Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2018

Discuss anything you want.
Post Reply
User avatar
Thief
Posts: 1676
Joined: Sat Nov 25, 2017 10:20 pm
Location: Puerto Rico
Contact:

Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2018

Post by Thief » Mon Dec 10, 2018 6:03 pm

A film with no CGI or special effects:


Revenge of the Nerds (1984, rewatch)
"Times are changin', Betty. These nerds are a threat to our way of life."
Revenge of the Nerds was released 34 years ago, in 1984; right at the dawn of the computer age, and at the heels of the feminist movement of the 1960s and 1970s. 1984 saw the release of Apple's popular "1984" TV ad and their founder, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak receiving the National Medal of Technology, while Bill Gates' face was on the cover of TIME magazine. 1984 also saw the first American woman walking in space and the first female nominated for Vice-President by a major party. However, all those changes were still seen by some as rarities, or exceptions, and not the norm. To many, "nerds" were still "nerds", and women were still "just women". A lot has changed since then, not only in technology, but also in the way women and the so-called "nerds" are perceived. In many ways, Jeff Kanew's irreverent romp succeeds in acknowledging the latter, but not the former.

Revenge of the Nerds follows Lewis Skolnick and Gilbert Lowe (Robert Carradine and Anthony Edwards), two smart but socially awkward freshmen, as they set out to enjoy their first year at Adams College. Unfortunately, they find themselves to be the object of ridicule and bullying by the Alpha Betas, a fraternity comprised mostly by football players and cheerleaders. Along with a small group of outcasts, Lewis and Gilbert decide to set the record straight by forming their own fraternity, while also trying to get back at their tormentors.

I like the way Rotten Tomatoes' consensus describes the film: "undeniably lowbrow but surprisingly sly". I feel that is mostly accurate, as the film clearly takes a mostly lightweight approach to the plot, with lots of gross-out humor and sexually-tinged jokes that were very typical in the 80's. Unfortunately, some of these is done at the expense of the women on the film. Although there are some moments where the film shows smart, strong-willed women, most of the time they are objectified and seen as just "sexual objects" put there just for the pleasure of the men. There is one particular scene that features what would be considered now a borderline(?) sexual assault, but since she enjoyed it, all is well, I guess :roll:

Putting that aside, the film manages to succeed by instilling their ensemble of characters with an honest personality and an undeniable charm, as opposed to the exaggerated machismo and harsh torture of their asshole rivals. The film plays its cards mostly in black-and-white, and it really is not hard to root for the underdogs, considering the level of humiliation they are subjected to. There are some moments where you might wonder why are they engaging in the same kind of behavior as their rivals, but I like how the climatic competitions shows them mostly outsmarting them with their wits and cleverness.

Most of the cast is pretty good, with Edwards effectively conveying most of the insecurities and frustration of the "nerds". All of the "nerds" are neatly delineated and well played, but Curtis Armstrong (Booger) clearly steals most of his moments. On the "jocks" side, Ted McGinley is solid as the douchebag quarterback/captain, Stan Gable, while Donald Gibb (Ogre) goes mano-a-mano with "Booger" in terms of scene-stealing. But IMO, the best performance of the film comes from John Goodman as the angry Coach Harris, who leads his "jocks" and fuels most of the abuse towards the "nerds" with what can only be described as pure hate. Not to take the film too seriously, but his last speech to his team, and the subsequent aftermath, is loaded with some seriously dark undertones about how these behaviors and insecurities are carried into adulthood. Sometimes I wish the film would've addressed this better. I think the film botches the ending a bit with an ineffective melodrama (particularly Lewis' speech), but it still works in some levels.

I've seen this film lots of times, since I was a kid. As someone who was never part of the "cool" clique during school, I always found a way to identify with the struggle of the underdogs, the bullying and the ridicule, and find solace in them gaining their respect. 34 years later, I can still have fun with it, but wish the film could've addressed some of the issues in a more serious manner in the midst of all the fun. Times are changin' for sure, the "nerd" culture is mostly thriving with pride, while women have continued to rise upwards among society. Let's hope that we can all acknowledge both of them as equals despite our differences, and not as a threat to our way of life.

Grade: B+
--- UNDER CONSTRUCTION ---
User avatar
Takoma1
Posts: 1922
Joined: Sat Nov 25, 2017 11:51 pm

Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2018

Post by Takoma1 » Tue Dec 11, 2018 12:43 am

Nothing I've read or heard about Revenge of the Nerds makes me want to watch it. Don't they also film women undressing without their knowledge?

I feel like the flip side to the toxic jock who thinks he has a right to any woman is the bitter nerd who thinks that he has a right to any woman by virtue of being a "good" guy (with the heavy implication that women don't actually know what they want). It's all unpleasant. To paraphrase Jenna Marbles, "You don't hear girls saying 'Nice girls finish last'."

I don't have anything against outsider/nerd narratives, but I think it's possible to do them without using the sexual conquest of women as a benchmark for success.

A film with the words "Christmas" or "Holiday" in the title: Christmas Time

This film is like the Christmas equivalent of Crush the Skull: a film clearly made on a small budget by a group of friends that manages to coast largely on charm and the humor/chemistry of its leads.

The plot follows a couple, Maclain and Clare, who are struggling with infertility. Maclain is also carrying around some childhood trauma in the form of strange dreams connected to the deaths of his parents and involving his oddball brother, Jake. Hoping to bring Maclain some closure, Clare goes behind his back and invites Jake to join them for Christmas at the family cabin in the mountains. The main complication: Jake believes that he is a time traveler, and this frequently comes between him and Maclain.

This is the kind of movie where the characters all have the same names as their actors, and many scenes feel like they were the result of an improvisational session that was then edited down into a scene. Generally speaking, though, the scenes are pretty funny and the three leads (who have all worked together in other films, and also Maclain and Clare are married in real life) have an easy, believable chemistry that adds a good energy to their scenes and banter.

The film is at its best in the quirky first half. Toward the last twenty minutes or so, things take a more serious turn, and the drama and sad tone of certain parts didn't transition so well from what came before it.

I'll be honest, I really like low-key sci-fi, and especially "is is or isn't he?" type time travel stories (one of my favorites being Happy Accidents), and Christmas Time does a pretty good job with this element. Jake's explanation about his time travel is goofy and enjoyable (it's to do with body temperature, you see), and the film manages to avoid a sense of mocking people with mental illness simply through Jake's conviction.

The last twenty minutes it a little bit messy, and there was a long joke that involved accidentally killing animals that didn't land for me (and honestly a whole sequence involving a shotgun that was supposed to be funny but was so reckless that I couldn't find much humor in it).

I'd easily count this as one of the better low-budget, never-heard-of-it films I've watched on Amazon.
User avatar
Wooley
Posts: 2189
Joined: Thu Nov 30, 2017 2:25 am

Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2018

Post by Wooley » Tue Dec 11, 2018 1:27 am

Takoma1 wrote:Nothing I've read or heard about Revenge of the Nerds makes me want to watch it. Don't they also film women undressing without their knowledge?

I feel like the flip side to the toxic jock who thinks he has a right to any woman is the bitter nerd who thinks that he has a right to any woman by virtue of being a "good" guy (with the heavy implication that women don't actually know what they want). It's all unpleasant. To paraphrase Jenna Marbles, "You don't hear girls saying 'Nice girls finish last'."

I don't have anything against outsider/nerd narratives, but I think it's possible to do them without using the sexual conquest of women as a benchmark for success.
Honestly, Tak, unless you just want to experience intense outrage I would avoid this movie like the plague.
On the one hand, it's a pretty damn funny movie.
On the other, even someone like me, who grew up when this movie was considered an "instant-classic" comedy and none of the women in my world even blinked at the frequent sexual transgressions that can only be considered outright crimes by today's standards, including my mother who thought it was hilarious, cannot watch this film anymore. It is that troubling.
What you've heard is correct and it's just really not watchable anymore. In a time when people seemed to not understand how horrifying not only the behavior itself was, but condoning it for entertainment pleasure and flat out laughing about it, it didn't seem to occur to many people: these were the Good Guys and they were getting the girl as they should and the rest was harmless fun. So we laughed and thought the movie was great (even my mom). With a few decades of better understanding, all the fun that is in the movie is just so outweighed by how ugly so much of it is, I really can't watch it anymore. Most of my friends, men in their mid-40s, agree and wonder what we or anyone else were thinking.
All that said, everything Thief says positive about the film is true. It's very funny and some of it is iconic. It's just not forgivable.
User avatar
Takoma1
Posts: 1922
Joined: Sat Nov 25, 2017 11:51 pm

Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2018

Post by Takoma1 » Tue Dec 11, 2018 1:51 am

Wooley wrote:Honestly, Tak, unless you just want to experience intense outrage I would avoid this movie like the plague.
Kinda what I figured. I'm glad that the completist mentality that I had in my teens and early 20s has waned so that I no longer have to worry as much about all the "classics" I don't actually want to watch.

A film set in the snow, or featuring snow prominently: Prancer

I'm not crying, you're crying!!! (Okay, I'm crying.)

I'm surprised that this isn't a title I've heard more about. A young girl living with her father and brother (in a precarious financial situation) discovers an injured reindeer in the woods near her home. Convinced that he is Prancer, Jessie is determined to heal the injured animal and lead it back to a place where Santa can find him in time for Christmas.

I thought that this film did a pretty great job of layering the fantasy and drama elements, and I loved the central performance by Rebecca Tickell as Jessie. The film had so many moments that made me think of real kids I've worked with: Jessie singing enthusiastically in a way that borders on shouting, her fraught conversation with her best friend about the existence of Santa and God, and so on. As a child protagonist, Jessie is wonderfully realized and three-dimensional. A few of the supporting characters are a little more thinly sketched, but they are all well-acted enough that the town and its dynamics feel real and lived-in.

