Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Sat Apr 20, 2019 1:51 am

Takoma1 wrote:
Agreed, but what is there is still so fantastic.

I also like the slightly scandalous vibe to some of it. Like the scene where Venus is talking to Phroso in the bathtub, and her eyeline is clearly directed at a personal area, and the scene continues for quite a while before revealing that Phroso is actually dressed.
Yeah, I noticed that :D
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Apex Predator » Sat Apr 20, 2019 9:08 pm

There were a few interesting ideas to The Happening, but its execution was pretty bad. The dialogue was bad and I could never buy Marky Mark as a science teacher.

The Tingler might be one of Castle's best. Vincent Price and company really sell on that premise and it's entertaining.

Freaks is just a good horror movie especially when you start to read between the lines.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Apex Predator » Sun Apr 21, 2019 10:01 pm

Looks like I've seen some films:

The Milky Way (1936)
See a film made in the 1930s
See a Harold Lloyd film
See a film where siblings feature prominently


It wasn't quite as good as The Freshman. Some of its humor was forced (such as the smart alecky names that Burleigh (Harold Lloyd) keeps giving to bodyguard Spider (Lionel Stander, yes that one) or repurposing his jig to avoid getting punched). And the film just seems to end almost out of nowhere.

But Lloyd manages to remain appealing even when making like a 1930s answer to Conor McGregor by taking a lion to a hotel lobby or waking up half an apartment building just so he can call an ambulance for a sick horse. Even in a talkie, he does have an everyman appeal.

The plot? One night, Burleigh steps in when he sees his sister Mae (Helen Mack) bothered by Spider and middleweight champ Speed (William Gargan). Next thing you know, Burleigh is being celebrated for knocking out the champ...
He didn't. He ducked when Spider swung and decked Speed.
Despite several attempts by Speed's manager Gabby (Adolphe Menjou) to fix things, the press keeps on and eventually he has no choice but to build up the milkman as a top contender by throwing several fights so Speed can get some revenge in the title fight. Only thing is that Speed starts to fall for Mae and Burleigh finds himself smitten with Polly (Dorothy Wilson).

Maybe not a top tier boxing comedy, but amusing enough to recommend on Prime.

Guava Island (2019)
See a film starting with G or H

Maybe I didn't get the hype to this. But I'm not as on board as most critics.

Mix Beyonce's Lemonade. Add liberal portions of Bob Dylan's Masked and Anonymous. And sprinkle in Childish Gambino's latest album with a Caribbean Island. Hit puree and you have Guava Island.

In a five minute animated sequence that begins this one, we learn that Red (Nonso Anozie) is in control of Guava Island where he operates a sweatshop creating clothes out of blue silk and a dock factory.

Local musician Doni Maroon (Donald Glover) works part time in a radio station and part time in the docks. In his spare time, he writes music and has fallen in love with sweatshop worker Kofi Novia (Rihanna) who he's known since they were kids. Kofi works with somewhat rebellious co-worker Yara (Letitia Wright) who controls the radio at work.

But when word gets out about a music festival that Doni wants to throw on Saturday night which may cause his workers to not show up on Sunday, Red is determined to shut things down. While Doni is determined to give his countrymen a taste of freedom in the form of song.

The songs you've heard of get appropriated in new, interesting settings (This is America is done at the dock factory while Summertime Magic gets set on the beach where Doni coos to his girlfriend). But the staging is kind of sloppy where it's obvious that there's a pre-recorded track and lip-syncing comes and goes...just like Glover's Caribbean accent. This may be the worst take on live music since the days of Arch Hall Jr.

More of an issue is how issues like freedom of expression, rebellion, and defying authority get called up and then promptly ignored. Perhaps it was the brief run-time (55 minutes). Or perhaps it's because the film can't make up whether it wants to be a serious statement on how artists can influence change or a glorified informercial for his Grammy winning album.

As a result, it works as neither. And that's a shame.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Mon Apr 22, 2019 12:43 am

For some reason, I've been trying to strictly stick to the sequence of films I've seen when posting my reviews, but seriously, what's the point? The more time passes, the harder it is for me to write a review, so even though I'll try to go keep posting reviews for everything I've seen, it helps for me to keep the pace. With that said...


A drama
A Biblical film



Risen (2016)
"I have seen two things which cannot reconcile: A man dead without question, and that same man alive again."
For some reason, Christian, or Biblical, films are a tough task. Frequently, audiences find themselves plagued by the likes of God's Not Dead or Left Behind. But even though a lot of people usually mention similar examples to mock them, the truth is that there's a good share of decent/good Biblical films out there. Although far from perfect, Risen has joined that group, as far as I'm concerned.

The film follows Clavius (Joseph Fiennes), a high-ranking Roman Tribune tasked with investigating the disappearance of the body of Jesus, or Yeshua (played by Cliff Curtis). Clavius, who was present at the end of the crucifixion and witnessed Jesus' death, finds himself initially annoyed, but later intrigued by the claims of Jesus' followers about his resurrection. His mission then transcends from an official task to a search for answers, the truth, and ultimately, redemption.

Even though Risen treads mostly familiar territory, with little to no surprises in its development, it does so with incredible confidence. The direction by Kevin Reynolds is pretty good and fluid. I just realized he was the director of similar period pieces like Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and Count of Monte Cristo, so he's mostly in familiar territory. The film's production values are also pretty good, or at least Reynolds knows how to be efficient with the $20 million they got.

