Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

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Charles
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Charles » Sat Feb 09, 2019 8:19 pm

So I watched Beauty and the Beast and For Colored Girls, and one of them was good.

For Colored Girls, I realize I'm exactly not the target audience, but I'm not sure what the point was. It feels like a dentist appointment where the dentist fixes nothing in the end. It just piles up misery on top of itself in a way that isn't particularly interesting at all. From a bit of cursory reading, I understand that the play is very idiosyncratic, but the movie is just too standard to be interesting. It doesn't put an interesting twist on anything and it becomes unbearably overdramatic. I probably won't watch another Tyler Perry movie.

Beauty and the Beast, 1946 though was great. It's very French and I'm not sure how good it is after translation or with subtitles, but the snappy dialogue, half-established world and overall dreaminess combo super well. Though I wish there was more to the palace/castle itself. It's amazing when they get there, but very little is seen or done with it all in the end. Also I think they mixed Cinderella in there, I'm not sure Beauty and the Beast had Belle as a maid to her bitchy sisters.
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Apex Predator
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Apex Predator » Sat Feb 09, 2019 9:11 pm

Frankenstein (1910)
See a 1910s film

Very liberal translation of the Frankenstein legend.

Frankenstein, here a college student, decides to create life. But the end result is ugly and full of his worst instincts and jealous of his girlfriend too. So he decides to lock the creation up. But ultimately, he breaks out.

There's some clever moments here (instead of lightning during the creation sequence, we get a couple of magical poofs) and there. But the film just kind of ends and the restored version I saw on YouTube doesn't look discernibly better than the old one.

Unless you're a completest of the Frankenstein franchise, this is a pass.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Sat Feb 09, 2019 10:44 pm

A film from the current IMDb 250 whose ranking includes the #2 (i.e. 20, 32, 42): It’s a Wonderful Life

This was my first time seeing this film from beginning to end. I've seen 5-10 minute bits and pieces here and there, but my idea of the whole structure of the film was completely wrong. The part I'd always understood most about the film (George seeing what life would have been like without him) is actually a much smaller part of the film than what I'd imagined.

I'd bet that most of you have seen it, so I won't go into too much summary. The directing and Stewart's performance are pretty amazing. I was surprised at how dark the film was at times--such as a young George being assaulted by his boss until he is bleeding while his friend looks on in horror.

Generally speaking, I respond strongly to the central theme of the film in terms of realizing that just because you aren't a star or a "success" it doesn't mean that you haven't made the world a better place. One of my favorite quote is from Middlemarch, where the narrator remarks that "the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.” (God, I love that quote.)

But for me what adds a lot of layers to the film is what I learned about it in the documentary Five Came Back (on Netflix and highly recommended, by the way). The documentary is about five directors (Capra, Wyler, Stevens, Ford, and Huston) who all went to war during WW2 (though some were working in the capacity of documenting events, not actually fighting) and how their experiences shaped the films they created thereafter. I was very taken by the way that the film explored the contrast of despair and optimism in It's a Wonderful Life through the lens of a filmmaker who had just seen such triumph and destruction/misery. The fact that this was Jimmy Stewart's first film after he returned from serving in the war just adds to the whole thing.

Obviously this is a film that many people have seen. But if you haven't read/watched anything about Capra's war experiences, doing so might change how you view this film on a rewatch.

EDIT: Also, that phone conversation kiss was really hot. Like, wow.

EDIT 2: This film was, in so many ways, way more physical and visceral than I'd expected. The aforementioned kiss being only one element of that.
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Slentert
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Slentert » Sun Feb 10, 2019 10:45 am

Thank you, Takoma, for convincing me to read Middlemarch.
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Oxnard Montalvo
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Oxnard Montalvo » Sun Feb 10, 2019 1:31 pm

ja I remember my first time seeing it being surprised at its levels of angst and desperation. I probably assumed it was fluffier given its Christmas Movie Classic For The Whole Family status. the ending is kinda fairy-tale, but that's not always a bad thing. we all need our feel-good stories after all.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Sun Feb 10, 2019 3:45 pm

Slentert wrote:Thank you, Takoma, for convincing me to read Middlemarch.
Middlemarch is an amazing novel, but it is very long. I listened to it as an audiobook. I've seen one miniseries adaptation of it which was okay, but it's hard to capture the brilliance of Eliot's narration and the way that she captures the inner lives of the characters. They are very complex and real people.
Oxnard Montalvo wrote:ja I remember my first time seeing it being surprised at its levels of angst and desperation. I probably assumed it was fluffier given its Christmas Movie Classic For The Whole Family status. the ending is kinda fairy-tale, but that's not always a bad thing. we all need our feel-good stories after all.
That's what I was anticipating as well. It's a story of frustrated ambition and the "price" of decency.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Sun Feb 10, 2019 4:57 pm

A film with the word "Love" in its title: Love (2011)

I . . . did not understand this film.

And I mean that on both a literal level and a thematic level. Sure, everything is explained (sort of) in the end, but I feel like its ideas were pretty muddled.

The film begins with a Civil War soldier narrating about a battle and the general hardships. Then it's a hard jump to a man named Lee Miller, a lone astronaut maintaining a space station. After a while, Miller loses contact with Earth. Abandoned, he occupies himself by reading a journal from the Civil War soldier at the beginning of the film and fantasizing about a woman whose picture he keeps.

The entire film is really just watching Miller coping with his situation. Layered into his scenes are strange interviews with people musing on life in general. Eventually Miller has an encounter with a strange object that begins to explain what has happened to him.

Then the movie just . . . ends.

Gunner Wright does a fine job in the lead role, despite not having anyone else to play off of. But this is a movie that we've seen before. It was called Moon. (Please note, the plot progression in this film does not have the same ending, I'm referring to the "man alone in space" trope). This film has some pretty visuals (though so many of them are "borrowed" from other films), but there's a real lack of narrative momentum.

William Eubank, who made this film, would go on to make The Signal (the 2014 one), which is a much more coherent and original film than this one.

Love was funded and produced by the band Angels and Airwaves, a band founded by Blink-182 singer Tom DeLonge who is really, really into UFOs. This is the final, befuddling thing that I learned about the movie.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Wooley » Sun Feb 10, 2019 5:41 pm

Apex Predator wrote:Frankenstein (1910)
See a 1910s film

Very liberal translation of the Frankenstein legend.

Frankenstein, here a college student, decides to create life. But the end result is ugly and full of his worst instincts and jealous of his girlfriend too. So he decides to lock the creation up. But ultimately, he breaks out.

There's some clever moments here (instead of lightning during the creation sequence, we get a couple of magical poofs) and there. But the film just kind of ends and the restored version I saw on YouTube doesn't look discernibly better than the old one.