At the heart of the film is Jessie's relationship with her father, and his inability to connect with her following the death of Jessie's mother. Jessie is a quirky child, and a large part of the film is about love and appreciation of family even when they are different. Jessie's enthusiasm irritates a few characters at first, but it's easy to understand why she sins them over in the end. Jessie is an oddball, but she's not obnoxious or that movie version of precocious. She is earnest and well-meaning and her character makes a great center for the narrative.

Of films I've watched that seem to be genuinely aimed at kids (and not also winkingly at adults), this is probably one of the better ones.
User avatar
Death Proof
Posts: 1538
Joined: Wed Nov 22, 2017 2:14 pm
Location: South Jersey

Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2018

Post by Death Proof » Tue Dec 11, 2018 2:21 am

Wooley wrote: Honestly, Tak, unless you just want to experience intense outrage I would avoid this movie like the plague.
On the one hand, it's a pretty damn funny movie.
On the other, even someone like me, who grew up when this movie was considered an "instant-classic" comedy and none of the women in my world even blinked at the frequent sexual transgressions that can only be considered outright crimes by today's standards, including my mother who thought it was hilarious, cannot watch this film anymore. It is that troubling.
What you've heard is correct and it's just really not watchable anymore. In a time when people seemed to not understand how horrifying not only the behavior itself was, but condoning it for entertainment pleasure and flat out laughing about it, it didn't seem to occur to many people: these were the Good Guys and they were getting the girl as they should and the rest was harmless fun. So we laughed and thought the movie was great (even my mom). With a few decades of better understanding, all the fun that is in the movie is just so outweighed by how ugly so much of it is, I really can't watch it anymore. Most of my friends, men in their mid-40s, agree and wonder what we or anyone else were thinking.
All that said, everything Thief says positive about the film is true. It's very funny and some of it is iconic. It's just not forgivable.

Meh, I'm still a fan. Guess it helps that I grew up with it. I agree that Louis dressing up as Stan and having magical sex with the girlfriend to win her over is too much, but after what the nerds endured I never had a problem with the other aspects of their revenge. I think reading too much into the movie is the worst thing you can do.

Shepherds we shall be, for thee, my Lord, for thee.
Power hath descended forth from Thy hand, our feet may swiftly carry out Thy commands.
So we shall flow a river forth to Thee and teeming with souls shall it ever be.
In Nomeni Patri Et Fili Spiritus Sancti.
User avatar
Thief
Posts: 1676
Joined: Sat Nov 25, 2017 10:20 pm
Location: Puerto Rico
Contact:

Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2018

Post by Thief » Tue Dec 11, 2018 2:48 am

I think that most of the pranks, though harsh, could be considered "fair" in a juvenile, quid-pro-quo sense. I mean, the cheerleaders were as much in "the game" as the jocks. They lure Lewis and Gilbert to that fake initiation with the jocks, then jocks and girls also throw a brick at the nerds window and choke them out at the Greek Council, pretty much leaving them with no legal resource to defend themselves. Finally, the girls trick the nerds into thinking they'll attend their party only to leave them hanging, and then help the jocks sneak a bunch of pigs into their party.

Up to this point, the nerds never did anything against the jocks/girls. But after all this, they decide to get back at both groups: the girls with the "panty raid" and camera thing, and the boys with the "liquid heat" thing. Still, they find themselves choked out at the Greek Council since the jocks control it, so they set out to win the Homecoming Carnival which, like I said, did mostly through their wits and cleverness.

To be honest, the only thing I find really reprehensible is the Lewis/Betty thing. The camera thing might be walking a fine line, but the same can be said about the girls deceiving the nerds multiple times, and being complicit in the jocks bullying and threatening the nerds.
--- UNDER CONSTRUCTION ---
User avatar
Death Proof
Posts: 1538
Joined: Wed Nov 22, 2017 2:14 pm
Location: South Jersey

Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2018

Post by Death Proof » Tue Dec 11, 2018 2:55 am

Thief wrote:I think that most of the pranks, though harsh, could be considered "fair" in a juvenile, quid-pro-quo sense. I mean, the cheerleaders were as much in "the game" as the jocks. They lure Lewis and Gilbert to that fake initiation with the jocks, then jocks and girls also throw a brick at the nerds window and choke them out at the Greek Council, pretty much leaving them with no legal resource to defend themselves. Finally, the girls trick the nerds into thinking they'll attend their party only to leave them hanging, and then help the jocks sneak a bunch of pigs into their party.

Up to this point, the nerds never did anything against the jocks/girls. But after all this, they decide to get back at both groups: the girls with the "panty raid" and camera thing, and the boys with the "liquid heat" thing. Still, they find themselves choked out at the Greek Council since the jocks control it, so they set out to win the Homecoming Carnival which, like I said, did mostly through their wits and cleverness.

To be honest, the only thing I find really reprehensible is the Lewis/Betty thing. The camera thing might be walking a fine line, but the same can be said about the girls deceiving the nerds multiple times, and being complicit in the jocks bullying and threatening the nerds.

Yes - we're in agreement.

Shepherds we shall be, for thee, my Lord, for thee.
Power hath descended forth from Thy hand, our feet may swiftly carry out Thy commands.
So we shall flow a river forth to Thee and teeming with souls shall it ever be.
In Nomeni Patri Et Fili Spiritus Sancti.
User avatar
Takoma1
Posts: 1922
Joined: Sat Nov 25, 2017 11:51 pm

Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2018

Post by Takoma1 » Tue Dec 11, 2018 3:43 am

I'm not sure that I'd morally equate ditching out on/ruining someone's party with spying on someone undressing without his/her consent. (And, if I'm reading the wiki summary correctly, print and distribute these nudes? As in do possible permanent and uncontrollable damage to someone's life?).

Frankly, the idea of regarding these two things as somehow being equal is kind of scary to me.

Also, I hadn't realized that he actively tricks the girl into sleeping with him--I'd always thought it was that he just happened to have the same costume as the other guy and just didn't speak up when she came on to him. So, yeah, actual rape.

It sounds like the film does what a lot of "nice" guys in real life do: namely treat women as both objects of desire and objects of contempt. It is the most off-putting side (from a gender/sexuality standpoint) of "nerd" culture.
User avatar
Wooley
Posts: 2189
Joined: Thu Nov 30, 2017 2:25 am

Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2018

Post by Wooley » Tue Dec 11, 2018 11:56 am

Death Proof wrote:

Meh, I'm still a fan. Guess it helps that I grew up with it. I agree that Louis dressing up as Stan and having magical sex with the girlfriend to win her over is too much, but after what the nerds endured I never had a problem with the other aspects of their revenge. I think reading too much into the movie is the worst thing you can do.
I hear ya, I grew up with it too and I loved it. Now, as a grown-up, there's just too much in this movie that's unacceptable. You don't have to read anything into it. There's a lot of sexual assault-like behavior including one straight-up rape. If that cheerleader was my daughter, Lewis would spend his life in prison. And having her fall in love with her rapist is just gross.
User avatar
Thief
Posts: 1676
Joined: Sat Nov 25, 2017 10:20 pm
Location: Puerto Rico
Contact:

Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2018

Post by Thief » Tue Dec 11, 2018 1:08 pm

Takoma1 wrote:I'm not sure that I'd morally equate ditching out on/ruining someone's party with spying on someone undressing without his/her consent. (And, if I'm reading the wiki summary correctly, print and distribute these nudes? As in do possible permanent and uncontrollable damage to someone's life?).

Frankly, the idea of regarding these two things as somehow being equal is kind of scary to me.

Also, I hadn't realized that he actively tricks the girl into sleeping with him--I'd always thought it was that he just happened to have the same costume as the other guy and just didn't speak up when she came on to him. So, yeah, actual rape.

It sounds like the film does what a lot of "nice" guys in real life do: namely treat women as both objects of desire and objects of contempt. It is the most off-putting side (from a gender/sexuality standpoint) of "nerd" culture.
I think there is a bit of too much over-analyzing a comedy here. I mean, at one point, a random guy gets thrown of the roof of a dorm room. Are we meant to wonder if he survived? if he had any bone fracture? permanent physical damage? If we were to measure any comedy that way, where would we stop? I mean, do we wonder about the permanent psychological damage on Dana Barron after being possessed by a supernatural entity?

I don't consider the sequence of events I mentioned before as necessarily "equal", but when you see the torture and humiliation the nerds are subjected to by both the jocks and the girls, as far as reactions from immature teenagers go, I consider the nerds response "fair". Is voyeurism something I condone? Of course not, but neither is violence, bullying, vandalism, trespassing, or psychological torture.

I do agree with your last point, and I mentioned it in my review, that the film does objectify women a lot. Along with the "rape" scene, it is my main gripe with the film nowadays.
--- UNDER CONSTRUCTION ---
User avatar
Thief
Posts: 1676
Joined: Sat Nov 25, 2017 10:20 pm
Location: Puerto Rico
Contact:

Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2018

Post by Thief » Tue Dec 11, 2018 2:12 pm

A film with the word "winter" in the title:


Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
"Whoever he used to be and the guy he is now, I don't think he's the kind you save. He's the kind you stop."
I didn't get into the MCU as early as most people. I had lukewarm reactions to most of their Phase One films, but Captain America: The First Avenger (and The Avengers, after it) were pleasant surprises. Considering the reviews the Cap films are getting, I was looking forward to this one. Captain America: The Winter Soldier picks up a few years after the first installment, and two years after The Avengers, with Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) trying to adapt to his new life. After a completing a mission with Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Rogers starts to question what his role is and how he fits within S.H.I.E.L.D.'s plans. Meanwhile, they have to deal with a series of attacks led by a mysterious figure referred to as the Winter Soldier.

Like I said above, as I've been working my way through the MCU, Captain America stood out as the best of the Phase One bunch. As I hit the middle-point of Phase 2, it seems that this one will end up as the favorite as well (or at least, slightly below Guardians of the Galaxy, which I've seen before). Directors Anthony and Joe Russo succeed in creating a film that's both action-packed, intriguing, and to a lesser extent, emotionally involving. Most of the action is neatly choreographed, starting with a tense encounter in an elevator and peaking with an excellent gun-fight down the streets of Washington, DC between Captain America, Black Widow, and Falcon, against the Winter Soldier and his men, which has echoes of Heat in it.

