Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

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Stu
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Stu » Mon Aug 05, 2019 6:12 am

Thief wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 3:16 pm
And waaaaaaaaaaaaay on the other end of the spectrum, I closed with Un Chien Andalou (1929) and Scorpio Rising (1963), which I think someone recommended to me here or in another forum. Two very different and yet very similar experimental films. Both consisting of a loose narrative, driven by surreal and bizarre visuals and sound/music instead of dialogue. I enjoyed both to varying degrees, with Chien getting the upper-hand. Scorpio was interesting, and I loved how the music/soundtrack drives the visuals, but I wasn't as into it as I was with the other one. Still, both recommended.
I haven't seen Un Chien Andalou yet, but I DID just recently watch Persona for the first time last month, and apparently,. it contains a clip from that film in a fairly bizarre montage early in its runtime, so out of random curiosity, ever seen that one, Thief?
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Mon Aug 05, 2019 1:17 pm

Stu wrote:
Mon Aug 05, 2019 6:12 am
I haven't seen Un Chien Andalou yet, but I DID just recently watch Persona for the first time last month, and apparently,. it contains a clip from that film in a fairly bizarre montage early in its runtime, so out of random curiosity, ever seen that one, Thief?
I saw Persona for the first time in December and it left such an impression that I rewatched it in January, about a week after. Here is my review...

https://letterboxd.com/thief12/film/persona/1/

That film was something.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Thu Aug 08, 2019 2:35 am

A film featuring a clown (Clown Week): Clown at Midnight

I am very, very surprised that I don't remember this movie existing. It came out in 1999, a year that I was on top of EVERY film.

The story begins with a flashback to an actress being murdered in her dressing room by someone dressed as a clown. Fast forward to years later, and Kate (the murdered woman's daughter) ends up doing a community service project with a group of fellow teens cleaning up the opera house. Yes, she's doing a community service project in the building where her mother was murdered.

The other teens are morbidly interested in the history of the opera house, but before long they are being offed by someone dressed as a clown.

This is a film that works in very broad strokes. The teens are all archetypes: the mean slutty one (don't worry, we get a softcore sex scene from her before she's dispatched), the jock, the gay guy, the best friend, the bad boy, and the final girl.

There are some funny lines in the final act, including (from the killer): "Why is it that when women become artists they make such BAD DECISIONS?!?!?!?"

Cast-wise, Christopher Plummer and Margot Kidder are on hand to add a little acting heft. Aside from them, I only recognized Tatiana Ali (from Fresh Prince of Bel Air) and James Duval (he played Frank in Donnie Darko).

This is a very middle of the road horror film. There were some scary moments and one or two nice set pieces of gore. But the plot is kind of silly (Kate, the main character, has visions that conveniently serve as exposition), and the more things are explained at the end the stupider they seem. It wasn't awful, but neither was it some hidden gem.

If you're still looking for a film for this category, I'll just note that Killer Klowns from Outer Space is on Prime. The Man Who Laughs is outstanding if you can get hold of it. Amusement is a so-so horror anthology with a really good clown sequence.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Thu Aug 08, 2019 7:19 pm

A film with the word "Left" in its title (Lefthanders Day, August 13): Something Left, Something Taken; Nothing Left

Every now and then there just aren't feature length films that appeal to me from the categories. I think it's nice to mix it up a bit, so usually I do a short film or two for one of the categories. Both of these were okay.

Something Left, Something Taken

This one was an animated/stop motion short about a couple who are on their way to a true crime convention where they are especially excited to see a lecture about the Zodiac killer.

When they arrive at the airport, they are met by a strange man who tells them that the friend who was supposed to pick them up is busy and so he will drive them into town. The husband of the couple is immediately suspicious, and his suspicions only grow as he begins to notice things like a strange pendant hanging on the rearview mirror, or a suspiciously shaped case.

The title refers to the fact that the couple accepts their doom with comic speed, and goes about leaving fingerprints in the car and sticking the man's candy wrapper to their shirts because at all crime scenes a killer leaves something and takes something away. The couple imagines the forensic process of their dead bodies being examined, with their evidence eventually leading to the killer.

There were some fun visual moments (like the wife running her hands along the case and picturing the gun inside). The whole thing is a bit slight, but it moves pretty quickly and doesn't overstay its welcome.

Nothing Left

This was pretty weak. There's kind of a "so bad it's good appeal", though.