Unless you're a completest of the Frankenstein franchise, this is a pass.
I love this movie. Recommend it to people every October.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Wooley » Sun Feb 10, 2019 5:53 pm

Takoma1 wrote:A film from the current IMDb 250 whose ranking includes the #2 (i.e. 20, 32, 42): It’s a Wonderful Life

This was my first time seeing this film from beginning to end. I've seen 5-10 minute bits and pieces here and there, but my idea of the whole structure of the film was completely wrong. The part I'd always understood most about the film (George seeing what life would have been like without him) is actually a much smaller part of the film than what I'd imagined.

I'd bet that most of you have seen it, so I won't go into too much summary. The directing and Stewart's performance are pretty amazing. I was surprised at how dark the film was at times--such as a young George being assaulted by his boss until he is bleeding while his friend looks on in horror.

Generally speaking, I respond strongly to the central theme of the film in terms of realizing that just because you aren't a star or a "success" it doesn't mean that you haven't made the world a better place. One of my favorite quote is from Middlemarch, where the narrator remarks that "the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.” (God, I love that quote.)

But for me what adds a lot of layers to the film is what I learned about it in the documentary Five Came Back (on Netflix and highly recommended, by the way). The documentary is about five directors (Capra, Wyler, Stevens, Ford, and Huston) who all went to war during WW2 (though some were working in the capacity of documenting events, not actually fighting) and how their experiences shaped the films they created thereafter. I was very taken by the way that the film explored the contrast of despair and optimism in It's a Wonderful Life through the lens of a filmmaker who had just seen such triumph and destruction/misery. The fact that this was Jimmy Stewart's first film after he returned from serving in the war just adds to the whole thing.

Obviously this is a film that many people have seen. But if you haven't read/watched anything about Capra's war experiences, doing so might change how you view this film on a rewatch.

EDIT: Also, that phone conversation kiss was really hot. Like, wow.

EDIT 2: This film was, in so many ways, way more physical and visceral than I'd expected. The aforementioned kiss being only one element of that.
It's a really good film that doesn't get its due sometimes because of its status as THE Christmas movie.
If I understand correctly, the film was not that well-received in its day and had become essentially forgotten until the 1970s when Ultra High Frequency channels were looking for films to show around Christmas. Because IaWL had fallen into the public domain, they didn't have to pay to show it so they showed it a lot and thus was it brought back into the public awareness and became the classic it is now.
At least that's what I've read.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Captain Terror » Sun Feb 10, 2019 6:14 pm

Takoma1 wrote:I was surprised at how dark the film was at times--such as a young George being assaulted by his boss until he is bleeding while his friend looks on in horror.
This is true about a lot of Capra's films, which is why I think it's unfair that he's mostly known as the "feel-good ending" guy by modern audiences.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Sun Feb 10, 2019 6:26 pm

Wooley wrote:Ilove the dance at the gym. With the pool.
I think that it has a lot of really memorable moments that aren't the ones you see played as clips when the film is referenced.

A sequel: Sleepaway Camp 2:Unhappy Campers

Well, it's been a lazy Sunday morning, that's for sure!

Since talking about any element of this film gives away the ending of the first movie, I'm just going to out the whole review in spoiler tags, but I won't be spoiling the film that I'm talking about (not that there's much to spoil!).
So at the end of the first Sleepaway Camp, we learn that Angela has been the killer all along and that she's mentally disturbed from the way that she was treated by her aunt after the death of her father and brother.

Where the sequel begins, Angela is out of the mental hospital and she's gotten herself a job at Camp Rolling Hills. There's no "is she the killer this time?" mystery. Within the first 5 minutes of running time she's dispatched a naughty camper who was *gasp* hanging out with boys and drinking. The film turns into Angela's increasingly wide net of who "deserves" to be killed, hacking, burning, and garroting her way through anyone that displays bad behavior.

I think that I'd have liked this film a bit more if it didn't have the spectre of the first film hanging over it. This isn't a bad film at all. In fact, I found it pretty funny and engaging. But frankly I did not care for what they did with the character of Angela. If this had been a stand-alone film, I would have actually really dug it. I just couldn't get over the completely different dynamic. This isn't a film where kills have meaning--it's a hack-and-slash, quippy slasher.

I did think that the film did a good job of having a relatable, likable character in camp attendee Molly. Everyone else is varying degrees of hateable. There's the queen bitch Ally, who constantly refers to Angela as "the dyke". There's TC, the counselor who looks at a picture of a topless teenager and remarks "Nice tits!". Valerie Hartman, who plays Ally, must have set a record for number of topless scenes. Her breasts are bared repeatedly, to the point where it's like "Why is this happening?". One of the things that I liked about the first film was that the kids actually looked like teens and pre-teens. The "teens" in this film are a weird mix of actual teens and then some 20-somethings who were hired to be the ones to take their shirts off. The need to keep showing the handful of 20-somethings topless kind of marred the film for me. The film isn't at all equitable with its nudity, and so it feels very director-pervy. In fact, Hartman had to film a sex scene with a stand-in because the person playing her hook-up was a minor at the time. I was delighted to find out that Valerie Hartman worked as a crew member on the third film, as a raccoon wrangler.

I wish this film wasn't part of the Sleepaway Camp universe. I would definitely have enjoyed it as a stand-alone. But with my fondness for the first film looming over it, this one couldn't quite compare. Still, Pamela's Springsteen's chipper slasher is a lot of fun.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Sun Feb 10, 2019 8:49 pm

A romantic film: Alex Strangelove

This was a sweet little teen romance/sex comedy deal with a dash of Better Off Dead surrealism thrown in for good measure.

Alex Truelove is a slightly nerdy but generally popular student: class President, good student, and he has a perfect match in his girlfriend Claire. What begins as a friendship creating a video webseries about their high school blossoms into a romance. But a ways into their relationship, Alex and Claire still haven't had sex. With Claire frustrated, Alex makes serious plans for them to be together (he is a virgin, she is not), but a chance encounter with a guy named Elliot sews confusion for Alex. As "the big night" approaches, Alex tries to sort out his feelings for Claire, Elliot, and his own sexuality in general.

On the whole I liked this film. Both Claire and Elliot are likable, sympathetic characters. I thought that the film was very realistic in showing the way that when Alex felt conflicted or frustrated he tended to take his frustrations out on them, accusing Elliot of pressuring him or accusing Claire of being too clingy. The acting from the people playing the teens is pretty good, and I was happy to see Kathryn Erbe pop up as Claire's mother. I thought that this was a genuinely sympathetic look at sexual confusion in the modern age. As the film shows, people are now familiar with many variations on sexuality and gender, but that doesn't mean that homophobia (from others or internalized) isn't still a very real thing.

I'd recommend this one. It was sweet.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Mon Feb 11, 2019 4:10 pm

A comedy: Hurricane Bianca: From Russia with Love

This is a film for pretty much a niche market, namely fans of RuPaul's Drag Race and specifically season 6 contestant Bianca del Rio.