The performances are solid for the material given. Evans really fits the role, and although Johansson wasn't as interesting here as she was in Iron Man 2, she is good. Anthony Mackie (Falcon) is a pretty good addition, and so is Robert Redford as S.H.I.E.L.D. top executive Alexander Pierce. There are a bunch of supporting roles (Samuel L. Jackson, Frank Grillo, Cobie Smulders), but none sticks out in a bad way. The film does go a bit overboard in the last act, falling victim to the typical clichés of action films (race against time, everything is bigger, louder, too much explosions). Also, the overall plan of Hydra is a bit silly and ludicrous, but at the end of the day, it doesn't matter much.

I think they could've worked out more with the conflict between Captain America and the Winter Soldier, but I assume they're putting that in the backburner for the upcoming films. As it is, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a kick-ass action film that falls a bit overboard in its last act, but survives thanks to skilled direction, solid writing, and good performances from everyone involved.

Grade: A-
--- UNDER CONSTRUCTION ---
User avatar
Death Proof
Posts: 1538
Joined: Wed Nov 22, 2017 2:14 pm
Location: South Jersey

Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2018

Post by Death Proof » Tue Dec 11, 2018 2:52 pm

Wooley wrote: I hear ya, I grew up with it too and I loved it. Now, as a grown-up, there's just too much in this movie that's unacceptable. You don't have to read anything into it. There's a lot of sexual assault-like behavior including one straight-up rape. If that cheerleader was my daughter, Lewis would spend his life in prison. And having her fall in love with her rapist is just gross.

Although that does remind me of Deadtime Stories... which was a decent horror anthology up until the big retarded guy rapes the telekinetic Goldilocks and because he's got the giant dick of satisfaction, she suddenly falls in love with her rapist. If it wasn't for that scene I would have loved the movie.

Shepherds we shall be, for thee, my Lord, for thee.
Power hath descended forth from Thy hand, our feet may swiftly carry out Thy commands.
So we shall flow a river forth to Thee and teeming with souls shall it ever be.
In Nomeni Patri Et Fili Spiritus Sancti.
User avatar
Death Proof
Posts: 1538
Joined: Wed Nov 22, 2017 2:14 pm
Location: South Jersey

Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2018

Post by Death Proof » Tue Dec 11, 2018 2:53 pm

Thief wrote:A film with the word "winter" in the title:


Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)



I didn't get into the MCU as early as most people. I had lukewarm reactions to most of their Phase One films, but Captain America: The First Avenger (and The Avengers, after it) were pleasant surprises. Considering the reviews the Cap films are getting, I was looking forward to this one. Captain America: The Winter Soldier picks up a few years after the first installment, and two years after The Avengers, with Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) trying to adapt to his new life. After a completing a mission with Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Rogers starts to question what his role is and how he fits within S.H.I.E.L.D.'s plans. Meanwhile, they have to deal with a series of attacks led by a mysterious figure referred to as the Winter Soldier.

Like I said above, as I've been working my way through the MCU, Captain America stood out as the best of the Phase One bunch. As I hit the middle-point of Phase 2, it seems that this one will end up as the favorite as well (or at least, slightly below Guardians of the Galaxy, which I've seen before). Directors Anthony and Joe Russo succeed in creating a film that's both action-packed, intriguing, and to a lesser extent, emotionally involving. Most of the action is neatly choreographed, starting with a tense encounter in an elevator and peaking with an excellent gun-fight down the streets of Washington, DC between Captain America, Black Widow, and Falcon, against the Winter Soldier and his men, which has echoes of Heat in it.

The performances are solid for the material given. Evans really fits the role, and although Johansson wasn't as interesting here as she was in Iron Man 2, she is good. Anthony Mackie (Falcon) is a pretty good addition, and so is Robert Redford as S.H.I.E.L.D. top executive Alexander Pierce. There are a bunch of supporting roles (Samuel L. Jackson, Frank Grillo, Cobie Smulders), but none sticks out in a bad way. The film does go a bit overboard in the last act, falling victim to the typical clichés of action films (race against time, everything is bigger, louder, too much explosions). Also, the overall plan of Hydra is a bit silly and ludicrous, but at the end of the day, it doesn't matter much.

I think they could've worked out more with the conflict between Captain America and the Winter Soldier, but I assume they're putting that in the backburner for the upcoming films. As it is, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a kick-ass action film that falls a bit overboard in its last act, but survives thanks to skilled direction, solid writing, and good performances from everyone involved.

Grade: A-


One of their best. And Frank Grillo is a fucking boss.

Shepherds we shall be, for thee, my Lord, for thee.
Power hath descended forth from Thy hand, our feet may swiftly carry out Thy commands.
So we shall flow a river forth to Thee and teeming with souls shall it ever be.
In Nomeni Patri Et Fili Spiritus Sancti.
User avatar
Wooley
Posts: 2189
Joined: Thu Nov 30, 2017 2:25 am

Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2018

Post by Wooley » Tue Dec 11, 2018 3:22 pm

Thief wrote:A film with the word "winter" in the title:


Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)



I didn't get into the MCU as early as most people. I had lukewarm reactions to most of their Phase One films, but Captain America: The First Avenger (and The Avengers, after it) were pleasant surprises. Considering the reviews the Cap films are getting, I was looking forward to this one. Captain America: The Winter Soldier picks up a few years after the first installment, and two years after The Avengers, with Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) trying to adapt to his new life. After a completing a mission with Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Rogers starts to question what his role is and how he fits within S.H.I.E.L.D.'s plans. Meanwhile, they have to deal with a series of attacks led by a mysterious figure referred to as the Winter Soldier.

Like I said above, as I've been working my way through the MCU, Captain America stood out as the best of the Phase One bunch. As I hit the middle-point of Phase 2, it seems that this one will end up as the favorite as well (or at least, slightly below Guardians of the Galaxy, which I've seen before). Directors Anthony and Joe Russo succeed in creating a film that's both action-packed, intriguing, and to a lesser extent, emotionally involving. Most of the action is neatly choreographed, starting with a tense encounter in an elevator and peaking with an excellent gun-fight down the streets of Washington, DC between Captain America, Black Widow, and Falcon, against the Winter Soldier and his men, which has echoes of Heat in it.

The performances are solid for the material given. Evans really fits the role, and although Johansson wasn't as interesting here as she was in Iron Man 2, she is good. Anthony Mackie (Falcon) is a pretty good addition, and so is Robert Redford as S.H.I.E.L.D. top executive Alexander Pierce. There are a bunch of supporting roles (Samuel L. Jackson, Frank Grillo, Cobie Smulders), but none sticks out in a bad way. The film does go a bit overboard in the last act, falling victim to the typical clichés of action films (race against time, everything is bigger, louder, too much explosions). Also, the overall plan of Hydra is a bit silly and ludicrous, but at the end of the day, it doesn't matter much.

I think they could've worked out more with the conflict between Captain America and the Winter Soldier, but I assume they're putting that in the backburner for the upcoming films. As it is, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a kick-ass action film that falls a bit overboard in its last act, but survives thanks to skilled direction, solid writing, and good performances from everyone involved.

Grade: A-
On your left. :up:
User avatar
Popcorn Reviews
Posts: 1323
Joined: Tue Apr 18, 2017 7:22 pm
Location: Michigan

Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2018

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Tue Dec 11, 2018 6:02 pm

It took me a little while to warm up to Marvel as well, but The Winter Soldier is the first one which I considered myself to be a fan of. I've seen it 2 times so far and it held up pretty well for both of those times.
User avatar
Thief
Posts: 1676
Joined: Sat Nov 25, 2017 10:20 pm
Location: Puerto Rico
Contact:

Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2018

Post by Thief » Tue Dec 11, 2018 7:32 pm

A film with the words "Christmas" or "Holiday" in the title
A "Christmas" or "Holiday" film released before 1930:



The Insects' Christmas (1913)
"Even a one-inch insect has a five tenths of a soul."
Insects are typically seen as gross or disgusting creatures, especially when compared to other animals like dogs or cats. Most people either stay away from them or actively try to get rid of them. But not animator Wladyslaw Starewicz. Interested in entomology since a young age, Starewicz decided to show the world that insects, like the Japanese proverb above says, can have soul and charisma :D While working as Director of the Museum of Natural History in Kaunas, Lithuania, he started filming insects using stop-motion animation. This side-venture ended up becoming his main passion as Starewicz ended up directing dozens of short and feature films featuring insects and other animals.

The Insects' Christmas has a fairly simple premise. A Father Christmas ornament decides to climb down of his tree to have fun outside with his insect friends. As different creatures arrive, they decorate a small tree, they dance, and ski and have fun together. That simplicity alone is charming and endearing, especially for a holiday short film. What is most impressive is the quality of the animation. Even by today's standards, Starewicz cuts and transitions are, for the most part, smooth and seamless. The way he handles and moves the insects and other objects is unique.

There's not much else to say about the short, but being my first experience with Starewicz, I was really surprised by his talent and recommend anyone to check out this, or any other of his short films. You'll see that even a 10 minute short can have five tenths of a soul.

Grade: B
--- UNDER CONSTRUCTION ---
User avatar
Apex Predator
Posts: 833
Joined: Mon Dec 11, 2017 3:03 am

Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2018

Post by Apex Predator » Tue Dec 11, 2018 11:24 pm

Takoma1 wrote:Nothing I've read or heard about Revenge of the Nerds makes me want to watch it. Don't they also film women undressing without their knowledge?

I feel like the flip side to the toxic jock who thinks he has a right to any woman is the bitter nerd who thinks that he has a right to any woman by virtue of being a "good" guy (with the heavy implication that women don't actually know what they want). It's all unpleasant. To paraphrase Jenna Marbles, "You don't hear girls saying 'Nice girls finish last'."

