And I think you see Michael Clarke Duncan's ass in Armageddon.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Patrick McGroin » Sat Jan 18, 2020 6:11 am

The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight - 2/10 - I'd heard of this mafia spoof and since I love early to mid 70's movies I decided what the hell. It started out pretty funny and I thought, "Hey, maybe this is one of those overlooked treasures." It isn't. After that somewhat promising start it doesn't do much at all. The plot and the actors just kind of wander around listlessly. What story there is involves a crew of dim witted Mafioso led by Jerry Orbach and their ongoing and inept efforts to do away with the local Don. There's no distinguishing characteristics outside of Herve Villechaize being one of the members. They dub in his distinctive voice so even that bit of comedic relief is missing. The only other thing that distinguishes it at all is a really young Robert DeNiro. He's two years away from starring in Bang the Drum Slowly and Mean Streets but you can already tell he's in a class of his own. If you feel the urge to watch this put it on as background noise and multi task.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by LEAVES » Sat Jan 18, 2020 8:52 am

Long Day’s Journey Into Night (from elsewhere)

A word of caution: please choose where you stand carefully as this post will be moving swiftly soon as I AM ALL ABOARD THE HYPE TRAIN!

With that being said, here are the things that would have made this film middling if the film was less than overwhelmingly amazing and/or structurally conducive to these kinds of things:
1. Too many shots are trick shots for no reason, as they do not recur or reference anything: The opening shot, the beginning of the shot in the tunnel, the entirety of the 3-D section
2. Gangster films are dumb and obstruct meaningful representations of relevant human lives
3. Probably other stuff that I forgot because it’s so amazing

Now, let me point something out before I go further: The writer/director cheats. If you make a film about the unreliability of memories and the power of cinema to lie and explore the imagination, you basically create a giant bouncy castle where nothing can go wrong. That sequence doesn’t make sense? Memories are unreliable. That other sequence contradicts the one before? Cinema lies. That shot was an unnecessary bit of trick photography? It’s an imaginative, beautiful lie. What’s the problem with this? Absolutely nothing; I wish more directors would cheat in such a way and destroy the plot of their films in service of the imagination. That this film uses the imagination as a L’avventura-esque refusal to resolve the plot is just a bonus, and this cheeky abandonment of plot makes the 3-D even seem necessary as a signal of the film’s complete departure from the real and the need of even possibility of knowing. Perhaps the protagonist would have found his lover if he stayed awake, perhaps not. He won’t now, though, surely. All he has left is his imagination - and, personally, I am much more interested in the content of his imagination than the mere fact of their reunion. All filmmakers cheat, but the filmmakers in this film know how to cheat to the fullest, and I am grateful.

More to come later about the art... I need to sleep.

... (continued) ...

To speak too much of any one element would be to give short shrift to the totality of abundance in the film. I will surely fail to do the film justice in this way and many others, but this is a film that finds beauty in hopelessness, does it not? Well, then, enjoy the failure to come!

As I spoke of above, the film is cleverly structured in a way that mitigates the problematic concreteness of plot and opens up the film to the freedom of exploring aesthetic ideas, beauty-for-its-own-sake, and many other ecstatic details without undercutting any central conceit. The ending is perhaps the best example of this: While the film does follow a central plot, that central plot only becomes increasingly hopeless as the film progresses, both because the subject of the story's search is increasingly difficult to find and because the subject is herself so resistant to the truth, to closeness, to being searched for. Indeed, the film's central tragedy comes as a result of the search's subject being found by a bad man. The film is not structured as a simple tragedy, though - the film's central tragedy of being found by the bad man is muted by its distance in the past, and its present tragedy is muted by the increasing hopelessness of a search for a subject that has found only pain in being found. The film's final third is, structurally, an immensely clever use of both the cinematic form and of storytelling - in the moment where the protagonist is nearing his last and only hope the extended fantasy plays out in a longer and longer single take, steadily erasing any hope of the fantasy breaking and a hopeful reality emerging even while the fantasy itself is becoming more and more hopeful. In this way the film's ending feels like the pages of a book running out, and hope with it. The final image of the film is not one of two lovers being together, but of a firework, and the accompanying fantasy, burning out. The film is actually a search, sure, but it is a search built on a fantasy of reconciliation, of lasting happiness. Even in the fantasy world this seems unlikely - the two lovers find each other inside another set of lovers' house which has been burned from within, another jolt of reality casting a pall on the fantasy's rosy facade. Unlike a sugary Hollywood film which can find no interplay between fantasy and reality, this fantasy is not an unintentionally hollow sounding attempt to distract from reality but instead an intentionally hollow feeling attempt to build something purely imaginary from a reality that will never again be. To the degree that its finality is sad, it is at least knowingly false and built on a foundation of truth. In a way, the film is more tragic ending in this futility than it would in a finality of the certainty of the search's subject's death, as the protagonist is faced with a lifetime still to be spent searching in futility.