In the first film, gay teacher Roy is fired from his Texas public school in a move driven by the homophobic Deborah. Roy returns as alter ego Bianca del Rio, and blah blah blah, Deborah ends up in jail. In this sequel, Deborah gets out of jail and tricks Roy into taking a trip to Russia where she hopes to have him thrown in jail for being gay.

This is a silly, jokey film with broad jokes like Russia running on a potato economy ("Potato is for closers!") and an absurd plan to use prostitutes to "convert" the gay prisoners into straight men. There are sizable roles for Katya and Shangela as Roy's love interest and close friend, respectively. (If you're a Drag Race fan, Lady Bunny and Mrs. Kasha Davis also show up). Rachel Dratch goes all in as the vengeful, "Christian" Deborah.

Despite the silliness, the film does land a few pointed remarks. Not only addressing the ridiculousness of jailing people for their sexuality, but when Deborah says that it's not "safe" to have a gay teacher in the school, Roy points out that she has a history of seducing male students, pointing to the broader trend that abuse between teachers and students is almost always heterosexual in nature.

I'm pretty much right in the demographic for this film, so I enjoyed it ("Oh, no! It's those horny rats! And it's mating season!"). It's on Netflix.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Mon Feb 11, 2019 9:35 pm

Yeah, still catching up with the January reviews...


A film about the Vietnam War


Good Morning, Vietnam (1987, rewatch)
"Sir, the man is a walking keg of dynamite."
In the 1970s, Robin Williams exploded into the world of comedy and entertainment. He quickly developed a following with his frenetic and wild style of stand-up comedy, which his biographer called "intense, utterly manic", "beyond energetic", and even "dangerous". Nonetheless, the Juilliard alum became a star, first in stand-up, then TV, and finally on film. Remembered mostly because of his comedic roles, Good Morning, Vietnam is probably the quintessential example of Williams' talents as both a comedian and a dramatic artist.

Good Morning, Vietnam is loosely based on the career of Adrian Cronauer, a radio DJ sent to Vietnam whose irreverent style clashes with the more conservative top brass at the station. Despite the name connection, little of Cronauer's story remained on the film, replaced instead by Williams' explosion of unstoppable improvisations and wild impersonations. While on his free time, Cronauer falls for Trinh (Chintara Sukapatana), a young Vietnamese woman, which leads him to also befriend her brother Tuan (Tung Thanh Tran), while also dealing with the cultural clash and the threat of the Viet Cong.

I remember seeing and loving this film since the 80's, the perfect mixture of comedy and drama, all in the hands of the explosive Williams. However, I hadn't seen it in a long time, and revisiting it last month exposed some of its flaws. The most glaring of them is the weak and unnecessary subplot of Cronauer courting Trinh. Not only do they lack chemistry, but the subplot adds little to the story and only feels like it was put there just for the sake of having a female character. As a result, Cronauer's relationship with Tuan, which is indeed relevant to the plot, ends up feeling diminished and half-baked. His interactions with the English students he befriends felt more honest and tender, though.

But the real reason to watch this film is not the subplots, but rather to watch Williams explode on screen. From the moment he arrives at the station for the first time, where you can see how he gets in the zone as he prepares, to the moment he screams his iconic "Gooooooooooood moooorning, Vietnaaaaam!", you just have to stand in awe of the man. Not only for his comedic delivery, but his improvised delivery of material appropriate to the historic era; and then the way he segues into more dramatic moments is impressive.

Robin Williams exploded into the world in the 1970s, bursting with energy and talent which was evident and undeniable in countless of films. Unfortunately, his flame died in 2014. Few celebrity deaths have struck me as hard as this one. Not only for the way it happened, but for how openly and honestly he faced his own demons through his career, as well as the countless actors and actresses that shared the screen with him that have testified how humble he was and how much he helped them.

I realize that I'm making this review more of a reflection of Williams than of the film itself, but I feel that if there's one film that best embodies the essence of its star, is this one. Good Morning, Vietnam is far from perfect, but when all is said and done, it's an encapsulation of Robin Williams. Flawed, and yet so full of talent. The man was a walking keg of dynamite, and we should be glad we had a chance to feel his impact.

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

Post by Wooley » Mon Feb 11, 2019 9:58 pm

Thief wrote:Yeah, still catching up with the January reviews...


A film about the Vietnam War


Good Morning, Vietnam (1987, rewatch)



In the 1970s, Robin Williams exploded into the world of comedy and entertainment. He quickly developed a following with his frenetic and wild style of stand-up comedy, which his biographer called "intense, utterly manic", "beyond energetic", and even "dangerous". Nonetheless, the Juilliard alum became a star, first in stand-up, then TV, and finally on film. Remembered mostly because of his comedic roles, Good Morning, Vietnam is probably the quintessential example of Williams' talents as both a comedian and a dramatic artist.

Good Morning, Vietnam is loosely based on the career of Adrian Cronauer, a radio DJ sent to Vietnam whose irreverent style clashes with the more conservative top brass at the station. Despite the name connection, little of Cronauer's story remained on the film, replaced instead by Williams' explosion of unstoppable improvisations and wild impersonations. While on his free time, Cronauer falls for Trinh (Chintara Sukapatana), a young Vietnamese woman, which leads him to also befriend her brother Tuan (Tung Thanh Tran), while also dealing with the cultural clash and the threat of the Viet Cong.

I remember seeing and loving this film since the 80's, the perfect mixture of comedy and drama, all in the hands of the explosive Williams. However, I hadn't seen it in a long time, and revisiting it last month exposed some of its flaws. The most glaring of them is the weak and unnecessary subplot of Cronauer courting Trinh. Not only do they lack chemistry, but the subplot adds little to the story and only feels like it was put there just for the sake of having a female character. As a result, Cronauer's relationship with Tuan, which is indeed relevant to the plot, ends up feeling diminished and half-baked. His interactions with the English students he befriends felt more honest and tender, though.

But the real reason to watch this film is not the subplots, but rather to watch Williams explode on screen. From the moment he arrives at the station for the first time, where you can see how he gets in the zone as he prepares, to the moment he screams his iconic "Gooooooooooood moooorning, Vietnaaaaam!", you just have to stand in awe of the man. Not only for his comedic delivery, but his improvised delivery of material appropriate to the historic era; and then the way he segues into more dramatic moments is impressive.

Robin Williams exploded into the world in the 1970s, bursting with energy and talent which was evident and undeniable in countless of films. Unfortunately, his flame died in 2014. Few celebrity deaths have struck me as hard as this one. Not only for the way it happened, but for how openly and honestly he faced his own demons through his career, as well as the countless actors and actresses that shared the screen with him that have testified how humble he was and how much he helped them.

I realize that I'm making this review more of a reflection of Williams than of the film itself, but I feel that if there's one film that best embodies the essence of its star, is this one. Good Morning, Vietnam is far from perfect, but when all is said and done, it's an encapsulation of Robin Williams. Flawed, and yet so full of talent. The man was a walking keg of dynamite, and we should be glad we had a chance to feel his impact.

