Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Apex Predator » Mon Mar 18, 2019 6:04 pm

I'm in the middle of my 6th title now, a gem of a doc called Ella Brennan: Commanding the Table, that fits both the documentary and the New Orleans spots.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Charles » Mon Mar 18, 2019 8:57 pm

The third part on a film franchise: Die Hard 3 (A)

I've seen it before and I remembered a solid portion of it, but the last time I was too young to realize why it's bad to wear a sign that says I hate niggers around a bunch of black people, so this might as well be my first watch.

It's very good. It's smart in a very satisfying way, not trying to play the audience or trick anyone with some clever twist as every new so-called smart movie tries to do. Jeremy Irons was a fantastic villain, and it was nice to see a bunch of German thieves be the bad guys. Those were the days, where the Iron Curtain was the source of all evil and where mentioning the WTC attacks didn't mean THAT time the WTC got attacked.

The movie is focused and largely well plotted, though I'm not sure in the end why Jeremy didn't get Bruce Willis or Zeus killed when he could have. That's a slight complaint though, the character is somewhat opaque so I can disregard not getting every detail of everything he did or didn't do.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Mon Mar 18, 2019 9:03 pm

Charles wrote:The third part on a film franchise: Die Hard 3 (A)

I've seen it before and I remembered a solid portion of it, but the last time I was too young to realize why it's bad to wear a sign that says I hate niggers around a bunch of black people, so this might as well be my first watch.

It's very good. It's smart in a very satisfying way, not trying to play the audience or trick anyone with some clever twist as every new so-called smart movie tries to do. Jeremy Irons was a fantastic villain, and it was nice to see a bunch of German thieves be the bad guys. Those were the days, where the Iron Curtain was the source of all evil and where mentioning the WTC attacks didn't mean THAT time the WTC got attacked.

The movie is focused and largely well plotted, though I'm not sure in the end why Jeremy didn't get Bruce Willis or Zeus killed when he could have. That's a slight complaint though, the character is somewhat opaque so I can disregard not getting every detail of everything he did or didn't do.
I've shared my borderline dislike for this sequel before, but I know I'm alone in it. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Me? I'd take the second one any day.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Stu » Mon Mar 18, 2019 9:13 pm

With A Vengeance wasn't a bad film or anything, and I liked the testy dynamic between Jackson and Willis, but I remember feeling that the plot was always so busy with its overly convoluted, pointless series of schemes and counter-moves that it forgot to be entertaining/exciting in the meantime. But really, I never felt that any of the Die Hard sequels I've seen (Harder through Live Free) are particularly essential, or even just good entries in the franchise, which would've been better off just staying a stand-alone one-off in the first place. What a stand-alone film it would've been, though...
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Stu » Mon Mar 18, 2019 9:17 pm

Thief wrote:
I've shared my borderline dislike for this sequel before, but I know I'm alone in it. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Me? I'd take the second one any day.
Die Harder is probably my favorite DH sequel though, if I'm being honest; on a basic level, it is a pretty cheap, silly rehash of the original, but it's still kind of guilty pleasure fun in that sense at least, which is more than I can say for the later entries; awful early 90's effects ftw!:

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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Mon Mar 18, 2019 9:28 pm

Stu wrote:With A Vengeance wasn't a bad film or anything, and I liked the testy dynamic between Jackson and Willis, but I remember feeling that the plot was always so busy with its overly convoluted, pointless series of schemes and counter-moves that it forgot to be entertaining/exciting in the meantime. But really, I never felt that any of the Die Hard sequels I've seen (Harder through Live Free) are particularly essential, or even just good entries in the franchise, which would've been better off just staying a stand-alone one-off in the first place.
I completely agree. I just felt that, on top of being unnecessary, it didn't really feel like a Die Hard film (and that's actually how I've felt ever since I first saw it back in 1995). Not that it needed to play by the same beat, but it just felt disconnected, while at the same time trying too hard to find connections. For example, as good as Irons might be, the connection to Hans felt just too cheap and contrived. In addition, a lot of Simon's plans and machinations reeked of superhero/Bond films (the whole guessing game, leaving McClane and Zeus tied to that big tank before blowing it up instead of just killing them), which might've worked on a different film but not here. And that last act? Ugh, easily one of the worst endings of any action film. Hands down.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Charles » Mon Mar 18, 2019 10:25 pm

Thief wrote:
I've shared my borderline dislike for this sequel before, but I know I'm alone in it. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Me? I'd take the second one any day.
Borderline dislike? so like 6/10?

Also I'll probably rewatch the second one for February. I remember none of it beside blank ammo and T-1000's butt.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Mon Mar 18, 2019 10:36 pm

A film from the 1920s: The Extra Girl

In this silent comedy, a young woman named Sue who dreams of being a movie star faces various challenges as she tries to make it in Hollywood and support her aging parents.

So, to begin with, I'm not sure if I've seen Mabel Normand before, but I thought she was hilarious. For a silent actress she plays both really big facial expressions/gestures, but also some nicely timed little ones, like an eye roll that's barely noticeable.

Generally speaking, I was also a fan of the film's big comedy setpieces. In one, Sue attempts a screen test in which multiple mishaps derail her scene. In another, Sue unwittingly leads a trained lion around by a leash, thinking it is a dog in costume.

The only real downside to the film (setting aside the use of animals in the film and also a not-awful-but-not-great "play dumb" black character in one short sequence) is its depressingly predictable trajectory in terms of Sue. She has a love interest, see, and as soon as things don't go well her first week in Hollywood, he's right there to support her. Oh, wait. Did I say "support"? No actually, he's right there to say "Forget this nonsense about having a career! Let's get married!". Ultimately she does, and even finishes the film by declaring about her son "Hearing him call me mama is more rewarding than even the greatest career would have been!". I mean, okay. I'm sure some women do feel that way about their children. But the film seems to think that it was madness for her to even have attempted her career instead of just marrying that nice boy who likes her. During the screen test sequence, she's cracking up the film crew. So why not end the film with her getting a job as a comedic actress? It's a weird moment of meta-contradiction, because both Normand and the character she plays ARE really funny.

The best sequence is undoubtedly the middle part of the film that follows Sue's exploits in Hollywood. The final act is mostly concerned with a subplot about her parents coming to Hollywood and having their life savings swindled away from them by a shady character and Sue's attempts to get the money back. The narrative is a satisfying one, overall, but I wish there had been more comedy in the last act and also a different ending.

Still, maybe one of the best silent comedies that I've seen.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Mon Mar 18, 2019 10:52 pm

Charles wrote:
Borderline dislike? so like 6/10?

Also I'll probably rewatch the second one for February. I remember none of it beside blank ammo and T-1000's butt.
I think it's a C or maybe even a C-; however that translates to the 10/10 rating scale.