As clever and effective as the ending is on a structural level, it is also enhanced by a reflection back onto the details found earlier in the film. Some of these elements are obvious reflection of objects and ideas found earlier in the film: A broken clock on the wall becomes a broken watch on an arm; a cart of rotten apples becomes a saddled horse's fallen apples; a hairdresser that scoffs at the idea of dying her hair red now burns through the fantasy with red hair and a torch in hand, the protagonist proposing to teach his never-born son ping pong becomes a ping pong match against a son that could well have been his... In some ways these may merely function as a mirroring of elements prior, but in other ways I can appreciate how they are breathed new life. As opposed to how the protagonist simplifies cinema to merely lying, there is a magic in the way that the film's prior truths are completely transformed into something arising purely out of the imagination. It is not a "lie" that the never-born child now exists and is playing ping pong, that this ping pong paddle gives the power of flight, that the lovers' house spins around the pair of lovers - to speak of truth and lies in such a context is like saying that Long Day's Journey Into Night doesn't taste good. What were you doing trying to eat the film, and in what form? Someone has tried, probably, sure, but it doesn't make it a sensible idea. Of course, the entirety of the film is a fanciful concoction, not merely the latter part, but in this latter part's fanciful concoction from the seeds of the earlier fanciful concoction we see a celebration of the fiction-making process laid bare. Sure, there may be a glass sliding across a table a la Stalker, but such an imitation need not represent merely a filmmaker's lack of an ability to conjure something of his own but merely one of a multitude of possibilities for recreating, re-contextualizing existing images. As per usual with this film, I take any accusations of derivation with a grain of salt since this film celebrates re-contextualization within the same structural framework as it celebrates poetic repetition and within the same framework that it celebrates pure imaginative creation. Strip this film of all of its references, and what you have it still a film that stands alone, one that functions fully as a multifaceted self-enclosed creation. To find that it has room for so much more is a blessing.

I must admit something now - Even with all of these words spilled on the structure of the film reinforced by the ending, on the poetic mirroring found in the ending - I still much prefer the earlier portions of the film. There are some shots of such bewildering beauty that I could not figure out how such places could exist. Perhaps they would not be habitable, with all of the water seeping in making a mess of the place and all of the subdued lighting making each space entirely hazardous to maneuver through - but what a spectacle. I can't even recall all of the details of the most sensational scenes, with camera pans finding exquisitely staged elements seemingly from nothing to shots which are obscured by a previously unknown windshield now covered in a torrent of water and then cleared to view an entirely new vista... but what does it matter? What could I add to such an experience? The best part of this film, for me, is experiencing something on par with few other instances of cinematic poetry, not reading someone else poorly describe such instances. There may be some lip-service paid to the truth found in memories, but by the end of the film and the outright celebration of fantasy I find little reason to reflect on the so-called truths of the story and instead revel entirely in the fantasy that encompasses the entire film. Coming soon, again, to a theater near me, and I'll be there!

... I can respond later but, again, sleep ...
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Macrology » Sat Jan 18, 2020 6:36 pm

Thanks for the post! It seems like we're on a very similar wavelength. (Between reflecting on the film, reading up on it, writing my post and reading yours, most of my doubts have been dispelled.)

One more detail I failed to mention in my initial post: I like how the first half of the film is a detective story full of clues and mysteries and loose threads, and how the prolonged take that constitutes the film's second half feels like a resolution of that story, a putting together of the puzzle pieces, yet a solution that leaves its central mysteries intact.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Charles » Sat Jan 18, 2020 9:26 pm

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, 2016 (C)

So, I'm not one to find Michael Bay movies confusing. I know that's a common critique, but I never had any issue following his action. The embassy attack? Fucking unreadable. I get that there was a confusion in terms of the soldiers being confused, but it's absolutely impossible to tell what's going on spatially. People are getting shot, from where? to where? Who's coming and going and from where to where? No idea. The bad guys are there, but you never know how close they are to whatever or other, so there's zero tension in what should be the centerpiece of the movie. The following attack, much more readable, filmed from rooftops and all. In the end though, the movie is long and feels inconsequentiaol. Characters are shallow, talk about their families, soldiers do bro stuff with their bros. Bureaucrats are the bad guys, except the one woman, who turns around at the end. There's some weird thing with cameras as well. I know parts of it is filmed on film and most of it on digital, but there's this weird thing where some parts feel like 30fps and others feel like 60. Watch Bigelow instead.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Charles » Sun Jan 19, 2020 8:06 pm