A man's pregnant wife is killed in a car accident caused by a drunk driver. For reasons that are not explained, a judge is like "Well, the jury found him guilty, but I disagree! Not guilty! Run free!". The bereaved husband decides to seek revenge.

Actually . . . the judge's decision is explained. In a scene that is completely mind boggling, the drunk driver, his girlfriend, the defense attorney, and the judge sit around being like "Woo! Thanks for bribing me!". They also hire a hit man to kill the husband which . . . why?

There are some classic lines. Maybe the best is "He took a permanent vacation . . . to HELL!"

There's a scene where the man prays in what I think was meant to be a church. But it's more like someone put a tablecloth over a side table, lit a few candles, and then hot glued a cardboard-cutout Jesus to a cross.

Later, the husband meets the killer at a restaurant. All of sudden the killer passes out right on the table. The husband waves to the waiter who brought the killer a drink and is like "THANKS FOR DRUGGING HIM!!! HERE IS YOUR $20 FOR HELPING ME WITH THIS MURDER!!!" It is never explained how the husband got a huge dude out of a restaurant without all the other patrons noticing.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Thu Aug 08, 2019 9:46 pm

A film from William Friedkin (born August 29): Cruising

Because of its place in the history of queer cinema (or more accurately, queer portrayal in cinema), this is a film that I've read and heard about a lot over the last 15 years or so, beginning with its mention in the documentary The Celluloid Closet.

The plot follows a police officer named Steve Burns (Al Pacino) who is enlisted by his boss to go undercover in the gay S&M scene to try to find a serial killer who is targeting gay men.

I guess that one of the main questions I had going in to the film was whether or not I'd find it homophobic. Despite the portrayal of the S&M clubs being kind of icky (I mean that literally--why is everyone so sweaty?!), I didn't think that the gay characters themselves were shown in an overly negative light. I actually thought that the most sympathetic character was Ted, a gay man in an abusive relationship who lives next door to Steve. Ted just seems like a really nice guy. Unabashedly gay. And he asserts with clear eyed wariness that the police don't really care much about the murders, and that if they actually found the guy they'd probably offer him a job instead of arresting him. While there are some violent signifiers in the club, I don't feel like I saw anything happening that people weren't consenting to and none of the guys who were "cruising" in the club even seemed all that predatory. And Steve, the audience surrogate, never seems that put off by what he sees. We see that he is intimidated by this new environment with rules he's trying to understand, but I don't remember him ever looking disgusted by what he saw or by the various propositions he received.

I liked seeing Al Pacino in one of his earlier roles, before he decided that his default volume was SCREAMING LIKE THIS!! I think he's a better, stronger actor when he plays characters who are reserved and quieter.

I'd say that the main downfall of the film is that the murder mystery itself is handled pretty poorly. There are some half-hearted gestures at psychological explanations for what's happening. The film attempts to end on an ambiguous note that I thought was kind of dumb (actually, really dumb). I think that the film missed a chance to get into the character of Steve. As his undercover role becomes more and more real, what is the effect on him? The film gives hints here and there, but I would have loved a more open discussion about how his feelings were changing as things progressed. In a later scene where Steve confronts Ted's jerk of a boyfriend, I half expected Steve to yell "He's too good for you!". Likewise, I wish that Steve's feelings about the club scene were more drawn out. Is he drawn to the men? The domination? The anonymity and lack of commitment?

I think that this was an interesting watch, if only for the very specific time period that it documents.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Wooley » Fri Aug 09, 2019 11:14 am

Takoma1 wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 9:46 pm
A film from William Friedkin (born August 29): Cruising

I liked seeing Al Pacino in one of his earlier roles, before he decided that his default volume was SCREAMING LIKE THIS!! I think he's a better, stronger actor when he plays characters who are reserved and quieter.
Amen.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Fri Aug 09, 2019 3:33 pm

A film with the number 8 (Eight, Eighth, etc.) in its title (not a sequel): Eight Diagram Pole Fighter

This is a Shaw Brothers film from 1984.

The plot follows a prominent family that sends seven sons and their father away to fight. They are betrayed by a jealous rival and ambushed by the Mongols. All of them are killed except for the fifth and sixth son. The sixth son returns home to his mother and sisters, badly damaged mentally from what happened. He often attacks his mother and sisters and the various servants. The fifth son, meanwhile, makes his way to a Buddhist temple where he tries to join. The head of the temple is reluctant to let him join, as he senses that the young man is still holding onto a lot of anger and is too intertwined in worldly affairs.