As for Die Hard 2, I'm pretty sure it's the Grim Reaper's butt, i.e. William Sadler, the one we see in the second one. I could be wrong, though.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Mon Mar 18, 2019 11:00 pm

I've never watched (or really been interested in watching) the Die Hard sequels. Really enjoyed the original, but I often feel like sequels are a case of diminishing returns and also I don't "compartmentalize" sequels from the originals very well, so it often lowers my feelings about the original by proxy.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Mon Mar 18, 2019 11:14 pm

Takoma1 wrote:I've never watched (or really been interested in watching) the Die Hard sequels. Really enjoyed the original, but I often feel like sequels are a case of diminishing returns and also I don't "compartmentalize" sequels from the originals very well, so it often lowers my feelings about the original by proxy.
You're better off not watching any. Seriously, none of them is worth it; particularly the last one, which was horrible.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Apex Predator » Tue Mar 19, 2019 12:13 am

Takoma1 wrote:I've never watched (or really been interested in watching) the Die Hard sequels. Really enjoyed the original, but I often feel like sequels are a case of diminishing returns and also I don't "compartmentalize" sequels from the originals very well, so it often lowers my feelings about the original by proxy.
None of the sequels is really essential. If I had to pick one to choose to watch again, it would be the third largely due to the interplay with Samuel L. Jackson and attempts to freshen up the formula.

The worst is clearly the last one. It's clear that Bruce is going through the motions and the weaksauce script does him and the other actors no favors.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Tue Mar 19, 2019 12:18 am

I really wish the studio just retconned all the previous sequels and just go with the idea I've read floating around about the memorial event held at Nakatomi years after the first film, with McClane as a guest. Obviously chaos ensues. I think it would be an appropriate way to end the series for good.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Captain Terror » Tue Mar 19, 2019 12:41 am

Takoma1 wrote:I've never watched (or really been interested in watching) the Die Hard sequels. Really enjoyed the original, but I often feel like sequels are a case of diminishing returns and also I don't "compartmentalize" sequels from the originals very well, so it often lowers my feelings about the original by proxy.
By the time DH2 was over I had to remind myself that I liked the first one. I'd say stick with your instincts here.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Tue Mar 19, 2019 1:21 am

Captain Terror wrote: By the time DH2 was over I had to remind myself that I liked the first one. I'd say stick with your instincts here.
I would say that it's very rare that I enjoy sequels. Even the "pretty good" ones don't usually hold much of a candle to the originals.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Rock » Tue Mar 19, 2019 3:32 am

Thief wrote:I really wish the studio just retconned all the previous sequels and just go with the idea I've read floating around about the memorial event held at Nakatomi years after the first film, with McClane as a guest. Obviously chaos ensues. I think it would be an appropriate way to end the series for good.
It would be way funnier if all the sequels had exactly this plot.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Rock » Tue Mar 19, 2019 3:33 am

Thief wrote:As for Die Hard 2, I'm pretty sure it's the Grim Reaper's butt, i.e. William Sadler, the one we see in the second one. I could be wrong, though.
Nah, that's definitely Sadler's butt. He does naked martial arts in the beginning so you know he's badass. T-1000 is in it, but keeps his pants on.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Rock » Tue Mar 19, 2019 3:38 am

Takoma1 wrote:
I would say that it's very rare that I enjoy sequels. Even the "pretty good" ones don't usually hold much of a candle to the originals.
I heard that Die Hard with a Vengeance was a different script that they rewrote McClane into, so it might hold your interest. I like the first half of the movie more than the second, but as far as third sequels go, it could have been a lot worse.

I can't defend my love of Die Hard 2, but Stu already posted the gif that makes a much better argument than I could. Harlin isn't half the director that McTiernan is (although he almost comes off like an artful one in Cliffhanger), but the semi-parodic tone works better for me than it should and there are some pretty neat action moments (the shootout in the terminal, Stu's gif and of course the ending).
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Tue Mar 19, 2019 8:21 pm

A film from David Lynch


Wild at Heart (1990)
"Did I ever tell ya that this here jacket represents a symbol of my individuality, and my belief in personal freedom?"
The above quote is how Sailor, Nicolas Cage's character, describes his "unique" snakeskin jacket in the film. History says that the jacket was Cage's and he asked Lynch if he could wear it for the film, thus giving Sailor, the very definition of a rebel, his notable claim for "individuality" while also somewhat asserting Cage's now notable idiosyncrasies. You can say what you want about his career decisions or his personality, but he certainly has had an *ahem* interesting journey: from quirky comedies and Oscar-winning performances to action blockbusters or directo-to-video shlock, he always manages to instill his "individuality" to the films he stars in.

Wild at Heart is no exception. Directed by David Lynch, the film follows Sailor and his girlfriend Lula (Laura Dern) as they are attempting to flee Marietta, Lula's domineering mother (Dern's real-life mother, Diane Ladd) as well as an assortment of hitmen and killers she unleashes on them. One might say that the film is also Lynch's way of asserting his own individuality as a filmmaker, while also distancing the film a bit from the book it was based on. How to achieve this? Lynch decided to infuse the script with a series of references to The Wizard of Oz, putting Sailor and Lula on their own "yellow brick road" en route to their own "magical land" (i.e. California).

The end result is interesting, but still a bit messy and far from perfect. First, Lynch decides to throw everything but the sink at Sailor and Lula in terms of the hitmen sent to kill them. First, there is Marietta's boyfriend (Harry Dean Stanton), whose subplot certainly feels a bit disjointed and ultimately unnecessary to some extent. Then there's the gangster, Marcello Santos, Mr. Reindeer, the Durango sisters, and finally Bobby Peru, played to eleven on the creep-o-meter by Willem Dafoe. The amount of characters and the detours Lynch takes to introduce each just muddle up the plot and in the end, feel pointless for the most part. My second main issue is that, aside of the above, Lynch decides to take several other detours in the journey and in the story that don't necessarily gel together (the car accident and Crispin Glover's flashback come to mind). I get the impression that there was some heavy editing in the film which left some of these loose chunks feeling somewhat disconnected.

The film is more effective when it stays focused on Sailor and Lula. Their performances are over-the-top and exaggerated, but ultimately charming. Also, regardless of how their stories are handled, the most of the cast do a great job with their roles, particularly Ladd and Dafoe. They both steal almost all the scenes they are in with their larger-than-life performances. One third issue, though, would be that Lynch's Wizard of Oz references sometimes feel too in-your-face, and not organic. Even though the film makes it clear from the get-go that it's inhabiting in a slightly surreal reality, some of those references felt like too much.

There are many reasons why this film doesn't quite reach the levels of Eraserhead or Mulholland Drive, but there are also many reasons to enjoy it. Watch it for the weird-yet-charming love chemistry between Cage and Dern, or the creepy-yet-great performances from Ladd and Dafoe; watch it for the weird twists and turns Lynch infuses it with or the quirky characters he peppers the road with. But more importantly, watch it to revel in how Lynch asserts his individuality and personal freedom as a writer and director, once again proving that he is unlike any other filmmaker.

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

Post by Wooley » Tue Mar 19, 2019 8:51 pm

Thief wrote:A film from David Lynch


Wild at Heart (1990)



The above quote is how Sailor, Nicolas Cage's character, describes his "unique" snakeskin jacket in the film. History says that the jacket was Cage's and he asked Lynch if he could wear it for the film, thus giving Sailor, the very definition of a rebel, his notable claim for "individuality" while also somewhat asserting Cage's now notable idiosyncrasies. You can say what you want about his career decisions or his personality, but he certainly has had an *ahem* interesting journey: from quirky comedies and Oscar-winning performances to action blockbusters or directo-to-video shlock, he always manages to instill his "individuality" to the films he stars in.