But what anchors the film to me is Joseph Fiennes' performance. He plays Clavius with a flexible stoicism, which makes his growth believable. The script is also competent, giving Clavius enough of an arc without making it feel overly melodramatic. Speaking of melodrama, the film also avoids stepping into the typical sappy holes, while maintaining a good emotional core. If anything, the last act was a bit shaky in this aspect. There's also a key performance of one of the disciples that felt a bit awkward and out of place.

Still, I found myself enjoying the film a lot. As someone who has seen his fair share of crappy Biblical films, something like Risen might be difficult to reconcile, but I'm glad I found my way to it.

Grade: B+
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Apex Predator » Tue Apr 23, 2019 4:52 pm

You've given me confidence that I made the right call with Risen.

Plan on watching A Separation and The Lorax movie next.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Wed Apr 24, 2019 11:39 pm

A drama
A film featuring robots prominently
A film based on a book/novel



Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970)
"We can coexist, but only on my terms. You will say you lose your freedom, freedom is an illusion. All you lose is the emotion of pride. To be dominated by me is not as bad for human pride as to be dominated by others of your species."
Computers were "invented" sometime during the early 20th Century. Since that time, humans have been continuously delegating and relying more and more in theNow com; maybe to make our lives easier or maybe because we like to see how far something that we invented can go. From something that was first exclusive to government and educational institutions, now computers and similar devices have become an ubiquitous presence on every job and every home. We let them handle our defense, our money, our health, and with the surge of the so-called IoT, our homes.

Colossus: The Forbin Project presents a scenario in which this situation goes awry. Living in 2018, we know this is not the only film to approach this subject, but it is an interesting, and for some reason obscure, example. The film follows Dr. Charles Forbin (Eric Braeden), a computer engineer that designs the titular machine with the intention of handing it control of the whole US defense apparatus. But, as you might expect, Colossus becomes sentient and stars expanding his control beyond what is expected, forcing Forbin and his team to take unique measures to stop it and liberate themselves.

Relased at the height of the Cold War against the Soviet Union, the film does breach familiar topics of trust between governments, conspiracies, and the idea of free will. For the most part, it does so in a smart way. Although maybe a bit rushed and ludicrous, the way Colossus gains control is effective and raises interesting ideas. However, the execution in how that control grows feels a bit choppy, with sometimes an unclear illustration of how things get from A to B. In addition, there's a particular development as it approaches the last act that feels clunky and laughable, and ultimately dragged down the whole thing a couple of notches for me.

Regardless of that, I still enjoyed the film for the most part. Braeden is not a flashy actor, but he's competent. Susan Clark and Gordon Pinsent were also pretty good as Forbin's main colleague and The President respectively. The direction from Joseph Sargent was also tight and, for the most part, very streamlined (I read afterwards that he was also the director of The Taking of Pelham One-Two-Three and my immediate reaction was "Yeah, it figures"). I also appreciated the rather open, ambiguous ending. Overall, I enjoyed it, but I wish they would've given more thought to *that* particular development. Maybe they should've let a computer write it.

Grade: B
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Wed Apr 24, 2019 11:39 pm

BTW, thanks to Charles for recommending the above.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Thu Apr 25, 2019 11:56 pm

Seeking the advice of the Great Ones here. I only have three films left to watch and I'm already set on two of them. However, I'm stumped on the one with the word "Four" or "Fourth" in the title. I had Spike Lee's 4 Little Girls in mind (which I think someone recommended) but, knowing what it's about, I really don't know if I'm up to it now. So, the ones I'm curious about are these, and I like to read your thoughts on any...

Four Lions (2010)
Four Horsemen (2012)
The Unholy Four (1970)
Four of the Apocalypse (1975)
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Captain Terror » Fri Apr 26, 2019 12:29 pm

Thief wrote:
Thu Apr 25, 2019 11:56 pm
Seeking the advice of the Great Ones here. I only have three films left to watch and I'm already set on two of them. However, I'm stumped on the one with the word "Four" or "Fourth" in the title. I had Spike Lee's 4 Little Girls in mind (which I think someone recommended) but, knowing what it's about, I really don't know if I'm up to it now. So, the ones I'm curious about are these, and I like to read your thoughts on any...

Four Lions (2010)
Four Horsemen (2012)
The Unholy Four (1970)
Four of the Apocalypse (1975)
FotA is the only one of these I've seen but I liked it, as did some other members of this forum. Somewhere around the halfway point it takes a weird turn into a distinctly unorthodox-for-a-Western area. Even if you ultimately don't like the film I think its worth a look just for being such an oddball.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Captain Terror » Fri Apr 26, 2019 12:38 pm

Thief wrote:
Thu Apr 25, 2019 11:56 pm
Seeking the advice of the Great Ones here.
How presumptuous of me to assume I am one of the Great Ones, by the way. If this is not the case please disregard my suggestion. :D
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Fri Apr 26, 2019 1:22 pm

Captain Terror wrote:
Fri Apr 26, 2019 12:38 pm
How presumptuous of me to assume I am one of the Great Ones, by the way. If this is not the case please disregard my suggestion. :D
Oh fer crissake, I was already ignoring you. Of course you're not one :roll:

I kid, I kid. Thanks for the rec! :D
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Apex Predator » Fri Apr 26, 2019 5:51 pm

To be fair, I've seen none of them.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Thu May 02, 2019 12:17 am

This was April's tally...