I don't have anything against outsider/nerd narratives, but I think it's possible to do them without using the sexual conquest of women as a benchmark for success.
They do and if I recall correctly, that's used to get the images on the plates.

The 1980s were a different time...both in the type of comedy that played and in the attitudes and morals these films displayed.

Not everything is worth revisiting.
User avatar
Takoma1
Posts: 1922
Joined: Sat Nov 25, 2017 11:51 pm

Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2018

Post by Takoma1 » Tue Dec 11, 2018 11:48 pm

Thief wrote:I think there is a bit of too much over-analyzing a comedy here. I mean, at one point, a random guy gets thrown of the roof of a dorm room. Are we meant to wonder if he survived? if he had any bone fracture? permanent physical damage? If we were to measure any comedy that way, where would we stop? I mean, do we wonder about the permanent psychological damage on Dana Barron after being possessed by a supernatural entity?
I've never known anyone who was thrown off of a roof. I have never known anyone who was possessed by a fridge-dwelling demon.

But I have known women who were spied on without their knowledge. I've known women who have had personal and private photos distributed without their consent. I know a woman who went through an experience akin to a rape by deception and a man who was sexually assaulted in what started as a rape by deception and then turned into a full-on forced rape.

The idea of people laughing at this kind of behavior, justifying it, seeing it as something the protagonists had a right to do (don't angry men and women always think they're justified?), and ultimately continuing to enjoy a film where a woman falls in love with a man who commits four different sexually-based transgressions (stealing underwear, voyeurism, revenge porn, and rape) against her makes me feel kind of sick, frankly. These aren't side jokes--they are sort of central to the triumphant arc of the main character, right?

EDIT: And look, do I sometimes feel bad posting this stuff? Yes. I realize I'm crapping on a film that clearly some people really love. Honestly, I saw the original post and I was going to give this whole conversation a pass. But I really can't wrap my head around enjoying a film whose protagonist is a rapist. Like, how? It's the reason that I can never rewatch High Plains Drifter despite thinking it's otherwise one of the most interesting Westerns I've ever seen.
User avatar
Captain Terror
Posts: 1493
Joined: Wed Nov 22, 2017 12:06 pm
Location: New Orleans, LA

Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2018

Post by Captain Terror » Wed Dec 12, 2018 1:13 am

Thief wrote:being my first experience with Starewicz, I was really surprised by his talent
I don't expect you to remember this 10 months from now, but The Mascot is a fun one to watch in October.

Image
User avatar
Takoma1
Posts: 1922
Joined: Sat Nov 25, 2017 11:51 pm

Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2018

Post by Takoma1 » Wed Dec 12, 2018 2:59 am

A "Christmas" or "Holiday" animated film: Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tales

I've always been pretty so-so on the Peanuts gang, and this short was no exception. There are some sweet moments, and some funny moments, and a few jokes I just did not get. There's quite a bit of Peanuts stuff on Amazon right now, so if you're into it, there's plenty there.
User avatar
Takoma1
Posts: 1922
Joined: Sat Nov 25, 2017 11:51 pm

Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2018

Post by Takoma1 » Wed Dec 12, 2018 3:11 am

A foreign "Holiday" film: Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

I've heard buzz about this one for several years, and unfortunately for me it just didn't live up to expectations.

Two boys discover an exploration company is digging up something in the mountain, believing it to be Santa Claus. When the one boy's father goes to capture reindeer for the slaughter, they discover that the deer have all been massacred. The group of men decides to go to the company and demand payment (believing that the excavations drove wolves down to kill the deer). They find a strange old man who seems to get stronger and stronger as time goes on. Meanwhile, children are going missing.

This film felt really scattershot to me. The idea of the mountain being an ancient burial mound for an evil Santa-like figure was fun. The problem was that I didn't really connect to the main character. There are a few darkly funny moments, but also a lot of parts that felt more dumb.

I seem to remember a few people enjoying this one, so if you're one of those who liked it, I'd enjoy hearing why.
User avatar
Thief
Posts: 1676
Joined: Sat Nov 25, 2017 10:20 pm
Location: Puerto Rico
Contact:

Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2018

Post by Thief » Wed Dec 12, 2018 3:37 am

Takoma1 wrote: I've never known anyone who was thrown off of a roof. I have never known anyone who was possessed by a fridge-dwelling demon.

But I have known women who were spied on without their knowledge. I've known women who have had personal and private photos distributed without their consent. I know a woman who went through an experience akin to a rape by deception and a man who was sexually assaulted in what started as a rape by deception and then turned into a full-on forced rape.

The idea of people laughing at this kind of behavior, justifying it, seeing it as something the protagonists had a right to do (don't angry men and women always think they're justified?), and ultimately continuing to enjoy a film where a woman falls in love with a man who commits four different sexually-based transgressions (stealing underwear, voyeurism, revenge porn, and rape) against her makes me feel kind of sick, frankly. These aren't side jokes--they are sort of central to the triumphant arc of the main character, right?

EDIT: And look, do I sometimes feel bad posting this stuff? Yes. I realize I'm crapping on a film that clearly some people really love. Honestly, I saw the original post and I was going to give this whole conversation a pass. But I really can't wrap my head around enjoying a film whose protagonist is a rapist. Like, how? It's the reason that I can never rewatch High Plains Drifter despite thinking it's otherwise one of the most interesting Westerns I've ever seen.
Well, I apologize if my previous post was a bit flippant.

As several people have said, I grew up watching this, and catching it after years of not seeing it, it really took me back. Maybe it's that nostalgia that's making me gloss over some of the more "questionable" stuff on the film.

But anyway, to sum it up, I do acknowledge that the film has a lot of "problematic" stuff in it, and I said so in my initial review. I don't think it's that "central" to the main plot of the film since I think there's more to it than the "problematic" stuff, both in terms of overall plot and jokes/gags... but yeah, I understand and respect your anger and disdain for it.
--- UNDER CONSTRUCTION ---
User avatar
crumbsroom
Posts: 1993
Joined: Sat Nov 25, 2017 3:15 am

Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2018

Post by crumbsroom » Wed Dec 12, 2018 3:55 am

Takoma1 wrote:But I really can't wrap my head around enjoying a film whose protagonist is a rapist. Like, how?
First of all, my feeling towards the sins of films like Revenge of the Nerds or the similarly problematic 16 Candles, are that these are considerably more egregious and damaging than even the most vile of exploitation films. While scenes of rape in an exploitation film may feed a certain fraction of its audiences baked in misogyny (those who I feel are probably are already a lost cause morally), RotN's treatment of women through the way it is presented, can be accepted, overlooked and even at times championed by audience members who normally would reject such scenes in films which are more explicit. That's the benefit of explicitness. It telegraph's its vileness to the audience. Even if we have come to watch an ugly movie, and be provoked by ugly acts, we shun the behavior when we see it shown to us in gruesome detail and instinctively know it is wrong because of this. We are allowed to feel the ugliness first hand. RotN's, as you've stated, basically weaves its rape into the heroic arc of its main protagonist. It's a problem. Especially when you consider how invisible the in your face rapiness of the scene was for many years. Lewis is presented as a good guy. She didn't technically say no. She's also kind of a bitch. Therefore it can't be rape. It is these moments in film and culture which muddies the water for so many people to actually know how to define what rape is when they see it. Right in their face. Staring at them.

That being said, there are many ways to still enjoy a film like Revenge of the Nerds and still hold it accountable.

1) Compartmentalizing. One can watch a movie, have serious problems with its message or morality, and see beyond this. While I can discuss the serious ramifications of what Lewis does in this film, I can also see around this to what else it offers. If I put mute on my feelings about the rape scene, dismiss it as a serious sin of the time the film was made, but move along, I can see Revenge of the Nerds as an affecting story of acceptance and friendship. Does that scene (as well as the others) mar this experience. Sure. But not to the point where I no longer see its virtues. Not to beat a tired example to death, but I don't necessarily need to consider the racism of Birth of a Nation to acknowledge its technical innovations. And be moved or impressed by those. I can talk about the rejuvination of the KKK in a separate conversation.

2) As a person who does not necessarily invest myself in narratives of character arcs, if something unsatisfactory happens here, I can move along. There are also a half dozen other characters in the film who don't sink to the depths of Lewis, and if I need other characters to champion once everything is said and done, they are there for me to choose from.

3) As problematic as the rape scene is (specifically for its emotional invisibility, since Betty at no point really seems to consider what has happend to her as a bad thing), there is therefore little emotional investment in the heinousness of the act once it happens. There is no trauma. There is immediate forgiveness. The movie moves along. This of course doesn't mean it isn't there, or that it shouldn't be discussed (it actually probably always should be whenever the movie is brought up). But the criminality of it has no visible consequences. While this is the nature of why I think it is worrying, it can allow one to react to it in a way that doesn't demands serious reflection on what is happening on screen.

4) Art doesn't have to be a moral barometer. What I watch or enjoy does not reflect my personal beliefs. Having a negative emotional reaction to the ideas of a film, doesn't neccesiate me feeling negatively towards it. I think vigilantism is a morally repugnant thing as well, and yet I have absolutely no qualms with Taxi Driver, Dirty Harry or half of the work of Tarantino. My belief system and what I tout as great or good or mediore art are almost always entirely separate. And just because RotN is just ultimately a silly 80's comedy, doesn't mean I can't also give it a pass because it isn't a more established piece of high art.

Now, it's more than understandable for anyone to abandon their fandom of this movie once they realize what is up, or to be disgusted by the very nature of it before they even see it. And it makes sense to equate the shrug many give this movie in regards to its misogyny to the general shrug society has given it since the birth of time and find that infuriating. But there are just so many ways people watch, process and think about movies, that I don't think there is any reason to get too bothered over why someone can appreciate something that absolutely enrages someone else.
User avatar
Takoma1
Posts: 1922
Joined: Sat Nov 25, 2017 11:51 pm

Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2018

Post by Takoma1 » Wed Dec 12, 2018 4:44 am

Well, I fully admit in these kinds of conversations that compartmentalization isn't something I can do. I would love, for example, to be able to ignore the repugnant sexual politics of High Plains Drifter (which is like, what, 5% of the film?) and enjoy the other 95%. But I just can't.