Wild at Heart is no exception. Directed by David Lynch, the film follows Sailor and his girlfriend Lula (Laura Dern) as they are attempting to flee Marietta, Lula's domineering mother (Dern's real-life mother, Diane Ladd) as well as an assortment of hitmen and killers she unleashes on them. One might say that the film is also Lynch's way of asserting his own individuality as a filmmaker, while also distancing the film a bit from the book it was based on. How to achieve this? Lynch decided to infuse the script with a series of references to The Wizard of Oz, putting Sailor and Lula on their own "yellow brick road" en route to their own "magical land" (i.e. California).

The end result is interesting, but still a bit messy and far from perfect. First, Lynch decides to throw everything but the sink at Sailor and Lula in terms of the hitmen sent to kill them. First, there is Marietta's boyfriend (Harry Dean Stanton), whose subplot certainly feels a bit disjointed and ultimately unnecessary to some extent. Then there's the gangster, Marcello Santos, Mr. Reindeer, the Durango sisters, and finally Bobby Peru, played to eleven on the creep-o-meter by Willem Dafoe. The amount of characters and the detours Lynch takes to introduce each just muddle up the plot and in the end, feel pointless for the most part. My second main issue is that, aside of the above, Lynch decides to take several other detours in the journey and in the story that don't necessarily gel together (the car accident and Crispin Glover's flashback come to mind). I get the impression that there was some heavy editing in the film which left some of these loose chunks feeling somewhat disconnected.

The film is more effective when it stays focused on Sailor and Lula. Their performances are over-the-top and exaggerated, but ultimately charming. Also, regardless of how their stories are handled, the most of the cast do a great job with their roles, particularly Ladd and Dafoe. They both steal almost all the scenes they are in with their larger-than-life performances. One third issue, though, would be that Lynch's Wizard of Oz references sometimes feel too in-your-face, and not organic. Even though the film makes it clear from the get-go that it's inhabiting in a slightly surreal reality, some of those references felt like too much.

There are many reasons why this film doesn't quite reach the levels of Eraserhead or Mulholland Drive, but there are also many reasons to enjoy it. Watch it for the weird-yet-charming love chemistry between Cage and Dern, or the creepy-yet-great performances from Ladd and Dafoe; watch it for the weird twists and turns Lynch infuses it with or the quirky characters he peppers the road with. But more importantly, watch it to revel in how Lynch asserts his individuality and personal freedom as a writer and director, once again proving that he is unlike any other filmmaker.

Grade: B
:up:
I have not seen this since the theater and it was probably the first time in my life I was asked to take a "weird" film seriously (I always watched "weird" films as a teenager, from Eraserhead to 200 Motels, but they were already pretty much "cult"). I went to this with a bunch of USC film students in L.A. and they were all heralding it as this great movie.
It was so-so.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Apex Predator » Wed Mar 20, 2019 5:35 pm

Heh, looks like I got TWO movies to talk about!

Ella Brennan: Commanding the Table (2017)
Watch a documentary
Watch a movie set in New Orleans


I've recently read some discussions on what separates a good documentary from a great one. I think it comes down to how much you remember it years from now. A great one you can do that, while a good one is not so much.

Unfortunately, Commanding the Table is only a good documentary. But luckily, it's still good.

The film covers the interesting life of Brennan, who started working in her brother Owen's restaurant and bar when she was young. Things took a turn when he died while in the middle of a process moving the restaurant to Royal Street. Some banks backed away, but thanks to Ella's hard work, she came up with the funding to open Brennan's in 1956. When her ex-in law pushed her away from the restaurant, she and her siblings decided to rehab a dilapidated place known as Commander's Palace. While some decisions she made made the place profitable, it took an unusual hire for the place to really take off.

The understated narration by New Orleans native Patricia Clarkson lets the story and the people take center stage. Luckily, one of the biggest assets this film has is Miss Brennan herself. She truly commands the screen when she talks. And it appears that the place is in good hands with various other family members running it.

Film also covers various trends that were started by Brennan and her restaurants such as jazz brunch, Bananas Foster, and the rise of chefs in the national spotlight. Of course, being New Orleans, time is also spent on the destruction of Katrina as well as its recovery.

You can even forgive the occasional sidebar such as how her and one of her sisters moved in to entertain various people, including celebrities.

The film takes advantage of a larger than life character and an interesting story to good effect.

The Freshman (1925)
See a film made in the 1920s
See a film revolving around football (February)


A college freshman (Harold Lloyd) eager to become popular saves up money from his summer job and moves to Tate University where he tries to impress the other students with a nifty jig and clever speech he learned while watching a movie and joining the football team.

Although his efforts are quietly mocked by the other students, one female student who works as a lobby person in the hotel he lives in likes him (in part because he helped her with a crossword puzzle) in large part because he seems like a nice guy. But luckily for him, his services might come in handy at the big game against a rival school.

I do kinda wish there were some more laughs here. But the ones that do show up are pretty big ones (including some from the between scene titles). That sequence at the party where he's trying to impress everyone while his pants and jacket are both falling apart and the football sequences at the end are hilarious and sometimes thrilling.

It helps that you can relate to Lloyd and his plight, largely due to how common it is. We wish we were more athletic; we wish we could win over everyone. He remains likable and his relationship with the girl is worth rooting for.

If you haven't seen this yet, it can be found on YouTube.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Thu Mar 21, 2019 12:40 am

A film about salesperson or stores (Salesperson Day, March 1): Amazing Adventure

This comedy drama, starring a young Cary Grant, was funny and interesting, though at times very frustrating.

Grant plays a man named Earnest Bliss, a rich playboy who is essentially suffering from boredom. After his doctor dismisses his ailment with blunt disgust, Bliss wagers the doctor that he can go a full year living only off of money that he earns honestly. As Bliss works through various jobs he is involved with an appealing love interest, gun-wielding scammers, and lecherous businessmen.

The film is interesting in terms of the way that it attempts (and sometimes succeeds at) attacking class inequalities. Bliss is constantly amazed to learn about the realities of the working poor, from families being evicted, to cruel bosses firing people on a whim, to outright sexual assault. The film is kind of nuanced in the sense that there aren't just "good" poor people and "evil" rich people. There are benevolent people both rich and poor, and also cruel ones.

The kind of frustrating part (and, yeah, I get that it's a comedy and not a hard-hitting real look at social issues), is that every episode of injustice is followed by Bliss using his money to deus ex machina the situation. Bliss interprets the parameters of his bet to mean that he can't use his money for his own direct gain, but is free to use it to help others. These lines often get blurred, however. Bliss uses his money to open a soup kitchen that conveniently serves as an advertisement for the stoves he is trying to sell in his first job as a salesman. No on in that actual position would just get to use $500 to promote their own cause.