The Mummy, 2017 (D)

The movie starts fiiiiiiiiine, though in every way worse than the Frasier ones. The comedic sidekick is super forced, the lady archaeologist and Cruise have zero chemistry. The discovery is less interesting, the awakening isn't as cool, everything goes faster just to set up the cinematic universe, and that's this movie's real problem. In some odd meta-narrative way, it's as if Russel Crowe himself was keeping The Mummy, as a movie, hostage and preventing it from being its own thing in order to set up what was supposed to be the DUCU. It doesn't work and the movie, which might have been a B- or something, never recovers from his role and that of his unexplained paramilitary organization.

Lady Mummy had potential. She looked cool and all in her bandages, damaged to be as sexy as a PG-13 movie will allow. Too bad she talked though, her dialogue, and a good portion of everyone else's, was straight garbage. There's one funny scene in the movie, most jokes fall flat.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Wooley » Sun Jan 19, 2020 9:24 pm

Charles wrote:
Sun Jan 19, 2020 8:06 pm
The Mummy, 2017 (D)

The movie starts fiiiiiiiiine, though in every way worse than the Frasier ones. The comedic sidekick is super forced, the lady archaeologist and Cruise have zero chemistry. The discovery is less interesting, the awakening isn't as cool, everything goes faster just to set up the cinematic universe, and that's this movie's real problem. In some odd meta-narrative way, it's as if Russel Crowe himself was keeping The Mummy, as a movie, hostage and preventing it from being its own thing in order to set up what was supposed to be the DUCU. It doesn't work and the movie, which might have been a B- or something, never recovers from his role and that of his unexplained paramilitary organization.

Lady Mummy had potential. She looked cool and all in her bandages, damaged to be as sexy as a PG-13 movie will allow. Too bad she talked though, her dialogue, and a good portion of everyone else's, was straight garbage. There's one funny scene in the movie, most jokes fall flat.
I really hoped this would work because A) Universal Monsters and B) Sofia Boutella is so fucking hot.
But alas...
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Patrick McGroin » Sun Jan 19, 2020 9:52 pm

Godzilla: King of the Monsters - 4/10 - That's a generous grade BTW. This suffers from a bad case of sequel-itis. As in more doesn't always mean better. It's bigger and dumber and more convoluted with more monsters and more uninteresting characters.To say it's lazily written doesn't begin to describe the script. There are way too many moments where a character is a second away from dying only to be predictably saved by the convenient arrival of fill in the blank. Way too many moments where a character just randomly launches into awkwardly placed exposition. Moments where characters behave in a manner that contradict previously established motivations and principles. Characters from the previous installment are sacrificed with little or no emotional impact. I suppose if you're a hardcore fan of the series there's something here to love but everyone else should just skip this. And if Michael Dougherty has anything to do with the upcoming Kong vs. Godzilla movie then maybe it's a good idea to skip that as well.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Stu » Mon Jan 20, 2020 7:00 am

Charles wrote:
Sun Jan 19, 2020 8:06 pm
The Mummy, 2017 (D)

The movie starts fiiiiiiiiine, though in every way worse than the Frasier ones. The comedic sidekick is super forced, the lady archaeologist and Cruise have zero chemistry. The discovery is less interesting, the awakening isn't as cool, everything goes faster just to set up the cinematic universe, and that's this movie's real problem. In some odd meta-narrative way, it's as if Russel Crowe himself was keeping The Mummy, as a movie, hostage and preventing it from being its own thing in order to set up what was supposed to be the DUCU. It doesn't work and the movie, which might have been a B- or something, never recovers from his role and that of his unexplained paramilitary organization.