A film with the number 4 (Four, Fourth, etc.) in its title (not a sequel): The Four of the Apocalypse...
A film with a title that starts with the letters G or H: The Hateful Eight
A film from the current IMDb 250 whose ranking includes the #4 (i.e. 14, 24, 42): (see list here) Stalker (#194)
A film from the 1930s: Freaks
A drama: Cold War
A B-movie: The Tingler
A Biblical film: Risen
A film from Iran (Iran Independence, April 1): Persepolis
A film featuring robots prominently (Nat'l Robotics Week, April 6-14): Avengers: Age of Ultron
A film based on a book/novel (Nat'l Library Week, April 7-13): Colossus: The Forbin Project
A film prominently featuring siblings (Siblings Day, April 10): Three Identical Strangers
A film set in the American Revolutionary War (Patriots' Day, April 15): (see suggestions here) 1776
A film mostly set on a boat (Titanic Remembrance Day, April 15): Lifeboat
A film from Harold Lloyd (born April 20): Safety Last!
A film about the environment or related themes (Earth Day, April 22): The Happening

Finished last night in the nick of time with 1776.

The best from the month? There were a lot of good films in that bunch, but probably Stalker or Freaks

The worst? Hard to compete with The Happening, although I won't deny the fact that it was an *interesting* watch.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Thu May 02, 2019 12:20 am

Will post May's categories tomorrow morning.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Thu May 02, 2019 3:05 am

I'm curious as to what your thoughts on Stalker are. It's actually my favorite film of all time.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Thu May 02, 2019 3:28 pm

OP is edited, but here are the May categories anyway...

A film with the number 5 (Five, Fifth, etc.) in its title (not a sequel):
A film with a title that starts with the letters I or J:
A film from the current IMDb 250 whose ranking includes the #5 (i.e. 15, 25, 54): (see list here)
A film from the 1940s:
A fantasy film:
A film with an animal in its title:
A film mostly set in space (Space Day, first Friday of May):
A film based on a comic book (Comic Book Day, May 4):
A film with prominent Muslim characters (Ramadan, starts May 5):
A film from Mexico (Cinco de Mayo):
A film from Orson Welles (born May 6):
A film prominently featuring mothers (Mother's Day, May 12):
A film that won either the Palme d'Or or the Grand Prix at Cannes (May 14-25):
A film set in a museum or featuring them prominently (Int'l Museum Day, May 18):
A war film (Memorial Day, May 27):

I might go on an MCU mini-binge; I had planned to watch several of their films anyway as "freebies", just to see if I could catch up with everyone. Lucky for me, many of the categories I had already come up with line up with the MCU films I need to see (space = GotG Vol. 2, IMDb ranking = Infinity War, fantasy = Thor: Ragnarok?, War film = Civil War, Infinity War, etc.) If anything, I only tweaked one or two categories to suit my needs :D (added the animal title, and didn't know there was a Comic Book Day), but what the hell, it's my party.

As usual, recs are welcome.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Thu May 02, 2019 3:29 pm

Popcorn Reviews wrote:
Thu May 02, 2019 3:05 am
I'm curious as to what your thoughts on Stalker are. It's actually my favorite film of all time.
I might write a review later, but I'll just say that I'm already planning a rewatch to digest it better. Certainly a thought-provoking and interesting film.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Thu May 02, 2019 4:03 pm

Yeah, it took me a few viewings to truly appreciate it. I typically feel this way about all Tarkovsky films. One viewing isn't enough.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Wooley » Thu May 02, 2019 4:18 pm

Thief wrote:
Wed Apr 24, 2019 11:39 pm
A drama
A film featuring robots prominently
A film based on a book/novel



Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970)



Computers were "invented" sometime during the early 20th Century. Since that time, humans have been continuously delegating and relying more and more in theNow com; maybe to make our lives easier or maybe because we like to see how far something that we invented can go. From something that was first exclusive to government and educational institutions, now computers and similar devices have become an ubiquitous presence on every job and every home. We let them handle our defense, our money, our health, and with the surge of the so-called IoT, our homes.

Colossus: The Forbin Project presents a scenario in which this situation goes awry. Living in 2018, we know this is not the only film to approach this subject, but it is an interesting, and for some reason obscure, example. The film follows Dr. Charles Forbin (Eric Braeden), a computer engineer that designs the titular machine with the intention of handing it control of the whole US defense apparatus. But, as you might expect, Colossus becomes sentient and stars expanding his control beyond what is expected, forcing Forbin and his team to take unique measures to stop it and liberate themselves.

Relased at the height of the Cold War against the Soviet Union, the film does breach familiar topics of trust between governments, conspiracies, and the idea of free will. For the most part, it does so in a smart way. Although maybe a bit rushed and ludicrous, the way Colossus gains control is effective and raises interesting ideas. However, the execution in how that control grows feels a bit choppy, with sometimes an unclear illustration of how things get from A to B. In addition, there's a particular development as it approaches the last act that feels clunky and laughable, and ultimately dragged down the whole thing a couple of notches for me.

Regardless of that, I still enjoyed the film for the most part. Braeden is not a flashy actor, but he's competent. Susan Clark and Gordon Pinsent were also pretty good as Forbin's main colleague and The President respectively. The direction from Joseph Sargent was also tight and, for the most part, very streamlined (I read afterwards that he was also the director of The Taking of Pelham One-Two-Three and my immediate reaction was "Yeah, it figures"). I also appreciated the rather open, ambiguous ending. Overall, I enjoyed it, but I wish they would've given more thought to *that* particular development. Maybe they should've let a computer write it.