I felt myself torn between enjoying the immediate revenge and feeling frustrated at just how unrealistic and fairy tale it all was. Bliss keeps a female acquaintance from being raped by a man he is chauffeuring (the boss instructs him to fake car troubles so that the woman will have to spend the night at the boss's residence--"And now the fun starts" another employee says both knowingly and without much apparent condemnation) and is later fired by the chauffeur company. He simply walks away, has his butler buy the company, fires the shady manager, and promotes another employee who stood up for him. It's satisfying, but also hollow at the same time, if that makes sense. It's also highly situational. The boss (who apparently is in the habit of raping female employees) suffers no consequences. So Bliss saves his friend, but nothing is going to help all of the man's future victims.

This might sound like a lot to read into a comedy about a millionaire learning a lesson about the value of work, but the concept of the benevolent billionaire is one that I think is kind of dangerous. Bliss is seen to be hardworking, but he never really has to worry about being fired because he knows he has a huge safety net to fall back on. If he were sick, dying, or just plain BORED of being poor, it would just be a matter of taking a taxi back to his old luxurious digs.

On the surface this was a fun little comedy, but I had mixed feelings about some of its notions of the intersection between money and morals.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Wooley » Thu Mar 21, 2019 2:43 am

Apex Predator wrote:Heh, looks like I got TWO movies to talk about!

Ella Brennan: Commanding the Table (2017)
Watch a documentary
Watch a movie set in New Orleans


I've recently read some discussions on what separates a good documentary from a great one. I think it comes down to how much you remember it years from now. A great one you can do that, while a good one is not so much.

Unfortunately, Commanding the Table is only a good documentary. But luckily, it's still good.

The film covers the interesting life of Brennan, who started working in her brother Owen's restaurant and bar when she was young. Things took a turn when he died while in the middle of a process moving the restaurant to Royal Street. Some banks backed away, but thanks to Ella's hard work, she came up with the funding to open Brennan's in 1956. When her ex-in law pushed her away from the restaurant, she and her siblings decided to rehab a dilapidated place known as Commander's Palace. While some decisions she made made the place profitable, it took an unusual hire for the place to really take off.

The understated narration by New Orleans native Patricia Clarkson lets the story and the people take center stage. Luckily, one of the biggest assets this film has is Miss Brennan herself. She truly commands the screen when she talks. And it appears that the place is in good hands with various other family members running it.

Film also covers various trends that were started by Brennan and her restaurants such as jazz brunch, Bananas Foster, and the rise of chefs in the national spotlight. Of course, being New Orleans, time is also spent on the destruction of Katrina as well as its recovery.

You can even forgive the occasional sidebar such as how her and one of her sisters moved in to entertain various people, including celebrities.

The film takes advantage of a larger than life character and an interesting story to good effect.
On my birthday, I took myself to lunch at Commander's Palace. Lally Brennan came to my table to wish me a Happy Birthday. They know how to run a restaurant in that place.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Captain Terror » Thu Mar 21, 2019 3:40 am

Wooley wrote: On my birthday, I took myself to lunch at Commander's Palace.
Well, ain't you fancy!
Also, Bananas Foster rules.
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Apex Predator
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Apex Predator » Thu Mar 21, 2019 5:33 pm

To be honest, I think I want try Commander's Palace as part of a larger trip to New Orleans.

As it turns out, I'm not quite done.

She's Gotta Have It (1986)
See a Spike Lee film

Nola (Tracy Johns) is a strong, confident woman with a big apartment and three lovers: the well-meaning Jamie (Tommy Hicks), the self-absorbed model Greer (John Terrell) and the immature Mars (Spike Lee). While she sees the bright side in all three, things come to a head during an awkward Thanksgiving party that introduces all three lovers to each other which turns into a snipefest. Soon each of them are asking her to choose. But maybe she doesn't want to?

This debut film from Lee feels pretty assured most of the time. Nola proves to be an interesting character and all three lovers are given enough depth to stand out. The jazzy score written and performed by a relative fits well with the arty black and white mood (except for one memorable scene in color). Brooklyn successfully stands out as a memorable setting. The faux documentary style allows us to see what everyone is thinking.

The film even manages to surprise by
including S. Epatha Merkerson as a therapist that Nola sees.
But I think the biggest complaint I have about this is the clashes in tone between being fine with what Nola is doing and trying to pass judgment on her. This is more prevalent in the film's second half as Nola gets pressured to decide and how the vocal tone of all three men changes in their video snippets.

The low point though is obvious and just about got me to turn this one off:
It's the scene where a frustrated Jamie confronts Nola after she calls him up late one night after he's stopped speaking to her. He ultimately pushes her down and rapes her while questioning whether he's better than both of her other lovers. It just feels so out of place and character that it almost spoils everything. Apparently, if I read this correctly, Spike regrets this scene as well.
Overall, I'm glad I saw this and I saw enough clever flourishes and you go, girl spins that I could recommend this. But there's enough that kept me from fully embracing it.

Next: The calculus of appealing biopics.
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undinum
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by undinum » Sat Mar 23, 2019 6:34 am

A film with a title that starts with the letters E or F

Family Sins (Graeme Clifford, 2004, TV)
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Kirstie Alley, resembling and seemingly channeling Divine--neither a dig, of course--is deliciously vile in this Lifetime effort ostensibly based on the story of Frances Burt, a foster mother who was convicted, along with her husband and possibly two of her children (not a lot of press online), of arson, sexual assault, kidnapping, extortion, racketeering and welfare and disability fraud. We are taken through each of these crimes, in the usual lurid yet sanitized Lifetime fashion, with maybe few bits more campy comedy than usual. My favourite might be Alley telling one of her minions "I don't think of myself as a landlord. I don't even like the word. What I do is about helping people and building a community, y'know?" right before they blow up one of her tenant's apartments for the insurance money. Alley's character (renamed Brenda Geck [lol]) enlists most of the family in her crimes, from sending her young children on shoplifting expeditions to giving them cookies in exchange for beating or degrading other members of the household. It works the other way, too--she gets Nadine (Kathleen Wilhoite) to sign over her daughter Marie (Deanna Milligan) in exchange for dessert. The Gecks have kept Nadine locked in the basement for 10 years, tortured by Brenda and raped by her husband, ditto Marie, with the bonus of a baby she, too, must sign over but eventually escapes with.

While the script is junk, there are some almost surreally heightened moments that I could see working beautifully in an Andrea Arnold movie or something, like Marie insisting on finishing her shift as a trailer park maid while her car sits in flames on the street, the result of "Mama's" efforts to keep her from testifying, barking orders from prison to her man on the outside. He notes that her bank account is frozen but keeps working on credit anyway, yet another victim of Brenda's apparently limitless powers of Svengalish persuasion, like how all her prison cellies immediately finish the beating she starts on her co-defendant daughter. The reliable grumbling of slumming Will Patton, playing it completely straight as the DA, is a would-be balancer, but he's wasted. Milligan equips herself pretty well shouldering the burden of what little psychological insight the film attempts; her physical attack of her mother for the latter's continued devotion to their captors conveys the warped legacy of abuse with nearly the jolt of something real.