Grade: B
Unfortunately, over time, Williams' gig became nails on a chalkboard to me. I've really enjoyed him as a dramatic actor (I thought he was absolutely deserving of BSA Oscar and I loved him in Garp) and stand-up comedian, and Mork was amusing, but when he brings that same endless thing to film, it wears me out really fast. Wouldn't watch Aladdin again if you put a gun to my head and, honestly, GMV was probably my second least-favorite of his "wind him up and watch him go" movies.
Don't mean to be a downer, just giving my honest feedback on it.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Mon Feb 11, 2019 11:29 pm

A film featuring the name of a couple in its title (any gender): Angel and the Bad Man

John Wayne is a bad man. We first meet Quirt Evans as he rides an exhausted horse, both man and horse collapsing in front of a Quaker man, Thomas, and his daughter, Penelope (Gail Russell). Seeing that Evans is wounded the Quakers take him to their home and take care of him. As Penelope cares for Evans she begins to fall in love with him. When Evans recovers enough to leave, Penelope confesses her love to Evans. At first reluctant to enter into a relationship with her, Evans is swayed and tries to find a way to stay with her and also accomplish what he's after.

So, just in general I tend to give the side eye to films about good women reforming bad dudes. Too often it feels like there a message there about the female responsibility to "civilize" uncivil men. And adding to that is the age gap between the two, with Wayne being almost twenty years older than Russell.

But this movie mostly manages to pull it off. There's something really sweet about the way that Russell realizes with a start "I didn't realize it wasn't always true for both!", meaning she didn't realize it was possible to love someone who doesn't love you back. The story isn't so much about Penelope reforming Evans as it is about Evans finding a purpose beyond revenge or selfishness. The film even goes as far as to color code the change in Evans, with his clothing going from black to a lighter color as he gives up his violent ways.

Wayne and Russell are both a bit understated in this film, and it serves the story well. She's not overly preachy. He's not overly "manly". The two characters balance each other nicely, as do the sweet supporting characters of Penelope's family and the local Marshall who periodically rides by to remind Evans that he's got a hanging rope waiting for him if he's ever caught.

I caught about 10 minutes once of a remake starring Lou Diamond Phillips. I'm not sure if that version is any good, but I think that this one is worth a watch. My main complaint with these old films, as always, is that there is some mistreatment of horses, though not quite as bad as most other 40s and 50s westerns.

(EDIT: Ugh--I'd forgotten about Gail Russell's story and how she died of alcoholism at age 36. What a shame.)
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Tue Feb 12, 2019 12:10 am

Wooley wrote: Unfortunately, over time, Williams' gig became nails on a chalkboard to me. I've really enjoyed him as a dramatic actor (I thought he was absolutely deserving of BSA Oscar and I loved him in Garp) and stand-up comedian, and Mork was amusing, but when he brings that same endless thing to film, it wears me out really fast. Wouldn't watch Aladdin again if you put a gun to my head and, honestly, GMV was probably my second least-favorite of his "wind him up and watch him go" movies.
Don't mean to be a downer, just giving my honest feedback on it.
No worries! I love the feedback. I understand your point, but that's part of what I wanted to convey in my review about a flawed film. He was a flawed man, had a flawed career, made a lot of stinkers (What Dreams May Come? Bicentennial Man?), but when he was good, he was great (Good Will Hunting, One Hour Photo). Aladdin is also my favorite Disney film, so I will respectfully disagree there :D But anyway, Good Morning, Vietnam is a flawed film and not my favorite of his, but I think it's the best example to capture who he was on screen.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Tue Feb 12, 2019 12:21 am

A film that features football prominently (Super Bowl, February 3): Season of a Lifetime

I am not into football.

Let's even set aside the fact that it, you know, destroys the brains of the children, teens, and adults who play it. Let's set aside the fact that many communities valorize football players to the point that they literally get away with crimes.

It's a fundamentally boring sport to me and aside from the occasional college game, I've never found much to be interested in.

This film is a documentary following Jeremy Williams, a man who is diagnosed with ALS (a horrible degenerative disease) and decides to continue on as the football coach of the team he previously led to an undefeated season the year before. The film looks at Jeremy's work as a coach, how his religious faith helps him through his trials, and his family. From the testimonials from his players, it's clear how much he has meant to them and that they want to make him proud.

In terms of creativity, this documentary is a bit simple. It kind of bip bops from one part of the story to another, then goes back into football mode to show the latest game and the team's ranking in the region. I did really like his family. His wife is very sweet, his son (who is confined to a wheelchair with Spina Bifida) is quirky and fun, and his daughter seems super cool. They are religious, but not oppressively so, and it's clear that their faith helps them to endure their various hardships.

I'm not sure I'd recommend this film, but I would recommend googling Jeremy Williams and learning more about his life. Watching his ALS progress, even during the filming of the season, was intense. It's a horrible disease and you can see how having a concrete goal like a football season would help someone stay mentally tough.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Tue Feb 12, 2019 12:59 am

Ooh! Just an FYI: There's a John Ford film on Netflix that he produced for the War Department and it's all about how to be inconspicuous as an operative behind enemy lines!

Netflix also has Midway, but I think that the spy one is what I'll "officially" do for this month.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Captain Terror » Tue Feb 12, 2019 2:30 am

Thief wrote: A film with a title that starts with the letters C or D:
CRAZY HEART (2009)

I remember the Oscar buzz around this one 10 years ago, but am only now getting around to it. Jeff Bridges definitely earns his Best Actor trophy as the country singer who's seen better days. A terrific performance, and he acquits himself well as a singer too. (As does Colin Farrell, in an upset) My one beef would be that the romance between Bridges and Maggie Gyllenhaal didn't feel very organic to me. He's an alcoholic curmudgeon, 30 years her senior, but her attraction to him is basically immediate. No sufficient explanation for that was really offered, so it felt forced to me. Regardless, the film is good enough to overcome that and I'm comfortable recommending it despite that misstep. (And the original songs aren't bad either)
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Wooley » Tue Feb 12, 2019 2:39 am

Thief wrote:
No worries! I love the feedback. I understand your point, but that's part of what I wanted to convey in my review about a flawed film. He was a flawed man, had a flawed career, made a lot of stinkers (What Dreams May Come? Bicentennial Man?), but when he was good, he was great (Good Will Hunting, One Hour Photo). Aladdin is also my favorite Disney film, so I will respectfully disagree there :D But anyway, Good Morning, Vietnam is a flawed film and not my favorite of his, but I think it's the best example to capture who he was on screen.
I think that's totally fair.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Wooley » Tue Feb 12, 2019 2:40 am

Captain Terror wrote:
CRAZY HEART (2009)

I remember the Oscar buzz around this one 10 years ago, but am only now getting around to it. Jeff Bridges definitely earns his Best Actor trophy as the country singer who's seen better days. A terrific performance, and he acquits himself well as a singer too. (As does Colin Farrell, in an upset) My one beef would be that the romance between Bridges and Maggie Gyllenhaal didn't feel very organic to me. He's an alcoholic curmudgeon, 30 years her senior, but her attraction to him is basically immediate. No sufficient explanation for that was really offered, so it felt forced to me. Regardless, the film is good enough to overcome that and I'm comfortable recommending it despite that misstep. (And the original songs aren't bad either)
Old men like to think they can still get hot, young, awesome women?
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Tue Feb 12, 2019 6:53 pm

A film from China (Chinese New Year, February 5): Look Out, Officer!