Grade: B
Hmm... this interests me.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Death Proof » Thu May 02, 2019 4:23 pm

A film with the number 5 (Five, Fifth, etc.) in its title (not a sequel): Five Heads in a Duffel Bag
A film with a title that starts with the letters I or J: Just One of the Guys
A film from the current IMDb 250 whose ranking includes the #5 (i.e. 15, 25, 54): (see list here) Rear Window (55)
A film from the 1940s: Double Indemnity (1944)
A fantasy film: The Last Unicorn
A film with an animal in its title: The Birds
A film mostly set in space (Space Day, first Friday of May): Gravity
A film based on a comic book (Comic Book Day, May 4): Ghost World
A film with prominent Muslim characters (Ramadan, starts May 5): Four Lions
A film from Mexico (Cinco de Mayo): Cronos
A film from Orson Welles (born May 6): The Trial (1962)
A film prominently featuring mothers (Mother's Day, May 12): Bad Moms
A film that won either the Palme d'Or or the Grand Prix at Cannes (May 14-25): Oldboy (2004)
A film set in a museum or featuring them prominently (Int'l Museum Day, May 18): The Relic
A war film (Memorial Day, May 27): The Dirty Dozen

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.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Thu May 02, 2019 4:37 pm

Death Proof wrote:
Thu May 02, 2019 4:23 pm
A film with the number 5 (Five, Fifth, etc.) in its title (not a sequel): Five Heads in a Duffel Bag
A film with a title that starts with the letters I or J: Just One of the Guys
A film from the current IMDb 250 whose ranking includes the #5 (i.e. 15, 25, 54): (see list here) Rear Window (55)
A film from the 1940s: Double Indemnity (1944)
A fantasy film: The Last Unicorn
A film with an animal in its title: The Birds
A film mostly set in space (Space Day, first Friday of May): Gravity
A film based on a comic book (Comic Book Day, May 4): Ghost World
A film with prominent Muslim characters (Ramadan, starts May 5): Four Lions
A film from Mexico (Cinco de Mayo): Cronos
A film from Orson Welles (born May 6): The Trial (1962)
A film prominently featuring mothers (Mother's Day, May 12): Bad Moms
A film that won either the Palme d'Or or the Grand Prix at Cannes (May 14-25): Oldboy (2004)
A film set in a museum or featuring them prominently (Int'l Museum Day, May 18): The Relic
A war film (Memorial Day, May 27): The Dirty Dozen
Seen many of these, although I'm not even counting Just One of the Guys cause it's been such a long time that I don't even remember it. I might consider it. Also, Five Heads in a Duffel Bag? Are you thinking about the Joe Pesci black comedy? If that's the case, it's Eight Heads in a Duffel Bag, so it doesn't apply. What did you do with the other heads, huh?? HUH??

Anyway, some of those I've been meaning to watch for a while: Gravity, Cronos, which a lot of people have recommended to me in past months... Four Lions intrigued me when someone brought it up last month, but couldn't get around to it. Seems like a good fit for this month. As usual, thanks!
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Apex Predator » Thu May 02, 2019 5:41 pm

This is kinda early, but my thoughts:

A film with the number 5 (Five, Fifth, etc.) in its title (not a sequel): Central Park Five (Prime) (2013) 118
A film with a title that starts with the letters I or J: I Can Only Imagine (Prime) (2018) 110
A film from the current IMDb 250 whose ranking includes the #5 (i.e. 15, 25, 54): (see list here) Room (Netflix) 117
A film from the 1940s: Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) 100
A fantasy film: The Golden Compass (Netflix) (2007) 113
A film with an animal in its title: Ek Tha Tiger (Prime) (2012) 132
A film mostly set in space (Space Day, first Friday of May): Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Netflix) (2017) 151
A film based on a comic book (Comic Book Day, May 4): Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) 120
A film with prominent Muslim characters (Ramadan, starts May 5): Kabadio (Prime) (2017) 95
A film from Mexico (Cinco de Mayo): Coco (Netflix) (2017) 105
A film from Orson Welles (born May 6): The Magnificent Ambersons (Netflix) (1942) 88
A film prominently featuring mothers (Mother's Day, May 12): Mothers and Daughters (Netflix) (2016) 92
A film that won either the Palme d'Or or the Grand Prix at Cannes (May 14-25): It’s Only the End of the World (Netflix) (2016) 98
A film set in a museum or featuring them prominently (Int'l Museum Day, May 18): The Curse of Robert (Prime) (2016) 79
A war film (Memorial Day, May 27): A Farewell to Arms (Prime) (1932) 91

I tried to leaven the darker films (Room, Central Park Five, presumably Imagine) with some lighter ones (Guardians, St. Louis, presumably Jedi). I do have some room to adjust things for the most part (I did struggle to find films prominently in the museum).
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Thu May 02, 2019 6:07 pm

Films set in museums:

Wikipedia
BFI Film Forever
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Apex Predator » Thu May 02, 2019 6:15 pm

Maybe I tackle The Thomas Crown Affair (1999, Prime) instead.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Thu May 02, 2019 6:23 pm

Apex Predator wrote:
Thu May 02, 2019 6:15 pm
Maybe I tackle The Thomas Crown Affair (1999, Prime) instead.
I haven't seen that since its release, but I remember it being a lot of fun with some great chemistry between Brosnan and Russo.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Apex Predator » Thu May 02, 2019 6:57 pm

Thief wrote:
Thu May 02, 2019 6:23 pm
I haven't seen that since its release, but I remember it being a lot of fun with some great chemistry between Brosnan and Russo.
I've seen it before apparently, but it's been quite awhile, so it'll be new to me! :up:
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Death Proof » Thu May 02, 2019 9:17 pm

Thief wrote:
Thu May 02, 2019 4:37 pm
Seen many of these, although I'm not even counting Just One of the Guys cause it's been such a long time that I don't even remember it. I might consider it. Also, Five Heads in a Duffel Bag? Are you thinking about the Joe Pesci black comedy? If that's the case, it's Eight Heads in a Duffel Bag, so it doesn't apply. What did you do with the other heads, huh?? HUH??