This was a film that really captured my interest on a visual level, with it's bright colors, emphatic zooms and pans, and physical acting that feels like it's aimed at an audience about 1000 feet away.

In the end, though it contains many action sequences, this felt more like a drama about two men trying to come to terms with a horrible trauma. It's a tragedy, really, as neither man is able to take comfort in reuniting with his family. The actor who played the sixth son died while filming was still taking place, and so he is conspicuously absent from some of the final sequences, leaving his story even more unresolved feeling.

I really liked this movie. It had great visual style and it's fun seeing the mother and sisters also show some fighting prowess. A sequence where the sixth son's mother fights him was really heavy for me. She hopes that if he gets his anger out of his system he will be well again, but you can see that he's just incredibly damaged by what he's seen and experienced.

On Amazon Prime with the HUGE side note that the film is dubbed instead of subtitled. It's not a horrible dubbing, but it's probably been fifteen years since I've willingly watched something dubbed.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Fri Aug 09, 2019 10:50 pm

A film set mostly on a plane (Aviation Day, August 19): Airplane 2

Is there anything worse than an unfunny comedy?

I don't even really want to talk about this film. It was lazy (hey guys! What if someone used a figurative expression but then it was literal!), sexist (a joke about a TSA machine showing only women naked is funny because . . . ?), and a last act role played by William Shatner was the best thing about it.

Yes, movie, you needed William Shatner to show up to make you even chuckle-worthy.

Also, a young woman sleeps with a donkey, which is funny because, I don't know, she's such a slut?

This movie was 94% hot garbage and 6% decent sight gags that were often then dragged to death. I seriously question the taste of anyone who likes it. I'd say "No offense," but if you think that a man dipping out on his rape trial is a laugh riot, then you've got some 'splaining to do.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by crumbsroom » Fri Aug 09, 2019 11:27 pm

I thought Airplane 2 was horrible when I was 8. I can't even imagine what that looks like now
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Fri Aug 09, 2019 11:37 pm

crumbsroom wrote:
Fri Aug 09, 2019 11:27 pm
I thought Airplane 2 was horrible when I was 8. I can't even imagine what that looks like now
The whole movie is like this:

MAN: Get me all of his records!
ME: So what, are they going to just hold up a record like--
OTHER MAN: Found them, sir! *holds up record, but like the MUSIC kind, get it?!?!?!?!?!?!?!*

And all the jokes that weren't literal pun jokes were things like a man snarling "She asked for it! They're all asking for it!", in case we weren't sure whether or not fleeing a rape trail was funny.

Beyond just a juvenile fixation on breasts and sex, there's so much "comedy" that comes from women being hit or hurt. And that's the whole joke--a man punches a women, several men hit a woman, a woman is grabbed by a security guard, etc. I feel dumber for having watched it, sad that someone was paid to write it, and baffled that it has a 6.1/10 on the IMDb.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by A Fake Account » Sat Aug 10, 2019 2:13 am

There are seriously about close to a 100 gags from the original Airplane! that I can recite verbatim. Airplane 2? I think there's one:

"How serious is it, Mr. Dunn?"
"I can't tell, sir."
"You can tell me; I'm the captain."

That's it, and probably the only reason it worked was Peter Graves' delivery. Everything else seemed like a poor photocopy of a gag from the previous movie (The captain's still a veiled pedophile! Small children recreating adult roles in commercials! "[Blank]? What is it?" "It's a [literal explanation of what blank is], but that's not important right now.") or something that would correctly have been cut out of that first movie.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Sat Aug 10, 2019 2:52 am

A Fake Account wrote:
Sat Aug 10, 2019 2:13 am
There are seriously about close to a 100 gags from the original Airplane! that I can recite verbatim. Airplane 2? I think there's one:

"How serious is it, Mr. Dunn?"
"I can't tell, sir."
"You can tell me; I'm the captain."

That's it, and probably the only reason it worked was Peter Graves' delivery. Everything else seemed like a poor photocopy of a gag from the previous movie (The captain's still a veiled pedophile! Small children recreating adult roles in commercials! "[Blank]? What is it?" "It's a [literal explanation of what blank is], but that's not important right now.") or something that would correctly have been cut out of that first movie.
What's frustrating is that the film does have a few funny moments, but then it always squanders them by dragging them out or taking them in a gross direction.