Lady Mummy had potential. She looked cool and all in her bandages, damaged to be as sexy as a PG-13 movie will allow. Too bad she talked though, her dialogue, and a good portion of everyone else's, was straight garbage. There's one funny scene in the movie, most jokes fall flat.
Hey, at least it gave it us this:

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Re: Recently Seen

Post by DaMU » Mon Jan 20, 2020 7:15 am

The Lost Weekend (1945) - B

Fantastic performances from all involved, especially Ray Milland, but the film-- despite its forward-thinking attitude and admirably frank presentation of cycles of alcoholism-- feels too glossy at times. Not just with the upbeat ending, but with the aggressive scoring that underlines every emotion and also bolds and highlights just to be sure. So much so that the flick sometimes feels like one of the delinquent movies of its day (Reefer Madness or I Accuse My Parents). Blame the era of the Hollywood Code. Still, worth watching because, in spite of this, Wilder has the good sense to (mostly) hammer away at his protagonist, e.g. one attempted theft resolves in the most shameful way possible, the DTs bring out some unexpected furry guests.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by DaMU » Mon Jan 20, 2020 7:18 am

Out of the Wilders I've seen, in very loose order:

Sunset Boulevard
The Apartment
Double Indemnity
Ace in the Hole
Witness For the Prosecution
Some Like It Hot
The Lost Weekend
Stalag-17
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Patrick McGroin » Tue Jan 21, 2020 12:00 am

Laura - 6/10 - Well heck. I don't know what went wrong while I was watching this supposedly beloved classic. 100% Tomatometer. Scads of critics swearing up and down that it's a film for the ages. But somehow it never managed to gain any traction with me. I never bought Vincent Price as the pretty boytoy Shelby Carpenter, or Gene Tierney as the eponymous Laura Hunt, the object of so much desire and attention. Dana Andrews as Det. Lt. Mark McPherson was problematic, and his alleged obsession with the title character was never readily apparent. I watched the whole thing and paid attention and his character's motivations were never clearly delineated. The story itself is described in the reviews as "elegant" and "polished" but I thought Laura and the characters orbiting her sphere of influence came off as self-absorbed boors. I know this was largely the intended effect they were going for but to me it was off-putting. In short, no one worth investing any time or interest in. After the setup and the "detective becomes obsessed with the victim whose murder he's investigating" failed to reel me in I thought the murder mystery part would carry the day. Suffice it to say I've seen it done better and to greater effect in other noir thrillers. I don't know if a rewatch would alter my perceptions. I'm kind of doubting it. So I'll just be standing here on the platform and waving goodbye. Because apparently I missed this particular train.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Takoma1 » Tue Jan 21, 2020 12:30 am

Patrick McGroin wrote:
Tue Jan 21, 2020 12:00 am
Laura - 6/10 - Well heck. I don't know what went wrong while I was watching this supposedly beloved classic. 100% Tomatometer. Scads of critics swearing up and down that it's a film for the ages. But somehow it never managed to gain any traction with me. I never bought Vincent Price as the pretty boytoy, Shelby Carpenter or Gene Tierney as the eponymous Laura Hunt, the object of so much desire and attention. Dana Andrews as Det. Lt. Mark McPherson and his alleged obsession with the title character was never readily apparent. I watched the whole thing and paid attention and his character's motivations were never clearly delineated. The story itself is described in the reviews as "elegant" and "polished" but I thought Laura and the characters orbiting her sphere of influence came of as self-absorbed boors. I know this was largely the intended effect they were going for but to me it was off-putting. In short, no one worth investing any time or interest in. After the setup and the "detective becomes obsessed with the victim whose murder he's investigating" failed to reel me in I thought the murder mystery part would carry the day. Suffice it to say I've seen it done better and to greater effect in other noir thrillers. I don't know if a rewatch would alter my perceptions. I'm kind of doubting it. So I'll just be standing here on the platform and waving goodbye. Because apparently I missed this particular train.
I'd probably give it more than a 6/10, but I was also a bit let down by this one when I watched it. Like you, I'm not sure how much the hype was to blame. Even now I struggle to remember any real details or memorable moments from it. I probably owe it a rewatch. I did watch it when I was in total noir mode, and so it was competing with films like The Killers, and it felt distinctly *less* than those films.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Macrology » Tue Jan 21, 2020 7:08 am

Shivers was pretty great, in its rough, intermittently campy, very mid-70s way. Although I gotta say, it's surprisingly tame for a film about sex-crazed zombies. (The sense of unease and the uncanny sexual violence is striking, but they clearly had to tiptoe around the more explicit possibilities.)