Anyway, some of those I've been meaning to watch for a while: Gravity, Cronos, which a lot of people have recommended to me in past months... Four Lions intrigued me when someone brought it up last month, but couldn't get around to it. Seems like a good fit for this month. As usual, thanks!

You don't want to know what I did with those other heads.


Yeah, check out Gravity and Cronos if you can. They're wonderful.

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.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Thu May 02, 2019 11:26 pm

Another catch-up from April...


A film featuring robots prominently
A film prominently featuring siblings



Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
"Everyone creates the thing they dread. Men of peace create engines of war, invaders create avengers. People create... smaller people? Uhh... children! Lost the word there. Children, designed to supplant them. To help them... end."
Merriam-Webster defines "creation" as "the act of bringing the world into ordered existence". When we "create", we put things just the way we want them. But how long can things last that way? Avengers: Age of Ultron continues the MCU storyline, with the Avengers trying to stop Ultron (James Spader), an advanced AI/robot secretly created by Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) as a defense program that ends up breaking bad and trying to destroy humanity. Continuing the theme of creation/destruction, Ultron sees humans as a threat to world's order and wants to destroy them in order to "protect" the Earth. As usual, the Avengers need to learn to work together to fend off this new threat.

There are several issues with Avengers: Age of Ultron, but its most notable fault is its lack of innovation. Despite its overall competent filmmaking, the film doesn't really bring anything new to the table. On the contrary, it rehashes some things from the first Avengers film, like the issues between our superheroes while trying to work together, while also bringing some new issues to the table. New heroes like Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch are introduced, and although the performances from Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen are not bad, the way their allegiance shifts doesn't feel that organic and the overall execution feels a bit clumsy. There's also a sudden romance between Banner and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) which felt a bit out of left field and awkward. Maybe I missed something but was there ever a hint that these two had feelings for each other? The only notable exchange I remember was when she looked for him in India to recruited him, but I digress. The truth is that they lacked any chemistry, so any moment where their exchanges turned romantic, it didn't really work.

Those issues aside, I guess one can say the film is fun. Does it follow a formula? Yes, but the formula works to some degree, even if it ends up lacking innovation. I might be in the minority, but I found Ultron to be an interesting villain; a megalomaniac robot gone mad. Like the opening quote, some of his lines and thoughts are good, thoughts on creation and destruction, duality and contrasts, even if they don't explore them much any further. Much of what's good about Ultron comes from Spader's performance, who reaches a nice balance between robotic, emotion-less, and deadpan, with cynical, egotistical, and maniacal. The action sequences are good, even though I don't think they surpass the first Avengers. There were also a couple of uses of slow-motion that felt a bit distracting. Finally, the big climax with a whole city being lifted off the ground felt like unnecessarily too much. There could've been better ways to portray an extinction-level event than that.

In the end, Avengers: Age of Ultron feels just fine. A competent blockbuster that manages to momentarily thrill while hitting familiar buttons, but not much else. From one point, it feels like a perfectly ordered creation, with all the necessary pieces where they're needed. On the other hand, it lacks a certain spark; that unexpected and chaotic "oomph" that might make it feel like something more than a stop-gap in this bigger MCU creation.

Grade: B-
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Slentert » Thu May 02, 2019 11:27 pm

Cronos is my favorite Del Toro movie. Saw it at a festival screening last year, and that would probably be in my top 3 theatrical experiences ever.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Captain Terror » Sat May 04, 2019 5:53 pm

Thief wrote:
Wed Jan 02, 2019 6:23 pm

A film with a title that starts with the letters I or J:
A film from the 1940s:
A war film (Memorial Day, May 27):
In Which We Serve (1942)

I've given myself the assignment of watching all of David Lean's films in chronological order, and this one is listed as his first. Noel Coward co-directed, wrote, produced, starred, and composed the score, so I'm not sure how much Lean was given to do here, but I'm a rule-follower so I watched it.

The film is a series of flashbacks. A British destroyer is sunk by German bombers, and as 10-12 members of the crew cling to their raft they one by one drift off into flashback mode in which we see various short vignettes, such as meeting one's future wife, surprising mom while on leave, etc. There's also some military action (including Dunkirk), but for the most part the stories focus on the home front and the effect the war has on those not fighting. This episodic format means that no one story is given a lot of depth, but they're all mostly effective in some way. The English perspective on WWII has always interested me, because as an American it's hard to imagine the terror of being bombed on a daily basis. Because of the era this was made, this tends to be a very "polite" war movie: (An officer's reaction to the news that his wife has been killed: "Oh, is that so?") but there are a couple of dark moments that shake things up. One moment involving the Blitz was especially troubling. (I may or may not have shed a tear)

Glad I watched this one. A war movie buff might find this somewhat tedious due to the dearth of actual combat scenes, but I appreciated that it was more about the sailors and their loved ones. (It's currently streaming on Amazon)
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Sat May 11, 2019 10:05 pm

Quick takes on the first 5 films of the month, most of which are MCU films...