There is no trauma from the rape, acknowledgement of what it really is, and there's immediate forgiveness because a dude wrote the scene that way. And knowing that would keep me from being able to be like "Oh, well, if she's not bothered . . ."

I agree that art isn't a moral barometer, but by the same token I think that it is very easy for our relationship to art (and specifically the real actions it portrays) to spill over into real life. To say that it's okay for someone to photograph someone nude (and spread those images around) out of anger hews far too close to stuff that people actually do in real life, and with similar justification. The fact that these actions are softened by the genre (comedy, not Lifetime movie) doesn't necessarily mitigate the damage that it can do in real life when people get in the habit of thinking this way.

I'm just saying that I can't imagine watching a film, knowing that a main character is going to rape someone in the next thirty minutes, and still be entertained. I literally do not understand the mental/emotional mechanics that would allow such a thing. I believe you when you say it works in your head, as it clearly does for others here, but it is beyond me. Like, I'm trying to think of a character in a film who is meant to be a celebrated protagonist who does something I think is morally wrong and I just can't.
User avatar
crumbsroom
Posts: 1993
Joined: Sat Nov 25, 2017 3:15 am

Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2018

Post by crumbsroom » Wed Dec 12, 2018 11:43 pm

Takoma1 wrote:I agree that art isn't a moral barometer, but by the same token I think that it is very easy for our relationship to art (and specifically the real actions it portrays) to spill over into real life. To say that it's okay for someone to photograph someone nude (and spread those images around) out of anger hews far too close to stuff that people actually do in real life, and with similar justification. The fact that these actions are softened by the genre (comedy, not Lifetime movie) doesn't necessarily mitigate the damage that it can do in real life when people get in the habit of thinking this way.
I completely agree. And I think these more insidious examples can definitely help/hinder the way men and women define how they interact, what's appropriate, what's criminal etc. The fact that I didn't 'see' the rape in Nerds until I was well into my twenties says a tremendous amount about how I thought of these things. How is it possible that what he does didn't raise any red flags in me the first ten times I watched the movie. I knew what he was doing was 'sneaky', but the notion that what it was was an overt rape didn't even remotely occur to me. To come to that revelation so late into the game was shocking for me. I didn't understand how I'd never even questioned it. Ultimately, it just made me wonder how many more transgressions in culture happen all the time that just pass me (and others) by because we simply start accepting them as acceptable behavior, since we watch them without reflex in films. Because of this, the movie absolutely has to be called out, over and over again, pretty much in perpetuity. It can't slip back into a place where what happens doesn't register because Lewis is 'a nice guy' or because she doesn't struggle, or because there is no damage because of the way it was written.
Takoma1 wrote:I'm just saying that I can't imagine watching a film, knowing that a main character is going to rape someone in the next thirty minutes, and still be entertained. I literally do not understand the mental/emotional mechanics that would allow such a thing. I believe you when you say it works in your head, as it clearly does for others here, but it is beyond me. Like, I'm trying to think of a character in a film who is meant to be a celebrated protagonist who does something I think is morally wrong and I just can't.
While I understand your reaction in theory (it obviously makes sense), since I look at films more as a specimen that I am observing, finding myself drawn in by how curious its behavior it is, if a protagonist suddenly behaves in ways I find deplorable, I just adjust to this bit of new information and mull it over. No harm, no foul. It might disturb me, but it doesn't push away my enjoyment of just sitting and watching the movie even in the slightest. Of course, there are times where I might relate to a character, and I'm becoming personally invested in the narrative arc of the film and the characters journey, which is always a bonus. But in such a situation, if I'm suddenly thrown for a loop where I can't abide but what I am seeing this character I once had a kinship with doing, then I simply shrug and say "well, I guess I'm not on board this movie in that way anymore". And it's all kind of a big whatever to me. I just let myself go with the ebbs and flows of a film. Not every film has to resonate with me on a personal or even emotional level, and I think allows me a buffer for those movies that have the sort of hurdles in them that you seem to have difficulty with.

I honestly can think of only one movie where the behavior of the protagonists stuck out as a serious issue for me: In the Company of Men. When people ask me about that one, my response is usually 'man, I hated those fuckers and I hated that movie". But the reality is, I probably just didn't like much of what the movie was giving me in the first place, which then in turn, made Aaron Eckhart and company absolutely unbearable to deal with. If I liked the movie, I probably could have tolerated them considerably more.
User avatar
Takoma1
Posts: 1922
Joined: Sat Nov 25, 2017 11:51 pm

Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2018

Post by Takoma1 » Thu Dec 13, 2018 1:40 am

A "Christmas" or "Holiday" horror film: Krampus the Christmas Devil

Just as I could not resist the 7.9/10 rating on Christmas Time, I could not resist the lure of this film's 1.7/10 rating on IMDb.

I mean, a 1.7?!

At times, this film is delightfully bad. At others, it gives into a laziness that does not amuse.

The film follows a police detective who carries with him the memory of being kidnapped and dropped into a freezing pond by a mysterious figure. When a new spate of child disappearances hits the town, the detective and his associates try to track down the perpetrator who may be otherworldly. At the same time, a gangsterish child-rapist sent away to prison by the detective has been released.

This film is a glorious kind of awful. Krampus is portrayed as a monster working side-by-side with a foul-mouthed (but morally picky) Santa Claus. Their relationship, like everything else in the film, it poorly defined and raises more questions than it answers. Everything from the action scenes to the acting is saturated in visible low-budgetness and, worse, incompetence. Characters make decisions and say things that are incomprehensible. About an hour after two of a man's friends are killed, another character tells him earnestly, "You've got to get over this." Despite a vicious sex predator being actively out to get him, the main character spends hours in a bar while his wife and daughter are at home with no alarm system, apparently no knowledge of this killer (because they open the door to him with no questions), and a complete lack of a sense of self-preservation.

The only drawback to the film is the icky inclusion of "bring in the pervs" exploitation elements that undermine the bottom-of-the-barrel fun of it all. For no reason at all, Krampus has a topless adult women chained to a wall and we watch an overly long scene of him just fondling her before Santa Claus enters and lets her go. And yet later Santa Claus says he knows that Krampus doesn't like having to hurt girls. What? There's also a lot of will-they-won't-they about the child rapist and his crew holding the wife and young daughter hostage.

I guess my only other complaint, though it's totally in line with what you'd expect from the film, is that I did not understand the ending. AT ALL. Literally the credits rolled and I was like, "What?!".

This film is "recommended", if you know what I mean.
User avatar
Thief
Posts: 1676
Joined: Sat Nov 25, 2017 10:20 pm
Location: Puerto Rico
Contact:

Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2018

Post by Thief » Thu Dec 13, 2018 2:26 am

Wow, I just saw there are about a dozen of Krampus films that have been released in the 2010s alone.
--- UNDER CONSTRUCTION ---
User avatar
Takoma1
Posts: 1922
Joined: Sat Nov 25, 2017 11:51 pm

Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2018

Post by Takoma1 » Thu Dec 13, 2018 2:52 am

crumbsroom wrote:I look at films more as a specimen that I am observing, finding myself drawn in by how curious its behavior it is . . .

if I'm suddenly thrown for a loop where I can't abide but what I am seeing this character I once had a kinship with doing, then I simply shrug and say "well, I guess I'm not on board this movie in that way anymore". And it's all kind of a big whatever to me. I just let myself go with the ebbs and flows of a film. Not every film has to resonate with me on a personal or even emotional level, and I think allows me a buffer for those movies that have the sort of hurdles in them that you seem to have difficulty with.
I know that we differ in this regard. I watch films primarily for the emotional/personal/thematic connections that I have to the story and its characters.

But I guess that where I'm still stuck is the idea of realizing that a film is promoting a rapist as a "hero"/protagonist and not reacting negatively to that beyond just the isolated moment of transgression. I can sort of understand this sense of detachment in a film like Birth of a Nation because, these days, I think that most viewers go into the film wanting only to appreciate its technical elements and not, you know, its overtly racist propaganda.

I get that you're saying that you can jettison an emotional connection to a film and kind of roll on, but that's just not my style and I still can't quite imagine thinking "Oh, he's a rapist. I guess I don't like him anymore. Oh, hey, that was a funny joke."

I'm not saying I don't believe you, or that it's the "wrong" way to watch movies. But it is just totally beyond my scope of understanding.
Thief wrote:Wow, I just saw there are about a dozen of Krampus films that have been released in the 2010s alone.
At least one of them is a sequel to the film I watched. Yes, it got a sequel.
User avatar
Apex Predator
Posts: 833
Joined: Mon Dec 11, 2017 3:03 am

Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2018

Post by Apex Predator » Thu Dec 13, 2018 3:11 am

Takoma1 wrote:A foreign "Holiday" film: Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

I've heard buzz about this one for several years, and unfortunately for me it just didn't live up to expectations.

Two boys discover an exploration company is digging up something in the mountain, believing it to be Santa Claus. When the one boy's father goes to capture reindeer for the slaughter, they discover that the deer have all been massacred. The group of men decides to go to the company and demand payment (believing that the excavations drove wolves down to kill the deer). They find a strange old man who seems to get stronger and stronger as time goes on. Meanwhile, children are going missing.

This film felt really scattershot to me. The idea of the mountain being an ancient burial mound for an evil Santa-like figure was fun. The problem was that I didn't really connect to the main character. There are a few darkly funny moments, but also a lot of parts that felt more dumb.

I seem to remember a few people enjoying this one, so if you're one of those who liked it, I'd enjoy hearing why.
It's bracing like a nice glass of whiskey on a winter night. I enjoyed the dark and twisted tale right down to its ending.