From the can't-make-it-up files: after her release from prison, the real Frances Burt put out a book entitled The TV Movie That Ruined My Life: Frances Burt: The Real Story, in which she alleges she was wrongfully convicted. Randy Burt, her "good" son (the one not charged, anyway) also wrote a book, Fifth Commandment Atrocity, in which he asserts he was an innocent victim, and whose Amazon reviews feature a surprise appearance by none other than the co-writers of Frances's book.
A badly written and horrible book about a whiny coward.

This guy had a pretty bad writer compose this mishmash. He just suffered so much...oh...and that's all the book is about. It's incredibly boring, and the cover art alone is enough to make someone look the other way. I suggest that this person stop sobbing about his alleged childhood and move on with his life in a constructive way. Mommy's old, baby boy...it's time for you to grow up.
Notice, in addition to the abject cruelty, the absence of any legally actionable language re veracity. Nevertheless, Randy himself responds with remarkable civility under the circumstances:
This is the lady who wrote a book for Frances Burt, she is upset because her book had just come out and is getting horrible reviews. Frances Burt claimed the police, the attorney generals office, dept. of children and family's, thousands of victims over 30 years and us children all conspired to frame her. I used real names in my book except on the victims, my book is fact, I wrote it myself, while I am not a professional writer that is true. Everyone who read it liked it and everyone who new the family recalled the issues and crimes I wrote about. So Deborah I know you only get paid on how many books you can sell, so don't take it out on me because your book is fantasy and words spreading fast. You been working on Frances Burt's book for over a year so that meant you have read and known about mine all that time. Yet you leave a comment like this now? Just goes to show you it's on spite alone. So you clearly fit right in with Frances Burt.
Aaaaaaanyway people are scum. And people are good. At least okay. And this is pretty okay good Lifetime scum good okay
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Charles
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Charles » Sat Mar 23, 2019 8:05 pm

A movie with Spring in the title: Spring, 2014 (B)

Third movie out of three from Moorhead and Benson, the other two being The Endless and Resolution, which I loved. All three movies deal with Lovecraftian themes and imagery, Spring less than the other two. I also think Spring is the lesser of the three, but if you enjoy special effects and creatures, there's a bit in there and nothing in the movie is bad enough to not recommend.

The movie revolves around a guy who has troubles at homes in the US after his mother dies and decides to take a trip to Italy. There he meets a young, mysterious woman who, no real spoiler here, turns out to be some sort of monster.

So the movie is very well made. Outside of the writing, there's zero issues with anything. Those monster effects have nothing to envy to anyone, except for the most obvious cgi blood splatter in that one scene, but it's very minor. The issue I have is one: the movie feels the need to have an explanation scene, and many more afterwards, and those add nothing to the theme and will surely do a number on the way the movie ages. Second thing is that I feel the movie sort of outlives its point, or at least doesn't see it through in large parts. There was a mystery and a recurring theme of life and seasons and nurture and all that never really gets to a satisfying conclusion. From the farm work, the nature scenes, the weird lemon and orange tree. It doesn't give a good conclusion to any of that.

But the characters don't feel forced or weird, the dialogue feels natural, all that is super good.

Still enjoyed it overall though and I'm very much looking forward to their next movie, which Imdb says is coming this year. Also, if you haven't seen their two first movies, do so. It's very worth it.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Sun Mar 24, 2019 12:08 am

Charles wrote:A movie with Spring in the title: Spring, 2014 (B)

Third movie out of three from Moorhead and Benson, the other two being The Endless and Resolution, which I loved. All three movies deal with Lovecraftian themes and imagery, Spring less than the other two. I also think Spring is the lesser of the three, but if you enjoy special effects and creatures, there's a bit in there and nothing in the movie is bad enough to not recommend.

The movie revolves around a guy who has troubles at homes in the US after his mother dies and decides to take a trip to Italy. There he meets a young, mysterious woman who, no real spoiler here, turns out to be some sort of monster.

So the movie is very well made. Outside of the writing, there's zero issues with anything. Those monster effects have nothing to envy to anyone, except for the most obvious cgi blood splatter in that one scene, but it's very minor. The issue I have is one: the movie feels the need to have an explanation scene, and many more afterwards, and those add nothing to the theme and will surely do a number on the way the movie ages. Second thing is that I feel the movie sort of outlives its point, or at least doesn't see it through in large parts. There was a mystery and a recurring theme of life and seasons and nurture and all that never really gets to a satisfying conclusion. From the farm work, the nature scenes, the weird lemon and orange tree. It doesn't give a good conclusion to any of that.

But the characters don't feel forced or weird, the dialogue feels natural, all that is super good.

Still enjoyed it overall though and I'm very much looking forward to their next movie, which Imdb says is coming this year. Also, if you haven't seen their two first movies, do so. It's very worth it.
This is the one I'm planning on seeing. Good to know it's not bad.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Sun Mar 24, 2019 12:23 am

Some quickies on the last 5 films...

Triple Frontier (2019) Very average and mediocre film. The more I think of it, the less I like it. It really brings nothing new to the table, checks all of the cliché boxes, and ultimately doesn't know what to be.

Experiment in Terror (1962) Fairly effective thriller at the moment. However, for some reason, it just didn't stick. I saw it about a week ago, and I'm struggling to remember what happened. That's never a good sign.

Bloody Sunday (2002) One of Paul Greengrass' first films. I really liked it. Like United 93, it takes a quasi-documentary approach that doesn't allow for much emotional connection to what's happening, but it's still effective.

Final Destination 3 (2006) I won't deny it. I had a lot of fun with this, A LOT. It delivered exactly what I was expecting, thrills and gore, at the exact moment.

The Grapes of Wrath (1940) Just saw this one last night and, although I know it's a good film in terms of story, performance, direction, I really didn't get into it. Not sure why, but I was never caught in the plot and was never grabbed by the characters.

Potential next films: Metropolis, Spring (2014), maybe a rewatch of Interview with the Vampire. Not sure about the math or sales one.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Sun Mar 24, 2019 2:39 am

Thief wrote:Experiment in Terror (1962) Fairly effective thriller at the moment. However, for some reason, it just didn't stick. I saw it about a week ago, and I'm struggling to remember what happened. That's never a good sign.
This is shocking to me, because I haven't seen it in probably ten years but I can easily rattle of several scenes that left a big impression on me:
1) The opening sequence where she pulls into her garage and he grabs her and she is in the stark light and he is in the shadows

2) The scene with the woman in the large studio with all of the mannequins

3) The scene where he is dressed as a woman and corners her in the ladies bathroom

4) The scene which is soooooo creepy where he has kidnapped the little sister and makes her undress and then slowly backs her into a wall

5) The asian woman he's been courting talking to her neighbor the lawyer about whether or not to talk to the police
Thief wrote:This is the one I'm planning on seeing. Good to know it's not bad.
I quite liked Spring (I think it was Captain Terror who strongly recommended it to me). I did have one issue with the film, but it's literally about the ending/last act and so we can discuss it once you've watched it.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Wooley » Sun Mar 24, 2019 4:49 am

Charles wrote:A movie with Spring in the title: Spring, 2014 (B)

Third movie out of three from Moorhead and Benson, the other two being The Endless and Resolution, which I loved. All three movies deal with Lovecraftian themes and imagery, Spring less than the other two. I also think Spring is the lesser of the three, but if you enjoy special effects and creatures, there's a bit in there and nothing in the movie is bad enough to not recommend.