I really like Stephen Chow (especially Kung Fu Hustle), and this one is an effort from 1990 (he stars but did not direct).

Eh.

Chow plays a rookie police officer who begins to see the ghost of another police officer who was killed by some evil gangsters in a way that was made to look like suicide. Chow agrees to help the officer find his killer in exchange for help with the ladies and looking better at his job. What follow are a lot of hijinks, often centering on the ghost's vaguely defined powers (such as blowing wind to make a girl's skirt lift up, or "possessing" Chow's gun so that he's a crack shot).

Chow is a really gifted physical comedian and he's really charismatic. But that only carries this film so far. Maybe it's a cultural gap, but a lot of the humor just didn't seem funny to me. In one scene, they terrify an old woman so that she pees herself while Chow crouches under her to collect her pee in a jar so that they can use it to cast a magic spell. Ha? The scenes that involve the romance/sex angle play even worse, to me. There's the part I mentioned where magic is used to blow up a young woman's skirt so that Chow can get a good look at her underwear. Then there's the part where they use a spell to turn an attractive female co-worker into a seductress. She "wakes up" halfway through the experience with a male co-worker on top of her and believes she's being assaulted, something that is just laughed off by all the other people in the office and the man who was on top of her. Then there are some gay panic jokes, like a doctor giving overly-enthusiastic prostate exams or a man accidentally getting hit with the seduction spell and hitting on his male co-worker.

The film is full of outlandish comedy touches, like arms and legs being stretched to cartoonish lengths. Despite this, though, I never really felt a lot of joy coming from it. It's more like unfocused, slightly juvenile mania. A few bits of Chow's physical comedy are pretty funny, and he's an engaging lead, but his character is kind of a creep and I found it hard to care what happened to any of the characters.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Tue Feb 12, 2019 7:43 pm

A film from John Ford (born February 1): How to Operate Behind Enemy Lines

This is a film created for the purpose of training those intending to work as undercover operatives.

This is a fascinating historical artifact, and also one that makes you realize the degree of detail that had to go into creating and maintaining an undercover identity.

The film begins with the recruits memorizing the details of their personas. They meticulously go over the labels in clothing. There are considerations of details such as whether or not a coat would have been confiscated by troops and should be replaced with a thinner one.

Then it's on to showing how the agents actually maintain their identities. The best, most surreal aspect of the film is the way that it refers to the place being infiltrated as "Enemy Land." So the narrator will say things like "On his way to work at the factory, Al takes a stroll through the park, just like any other productive, happy citizen of Enemy Land."

The number of things that must be kept track of is head-spinning: what knot to use when tying up a boat, making sure to use current slang, not stubbing out a half-smoked cigarette in a place where cigarettes are considered a valuable commodity.

At just about an hour long, this is a fascinating time capsule.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Wed Feb 13, 2019 1:39 am

A film from the 1910s: M’Liss

So this movie was hilarious.

Mary Pickford plays a wild child named M'Liss (short for Melissa) who has been raised by her alcoholic father (and their chicken Hildegard) When a hot new school teacher comes to town, M'Liss falls for him. Unbeknownst to any of them, M'Liss's father's brother is dying and plans to leave all of his money to him. The brother's servants don't much care for this and come to town to murder M'Liss's father. The school teacher ends up in the middle of the crime and M'Liss must save him from hanging. (Though the actor is 13 years her senior, they look close enough in age that this doesn't come across as super creepy. M'Liss is childish in her own way, but doesn't really feel like a teenager.)

Pickford was totally charming in this film. She isn't the naughty, crinkle-nosed girl/woman character that you sometimes get. Instead she's opinionated and hilarious. During a schoo lsession a black snake slithers into the room, she just scoops it up and asks "Teacher: what do you do with these fellers?". When the teacher and the other students panic, M'Liss just casually takes the snake outside. Later when another character tells her he has bad news, M'Liss replies, "Oh, no! Did your wife come back?".

A lot of the humor comes at the expense of the townspeople and their uneducated ways (during an assessment M'Liss is asked by a town leader "What am grammar?", to which she replies, "It's something you don't know nothing about!").

My only real issues with the film were that the school teacher is a bit underdeveloped as a character, and also that there's some lazy racism in terms of a character called Mexican Joe, played by a very white actor in a dark wig and possibly darkening make-up, though it was hard to tell.

On the whole, though, this was a pretty charming and funny film. Definitely one of my favorite silents that I've seen.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Charles » Thu Feb 14, 2019 10:48 pm

A film from the 1910s: J'accuse

An anti-war film from Abel Gance. The plot centers around two men who are in love with the same woman and how their relationships evolve before, during and after WW1.

It's probably better than the rating I'd give it, which is about a B, and I think that's entirely because I don't know how to watch silent movies, really. There's a lot of things I don't know how to interpret, like a lot of stuff here that only got clearer as it went along, like whether one of the main characters was the father or husband of the woman.

The two main male characters end up in the army in the same trench at the same time and events relating to the woman and the war will lead their entire lives from that point on. It's hard to do a synopsis without spoilers, but the movie improves as it goes along with the last 30 or so minutes being absolutely phenomenal, reminding me in tone of Angel's Egg.

There's dancing skeletons, who appear probably a funnier than they did back then, right after the war and a lot of title drop throughout in a way that at least knocks on the fourth wall.

Good movie overall. I'll probably watch Napoleon one day, because this was quite well made in the parts that I could recognize as such. It's in three colors, and I don't know what green meant.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Fri Feb 15, 2019 12:40 am

Some quick takes on my last watches...

The Big Sick (2017) Very well made. Engaging and charming, without being to sappy, and most importantly well acted.

The Favourite (2018) Extremely well made in all aspects. Seriously, production design, cinematography, direction, performances. Oof!

Roma (2018) And then we have this also impeccably directed film, with such a great story and script. Loved it.

Stagecoach (1939) Pretty good. I agree with whoever said that there are some interesting character dynamics. I enjoyed it.


Possible upcoming films: Birth of a Nation, and maybe Instant Family to round up the month.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Death Proof » Fri Feb 15, 2019 2:12 am

Thief wrote: Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008) This was... ehhh, not good. Meh.


Aw, I liked it.