Meanwhile, I've seen possibly one of the worst Christmas movies in recent memory. And it has a connection to a certain activity that I participated in this summer.
User avatar
Stu
Posts: 25116
Joined: Sat Feb 20, 2010 6:49 am

Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2018

Post by Stu » Thu Dec 13, 2018 3:24 am

Thief wrote:Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

Anthony and Joe Russo succeed in creating a film that's both action-packed, intriguing, and to a lesser extent, emotionally involving.

I think they could've worked out more with the conflict between Captain America and the Winter Soldier, but I assume they're putting that in the backburner for the upcoming films. As it is, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a kick-ass action film that falls a bit overboard in its last act, but survives thanks to skilled direction, solid writing, and good performances from everyone involved.

Grade: A-
When it comes to Winter Soldier, I wasn't really a big fan of it; I do appreciate the way Russo Bros. differed from what was the typical MCU formua at the time by creating what was essentially a Robert Redford-style 70's conspiracy thriller (with Robert Redford!) crossed with a gritty, unapologetically balls-to-the-wall urban action movie, where the fights look like they actually hurt (unlike in most superhero movies), and some of the action scenes in it are some of the best I've ever seen in any film, period, but most of the stuff outside of the carnage, while certainly not bad, just didn't have nearly the same level of effort put into them (the scene where
Cap visited an ailing Peggy
made me feel so much less than it was supposed to). I never cared that much about the story or the characters, both of which seemed to be just developed enough to meet the level of being an adequate excuse for a ton of fighting & shooting, i.e. the material the Russos were really interested in. So, not a bad movie, but I was definitely more into Civil War, which, while the action in that one wasn't quite as impressive overall (the centerpiece airport fight had too much of the typical weightless, CGI-powered fakery that so often dominates the genre), I was still much more engaged by that film as a whole, a tradeoff I'll live with any day; here's hoping you like it too when you get around to it, Thief!
Last Movie Seen:
John Wick Chapter 3: 8

Recently Reviewed
User avatar
Takoma1
Posts: 1922
Joined: Sat Nov 25, 2017 11:51 pm

Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2018

Post by Takoma1 » Thu Dec 13, 2018 4:30 am

Winter Soldier is far and away my favorite of the Marvel films, and probably because I find it to have the richest emotional depth and an appealing degree of messiness. A lot of relationships in these films are quickly sketched with a scene or two, but the friendship between Steve and Bucky has a stand-out degree of warmth to it that just puts some sense of consequence into a universe where I often find it hard to care about the stakes. Also, a male friendship driven largely by empathy and love is a nice departure from male relationships that are all about men and their troubled relationships with their dads (see . . . Guardians of the Galaxy, Black Panther, Iron Man . . . ).

Also, like three different times I have seen Sebastian Stan and thought, "Whoa--who is that? He looks so familiar?!". I never recognize him and I'm usually really good with faces.

Finally, Captain America's arms while he's holding the helicopter is what I think about when I do bench presses. (Yeah, I know bench presses are pushes and the helicopter thing is a pull.)
User avatar
Rock
Posts: 1618
Joined: Wed Aug 21, 2013 12:48 am
Location: From beyond the moon

Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2018

Post by Rock » Thu Dec 13, 2018 4:40 am

The key thing for me is how it's able to frame the conflict in terms of its hero's values. A lot of these movies have stakes on a similar (or even greater) scale, but this one goes to a lot of effort to show you what it means to Captain America. (Civil War does a similar, arguably trickier thing, in pitting the values of its heroes against each other, even though I don't find the movie quite as well put together on the whole.) Also, having Robert Redford doesn't hurt.
"We're outgunned and undermanned. But you know somethin'? We're gonna win. You know why? Superior attitude. Superior state of mind." - Mason Storm
____
Blog!
User avatar
Jinnistan
Posts: 2444
Joined: Tue Mar 17, 2015 5:47 pm

Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2018

Post by Jinnistan » Thu Dec 13, 2018 5:28 am

crumbsroom wrote:I honestly can think of only one movie where the behavior of the protagonists stuck out as a serious issue for me: In the Company of Men.
I enjoyed the movie (it is very dark and mean however), but what's funny is that it never occurred to me to think of those guys as "protagonists" in the sense that I was supposed to identify or empathize with them. I mean, any more that I would consider Brando in Paris as a protagonist as a vicarious audience surrogate. But I think that the disconnect is that I don't feel that a film necessarily needs a protagonist, and I'm aware that the vast majority of people do.

I will say that, for me, I've had my moral struggles with a certain kind of post-9/11 action film where the protagonist (clearly framed as such) will engage in immoral cruelty such as torture. Films like Man on Fire and Taken come to mind pretty easily. Or where a protagonist (again, with absolutely no ambiguity that we're supposed to root for them) engages in other kinds of casual violence usually of maximally juvenile sort (Wanted, Kick Ass, Kingsmen). I think that as long as the film allows for the ambiguity for whether or not we're supposed to question the characters' motives and morals, it's much easier to detach than with characters that are accompanied with unironic metal guitars and pom poms.
User avatar
Takoma1
Posts: 1922
Joined: Sat Nov 25, 2017 11:51 pm

Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2018

Post by Takoma1 » Thu Dec 13, 2018 2:04 pm

Jinnistan wrote:I think that as long as the film allows for the ambiguity for whether or not we're supposed to question the characters' motives and morals, it's much easier to detach than with characters that are accompanied with unironic metal guitars and pom poms.
Right. I don't need every protagonist to be a morally impeachable Mary Sue. But if a character is acting immorally, I would hope that the film would display some awareness of that (and in good films, the character's immoral actions often drive the narrative).

I also didn't think that either of the guys in The Company of Men were protagonists--one deserved nothing but contempt and the other a mix of mild pity and more contempt. The female lead isn't developed enough to really be a protagonist so much as a victim of the two male leads. But at least in that film, the movie knows that the guys are awful and doesn't let the one guy off of the hook just because he had mixed feelings about the horrible things they did to that woman. The final shot of him
trying to plead his case as she removes her hearing aides and takes away his voice is a powerful statement about the fact that he does not deserve to be heard
.
User avatar
Takoma1
Posts: 1922
Joined: Sat Nov 25, 2017 11:51 pm

Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2018

Post by Takoma1 » Thu Dec 13, 2018 3:17 pm

A "Christmas" or "Holiday" film with a minority lead cast: The Holiday Calendar

This was a fun, light romantic comedy, marred a bit by some shaky writing at times but buoyed by a game cast.

The film follows a woman named Abby, an aspiring photographer who is stuck taking Santa photos at a Christmas village. Abby's grandfather gives her a Christmas calendar that belonged to her grandmother. Every morning, a door on the calendar opens, revealing a small toy that seems to predict what will happen to Abby that day. A love triangle ensues as Abby begins to fall for a charming doctor, Ty, while Abby's co-worker, Josh, pines after her.

This was overall an appealing narrative. Unlike most films where a woman has to pick between two men, there isn't an obvious jerk that makes you wonder "Why is she even interested in him?!". Ty is a doctor who has amicably separated from his wife and helps to raise his daughter. He has a drop-dead sexy voice and a penchant for intriguing and elaborate dates. Josh is a talented photographer who clearly adores Abby and believes in her talents.

Overall the acting is pretty good, with the actor playing Josh being the weakest in the bunch. Still, Josh's main purpose is to be kind and a good guy, and the actor gives off plenty of those vibes. Kat Graham makes for an engaging lead, which makes it easier to deal with some of Abby's silly decisions.

The main downside to this film is that the central premise does come off as a little silly. The predictions from the calendar are pretty vague. Like, Abby will pull out a figure of a wreath. And then later something will happen near a wreath and Abby will be like "OMG!! Psychic calendar!!!!!!". But the problems is that it is Christmas time, and so there are wreaths, candy canes, trees, snow, etc in pretty much every scene.

Then there's some spotty writing at times, in particular the arguments that Abby has with both Ty and Josh. In one scene, Ty says (not even that judgementally) "It seems like the calendar is a self-fulfilling prophecy" and compares it to reading a horoscope. And he's right!! But Abby takes indifference at this, despite the fact that like three other characters have had the same reaction. Later, an argument between Abby and Josh seems overly fabricated, and their reactions just don't make sense with what we've seen from the characters up to that point. The conflict between the characters is necessary, but I feel like they could have written arguments that made more sense and didn't make their characters seem kind of foolish.

It is nice to see a comedy with a casually diverse cast, and one in which race is not at all a plot element.
User avatar
Takoma1
Posts: 1922
Joined: Sat Nov 25, 2017 11:51 pm

Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2018

Post by Takoma1 » Thu Dec 13, 2018 3:27 pm

A film about the Nativity, or featuring characters from it (Jesus, Mary, the Magi): Brightest Night

This is a short film from 1952, a mix of live action and stop-motion in which a mother tells her children the story of the nativity as the family decorates their Christmas tree.

Okay, honestly I was thinking that this might be a hot mess or enjoyably dated and goofy. Now, it does star the Whitest People Ever (is there a sweater vest? Hell yeah!), but this was actually a pretty straight-forward little film. If I had young children and wanted them to see the story of the nativity, this would be a good way to do it. The film uses stop-motion (very limited, more like still frames) of nativity figurines to tell the story. The film is meant for children, and the narration is very calm and soothing.

This film does not credit its actors, and seems to have really been a production created by one guy for his church. Despite these low-budget trimmings, the film looks just fine and the acting (even from the kids) is pretty naturalistic.

Again: the audience for this is pretty specific: people with kids who want to learn about the nativity. But for that audience I think it's a solid effort.
User avatar
Takoma1
Posts: 1922
Joined: Sat Nov 25, 2017 11:51 pm

Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2018

Post by Takoma1 » Thu Dec 13, 2018 3:58 pm

(I am home sick. So brace yourselves, ya'll)

A "Christmas" or "Holiday" film released before 1930: Big Business (1929)

This is a Laurel and Hardy film about two Christmas tree salesmen who get into a war of quickly escalating destruction with a grumpy man.