Among the other sci-fi flicks I inquired about earlier, I've also watched Death Race 2000 (lots of fun), God Told Me To (batshit), and Westworld (slack climax but otherwise entertaining). I'll probably catch another two or three before they expire at the end of the month.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Thief » Tue Jan 21, 2020 2:16 pm

Patrick McGroin wrote:
Tue Jan 21, 2020 12:00 am
Laura - 6/10 - Well heck. I don't know what went wrong while I was watching this supposedly beloved classic. 100% Tomatometer. Scads of critics swearing up and down that it's a film for the ages. But somehow it never managed to gain any traction with me. I never bought Vincent Price as the pretty boytoy, Shelby Carpenter or Gene Tierney as the eponymous Laura Hunt, the object of so much desire and attention. Dana Andrews as Det. Lt. Mark McPherson and his alleged obsession with the title character was never readily apparent. I watched the whole thing and paid attention and his character's motivations were never clearly delineated. The story itself is described in the reviews as "elegant" and "polished" but I thought Laura and the characters orbiting her sphere of influence came of as self-absorbed boors. I know this was largely the intended effect they were going for but to me it was off-putting. In short, no one worth investing any time or interest in. After the setup and the "detective becomes obsessed with the victim whose murder he's investigating" failed to reel me in I thought the murder mystery part would carry the day. Suffice it to say I've seen it done better and to greater effect in other noir thrillers. I don't know if a rewatch would alter my perceptions. I'm kind of doubting it. So I'll just be standing here on the platform and waving goodbye. Because apparently I missed this particular train.
I saw it a couple of years ago and liked it a lot. I would agree that the mechanics of the story might not be particularly strong, but what mostly kept me in was Webb's performance as Waldo Lydecker.

Here are my thoughts on it.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Thief » Tue Jan 21, 2020 2:20 pm

DaMU wrote:
Mon Jan 20, 2020 7:18 am
Out of the Wilders I've seen, in very loose order:

Sunset Boulevard
The Apartment
Double Indemnity
Ace in the Hole
Witness For the Prosecution
Some Like It Hot
The Lost Weekend
Stalag-17
There are a lot I need to catch up with, but my ranking is similar, as far as the ones I've seen...

Sunset Boulevard
The Apartment
Double Indemnity
Some Like It Hot
Sabrina

I do want to watch more of his stuff.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Torgo » Tue Jan 21, 2020 4:27 pm

Upgrade is awesome. You would think there would be more techno-thrillers in this day and age, but luckily, the few we get, like this one, tend to be very good. It's a movie with twists and turns both literal and figurative, so I won't say too much about the plot, but I will say that it's about an analog guy in a digital world named Grey (a very good Logan Marshall-Green, who I also really liked in The Invitation) - think John McClane in Live Free or Die Hard - who experiences a tragic accident that requires him to hastily give up his implant-free lifestyle. In addition to helping him recover, Grey's new circuitry gives him expert hand-to-hand combat abilities, which result in some of the best fights I've seen since The Raid movies. While it hits a lot of familiar notes - there's a skeptical cop, a car chase, a bar containing every crook in town, etc. - it's all done so well and there are enough surprises that I didn't mind. Again, I don't want to reveal too much, but when it was over, it made me ruminate about how much my relationships with technology and other people have changed over the last few years that I stared at the credits as they rolled like Homer stared at the stars at the end of "Mother Simpson." That's not bad for a movie that could easily be mistaken for grade-B action fare.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Wooley » Tue Jan 21, 2020 5:47 pm

Macrology wrote:
Tue Jan 21, 2020 7:08 am
Shivers was pretty great, in its rough, intermittently campy, very mid-70s way. Although I gotta say, it's surprisingly tame for a film about sex-crazed zombies. (The sense of unease and the uncanny sexual violence is striking, but they clearly had to tiptoe around the more explicit possibilities.)

Among the other sci-fi flicks I inquired about earlier, I've also watched Death Race 2000 (lots of fun), God Told Me To (batshit), and Westworld (slack climax but otherwise entertaining). I'll probably catch another two or three before they expire at the end of the month.
I also liked Shivers.
And I agree about Westworld but I also kind of liked its low-key nature throughout including the climax/ending.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by ThatDarnMKS » Tue Jan 21, 2020 5:52 pm

I love the climax of Westworld. The lack of score and prolonged chase with just the clicking of boots on the ground is just my kinda cinema.
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Re: Recently Seen

Post by Wooley » Tue Jan 21, 2020 5:53 pm

DaMU wrote:
Mon Jan 20, 2020 7:18 am
Out of the Wilders I've seen, in very loose order:

Sunset Boulevard
The Apartment
Double Indemnity
Ace in the Hole
Witness For the Prosecution
Some Like It Hot
The Lost Weekend
Stalag-17
Sunset Boulevard
Double Indemnity
Some Like It Hot
The Apartment
Witness For The Prosecution
Irma La Douce
Seven Year Itch
The Private Life Of Sherlock Holmes
Sabrina
Buddy Buddy
Love In The Afternoon
The Fortune Cookie
Spirit Of St. Louis (god this movie bored me to death, it is probably my least favorite Jimmy Stewart movie, too)
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