Ant-Man (2015) Solid, fun film. I enjoyed the light, comedic tone of this film, although the way some of the issues surrounding Lang's "work" as a burglar and his relationship with his daughter do feel over-simplistic. At times it reminded me of Liar Liar ("you're a good parent... when you're around"). Also, despite the fun tone, I appreciated the bit of depth added by Corey Stoll's performance. Most of the other performances were solid, particularly Rudd and Douglas. Bottom line is I had fun, loved how the director played with the perception of size, particularly in the last fight. Grade: B

Captain America: Civil War (2016) Another effecive outing from Cap. Surely not as good as The Winter Soldier, but still very entertaining. The conflict between Cap and Iron Man is well founded, even if the way the allegiances flow isn't, particularly in how they bring up the new characters. Still, kudos to Tom Holland as Peter Parker, which was probably one of the highlights of the film. Really engaging and energetic performance. Grade: B+

Doctor Strange (2016) I'll admit that this was the one MCU film I was least interested in, but the truth is it was pretty good. Benedict Cumberbatch does a fine job int he title role, the characters of the Ancient One, Mordo, and Wong are entertaining to watch, and it's always a treat to watch Mads Mikkelsen in anything. Even though in many ways it doesn't feel as part of the MCU, with mostly new characters, you get the feeling that a lot of the ideas brought up will have an impact later. Not bad. Grade: B

The Lady from Shanghai (1947) Taking a break from the MCU, this was a pretty good choice. Pure noir, with some great performances. The whole plot had me guessing, even though you can probably see where things are going from the beginning (after all, Mike tells us things won't end well). Great use of the camera from Welles. Grade: A-

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) This was more or less a rewatch. I had seen it back in 2017, about a month after Hurricane Maria hit us, late at night, with no power, and on a laptop, which aren't the best conditions to watch it. Thing is I dozed off for most of the middle part so I always wanted to give it another shot. Finally did last night and, although the conditions were better, my initial take on it wasn't that far off. The film is solid, good fun, but still not as effective as the first one. Baby Groot is probably the best thing :D Grade: B
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by crumbsroom » Sat May 11, 2019 10:12 pm

Slentert wrote:
Thu May 02, 2019 11:27 pm
Cronos is my favorite Del Toro movie. Saw it at a festival screening last year, and that would probably be in my top 3 theatrical experiences ever.
I sometimes wonder if I even have a favorite Del Toro movie. I admire his talent but his films mostly leave me cold in ways I can't articulate
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Thu May 16, 2019 7:35 pm

A film with the number 5 (Five, Fifth, etc.) in its title (not a sequel)
A war film



Slaughterhouse-Five (1972)
"On Tralfamadore you learn that the world is just a collection of moments all strung together in beautiful, random order; and if we're going to survive, it's up to us to concentrate on the good moments and ignore the bad."
What if you had the chance to revisit any particular moment of your life? Which one would it be? How would you feel about it? Would you change anything? Those are some of the questions that come to mind after watching this film adaptation of the Kurt Vonnegut novel of the same name. Slaughterhouse-Five follows Billy Pilgrim (Michael Sacks), a man that for some reason has become "unstuck in time". As a result, he starts jumping back and forth between random moments of his life, from his military service during World War II to his success as an optometrist later in his life, and yes, to his capture by aliens in the planet Tralfamadore. Through all this moments, we experience snippets of what his life was (is?) and how he and the people around him see him.

Before this month, I had never even heard of this film, which is weird, considering it is directed by George Roy Hill, who had directed Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid a couple of years before and who went on to direct the Academy Award winner The Sting the year after. However, Slaughterhouse-Five is nowhere near the excellence of those two films. The phrase I've been using to describe it after seeing it is "an interesting mess". The film takes an unlikely approach to the story, featuring little to no preamble and introduction, instead dumping us in the middle of this random "collection of moments" with no previous knowledge of who Pilgrim is. As a result, it took me a while to find my footing and figure out what was going on.

I also don't think Sacks was that effective in the lead role. He spends most of the time with a perpetually aloof look on his face and little to no emotion to anything around him. He has a wife and two children, but the randomness of how the events unfold prevents us from connecting with any of them since we barely spend time with them. The most significant relationship we get to experience is Pilgrim's friendship with Derby (Eugene Roche), a fellow POW. But with no emotional connection to the lead character, we are left relying on the gimmick of this time/space back and forth. It is interesting, but doesn't get much more beyond that. There are some interesting points and questions asked, about what life means, the clash between fate or free will, how we deal with grief, the effects of war, etc. but they are not fully explored.

Regardless of its faults, the film does has some strengths. Like I said, the premise is interesting, Hill's direction is pretty good, and the editing by Dede Allen does a really neat job splicing past, present, and future scenes in creative ways. Also, the relationship between Pilgrim and Derby feels true. Finally, there's an antagonist character, a rival POW called Lazzaro, played perfectly by Ron Leibman. His character dominates the screen every time he's in, usually overshadowing Sacks. Much like the above quote says, this film is just a collection of moments all strung together in a sometimes beautiful, random order, and the good things are enough for me to say it's worth a watch.

Grade: B-
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Jinnistan » Thu May 16, 2019 11:37 pm

Valerie Perrine - A+

Read the book though. It was called "unfilmable" for a reason.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Wooley » Fri May 17, 2019 12:12 am

crumbsroom wrote:
Sat May 11, 2019 10:12 pm
I sometimes wonder if I even have a favorite Del Toro movie. I admire his talent but his films mostly leave me cold in ways I can't articulate
I love Cronos and The Devil's Backbone.
I really like Pan's Labyrinth but I think it's flawed.
I like the Hellboy movies.
After that, things start to bog down. Mimic was fine. Blade II was not for me. Pacific Rim is fun enough, I guess. I thought Crimson Peak was kinda bad. I thought The Shape Of Water was a return to form, but I probably would put it between the Hellboys and Labyrinth.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Fri May 17, 2019 2:09 am

Jinnistan wrote:
Thu May 16, 2019 11:37 pm
Valerie Perrine - A+

Read the book though. It was called "unfilmable" for a reason.
A+ indeed :D

The premise is really interesting so I might give the book a shot.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by crumbsroom » Fri May 17, 2019 9:20 pm

:shock:
Jinnistan wrote:
Thu May 16, 2019 11:37 pm
Valerie Perrine - A+

Read the book though. It was called "unfilmable" for a reason.
The rare booked I have ever been assed to read multiple times.