When the young woman turns to the man next to her and says, "Look, I think we might not survive this. I know this isn't the time or the place, but I don't want to die without . . . you know . .. " and then a few minutes later we see her trying the same line on a different man, I laughed. It's funny. It's subverting a male fantasy ("Please, mister, teach me about sex! I am so virginal and innocent!"). And also, that's where the joke should end.

Instead we then see a line of older men (we've seen her try this line on two men her age--like college aged or mid-20s) lined up in the aisles and loosening their clothing. This totally messes up the joke! The joke is that she's using this "But I've never . . . " as a pick-up line. Also, she's picking them! There is no humor if the guys are just lining up to have sex with her.

And then the film continues to ruin any humor by having her have sex with an animal. Gross! No!
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Oxnard Montalvo » Sat Aug 10, 2019 5:11 am

are there any good comedy sequels?
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Sat Aug 10, 2019 5:15 am

Oxnard Montalvo wrote:
Sat Aug 10, 2019 5:11 am
are there any good comedy sequels?
I don't particularly care for it :shifty:, but I know a lot of people here love Evil Dead II. Also, I've enjoyed some animated sequels to varying levels (although, they aren't strictly comedies). That's all I got.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Wooley » Sat Aug 10, 2019 2:04 pm

A Fake Account wrote:
Sat Aug 10, 2019 2:13 am
There are seriously about close to a 100 gags from the original Airplane! that I can recite verbatim. Airplane 2? I think there's one:

"How serious is it, Mr. Dunn?"
"I can't tell, sir."
"You can tell me; I'm the captain."

That's it, and probably the only reason it worked was Peter Graves' delivery. Everything else seemed like a poor photocopy of a gag from the previous movie (The captain's still a veiled pedophile! Small children recreating adult roles in commercials! "[Blank]? What is it?" "It's a [literal explanation of what blank is], but that's not important right now.") or something that would correctly have been cut out of that first movie.
I can actually recite the entire "jive" courtroom testimony at any moment.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Sat Aug 10, 2019 11:41 pm

Oxnard Montalvo wrote:
Sat Aug 10, 2019 5:11 am
are there any good comedy sequels?
22 Jump Street
Adams Family Values
Paddington 2
Army of Darkness
Bill and Ted's Bonus Journey
Murder Ahoy


That's all I got.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by A Fake Account » Sat Aug 10, 2019 11:53 pm

Some of the Pink Panther sequels are better than the original. I'd say A Shot in the Dark and Strikes Again, in particular. And National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation holds up. Oh, and I'm one of the people who greatly prefers Gremlins 2 to the original, largely for how much it mocks the very idea of sequels.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Wooley » Sun Aug 11, 2019 3:05 am

A Fake Account wrote:
Sat Aug 10, 2019 11:53 pm
Some of the Pink Panther sequels are better than the original. I'd say A Shot in the Dark and Strikes Again, in particular.
I agree completely.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Stu » Sun Aug 11, 2019 7:45 am

A Fake Account wrote:
Sat Aug 10, 2019 11:53 pm
Some of the Pink Panther sequels are better than the original. I'd say A Shot in the Dark and Strikes Again, in particular. And National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation holds up. Oh, and I'm one of the people who greatly prefers Gremlins 2 to the original, largely for how much it mocks the very idea of sequels.
It sure does!:

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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Mon Aug 12, 2019 2:47 am

"Um, electricity gremlin?"

"You just took said a noun and gremlin, like you playin' mad libs. You just like a child. You have the brain of a child."

One of my favorite of their skits. "This is why we need a woman in the writers room!".
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Apex Predator » Tue Aug 13, 2019 12:31 am

Are we pushing films for categories? Just found Lupin and the Castle of Cagliostro on Netflix.

Fun caper film involving a small time thief, his varied associates, a money forger and an innocent lady.

And did I mention this was the first film of Miyazaki?
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Apex Predator » Tue Aug 13, 2019 12:44 am

Takoma1 wrote:
Sat Aug 10, 2019 11:41 pm
Bill and Ted's Bonus Journey

Wow, that's rather bonus. :P

Seriously, I'd toss in After the Thin Man (they seemed to figure out the formula they started with the original Thin Man) and Austin Powers: The Spy who Shagged Me (solid sequel to the original...Goldmember is a miss, though). Depending on your mileage, you can also include Hot Shots Part Deux to the list.