The movie revolves around a guy who has troubles at homes in the US after his mother dies and decides to take a trip to Italy. There he meets a young, mysterious woman who, no real spoiler here, turns out to be some sort of monster.

So the movie is very well made. Outside of the writing, there's zero issues with anything. Those monster effects have nothing to envy to anyone, except for the most obvious cgi blood splatter in that one scene, but it's very minor. The issue I have is one: the movie feels the need to have an explanation scene, and many more afterwards, and those add nothing to the theme and will surely do a number on the way the movie ages. Second thing is that I feel the movie sort of outlives its point, or at least doesn't see it through in large parts. There was a mystery and a recurring theme of life and seasons and nurture and all that never really gets to a satisfying conclusion. From the farm work, the nature scenes, the weird lemon and orange tree. It doesn't give a good conclusion to any of that.

But the characters don't feel forced or weird, the dialogue feels natural, all that is super good.

Still enjoyed it overall though and I'm very much looking forward to their next movie, which Imdb says is coming this year. Also, if you haven't seen their two first movies, do so. It's very worth it.
I definitely liked the movie but, like you, I also definitely felt it had problems.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Sun Mar 24, 2019 7:14 pm

A film about aliens or alien abductions (Alien Abduction Day, March 20): Liquid Sky

Margaret (Anne Carlisle) is an androgynous model, dating drug-dealer/experimental musician Adrian (Paula E Sheppard!). Margaret is addicted to drugs and lives a pretty miserable life, belittled and abused by both Adrian and the fellow addicts/hangers-on in their social circle. One day, a small alien spacecraft lands on the roof of Margaret's building. The aliens are seeking opiates, but discover a much better fix in the form of the chemicals released in the human brain during orgasm. A stunned Margaret tries to figure out what's going on when her sexual partners start dropping dead.

While Margaret is at the center of the story, there are several subplots, including a German scientist in pursuit of the aliens, a woman across the street from Margaret's apartment who becomes involves mainly as an observer, a woman whose husband is addicted to heroin, and a sulky male model named Jimmy (also played by Carlisle).

Everything about the plot description and the stylistic trappings of the film give the impression of B-movie cheesy goodness, but this is actually a film that walks a line between comedy and tragedy. About 15 minutes into the film, Margaret is violently raped by a man she brought home based on the promise of drugs. Instead he violently attacks her in the building's stairwell--the first incident that alerts the aliens to their new possible source of a high/energy. During the rest of the film Margaret is repeatedly raped and physically attacked by several different characters. Margaret begins to believe that the invisible being (whom she dubs "The Indian") loves her and wants to protect her. In fact, it's only because Margaret derives no pleasure from any of the sex she has in the film that she is spared.

There are parts of the film that are funny (such as the across-the-street neighbor's repeated attempts to seduce the uninterested/oblivious German scientist, or Adrian's hilariously awful music performance), but overall the film is moody and frightening. Adrian is a compellingly awful character and she is more frightening in her own way than the aliens. Paula E Sheppard played the terrifying lead in Alice Sweet Alice and she brings the same sociopathic intensity to her role as Adrian.

The thing that I admired most about the film was its treatment of Margaret. It's able to show that she repeatedly makes choices that are not in her own best interest, but also that she has no allies and no developed sense of confidence aside from what she gets out of being different with her unique clothing and makeup. And unlike a film like Teeth, this film understands that what might seem like "female empowerment" is actually just a honeymoon/euphoric stage of what is ultimately very destructive. Any "power" that Margaret has is ultimately tied to her own abuse and debasement, and it's actually clear that being abused, violated, and enduring the trauma of being trapped under the naked bodies of dead men isn't doing Margaret's mental state much good. Margaret believes that SHE is the one killing people, and that it's not safe for her to sleep with anyone. Her "power" just introduces a new level of isolation. I know that I mentioned Sheppard as Adrian, but Carlisle as Margaret (and also as male model Jimmy) is really excellent--she is both present and also somehow vividly a person whose spark is fading away.

This is an independent film that is really worth checking out. There is a stand-out scene in which Margaret delivers a great monologue in the dark as she slowly covers her face in paint that glows in the black light. It's a simple but breathtaking sequence. Highly recommended, but be aware that it's not the goofy fun that the plot summary might suggest.

Image
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Sun Mar 24, 2019 7:59 pm

A film from Spike Lee (born March 20): Pass Over

I mean . . . oof.

So this is a film of a stage play, with Spike Lee as one of the directors.

There are only four characters, and really the focus is on two of them: Moses and Kitch are two young black men who we meet for two consecutive nights as they banter, dodge the police, and discuss their futures.

Let's start with strengths: I actually do like when a filmed play lets you see the audience's reaction. The prologue and the epilogue of the film highlight audience members and we see their reactions during the play. The actors who play the two leads (John Michael Hill who I know from Elementary, and Julian Parker) are both pretty funny and engaging performers. There are some pretty funny sequences of banter between the two.

The downside, however? The writing is so clunky that at times it feels like something an alt-right person would script as a parody of liberal art. Much like Crash, this is a narrative that's all about race, and yet says nothing new or deep. Did you know that white people think they own everything? Did you know that black children grow up with a fatalistic view of their own futures?

These ideas can be explored in film, but here they are not explored so much as just shouted. At one point, for example, a character literally screams into the camera "Stop killing us!". Another moment, a white character asks why he can't say "The N word", and when told it's not his, he dmeonically snarls, "EVERYTHING'S MINE!!!!". The audience is clearly impacted by what they are seeing, but of course there is emotional resonance with a black audience watching black men be manhandled by a racist police officer. Hill and Parker do their best with the dialogue, but can't overcome its clunky nature.

The play/film is at its best when it lets itself get weird. In one sequence, a white man in an old-fashioned suit appears with a picnic basket, claiming to have gotten lost trying to get to his mother's house. A moment of levity in which the white man jovially tells the two black men "Call me Master!" (because his name's actually Master, GET IT?!) is actually pretty funny. But pretty soon the weirdness gives way to just the character standing in for all white people as he passive-aggressively implies they should clean up their act. There's an even more bizarre turn of events in the film's third act (which also gives way to some ham-fisted political commentary) that breathes some life and energy into the narrative.

I wish that the writer of this play had just trusted the audience a little more, let go of the 40 or so minutes of in-your-face expository banter, and just gone for an all-out surreal odyssey starring the two main characters. There's a lot of potential there, but unfortunately this is the kind of film more likely to make someone who is already biased laugh at it instead of making them think. And if you're even half aware of the racial issues in this country, this play isn't bringing anything new to the table. (Although a scene at the end in which one of the black characters declares "I think we just . . . transcended race!" implies a self-awareness that is simply not present for the other 85 minutes).
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

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

Quietly deletes Pass Over from his Amazon Prime queue.