The Outsider and The Bell Jar I believe being the only other ones.

I am not about to acknowledge It.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Sat May 18, 2019 12:32 am

Some quick thoughts on my last films, which are pretty much MCU...

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) For the most part, very enjoyable. Again, Holland is a great Peter Parker, and his friendship with Ned is a lot of fun to watch. Also, I like his chemistry with Downey. Even though the Stark/Parker dynamic kinda feels a bit forced, they make it work. Finally, Keaton steals almost every scene he's in. I loved having a more grounded villain instead of the typical "I wanna conquer the universe" baddie. Grade: B+

Thor: Ragnarok (2017) Now, this one was a loooot of fun. So glad that they let Taika run loose with this. Hemsworth is a lot of fun, Blanchett is a scenery chewing beast, Goldblum was hilarious... if anything, I might have some slight issues with Ruffalo as Banner. But minor quibbles, I think I had a smile on my face all through this film. Grade: A-

Black Panther (2018) This one, on the other hand, was good, but not as much as most people make it to be. It was a very well done film, but felt a bit more by-the-numbers. Still, the great cast make it work, most notably Michael B. Jordan. He elevated every scene he was in, particularly that ending. His last moment really felt like a gut punch in a weird way. Grade: B

Slaughterhouse-Five (1972) My break from the MCU, see above post for my full review.

Avengers: Infinity War (2018) I will probably try to write a full review for this one soon, but overall, I really enjoyed it. From the get-go, the film is relentless in its action delivery and rarely stops. The chemistry between the leads make everything work, and the character of Thanos ends up being more interesting than I was expecting. I like the idea that I read somewhere that this is *his* superhero story and *his* quest to do what he thinks it's right. If I were to have complains they would be that the film needed a bit more relaxing from time to time. The tone was almost perennially somber and dark. Second, as relentless as the film was with its action scenes, I don't really think none of them stood out as much as, say, most of the action scenes in The Winter Soldier. Third, and probably the biggest issue, is with the stakes of the story. The film makes it feel as if they were really high, but it's hard to take them seriously when you can see how easily characters in this franchise die and resuscitate, or how characters that "die" already have sequels in the pipeline. I still think the shock and somber tone of the closing scenes is somewhat effective, but without those issues, it could've been so much more. Nevertheless, a lot of fun. Grade: A-
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Apex Predator » Sun May 19, 2019 9:17 pm

Before I started in on May's titles, I felt obliged to finish the ones from April first.

Four Sisters and a Wedding (See a film with the number 4 in the title)

This is the second Filipino melodrama I've seen in about 6 months. Having better actors (outside of one who tried to come across as a Filipino Susan Lucci replete with trilling nearly EVERY syllable) and an actual budget, it went better. The plot? Four sisters try to stop the impending wedding between their younger brother and the heir to a massage parlor empire. But most, if not all, of them have their own issues to deal with as well. Thankfully, they avoid making the fiancee a villain (one scene involves her preparing a breakfast for her paramour after one of their schemes falls apart). The melodrama works well enough, but perhaps they could have used a sense of humor (unless that one actress's performance was SUPPOSED to be comedic?).

Like Father (See a film set on a boat)

First, let's thank the film for avoiding the easy temptation of giving Kristen Bell's workaholic ad executive character a new boyfriend who heals her broken heart ending in a relationship or a wedding at the end of the film. I know Seth Rogen's Canadian teacher is a potential love (and sex) interest, but it avoids doing that.

Instead, it goes down the predictable path of having her reconcile with her estranged father (Kelsey Grammer) who chose work instead of family 25 years before. Yeah, they drunkenly end up on what would have been her honeymoon cruise (her boyfriend broke up with her because she just HAD to work and be on her phone during her wedding day). Although there's a lot of resentments and other things at first, they slowly start to break the ice and clear the air as she learns to loosen up and he learns to open up. There's also some tension involving flaky chip owners who might lead her to a promotion if she can get them on board with her firm.

Film isn't afraid of going hokey (Pina Colada and Sail Away are both on the soundtrack) and there's a few laughs mixed in here. The chemistry between Bell and Grammer helps this sail past some choppy waters and tonal shifts, but it also serves as an infomercial to Royal Caribbean Cruises.

I guess Netflix original films won't get past a certain point of quality, will they?
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Wooley » Mon May 20, 2019 2:22 am

Thief wrote:
Sat May 18, 2019 12:32 am
Some quick thoughts on my last films, which are pretty much MCU...

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) For the most part, very enjoyable. Again, Holland is a great Peter Parker, and his friendship with Ned is a lot of fun to watch. Also, I like his chemistry with Downey. Even though the Stark/Parker dynamic kinda feels a bit forced, they make it work. Finally, Keaton steals almost every scene he's in. I loved having a more grounded villain instead of the typical "I wanna conquer the universe" baddie. Grade: B+

Thor: Ragnarok (2017) Now, this one was a loooot of fun. So glad that they let Taika run loose with this. Hemsworth is a lot of fun, Blanchett is a scenery chewing beast, Goldblum was hilarious... if anything, I might have some slight issues with Ruffalo as Banner. But minor quibbles, I think I had a smile on my face all through this film. Grade: A-

Black Panther (2018) This one, on the other hand, was good, but not as much as most people make it to be. It was a very well done film, but felt a bit more by-the-numbers. Still, the great cast make it work, most notably Michael B. Jordan. He elevated every scene he was in, particularly that ending. His last moment really felt like a gut punch in a weird way. Grade: B

Slaughterhouse-Five (1972) My break from the MCU, see above post for my full review.