Will second Gremlins 2 (which takes the film in some interesting directions), Christmas Vacation (Chechik was able to blend the sentimental with the funnies well enough, what happened to him?), and Addams Family Values (much like Gremlins 2, this isn't afraid to go dark).

In animated fare:
Shrek 2
Despicable Me 2 (considering the film worked best as a one-off, it's a pleasant surprise they made this work)
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Tue Aug 13, 2019 1:05 am

Apex Predator wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 12:44 am
Despicable Me 2 (considering the film worked best as a one-off, it's a pleasant surprise they made this work)
I thought that the first one was really fun, but walked out of this one 10 minutes in.

Mostly because I think that showing someone being tased in the chest as wacky and hilarious both unfunny and irresponsible. I will take your word for it that it works as a whole. I thought the third film was okay.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Apex Predator » Tue Aug 13, 2019 1:52 am

Takoma1 wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 1:05 am
I thought that the first one was really fun, but walked out of this one 10 minutes in.

Mostly because I think that showing someone being tased in the chest as wacky and hilarious both unfunny and irresponsible. I will take your word for it that it works as a whole. I thought the third film was okay.
I'll have to pull some chips from my hat and dip it in the guacamole bowl on top of my head.

I guess I wasn't half as bothered by the taser scene as you were.

PS: I don't recommend Minions. Despite some decent moments, it would have worked better as a half hour short than a feature length film.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Tue Aug 13, 2019 2:56 am

Apex Predator wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 1:52 am
PS: I don't recommend Minions. Despite some decent moments, it would have worked better as a half hour short than a feature length film.
I found the trailers for it to be overlong, so I had no interest in the film itself. I find the minions to be fine, but in very, VERY small doses.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Wed Aug 14, 2019 2:56 pm

Quickies on the first five films of the month...

Ordinary People (1980) Powerful and well acted by most of the cast, but most notably by Timothy Hutton and Mary Tyler Moore. Both were really, really impressive in the subtlety of their performances. I really liked that the film doesn't necessarily offer a traditionally "satisfying" conclusion, but rather a more realistic and somber resolution that doesn't tie everything in a neat bow. Grade: A

Three Days of the Condor (1975) Overall, a very satisfying and well crafted thriller that doesn't really on flashes and bangs, but on tension. Redford was good on the lead role, but I really enjoyed Max Von Sydow. My main complaint is in how the relationship between Redford and Dunaway develops, some of which I don't think was necessary. Still, a fine film. Grade: A-

Flight of the Living Dead (2007) When I decided to watch this, I readied myself for some cheap, zombie schlock. Unfortunately, the film doesn't deliver in any of the areas it should. It's not particularly gory or thrilling, and not really entertaining or funny, but rather dull and boring. It wastes about 30-40 minutes in exposition and presenting dull characters and then it gets worse as things go awry in the plane. One of those premises that should work, but ends up being really boring instead. Grade: D

The Last House on the Left (2009) I wasn't a fan of the original version, so I knew I was on shaky ground when I decided to watch this. It's definitely slicker and better looking, and it has a couple of really solid performances (most notably Garret Dillahunt). However, in the end, it doesn't work as well as it should and everything ends up feeling a bit stale and lifeless. Grade: C or C+

A Perfect Getaway (2009) This was a really fun, cheap thriller. I've always thought Steve Zahn is an underrated actor, but Timothy Olyphant really steals the show. Milla Jovovich isn't that great, but rather serviceable. I enjoyed the twist and the film is never boring, but I think the final resolution could've been way better. Still, a lot of fun. Grade: B or maybe B+, if I'm generous.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Apex Predator » Wed Aug 14, 2019 7:52 pm

Kudos to your take on A Perfect Getaway. Enjoyable thriller that isn't talked about that much. I'd go with either a B or B-, if I'm honest.

Tried to warn you away from the Last House remake. I think I gave that one a D or D-.

It took some doing, but I've finally found a film with Left in it that doesn't involve mystery or murderous kids.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Wed Aug 14, 2019 8:04 pm

Apex Predator wrote:
Wed Aug 14, 2019 7:52 pm
Tried to warn you away from the Last House remake. I think I gave that one a D or D-.
It was still "better" than the original, but considering how I disliked that film, it doesn't say a lot.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Apex Predator » Wed Aug 14, 2019 8:45 pm

Thief wrote:
Wed Aug 14, 2019 8:04 pm
It was still "better" than the original, but considering how I disliked that film, it doesn't say a lot.
Fair. Although I think I preferred the grittiness of the 1970s Wes Craven version, I do get why some don't like it.