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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 Takoma1 » Sat Feb 16, 2019 3:30 am

A film that features the President of the USA as a prominent character (President's Day, February 18): FDR: American Badass

This is an alternative-history comedy about the life of FDR, with the zany premise that he (and everyone else) was a foul-mouthed sex fiend, stricken with polio induced from a werewolf bite and forced to prevent the werewolf Hitler, werewolf Mussolini, and werewold Hirohito from taking over the world.

As with many intentionally so-bad-it's-good films, there are about 5 minutes of funny stuff spread out across a 90 minute runtime. Yeah, it's funny the first time Eleanor Roosevelt exclaims, "What the sh*t, Franklin?!". And Ross Paterson's boozy southern aristocrat entertained me more than maybe he should have. Eleanor knitting absurdly long scarves made me giggle. The straight-faced exclamation from a doctor that "We all know that where you're bitten by the werewolf, that's where the polio sets in!" was funny.

But like a lot of films that are basically sketch ideas that were stretched to feature length, there are many repetitive stretches and jokes that just aren't very funny.

There's also the expected, but no less eye-rolling, casual misogyny of these types of films. Eleanor is a frigid and neglectful wife, while every other female character in the film is under the age of 30 and can't wait to have sex with all of the male lead characters who are well into their 50s or older. Most of said characters (and a handful of extras) are shown topless . . . because. Mary Todd Lincoln is blamed for Lincoln's death. The female characters can't stop talking about the male characters' amazing penises. They offer the use of their "holes" (yeah, their words), they simulate oral sex, and they have literally no other motivation than their desire to nail the male characters. If this sounds like it's intentionally over the top, I think yes and no. I think that it's the kind of sexist writing that hides behind the veneer of being parody. The male characters get action scenes, they investigate mysterious werewolves, they go on trippy drug dreams. But the female characters are literally only in the film for sex/nudity and it gets old really fast.

Barry Bostwick does his best in the lead role (gamely performing a number of absurd scenes and line readings), but I was done by about 15 minutes in and the rest was a slog.

Also, I don't have the energy to decide if the film (with its strongly accented Hirohito and its basketball playing ex-slave) was actually racist or just incredibly lazy.

I will very specifically recommend the first 8 minutes of this film and advise you to skip the rest.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by crumbsroom » Sat Feb 16, 2019 3:40 am

Thief wrote:
Mars Attacks! (1996) A lot of fun! Not sure why this got panned.
I'm no great fan of Tim Burton, but the push back on this film was always stupid. I probably like it more than most of his movies.

Ed Wood (Great)
Edward Scissorhands (Great)
Pee Wee's Big Adventure (Pretty Great)
Sweeny Todd (Good)
Mars Attacks (Not so bad)

Who cares about the rest.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Sat Feb 16, 2019 4:31 am

crumbsroom wrote:
I'm no great fan of Tim Burton, but the push back on this film was always stupid. I probably like it more than most of his movies.

Ed Wood (Great)
Edward Scissorhands (Great)
Pee Wee's Big Adventure (Pretty Great)
Sweeny Todd (Good)
Mars Attacks (Not so bad)

Who cares about the rest.
While I didn't really care enough about Mars Attacks to speak out against it, I thought it was grating and mostly unfunny. And I came at it from a point of view where most of the word of mouth I'd heard was "Yeah, it's pretty funny." I was kind of shocked at how little I enjoyed it. And I had that weird experience of watching it with people who liked it a good deal more than I did, so they're laughing and I'm thinking "When is this going to end?!". I really can't speak to specifics because it was almost 20 years ago, but I don't find myself inclined to give it a rewatch anytime soon.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Wooley » Sat Feb 16, 2019 4:53 am

crumbsroom wrote:
I'm no great fan of Tim Burton, but the push back on this film was always stupid. I probably like it more than most of his movies.

Ed Wood (Great)
Edward Scissorhands (Great)
Pee Wee's Big Adventure (Pretty Great)
Sweeny Todd (Good)
Mars Attacks (Not so bad)

Who cares about the rest.
Well, Beetlejuice is one of my favorite movies ever and the more time I see it, the better it gets.
The Nightmare Before Christmas is a fucking gem.
I also like the original Frankenweenie.
But I'll kill him for making a sequel to Beetlejuice. I mean, when I see the man, it's curtains.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Captain Terror » Sat Feb 16, 2019 8:48 pm

I saw Mars Attacks during its initial run and loved it, but then spent about 10 years thinking it was terrible. At this point I'm somewhere in the middle. I laugh and cringe equally at various parts.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Apex Predator » Sat Feb 16, 2019 10:22 pm

Another January catch-up:

Blue Velvet
See a David Lynch movie
See a film starting with A or B


It's a strange world, isn't it?

Jeffrey (Kyle McLachlan) is a college student who comes home to watch over his father's business while he's ill in the hospital. One afternoon, he finds a severed ear in the ground and turns it over to a police detective who advises him to not say anything about it, nor can he update him until the investigation is finished.

Against his advice, Jeffrey listens to the detective's daughter Sandy (Laura Dern) who overheard something about nightclub singer Dorothy Valens (Isabella Rosselini). Jeffrey decides to investigate which causes him to be mixed up with Dorothy, Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper) and others of varying repute.

Is it memorable? Yeah. I don't think I can hear Blue Velvet or In Dreams the same way after this. Dennis Hopper does breathe life into any scene he's in.

Is it good? Hmm, that might be tougher to answer.

The film does thrill, but at times I think it tries to be too weird for weird's sake.

Consider this a thumbs up, but you've been warned.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Sun Feb 17, 2019 8:24 pm

A film about boxing


Glass Chin (2014)
"Too bad your 'Saint' didn't have a stronger chin. Oh, sure, you had blazing speed but no whiskers. Jesus got hit hard, but he stayed the course."
In boxing, a "glass jaw" (or "glass chin") refers to a fighter that is particularly vulnerable to punches on the face. This weakness, of course, makes them unreliable, regardless of how fast or strong they are. But weaknesses come in many forms, and some of them are not necessarily physical. That is the background of this little known film from director Noah Buschel.

Glass Chin follows Bud "The Saint" Gordon (Corey Stoll), a former boxing champ that finds himself in a tight spot, economically and morally. Gordon is way past his former glories, and is now training an aspiring young fighter called Kid Sunshine. However, while trying to make ends meet, he ends up working as an enforcer for J.J. Cook (Billy Crudup), a slick crime boss, which puts Bud at odds with his trainee, his girlfriend, and his own integrity.

There is something special about discovering a good film that you hadn't heard of before at all. Glass Chin came up in Amazon Prime while looking for films about boxing, and it ended up being a very nice surprise. Stoll, who I've enjoyed watching here and there since House of Cards, does a nice job portraying the regret and bitterness of Gordon, while Crudup is subtly wicked without becoming a caricature. Yul Vasquez also has a really good performance as Cook's other enforcer.