I have a mixed relationship with silent films. Too often they feature racism, sexism, or cruelty towards animals that makes it hard for me to engage with them.

This one, though, was hilarious. What starts with minor vandalism like prying the man's house numbers off of his house or (maybe my favorite moment) trimming a small lock of hair off of his mostly bald head, turns rapidly to more serious acts of destruction.

There's just so much to like about this short. Every act of aggression from the homeowner is followed by a calm, conspiratorial nod between Laurel and Hardy. They are affected only momentarily before their minds turn to revenge. As things get more intense, a crowd gathers, but they are so taken aback by the sight of the two men destroying a home while the homeowner destroys their car, that they can do nothing but watch.

There may even be a sneaky message here about how the men become so fixated on hurting one another that at a certain point they aren't even aware of each other or acknowledging each other.

Free on Prime and highly recommended.
User avatar
Thief
Posts: 1676
Joined: Sat Nov 25, 2017 10:20 pm
Location: Puerto Rico
Contact:

Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2018

Post by Thief » Thu Dec 13, 2018 4:59 pm

Stu wrote:When it comes to Winter Soldier, I wasn't really a big fan of it; I do appreciate the way Russo Bros. differed from what was the typical MCU formua at the time by creating what was essentially a Robert Redford-style 70's conspiracy thriller (with Robert Redford!) crossed with a gritty, unapologetically balls-to-the-wall urban action movie, where the fights look like they actually hurt (unlike in most superhero movies), and some of the action scenes in it are some of the best I've ever seen in any film, period, but most of the stuff outside of the carnage, while certainly not bad, just didn't have nearly the same level of effort put into them (the scene where
Cap visited an ailing Peggy
made me feel so much less than it was supposed to). I never cared that much about the story or the characters, both of which seemed to be just developed enough to meet the level of being an adequate excuse for a ton of fighting & shooting, i.e. the material the Russos were really interested in. So, not a bad movie, but I was definitely more into Civil War, which, while the action in that one wasn't quite as impressive overall (the centerpiece airport fight had too much of the typical weightless, CGI-powered fakery that so often dominates the genre), I was still much more engaged by that film as a whole, a tradeoff I'll live with any day; here's hoping you like it too when you get around to it, Thief!
I agree that...
the Peggy Carter scene felt a bit tacked on as if to give a certain closure to that character while also tying it in some way to VanCamp's character, even if it's only by having them both on the same film. I was a bit disappointed by that cause I think Carter was the character I enjoyed the most from The First Avenger.
As for the film overall, the truth is that when you break it down to pieces, one can say it's a "pit-stop" film, as in one that's meant to set up things for future films (Bucky is on the loose, Hydra's still alive, SHIELD is disbanded). But despite of this, I feel that in terms of establishing those plot points, it succeeded. I like your description of the fights as "balls-to-the-wall urban action", cause that's how it felt: real. And, like Takoma said, the emotional investment between Steve and Bucky is there, while also developing strong relationships between Steve/Natasha, and most notably Steve/Sam. I really liked how they developed those characters, and the performances are all a plus.

I really didn't care about Hydra's overall plan (targeting citizens based on future projections? meh), but I liked the overall idea of SHIELD being infiltrated. The whole disbandment of SHIELD has even made me consider if I should check out Agents of SHIELD just to see how they develop that.
--- UNDER CONSTRUCTION ---
User avatar
Apex Predator
Posts: 833
Joined: Mon Dec 11, 2017 3:03 am

Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2018

Post by Apex Predator » Thu Dec 13, 2018 5:52 pm

Rock wrote:The key thing for me is how it's able to frame the conflict in terms of its hero's values. A lot of these movies have stakes on a similar (or even greater) scale, but this one goes to a lot of effort to show you what it means to Captain America. (Civil War does a similar, arguably trickier thing, in pitting the values of its heroes against each other, even though I don't find the movie quite as well put together on the whole.) Also, having Robert Redford doesn't hurt.
And it doesn't hurt that it has a couple of nifty set/fight pieces and full commitment from its actors right down to Robert Redford's last line.
User avatar
Captain Terror
Posts: 1493
Joined: Wed Nov 22, 2017 12:06 pm
Location: New Orleans, LA

Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2018

Post by Captain Terror » Thu Dec 13, 2018 6:20 pm

Takoma1 wrote:(I am home sick. So brace yourselves, ya'll)

A "Christmas" or "Holiday" film released before 1930: Big Business (1929)

This is a Laurel and Hardy film about two Christmas tree salesmen who get into a war of quickly escalating destruction with a grumpy man.

I have a mixed relationship with silent films. Too often they feature racism, sexism, or cruelty towards animals that makes it hard for me to engage with them.

This one, though, was hilarious. What starts with minor vandalism like prying the man's house numbers off of his house or (maybe my favorite moment) trimming a small lock of hair off of his mostly bald head, turns rapidly to more serious acts of destruction.

There's just so much to like about this short. Every act of aggression from the homeowner is followed by a calm, conspiratorial nod between Laurel and Hardy. They are affected only momentarily before their minds turn to revenge. As things get more intense, a crowd gathers, but they are so taken aback by the sight of the two men destroying a home while the homeowner destroys their car, that they can do nothing but watch.

There may even be a sneaky message here about how the men become so fixated on hurting one another that at a certain point they aren't even aware of each other or acknowledging each other.

Free on Prime and highly recommended.
One of my favorites. Two Tars, Tit For Tat and Them Thar Hills are some others that feature the back-and-forth revenge thing, if you're inclined to look for more. The latter two are talkies.

They're far and away my favorite classic comedy team; I practically consider them beloved family members at this point. (I'm taking my mom to see the Stan & Ollie biopic whenever it's released and fully expect both of us to be a puddle of tears by the end.) Given your reservations about silent films, I recommend seeking out more of their stuff as it's generally pretty good-natured. I'd say the closest they ever get to sexism would be the old henpecked husband thing, but even then their mishaps are usually their fault, with the wife proven to be the sensible one in the end.
User avatar
Apex Predator
Posts: 833
Joined: Mon Dec 11, 2017 3:03 am

Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2018

Post by Apex Predator » Thu Dec 13, 2018 6:28 pm

I'm going to try to move through these Christmas films fast...

A Christmas Carol (2015)
Watch a Christmas film based on a story or play
Watch a version of A Christmas Carol
Watch a film with the words Christmas or Holiday in the title


This past summer, I got the golden opportunity to watch the original Doctor Who series. From the episodes that remained of William Hartnell all the way to the final episode of the Sylvester McCoy era, before the failed reboot on Fox and the modern reboot on BBC/BBC America. It was revelatory in that I had no idea how much I liked Jon Pertwee as the Doctor and also shone a light on some of the lesser doctors.

Perhaps the worst of them was Colin Baker. He wanted a darker, edgier Who that would wear a leather jacket. He got a coat of many colors instead. In his first episode, he tried to strangle his human companion after she failed to recall a poem he stated. There was much handwaving afterwards even though she did call him out on it. His two plus seasons that followed are considered among the series's worst.

I wonder if he considered re-enacting that sequence once he saw this final product?

Anyway, Baker plays Charles Dickens as he introduces Ebeneezer Scrooge (Anthony DP Mann, who also directed) as he torments lowly clerk Bob Cratchit (Dave Hudson) who has a wife and sickly boy named Tim to take care of, his joyful brother Fred, and other charity workers with Bah Humbugs and vague threats of pouring boiling oil on them. All well and good until he's visited by Jacob Marley (Terry Wade) who promises three ghostly specters who hope to get him to change his ways.

Standard boilerplate stuff, really. But where does this go wrong?

Start with the acting which outside of Baker can be placed squarely in the community theater district. Throw in cheap visual effects (considering this was straight to DVD, I guess this wasn't much of an issue). Include a script that somehow bonks you upside the head with its simplicity. And throw in some "songs" that are so directly on the nose that you'd swear that the God's Not Dead team was behind it.

I use "songs" because in most cases it's more like a spare verse here and there instead of a full song. Some musical this turned out to be!

Bah Humbug, no figgy pudding for you.

A shade under an hour, this is on Prime if you want to waste your time and relive my horror.
User avatar
Takoma1
Posts: 1922
Joined: Sat Nov 25, 2017 11:51 pm

Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2018

Post by Takoma1 » Thu Dec 13, 2018 7:45 pm

Thief wrote:As for the film overall, the truth is that when you break it down to pieces, one can say it's a "pit-stop" film, as in one that's meant to set up things for future films (Bucky is on the loose, Hydra's still alive, SHIELD is disbanded). But despite of this, I feel that in terms of establishing those plot points, it succeeded.
I actually think that the (relatively) low stakes of the plot are partly why I like it so much. Look, I get that "the world is in peril!" is a huge part of comic book films and plots. But as soon as the Whatever Device is about to be activated or the Army of Whatever is mobilizing, that's when all of these films turn into extended CGI sequences with occasional cuts to the actors looking pained because of whatever moral quandary is going along with the world-ending drama. Most of the Marvel films tend to lose me in their third act, because the plot "zooms out" and we lose the emotional intimacy that we've had with the characters up to that point. The Thor-Loki relationship holds most of the Thor films together alright, but I don't know if I could describe the last 20 minutes of any of the other Marvel films. I just stop caring and I know they're going to win.
I really didn't care about Hydra's overall plan (targeting citizens based on future projections? meh), but I liked the overall idea of SHIELD being infiltrated. The whole disbandment of SHIELD has even made me consider if I should check out Agents of SHIELD just to see how they develop that.
The sequence in Agents of SHIELD that deals with the Hydra infiltration and the dissolution of SHIELD is a pretty good plot arc. It also turns the main characters into outsiders instead of being part of this larger, powerful group.
User avatar
Jinnistan
Posts: 2444
Joined: Tue Mar 17, 2015 5:47 pm

Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2018

Post by Jinnistan » Thu Dec 13, 2018 8:41 pm

Takoma1 wrote:(I am home sick. So brace yourselves, ya'll)
Since you're on Prime and Nyquil, there's a somewhat seasonal offering to check out in Jiri Trnka's stop-motion animation The Emperor's Nightingale with narration by Boris Karloff.