Some adventure today as a transformer caught fire and I think exploded once, but everything is OK and outside of the person in the ambulance, nobody got hurt.

Still had enough time to finish this:

Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation (2018)
See a film that's part 3 of a series

I'm going in blind to this series that stars the vocal talents of Adam Sandler and his friends. I have seen portions of this at work and at Family Video so I thought "I should get through this easy peasy".

And I did, although it does feel a bit too easy.

The plot? Count Drac (Sandler) is feeling a bit overworked (and also a bit overwhelmed by perhaps returning to the dating scene). His daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) finds out about a monster cruise and books Drac and her family for a bit of family fun under the moon.

I presume all the monsters slept soundly in their beds during the day, especially considering all the scenes are done at night.

Anyhoo, all the monsters are present: Frankenstein (Kevin James), his wife (Fran Drescher), the Mummy (Keegan-Michael Key), Griffin the Invisible Man (David Spade), Blobby (director Genndy Tartakovsky), Wayne the werewolf (Steve Buscemi), his wife Wanda (Molly Shannon), and Drac's father (Mel Brooks). Also along for the ride is Mavis's human husband Johnny (Andy Samberg) and their child Dennis.

Whew. That's a lot of names to remember.

While on the cruise, Drac feels the Zing (in this film, it's love at first sight) at cruise director Ericka (Kathryn Hahn). Kind of a big deal since the last time he felt it, it was his first wife (he's a widow). But there may be a reason why she doesn't feel the same way.

To be honest, I laughed a few times. The antics of how Blobby is able to create a child, a dog, and some sweet shades was good for a chuckle. And occasionally, Tartakovsky almost whips an interesting film out of this (such as fish employees on the cruise and the Gremlin airlines they fly en route to the boat).

But like most films he's done of late, Sandler and crew appeal too often to the lowest common denominator. There's too much humor of the bathroom variety (such as TWO bouts of Garlic Intolerance). The climactic sequence turns into a DJ battle. And outside of Drac and Ericka, nobody really is asked to change even as the moral pleas for tolerance.

Hotel Transylvania 3 is inoffensive, but also offers no depth. It's about as forgettable as the plot to a beach novel.

Also halfway through The Theory of Everything which would mark 11 titles for March (huzzah!). It's a decent enough biopic of Stephen Hawking and his girlfriend/wife Jane Wilde.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Sun Mar 24, 2019 10:41 pm

Apex Predator wrote:Quietly deletes Pass Over from his Amazon Prime queue.
I mean, it's only 85 minutes long. You could always check it out and offer a second opinion :)
Some adventure today as a transformer caught fire and I think exploded once, but everything is OK and outside of the person in the ambulance, nobody got hurt.
Took me way too long to realize you were talking about the electrical equipment and not, like, a giant robot.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Sun Mar 24, 2019 11:37 pm

A film directed by a woman: Movern Callar

I'd heard quite a few rumblings that this film is very divisive. But seeing as how I have a hard time understanding how someone could dislike it, I guess I'm more in the "love it" camp?

Morvern Callar is a young woman who works in a supermarket. On Christmas day she wakes up to find her boyfriend dead by suicide in the kitchen. Morvern goes through a period of grief, shortly followed by disposing of his body and putting her own name on a novel he left behind.

I really liked this film. I thought that it was a great example of how a movie can show a person doing very selfish, even horrible things, and yet making you understand why those things seem like the right choice to that character.

Morvern spends the whole movie oscillating between the despair of "everything is decay" and the euphoria of "screw it! Life is for the living!". I often found myself on her side, despite the seeming awfulness of her actions. It's true that Morvern doesn't honor her boyfriend's wishes, but on the other hand he leaves her to endure the trauma of finding his body, having taken the time to plan his book release and his funeral expenses, but not to figure out how to reduce the impact on her.

Really, though, what I most liked about the movie was the way that it portrays Morvern's isolation. She thinks that a new setting (Spain) or more money will make her happy, but it doesn't really do anything for her emptiness. Instead it almost amplifies it as she either notices other lost souls (like a depressed woman on holiday with her boyfriend) or feels even more alone in a crowd. In one sequence the film switches between the booming "soundtrack" sound of a song before abruptly switching to the thin, tinny version that Morvern is hearing through her walkman. Morvern's walkman is a constant (sometimes literally taped to her body when she's undressed), and the way that she's sealed in her own little bubble, even when in a large boisterous crowd, is very relatable.

At this point I'd be interested to know why some people dislike it. I can see not liking it, but not disliking it.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Apex Predator » Sun Mar 24, 2019 11:45 pm

Takoma1 wrote:
I mean, it's only 85 minutes long. You could always check it out and offer a second opinion :)



Took me way too long to realize you were talking about the electrical equipment and not, like, a giant robot.
Yeah, but there was power the whole time. Although I talked with someone whose power went out before showing up for work this morning.

LOL at thinking I was talking about the Shia LaBeouf/Mark Wahlberg franchise. :P

I hadn't deleted it. I'm not even sure that it's on it right now. Your review didn't make it sound promising, though.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Mon Mar 25, 2019 6:42 pm

How about that Metropolis film? That was good, right?
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Captain Terror » Mon Mar 25, 2019 8:34 pm

Thief wrote:How about that Metropolis film? That was good, right?
I think I've heard of that one.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Charles » Mon Mar 25, 2019 9:02 pm

1927 Metropolis?

I really, really wanted to love it, but in the end the only thing I loved was Maria. Dunno if I'm missing historical context or something.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Wooley » Mon Mar 25, 2019 9:21 pm

Takoma1 wrote:A film about aliens or alien abductions (Alien Abduction Day, March 20): Liquid Sky

Margaret (Anne Carlisle) is an androgynous model, dating drug-dealer/experimental musician Adrian (Paula E Sheppard!). Margaret is addicted to drugs and lives a pretty miserable life, belittled and abused by both Adrian and the fellow addicts/hangers-on in their social circle. One day, a small alien spacecraft lands on the roof of Margaret's building. The aliens are seeking opiates, but discover a much better fix in the form of the chemicals released in the human brain during orgasm. A stunned Margaret tries to figure out what's going on when her sexual partners start dropping dead.

While Margaret is at the center of the story, there are several subplots, including a German scientist in pursuit of the aliens, a woman across the street from Margaret's apartment who becomes involves mainly as an observer, a woman whose husband is addicted to heroin, and a sulky male model named Jimmy (also played by Carlisle).

Everything about the plot description and the stylistic trappings of the film give the impression of B-movie cheesy goodness, but this is actually a film that walks a line between comedy and tragedy. About 15 minutes into the film, Margaret is violently raped by a man she brought home based on the promise of drugs. Instead he violently attacks her in the building's stairwell--the first incident that alerts the aliens to their new possible source of a high/energy. During the rest of the film Margaret is repeatedly raped and physically attacked by several different characters. Margaret begins to believe that the invisible being (whom she dubs "The Indian") loves her and wants to protect her. In fact, it's only because Margaret derives no pleasure from any of the sex she has in the film that she is spared.