The story succeeds in taking you inside the mind of Gordon and the moral crossroad he finds himself stuck in. The logistics of his fall from grace aren't openly explained, but the results are tangible in his demeanor and the way things are around him, which helps you understand how he ends up the way he does. His relationship with his girlfriend (Marin Ireland) feels real and honest, but not without baggage. The weaknesses in his life are everywhere, not only in his "chin", but you can still see he's trying to do the best.

I was also impressed with Buschel's directing; very tight and concise, little flash but more purpose, many static shots and long takes, good framing. I'm curious to see more of him. It's interesting the way he takes what seems to be a conventional story and takes it to places you don't expect, in ways you wouldn't think. Despite the subject matter, Glass Chin is not a slam-bang, fast-paced thriller. It's slow but deliberate, and that's a good thing.

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

Post by crumbsroom » Sun Feb 17, 2019 9:03 pm

Wooley wrote: Well, Beetlejuice is one of my favorite movies ever and the more time I see it, the better it gets.
The Nightmare Before Christmas is a fucking gem.
I also like the original Frankenweenie.
But I'll kill him for making a sequel to Beetlejuice. I mean, when I see the man, it's curtains.
I've always liked the idea of Beetleuice more than I like watching it. I generally find Burton's aesthetic to be really flat and ugly, no matter how much he tries to cram weird and wonderment into the frame. Michael Keaton is good in it though, I suppose.

He didn't direct Nightmare Before Christmas. I would have included that if I had.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by crumbsroom » Sun Feb 17, 2019 9:05 pm

Takoma1 wrote:
While I didn't really care enough about Mars Attacks to speak out against it, I thought it was grating and mostly unfunny. And I came at it from a point of view where most of the word of mouth I'd heard was "Yeah, it's pretty funny." I was kind of shocked at how little I enjoyed it. And I had that weird experience of watching it with people who liked it a good deal more than I did, so they're laughing and I'm thinking "When is this going to end?!". I really can't speak to specifics because it was almost 20 years ago, but I don't find myself inclined to give it a rewatch anytime soon.
I'm frankly pretty medium on it, but I'm so generally discouraged by most of Burton's films its inclusion in his top 5 is really more a statement of how, with few exceptions, I think he's a shit director.

As average as it is though, it's not a movie that I can understand the hate it gets greeted with.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Wooley » Sun Feb 17, 2019 10:14 pm

crumbsroom wrote:
I've always liked the idea of Beetleuice more than I like watching it. I generally find Burton's aesthetic to be really flat and ugly, no matter how much he tries to cram weird and wonderment into the frame. Michael Keaton is good in it though, I suppose.

He didn't direct Nightmare Before Christmas. I would have included that if I had.
My bad, I thought he had co-directed it.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Apex Predator » Thu Feb 21, 2019 6:34 pm

I'm halfway through Stagecoach, the John Wayne black and white one. Plan on finishing the other half later today.

Being sick with a head cold sucks...but it does have its advantages! ;)
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Thu Feb 21, 2019 7:16 pm

Apex Predator wrote:I'm halfway through Stagecoach, the John Wayne black and white one. Plan on finishing the other half later today.

Being sick with a head cold sucks...but it does have its advantages! ;)
I think both Stagecoach and The Searchers are available on Amazon, so that's what I'm leaning towards on the Ford category. I'm leaning more towards the former, but any advice one way or the other?
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Charles » Thu Feb 21, 2019 8:37 pm

A Comedy: A Simple Favor (C+), though not super comedy past a certain point. Unless it was a comedy thriller and the jokes didn't land.

Lemme tell ya, Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick can carry a scene. Whew.

The movie is a wild ride that crashes and burns into a shitty, unsatisfactory ending that tries to be twisty but ends up being just bad. The rest of the movie, unfortunately, can't really stand without a good ending. The plot revolves around Pinterest single mom Anna Kendrick meeting Hardass Blake Lively, their kids getting a couple play dates and Blake Lively's character eventually disappearing after asking Kendrick to pick up her kid. Kendrick then spends the entire movie looking for Blake and lots of twists and turns happen.

It's much more of a thriller than a comedy, though the comedy is there. Good thrills too. The movie sweeps you off your assumptions a couple times, and by the time you get to about 75% of the movie, you really don't know how it's gonna turn out. The ending though does nothing to reflect that and goes for fake out twists until it settles for a feel-good ending, sorta. A shame. If there's no element in this that would draw you in, I wouldn't recommend.

Also, there's a few useless supporting comic relief characters at the beginning and end that didn't need to be there at all. Most of the supporting characters were good though. Just not those 4-ish characters.

Edit: The more I think about it, the less I like it actually. I'll give it a (D+)
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Apex Predator » Fri Feb 22, 2019 3:33 am

Thief wrote:
I think both Stagecoach and The Searchers are available on Amazon, so that's what I'm leaning towards on the Ford category. I'm leaning more towards the former, but any advice one way or the other?
Sadly, no. Haven't seen either film before now.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Fri Feb 22, 2019 3:12 pm

The first Best Picture winner you haven't seen
An action or adventure film



Wings (1927)
"Luck or no luck, when your time comes, you're going to get it!"
Luck is defined as either "success or failure brought by chance rather than through one's actions". Many people believe that they can attract "good luck" through different customs or rituals, while others think there's nothing you can do about it. That's the sentiment of Cadet White (played by a young Gary Cooper) when he says the above quote. Ironically, he is killed shortly after.

I don't know what that says about "luck" per se, but some would say that much of what happens in Wings, the first Best Picture Oscar winner, has to do with "luck", good and bad. From its production and how director William Wellman was chosen (apparently over Cecil B. DeMille and Victor Fleming) or how the film ended up lost for decades until 1992, to its plot and how the main characters go through streaks of good and bad luck until the end.

Wings follows two young men: Jack (Buddy Rogers) and David (Richard Arlen) as they fight for the affection of Sylvia (Jobyna Ralston). What Jack doesn't realize is that her next door neighbor, Mary (Clara Bow), is mad in love with him. When both Jack and David enlist as pilots to fight in World War I, they both carry tokens of "good luck"; David carries a small teddy bear from his childhood, while Jack carries a picture of Sylvia (not knowing that it was actually meant for David). Eventually, the two rivals become good friends as they train for battle.

It seems like a stroke of bad luck that this film isn't mentioned more often, at least beyond its place as the first Best Picture winner. The thing is that when you get past the cliché premise of the love triangle, Wings is a groundbreaking and pretty good film. A lot of that has to do with Wellman's direction, particularly during the plane fights, which even by today's standards would be considered impressive. But the plot also takes some unexpected dark turns in its last act, more notable when you consider the time it was made.

There are several other peripheral reasons for which these film could/should be mentioned more often: the lengthy production and filming process, the costly budget and behind-the-scenes antics of its cast/crew, the notable male/female nudity, the first same sex kiss, etc. But apparently with its temporary loss, so it faded from the audience's minds and the regular discussion about films of its caliber. The truth is that, luck or no luck, Wings is a worthy watch in almost every aspect.