Image
User avatar
Thief
Posts: 1676
Joined: Sat Nov 25, 2017 10:20 pm
Location: Puerto Rico
Contact:

Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2018

Post by Thief » Fri Dec 14, 2018 1:11 am

Takoma1 wrote: I actually think that the (relatively) low stakes of the plot are partly why I like it so much. Look, I get that "the world is in peril!" is a huge part of comic book films and plots. But as soon as the Whatever Device is about to be activated or the Army of Whatever is mobilizing, that's when all of these films turn into extended CGI sequences with occasional cuts to the actors looking pained because of whatever moral quandary is going along with the world-ending drama. Most of the Marvel films tend to lose me in their third act, because the plot "zooms out" and we lose the emotional intimacy that we've had with the characters up to that point. The Thor-Loki relationship holds most of the Thor films together alright, but I don't know if I could describe the last 20 minutes of any of the other Marvel films. I just stop caring and I know they're going to win.
I agree, which is why I think the first half works significantly better because you have Cap's struggle with his new surroundings, the moral quandaries of where he fits within SHIELD, and what are their ultimate motivations (juxtaposed with his relationship with Black Widow), and peaking with his realization that Bucky is alive.

Once the second half starts to follow the whole heli-carriers thing where all three have to sync and connect, so they can target millions of people around the place based on some weird computer determinations of who could pose a threat to Hydra, it loses me. Fortunately, we still have enough of Cap's struggle when confronting Bucky, as well as the great chemistry with Falcon, plus the whole acting talent of everybody to anchor everything despite the overall ludicrous/silly plot.
Takoma1 wrote: The sequence in Agents of SHIELD that deals with the Hydra infiltration and the dissolution of SHIELD is a pretty good plot arc. It also turns the main characters into outsiders instead of being part of this larger, powerful group.
I'm seriously considering if I should jump into that but I'm afraid to jump into a rabbit hole where I then feel compelled to check all the other MCU series. Right now, between work, home, and all the other stuff I'm watching (films and TV shows), I'm not sure if I can take a bunch of other shows thrown my way.
--- UNDER CONSTRUCTION ---
User avatar
Takoma1
Posts: 1922
Joined: Sat Nov 25, 2017 11:51 pm

Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2018

Post by Takoma1 » Fri Dec 14, 2018 1:15 am

Jinnistan wrote: Since you're on Prime and Nyquil, there's a somewhat seasonal offering to check out in Jiri Trnka's stop-motion animation The Emperor's Nightingale with narration by Boris Karloff.

Image
Noted--thanks!

A documentary about "Christmas", the holidays, or something related: Jingle Bell Rocks!

Hat-tip to Thief for the documentaries list where I found this one.

The film follows Mitchell Kezin. When Mitchell was young, stung by the absence of his father at Christmas time, he thought that the melancholy song "The Boy That Santa Forgot" was actually written about him. This connection to a lesser known Christmas song kicked off a lifetime obsession with collecting oddball, little-known Christmas music. In particular, Kezin is drawn to Christmas music in styles like R&B, jazz, calypso, and lyrics that express either sincere or unconventional ideas about the holidays.

I really liked this documentary, which featured appearances by Run DMC, John Waters, Wayne Coyne, and many other musicians, DJs, and cultural figures.

The film begins with a simple claim about why bad Christmas music is the worst, but why a good Christmas song can also be an amazing thing. They play long clips from several songs (I quite enjoyed this Low song, "Take the Long Way Around the Sea), and honor everything from the sincerely religious to a song called "Back Door Santa" that nearly buckles under the weight of all its double-entendres.

While the overall vibe of the documentary is light (and filled with anecdotes like the pot-fueled breakfast that resulted in the Run DMC song), it's very obvious that for many people who collect and curate this music there is a strong emotional connection. Kezin talks about the fact that in all the years he's been making Christmas music mix tapes/cds, he's never been able to bring himself to include the version of "The Little Boy Santa Forgot" that he first heard back as a child.
User avatar
Takoma1
Posts: 1922
Joined: Sat Nov 25, 2017 11:51 pm

Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2018

Post by Takoma1 » Fri Dec 14, 2018 3:59 pm

Any adaptation of A Christmas Carol (there are anywhere from 15 to 30): Scrooge (1935)

Look, can any version touch A Muppet's Christmas Carol? Of course not.

This version of the classic tale is a good, if not standout, adaptation. There were some touches that I really liked, such as the way that the ghost of Marly and the Ghost of Christmas Future were portrayed.

There's a very satisfying sequence when in the past Scrooge's fiance overhears him being particularly cruel to a couple who owed him money. When she criticized him for it, he's like, "Look, I make allowances for you having your woman feelings, but when we're married I expect you to stay out of my busines---" and then realizes that she's taking off her wedding ring and putting it on the mantle. Another good sequence is the one in which Scrooge overhears the conversation of the Cratchit family. The characters of the Cratchit sometimes can come off as being almost demented in their cheeriness, but I liked this portrayal of them.
User avatar
Takoma1
Posts: 1922
Joined: Sat Nov 25, 2017 11:51 pm

Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2018

Post by Takoma1 » Fri Dec 14, 2018 6:21 pm

A "Christmas" or "Holiday" film with a 90% or more RT score: Christmas, Again (100%)

This is a simple film, but maybe my favorite of the ones I've watched so far for this challenge.

The story follows a man named Noel (played by Kentucker Audley who was the sociopathic boyfriend in Sun Don't Shine) who lives out of a trailer in New York City selling trees during the Christmas season. Coming off of a breakup with his long time girlfriend (we don't really get details on the why or how), Noel works the night shift while another couple takes the day shift.

Chugging undefined pills of some sort and 6-hour energies, Noel tries to push through to the end of the season. Things get a little more complicated after a strange encounter with a woman he comes across in the park one night.

Coming off of some of the somber reflections in Jingle Bell Rocks!, I think that this film did a great job of showing how when someone is in pain, almost everything can be irritating or hurtful. The self-centered patrons who yell into their cellphones as they shop are one kind of annoyance, but also there's a pain in seeing the genuinely happy couples or families that only remind Noel of what he doesn't have.

The film doesn't have a very strong central plot arc, though Noel does seem to be pushing toward some sort of breaking point as he becomes more and more physically and emotionally exhausted. It's more of a snapshot.

On the whole I thought that the film was very naturally acted and the characters felt very real. The slightly naive couple helping out during the day could have easily been played as ignorant or incompetent, but instead they are very believable as just a young couple trying to do a job that they don't totally understand.

I guess my one criticism is that the film uses a really tired (and unfortunate) trope in terms of how Noel meets the woman. He finds her passed out on a park bench and, instead of getting her medical help, carries her back to his trailer and puts her in his bed. I get why this trope is so common: if he takes her to the hospital, they don't build any relationship. It's also meant, I think, to be a little virtue flag to the woman: hey, this guy had you unconscious in a bed and all he did was tuck you in with a cozy blanket. But that realistic part of me is like: someone could die!!! If a person is unconscious and you don't know why, they could be in the middle of a medical emergency!! Also: she has gum in her hair and he cuts it out, which means that she could have woken up in a strange trailer with a man standing over her with a knife/scissors. This is the one thing in the film that feels lazy and unrealistic, and that could have easily been changed to be less problematic.

That one blip aside, I really liked this film. I think it's too bad that it's cover/poster on so many sites is this weird Christmas tree image. It makes it look more like a documentary or something you'd click on and it would be like 4 hours of footage of a Christmas tree.
User avatar
Death Proof
Posts: 1538
Joined: Wed Nov 22, 2017 2:14 pm
Location: South Jersey

Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2018

Post by Death Proof » Fri Dec 14, 2018 7:51 pm

Takoma1 wrote:Winter Soldier is far and away my favorite of the Marvel films, and probably because I find it to have the richest emotional depth and an appealing degree of messiness. A lot of relationships in these films are quickly sketched with a scene or two, but the friendship between Steve and Bucky has a stand-out degree of warmth to it that just puts some sense of consequence into a universe where I often find it hard to care about the stakes. Also, a male friendship driven largely by empathy and love is a nice departure from male relationships that are all about men and their troubled relationships with their dads (see . . . Guardians of the Galaxy, Black Panther, Iron Man . . . ).

Also, like three different times I have seen Sebastian Stan and thought, "Whoa--who is that? He looks so familiar?!". I never recognize him and I'm usually really good with faces.

Finally, Captain America's arms while he's holding the helicopter is what I think about when I do bench presses. (Yeah, I know bench presses are pushes and the helicopter thing is a pull.)


Image

...ladies.

Shepherds we shall be, for thee, my Lord, for thee.
Power hath descended forth from Thy hand, our feet may swiftly carry out Thy commands.
So we shall flow a river forth to Thee and teeming with souls shall it ever be.
In Nomeni Patri Et Fili Spiritus Sancti.
User avatar
Takoma1
Posts: 1922
Joined: Sat Nov 25, 2017 11:51 pm

Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2018

Post by Takoma1 » Fri Dec 14, 2018 10:43 pm

Death Proof wrote: Image

...ladies.
Yup. It's literally what I imagine when I'm doing my bench press. In my head it's like "Must . . . not . . . let . . . go . . . of . . .helicopter!".

I can't imagine it when I do pull-ups, because I'm still using a band for those, and it's hard to feel like a superhero when it feels like you're getting a boost from a strong child.
User avatar
Jinnistan
Posts: 2444
Joined: Tue Mar 17, 2015 5:47 pm

Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2018

Post by Jinnistan » Sat Dec 15, 2018 1:05 am

Takoma1 wrote:Look, can any version touch A Muppet's Christmas Carol? Of course not.
Meh. I ride or die with Alastair Sim.
Post Reply