I also understand those who think no version of this film works.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Wed Aug 14, 2019 9:24 pm

There's a boldness and a rawness to the original Last House on the Left that I responded to when I watched it (for the first and only time) at the age of 19 or 20. But subsequent years and reading the way that people delight in the real misery endured by the lead actresses has definitely soured me on it. I can't imagine ever watching it again.

That "left" category was a hard one to fill. Of films I've actually seen, I could only tepidly recommend the horror film Left in Darkness.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Apex Predator » Thu Aug 15, 2019 1:41 am

Takoma1 wrote:
Wed Aug 14, 2019 9:24 pm
There's a boldness and a rawness to the original Last House on the Left that I responded to when I watched it (for the first and only time) at the age of 19 or 20. But subsequent years and reading the way that people delight in the real misery endured by the lead actresses has definitely soured me on it. I can't imagine ever watching it again.

That "left" category was a hard one to fill. Of films I've actually seen, I could only tepidly recommend the horror film Left in Darkness.
I could recommend it a tad bit more. Maybe it's slightly above average. I liked a decent amount of it, but there were its problems.

Since I've seen both Last Houses and one Left Behind (one too many), I had to be creative. Luckily, Netflix had my number.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Thu Aug 15, 2019 2:13 am

Apex Predator wrote:
Thu Aug 15, 2019 1:41 am
I could recommend it a tad bit more. Maybe it's slightly above average. I liked a decent amount of it, but there were its problems.

Since I've seen both Last Houses and one Left Behind (one too many), I had to be creative. Luckily, Netflix had my number.
There was also The Ballad of Lefty Brown (which had generally positive reviews), but I wasn't in a western mood.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Wooley » Thu Aug 15, 2019 5:02 pm

Takoma1 wrote:
Wed Aug 14, 2019 9:24 pm
There's a boldness and a rawness to the original Last House on the Left that I responded to when I watched it (for the first and only time) at the age of 19 or 20. But subsequent years and reading the way that people delight in the real misery endured by the lead actresses has definitely soured me on it. I can't imagine ever watching it again.
I had the same reaction initially that you had in your first sentence (although I was much older). But I also never wanted to see it again and I never have.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Thu Aug 15, 2019 5:23 pm

I'm pretty sure I've shared my thoughts on the original back when I saw it, but to sum it up, it's a bad film. I don't mind the gore, violence, etc. but the tone is wildly uneven, the acting and the dialogue is bad, and the last act feels forced and not very organic. I do think there are glimpses of good filmmaking scattered throughout and I do understand its place in the history of cinema, but I don't think it's a good film.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Thu Aug 15, 2019 8:26 pm

An overdue review from a couple of months ago that I really wanted to write...


A film with a title that starts with the letters K or L
A film from a Caribbean-American filmmaker



Lo que le pasó a Santiago (What Happened to Santiago, 1989)
"I'd like to drink a toast for the experiences that have let me know you all just like you are and remember you just like you deserve."
For whatever reason, the Puerto Rican film industry hasn't been as successful or prolific as other Latin American or Caribbean regions. Sure, there have been glimpses of excellence and brief bursts of success, but nothing particularly notable, longstanding, or that helps cement a solid filmmaking environment. Be it because of lack of resources, economic hurdles, or our socio-political situation, few filmmakers have found success here (or abroad), and those that have managed some level of success, don't get enough support to sustain it and live from it. Lo que le pasó a Santiago, or the overall career of its writer/director Jacobo Morales, are some of those glimpses of excellence and brief bursts of success.

Released in 1989, Lo que le pasó a Santiago became the first Puerto Rican film to be nominated for a Foreign Film Oscar (where it eventually lost to *drumroll* Cinema Paradiso). I had memories of seeing it in theaters with my family, since the film was a big deal here. And even though I probably didn't fully grasp its adult themes at my 12 years of age, I do remember feeling the pride of something that was made here and feeling there was more there that I could understand at that age. That's why as soon as I came up with this category, I knew I wanted to make an effort to rewatch this. Unfortunately, the film isn't regularly shown on local TV and isn't available on any streaming format (although apparently, Morales is finishing some deals with some services to make it available). But after finding a somewhat decent version on YouTube, I decided to give in to that long overdue rewatch.