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

Post by Takoma1 » Fri Feb 22, 2019 10:47 pm

Thief wrote:
I think both Stagecoach and The Searchers are available on Amazon, so that's what I'm leaning towards on the Ford category. I'm leaning more towards the former, but any advice one way or the other?
They are very different types of films. I would say that The Searchers is more melancholy and deeper thematically.

Stagecoach has some interesting character dynamics, but I had a hard time getting past the flagrant (and totally unnecessary) cruelty to the horses.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Sun Feb 24, 2019 12:07 am

Some quick takes on my last watches...

The Big Sick (2017) Very well made. Engaging and charming, without being to sappy, and most importantly well acted.

The Favourite (2018) Extremely well made in all aspects. Seriously, production design, cinematography, direction, performances. Oof!

Roma (2018) And then we have this also impeccably directed film, with such a great story and script. Loved it.

Stagecoach (1939) Pretty good. I agree with Tak about the interesting character dynamics. I enjoyed it.


Possible upcoming films: Birth of a Nation, and maybe Instant Family to round up the month.


EDIT: I could do with some more recommendations of Chinese films. Preferrably not Hong Kong.

EDIT #2: I just saw that Spring in a Small Town, which Popcorn mentioned, is on Amazon. Might go with that.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Sun Feb 24, 2019 4:33 pm

A film directed by an African-American or with an African-American cast (Black History Month): The Fits

First of all, huge thank you to Apex, who recommended this film to me after I watched another film with a generally similar plot.

I really, really liked this one, guys. It's on Amazon Prime and it's a brisk 72 minutes long, so you should check it out.

The film follows a girl named Toni who we first meet as she practices boxing with her older brother at some sort of community center. Toni is fascinated by the all-girl dance team that practices in the community center's main gym. With the encouragement of her brother Toni joins the dance team. Soon after, girls on the team begin to experience strange seizure-like episodes. Are these episodes real? As Toni struggles to understand her place within the community of dancers, her understanding of the episodes also changes.

I think that this film got so much right about being a teenage girl and the desire (across gender) to feel like you belong. Something that I think this film portrays so well is the way that the symptoms of extreme stress can manifest themselves physically, and that there's a danger in the fact that one of the best ways for women/girls to get positive attention is through bad things that are out of their control.

The film is particularly shrewd about allowing us to understand that the girls suffering from the episodes have stressors in their lives that aren't appealing to air: one girl has to procure and pay for an abortion when her boyfriend decides it just isn't his problem, another girl is living in foster care. No one wants to shout these things from the rooftops. But to fall down and be sick? That's unquestionably deserving of sympathy, and because it's out of your control, there's no way to be blamed or shamed for it.

We see in the film the way that the boys use boxing and the girls use dance to push themselves physically and get out their angst and aggression. The fits themselves are almost dance-like, and with the character of Toni we see the way that her dancing and movement is already a combination of her boxing and her dancing.

Anxiety and isolation can lead a lot of young people (and especially girls) to acts of self-harm. I thought that this film really made a heartbreaking point that sometimes it takes illness or injury to feel the supporting arms of your peers.

In addition, I thought that this film did a nice job of critiquing the racial element of the plot. While eventually the city comes to test the water in the facility (an interesting evocation of the Flint lead poisoning issue), there's very little that's done to help the girls. A psychologist does come to talk to them . . . only . . . actually she's still a student, but she's almost got her degree. The film doesn't need to get any more explicit than that: if these girls were rich and/or white, there would be much more effort to get to the bottom of things.

I liked the direction of this film quite a bit, as certain characters or images are left intentionally out of frame. The film is highly subjective to Toni's point of view, but even within that we only watch as Toni observes something we cannot see. The performances are all really solid, with Royalty Hightower holding the center as Toni. I also really liked Alexis Neblett as Toni's dance team friend, Beezy.

Overall I was very impressed with this one and there's a moment at the end that I thought was a particular standout. The conclusion of the film was very satisfying.
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Death Proof
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Death Proof » Sun Feb 24, 2019 5:38 pm

Apex Predator wrote:Another January catch-up:

Blue Velvet
See a David Lynch movie
See a film starting with A or B


It's a strange world, isn't it?

Jeffrey (Kyle McLachlan) is a college student who comes home to watch over his father's business while he's ill in the hospital. One afternoon, he finds a severed ear in the ground and turns it over to a police detective who advises him to not say anything about it, nor can he update him until the investigation is finished.

Against his advice, Jeffrey listens to the detective's daughter Sandy (Laura Dern) who overheard something about nightclub singer Dorothy Valens (Isabella Rosselini). Jeffrey decides to investigate which causes him to be mixed up with Dorothy, Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper) and others of varying repute.

Is it memorable? Yeah. I don't think I can hear Blue Velvet or In Dreams the same way after this. Dennis Hopper does breathe life into any scene he's in.

Is it good? Hmm, that might be tougher to answer.

The film does thrill, but at times I think it tries to be too weird for weird's sake.

Consider this a thumbs up, but you've been warned.

I really should finish my Blue Velvet shot-by-shot some day.

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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Jinnistan
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Jinnistan » Sun Feb 24, 2019 10:19 pm

Thief wrote:I could do with some more recommendations of Chinese films. Preferrably not Hong Kong.
I would start with Zhang Yimou (Ju Dou, Raise the Red Lantern, To Live) and Taiwanese directors Edward Yang (Taipei Story, Bright Summer Day, Yi Yi) and Hou Hsiao-hsien (Dust in the Wind, A City of Sadness, The Assassin).

And if you aren't fluent in Wong Kar-Wei, there's little reason to avoid that particular Hong Kong auteur.
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Apex Predator
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Apex Predator » Sun Feb 24, 2019 10:45 pm

Please do, Death Proof. Although there's apparently going to be a version of Blue Velvet with 30 plus minutes of uncut footage.

I told you, Takoma! The Fits should be seen by everyone!

Since my Amazon Prime Video is being a bit of a jerk, I was enjoying what I've seen of Stagecoach. It kind of feels like one of the first films that threw together an odd crew of people and made them work together.

Man, the people at that town could be so cruel...oh, and I'm still not sold on that comic relief stagecoach driver yet.

Half the films I've seen this month have been out of competition, but since two of them are Won't You Be My Neighbor? and I Am Evidence, I can't complain. The third title? To Sir, With Love which I either have seen before and can't remember or is a first time watch. But either way, it was pretty good as well.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:04 pm

Apex Predator wrote: Since my Amazon Prime Video is being a bit of a jerk, I was enjoying what I've seen of Stagecoach. It kind of feels like one of the first films that threw together an odd crew of people and made them work together.

Man, the people at that town could be so cruel...oh, and I'm still not sold on that comic relief stagecoach driver yet.
I really liked it, and didn't mind much about the driver. The direction was pretty good, and the performances, although somewhat archetypal, worked for me.
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