Avengers: Infinity War (2018) I will probably try to write a full review for this one soon, but overall, I really enjoyed it. From the get-go, the film is relentless in its action delivery and rarely stops. The chemistry between the leads make everything work, and the character of Thanos ends up being more interesting than I was expecting. I like the idea that I read somewhere that this is *his* superhero story and *his* quest to do what he thinks it's right. If I were to have complains they would be that the film needed a bit more relaxing from time to time. The tone was almost perennially somber and dark. Second, as relentless as the film was with its action scenes, I don't really think none of them stood out as much as, say, most of the action scenes in The Winter Soldier. Third, and probably the biggest issue, is with the stakes of the story. The film makes it feel as if they were really high, but it's hard to take them seriously when you can see how easily characters in this franchise die and resuscitate, or how characters that "die" already have sequels in the pipeline. I still think the shock and somber tone of the closing scenes is somewhat effective, but without those issues, it could've been so much more. Nevertheless, a lot of fun. Grade: A-
Loved Keaton and the character. It was a big departure from The Vulture I knew growing up, but I ended up really digging him. There were some parts of the movie I didn't like as much but whatever, they were personal things.

Ragnarok is a movie I enjoyed the first time but enjoy more every time I watch it and has become my go-to when I just need something fun to watch.

I liked Black Panther a lot, although I take your point. Surprisingly, Jordan was the thing I liked least about the film, I feel like he overacts in everything he does and this one seemed no exception to me. He has a presence but then he just doesn't convince me he's a real person.

(Have not seen Slaughterhouse-Five because I felt, as some have said, that the book seemed unfilmable.)

I could see IW suffering some from the knowledge that many of the gone characters go on but I felt it was quite effective given the circumstances. And some of the revelations of Endgame validate some of those stakes.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Mon May 20, 2019 2:18 pm

Wooley wrote:
Mon May 20, 2019 2:22 am
I could see IW suffering some from the knowledge that many of the gone characters go on but I felt it was quite effective given the circumstances. And some of the revelations of Endgame validate some of those stakes.
I agree.

I don't know how long I'll have to wait for Endgame. Can't seem to find any local showing of Captain Marvel, and obviously it isn't (and won't be) on any streaming service that isn't called Disney, so we'll see when I can close this.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Apex Predator » Tue May 21, 2019 9:16 pm

I guess I'm still playing even as others have kinda disappeared...

See a film whose ranking features the number 5 (May)
See a drama (April)

If I wanted to be technical, it could also count as April's see a film whose ranking features the number 4. But I suspect some would cringe...

3 Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri:

Man, this was one ugly movie.

Although I'll try to eschew spoilers, the plot on the surface makes sense. Frustrated with the lack of progress made on solving the murder of her daughter, Mildred (Frances McDormand) decides to rent three billboards from Red (Caleb Landry Jones) calling out beloved Sheriff Willoughby (Woody Harrelson). How this affects Mildred, her son Robbie (Lucas Hedges), the sheriff, his wife Anne (Abbie Cornish), deputy Jason Dixon (Sam Rockwell), used car salesman James (Peter Dinklage) and various others in town over a period of months as word gets out about the billboards, one character's medical diagnosis, and various town goings on.

Film is good at what it's trying to do. McDormand comes across as prickly, although one can understand her plight. Harrelson is conflicted as the chief, as he like everyone else isn't sure what to do about the case with no leads and loose ends and the "crazy" lady is calling him out even while dealing with a medical situation. Cornish, Hedges, and Jones are fine. I think I get why Rockwell won an Oscar for this role.

I don't think they were fully trying to redeem Dixon or turn this homophobic racist into a hero (although giving him a racist momma does almost feel like a cop out). It's that he climbed out of the gutter about the same time that Mildred started to descend and they happened to meet towards the end.
But that "redemption" moment involving a bar was a nope from me due to some actions he performed earlier.
As I was thinking about the relative non-ending of the film, I realized that I might have had my fill of films that don't bother solving its central mystery. Also, the guy they're looking for in Idaho probably did something in Afghanistan, not Missouri...
I guess while I'm thinking, I don't think I met a three dimensional character in this film. The closest might be James who deals with multiple emotions in the course of nearly two hours. Too many feel like they're missing a human dimension; it feels like they're characters in a play who haven't quite been brought to life.

I've also think I've had my fill of ugly goings on in rural Missouri towns. Next!
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Death Proof » Wed May 22, 2019 11:06 am

A film with the number 5 (Five, Fifth, etc.) in its title (not a sequel): Five Easy Pieces
A film with a title that starts with the letters I or J: Ju-on the Grudge
A film from the current IMDb 250 whose ranking includes the #5 (i.e. 15, 25, 54): (see list here) Raiders of the Lost Ark (50)
A film from the 1940s: The Great Dictator
A fantasy film: The Last Unicorn
A film with an animal in its title: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
A film mostly set in space (Space Day, first Friday of May): Gravity
A film based on a comic book (Comic Book Day, May 4): Sin City
A film with prominent Muslim characters (Ramadan, starts May 5): The 13th Warrior
A film from Mexico (Cinco de Mayo): Salon Mexico
A film from Orson Welles (born May 6): F for Fake
A film prominently featuring mothers (Mother's Day, May 12): Bad Moms
A film that won either the Palme d'Or or the Grand Prix at Cannes (May 14-25): Sex, Lies, and Videotape
A film set in a museum or featuring them prominently (Int'l Museum Day, May 18): The Relic
A war film (Memorial Day, May 27): Guns of the Navarone

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.
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