The film follows the titular man (Tommy Muñiz), a widower, in the aftermath of his retirement. It opens with the cliché farewell lunch where one of his colleagues prompts him for a "speech". Santiago delivers a sincere, but somewhat deadpan speech which ends with the above quote. Right before the speech, we see him glancing across the table through his coworkers and bosses, internally reminiscing of who they were and what they meant for him ("they left you the company and the millions, but you're still the same spoiled brat I helped to cross the street", or "you've been a good man. Too much of a conformist, but a good man nonetheless"). Those thoughts don't transcend into the actual speech, but the above quote does have a certain sting to those that might feel it. Santiago will be gone, but he will remember.

And therein begins the story of Santiago's life after retirement, as he copes with the desire to feel productive and useful,while dealing with family issues, the memories of his deceased wife, and most notably, the possibility of a new love in the form of a mysterious woman he meets in the park, called Angelina (Gladys Rodríguez). The struggles of the so-called "golden age" for senior citizens are finely portrayed as Santiago tries to deal with the different struggles of his adult children (divorce, mental illness), while coping with his own loneliness. But just like his speech in the opening scene, particular attention is given to how he remembers (or chooses to remember) things: from his own youth, his children, to his long-lost wife.

Lo que le pasó a Santiago is a simple film, carried by an emotional and evidently personal script paired with great performances. Muñiz, in particular, is excellent as Santiago while Rodríguez, although good, feels a bit more forced and theatrical. There are some nostalgic and melancholic tinges in the story, but in the end, it is a story of hope and optimism. That even in our old age, we can live a good life even when others don't expect or think we can, and we can still find happiness if we choose to do so. Santiago's attitude towards life shows that we have the power to know things and people the way the way they are, and remember them the way they deserve. 30 years after first watching it, and with an adult mindset now, I can finally see the film for what it is and remember it the way it deserves.

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

Post by crumbsroom » Thu Aug 15, 2019 9:35 pm

Thief wrote:
Thu Aug 15, 2019 5:23 pm
I'm pretty sure I've shared my thoughts on the original back when I saw it, but to sum it up, it's a bad film. I don't mind the gore, violence, etc. but the tone is wildly uneven, the acting and the dialogue is bad, and the last act feels forced and not very organic. I do think there are glimpses of good filmmaking scattered throughout and I do understand its place in the history of cinema, but I don't think it's a good film.
Its a bad film by pretty much any measure. I rewatched the first half and there are still some pretty incredible moments which showed that Craven was capable of really pure filmmaking, but they are surrounded by such flaccid garbage it almost undermines their raw power. By the time I got to the last third of the film I just turned it off because I realized I didn't really want to watch it and it was only going to get worse
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Thu Aug 15, 2019 9:42 pm

That reminds me of Cannibal Holocaust. It had a few effective moments littered throughout it. They're just surrounded by so much awfulness.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Apex Predator » Thu Aug 15, 2019 10:48 pm

Takoma1 wrote:
Thu Aug 15, 2019 2:13 am
There was also The Ballad of Lefty Brown (which had generally positive reviews), but I wasn't in a western mood.
This was another film I was looking at. But I've seen For a Few Dollars More already this month and I'm not quite in the mood to see several in a month.

When I'm over at my parents, that might put me in the mood more.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Rock » Fri Aug 16, 2019 4:29 am

Popcorn Reviews wrote:
Thu Aug 15, 2019 9:42 pm
That reminds me of Cannibal Holocaust. It had a few effective moments littered throughout it. They're just surrounded by so much awfulness.
I'd say Cannibal Holocaust is much stronger on a technical level. My problem is that it's relentlessly unpleasant and making its argument in bad faith, but I won't deny that its effective as a splatter movie. Last House I find much more sincere and empathetic, but Craven's direction is too sloppy to juggle the tonal shifts needed to pull of what he's trying to do and the movie falls apart. The strength and intensity of those handful of scenes isn't really present anywhere else in the movie, while Cannibal Holocaust feels like a surer effort on the whole.

I guess I "like" Last House more (and have defended on here and RT a few times) but find Cannibal Holocaust better made. But neither is fun to sit through and I'd be fine never seeing either again.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Fri Aug 16, 2019 5:07 am

Rock wrote:
Fri Aug 16, 2019 4:29 am
I'd say Cannibal Holocaust is much stronger on a technical level. My problem is that it's relentlessly unpleasant and making its argument in bad faith, but I won't deny that its effective as a splatter movie. Last House I find much more sincere and empathetic, but Craven's direction is too sloppy to juggle the tonal shifts needed to pull of what he's trying to do and the movie falls apart. The strength and intensity of those handful of scenes isn't really present anywhere else in the movie, while Cannibal Holocaust feels like a surer effort on the whole.

I guess I "like" Last House more (and have defended on here and RT a few times) but find Cannibal Holocaust better made. But neither is fun to sit through and I'd be fine never seeing either again.
Oh, I actually haven't seen The Last House on the Left. Crumb's description of Last House though reminded me a bit of how I felt towards this one. I enjoyed certain aspects to CH such as the reveal of
Felipe's decaying corpse
and a couple other scenes from Monroe's expedition to find the filmmakers. The extended sequences of endurance tests littered throughout it though make me feel sorry for those moments since they're stuck in this film. Overall, this film isn't entirely bad or anything, but I didn't care for it that much and I don't think I'll ever watch it again. As a splatter film though, it is what it wants to be.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Fri Aug 16, 2019 12:30 pm

I'm not a huge fan of Cannibal Holocaust either, but I'm considerably more partial to than I was of Last House on the Left. It has a stronger premise, interesting execution, and although not without its flaws, it's superior on a technical level. Unfortunately, like Rock said, it undermines its own argument by not making it in good faith (i.e. making a statement against media sensationalism by engaging in media sensationalism). Meh.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Tue Aug 20, 2019 3:13 am

A film from South Korea (Independence Day, August 15): Bedeviled

I kind of forgot that I watched this for this thread, so I wrote it up in the "Recently Seen" thread.

I won't repost what I wrote there, but I talk a lot about what I thought were serious issues with one of the film's overriding themes.

The plot is that Hae-won is a woman living in Seoul. In the beginning of the film she witnesses a brutal assault on a woman and the police want her to testify against the brutal thugs who committed the assault. Under pressure, things get awkward at work, and she takes a vacation to an island that she visited as a child. On the island she reunites with Bok-nam, a woman she had befriended when the two were children. Bok-nam is the only young woman on the sparsely populated island (aside from a prostitute who is ferried over on occasion), and she is horribly abused by the three adult men on the island as well as by a gaggle of female elders who oversee the island. As Hae-won is witness to more and more severe abuse, she continues to try to stay out of things. As the cruelty mounts and Bok-nam becomes more and more desperate, things are clearly coming to a head.

On one level this was a very effective film. Bok-nam is in a living hell, suffering a constant barrage of verbal, mental, emotional, and sexual abuse. How she has even survived to this point is kind of a mystery. This is a revenge film, and those always have two parts: the cruel act(s) and the revenge. The film is split almost exactly in half, so that Bok-nam's torment lasts almost an hour. On one hand, this does build your hate for the people who abuse her. But on the other hand, it's surprising how little depth is given to the other characters. They all remain pretty one-dimensional villains. I did at one point wonder just what these people wanted exactly--they are so brutal to her and indifferent to her safety/wellbeing, but what would they do without her? I wish that this had been addressed.

The main issue in the film, something I talked about more in my other post, was that I didn't totally agree with the way that the film tried to address the idea of complicity through silence/inaction. From the moment that Hae-won decides she doesn't want to testify, we're supposed to be put off by her selfishness and understand that silence helps those who want to do harm. Unfortunately, the way that the film tries to show this theme often comes off as muddled. I just don't imagine that a woman witnessing sexual abuse of another woman would be as calm and casual as Hae-won. And I'm not talking about some idea of sisterhood. If some guy is a rapist, what is to say he won't come after you? The way that she acts and the way that she disregards what Bok-nam says about what is happening on the island veers away from denial and into inexplicable stupidity. There's a flashback to the two girls as children that does a much better job of exploring silent complicity.

I also had mixed feelings about the final ten or so minutes.

I'd recommend this to people who like action thrillers and don't mind graphic violence.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Apex Predator » Thu Aug 22, 2019 5:19 pm

It may have been last month, but I finally got through Moonlight.

It was kind of hard to watch due to the bullying and family situation.

But at the same time, it was so well done. It doesn't look like it was based on a play, the performances were great, and the film was well directed as well.
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