There are parts of the film that are funny (such as the across-the-street neighbor's repeated attempts to seduce the uninterested/oblivious German scientist, or Adrian's hilariously awful music performance), but overall the film is moody and frightening. Adrian is a compellingly awful character and she is more frightening in her own way than the aliens. Paula E Sheppard played the terrifying lead in Alice Sweet Alice and she brings the same sociopathic intensity to her role as Adrian.

The thing that I admired most about the film was its treatment of Margaret. It's able to show that she repeatedly makes choices that are not in her own best interest, but also that she has no allies and no developed sense of confidence aside from what she gets out of being different with her unique clothing and makeup. And unlike a film like Teeth, this film understands that what might seem like "female empowerment" is actually just a honeymoon/euphoric stage of what is ultimately very destructive. Any "power" that Margaret has is ultimately tied to her own abuse and debasement, and it's actually clear that being abused, violated, and enduring the trauma of being trapped under the naked bodies of dead men isn't doing Margaret's mental state much good. Margaret believes that SHE is the one killing people, and that it's not safe for her to sleep with anyone. Her "power" just introduces a new level of isolation. I know that I mentioned Sheppard as Adrian, but Carlisle as Margaret (and also as male model Jimmy) is really excellent--she is both present and also somehow vividly a person whose spark is fading away.

This is an independent film that is really worth checking out. There is a stand-out scene in which Margaret delivers a great monologue in the dark as she slowly covers her face in paint that glows in the black light. It's a simple but breathtaking sequence. Highly recommended, but be aware that it's not the goofy fun that the plot summary might suggest.

Image
I haven't seen this since I was a teenager, it's been in at least one of my various queues for years and I just haven't been in the right mood to pull the trigger on it for a revisit.
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Apex Predator
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Apex Predator » Tue Mar 26, 2019 1:21 am

Thief wrote:How about that Metropolis film? That was good, right?
I think that Fritz Lang guy might have a little potential.
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Takoma1
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Tue Mar 26, 2019 2:42 am

Wooley wrote: I haven't seen this since I was a teenager, it's been in at least one of my various queues for years and I just haven't been in the right mood to pull the trigger on it for a revisit.
It's definitely weird and, I don't know, upsetting? Unsettling?

There's just an unpredictable quality to the action to the point that I felt kind of mildly anxious the whole time I was watching it. Because one minute it's very silly and the next minute a man is hitting a woman while she tries to get through a rape by disassociating from what's happening. I liked it a lot, but I'd really have to be in a certain mood to revisit it.
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Takoma1
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Thu Mar 28, 2019 12:28 am

I'm done with all my March films and would break them down thusly:

Must-See
A film from the current IMDb 250 whose ranking includes the #3 (i.e. 13, 23, 32): Life of Brian
A film about aliens or alien abductions (Alien Abduction Day, March 20): Liquid Sky

Worth a Watch
A film with a title that starts with the letters E or F: Fine Dead Girls
A documentary: McQueen
A film set in New Orleans (Mardi Gras, March 5): Candyman Farewell to the Flesh
A film with a woman's name in its title: Coffy
A film about math or mathematicians (Pi Day, March 14): A Brilliant Young Mind
A film from Ireland (St. Patrick's Day, March 17): My Name is Emily
A film from the 1920s: The Extra Girl
A film about salesperson or stores (Salesperson Day, March 1): Amazing Adventure
A film directed by a woman: Movern Callar

Eh/Nope
A film with the number 3 (Three, Third, etc.) in its title (not a sequel): The Third Night
A film with the word "Spring" in its title: Bedford Springs
The third part on a film franchise: Maniac Cop 3
A film from Spike Lee (born March 20): Pass Over

Overall this was a really solid month. I would say that only Bedford Springs was truly unwatchable.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Apex Predator » Fri Mar 29, 2019 6:59 pm

With a few days left, I'm now up to 11 titles for the month!

The Theory of Everything (2014)
See a film focused on math or a mathematician

This one focuses a lot on Stephen Hawking and his marriage to Jane from their first meeting to his physical breakdown due to ALS to the publishing of his book The Brief History of Time.

Where the film does well is the showcasing of the little things that lead towards a loving relationship being headed to the rocks. Although there are some issues that the real life Jane has towards the movie, I think the film does a nice job of this. There's a lot less general inaccuracies than The Imitation Game.
Although a sequence involving a tracheotomy feels like it's a bit fuzzy on its timeline throughout.
The performances by Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne are fine and the film is kinda well done, if a bit on the standard side.

But I have three issues with Everything.

The biggest one is that it spends so much time focused on the heart that it forgets to show us Hawking the mathematician/scientist. If you're wanting a detailed look at his accomplishments, check out Wikipedia. You'll probably find more info there than in this movie.

The second biggest one is that director James Marsh (Man on Wire) uses way too many montages for the film's own good. Although one done towards the end is well done, too many of them seem pointless and determined to increase the runtime.

And then there was one sequence that had to be seen to be disbelieved.
Hawking is in the middle of a lecture where a student drops her pen. In the middle of a question, he gets up from his wheelchair, starts walking, and picks it up. Wait, film, what? No, no. That it's only a fantasy sequence is bad enough, but it doesn't really add anything to the movie either. Oh, look, ma, more padding!
Overall, the Theory of Everything is fine. I'll give it a marginal recommendation.

But if you've been avoiding Imitation Game due to its standard biopicness, then you could probably also skip this one.

All that's left is a trio of titles. Two that's under one and a half hours and a third which I've been going back and forth on.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Charles » Sat Mar 30, 2019 11:06 pm

A film from Ireland (St. Patrick's Day, March 17): Calvary (A+)

I'm not sure what to say about this, but it's outstanding. I usually never care much about characters, but Gleeson's character and the way he interacts with everyone around him made this movie fly by the way few movies do these days for me. Nothing felt out of place and everything flowed perfectly.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Captain Terror » Sun Mar 31, 2019 1:25 am

A film directed by a woman: Rust Creek (Jen McGowan)

College girl on a road trip takes an ill-advised detour while traveling through Kentucky and encounters some hostile locals. (Appalachia really needs to work on their PR. Can't remember a movie set in this area that didn't end terribly for all involved.)

Saw this at a local theater today and was unfortunately stuck with a noisy crowd which sort of deflated some of the tense moments*, but I liked it nevertheless. This sounds like a Wrong Turn-ish horror film on paper but really isn't. More of a suspense/thriller thing. I questioned some of the girl's decisions, but I've learned to live with that. Some of the twists and turns were telegraphed a bit too much. (Example: When the meth guy goes into great clinical detail about how volatile a certain ingredient is and why. Gee, I wonder if that's gonna be significant later?) I was entertained, though, and would recommend it once it's streaming and doesn't require any effort to find.

*read on if you'd like to hear my (kind of cute) noisy theater story---
So for reasons unknown to me, in a fairly crowded room I was the youngest person by a good 20 years. Everyone else was Elderly with a capital E. So the movie starts and the audience commentary begins immediately. Example: when a "Road Closed" sign appears on screen multiple audience members say out loud, "Road closed?!?" in a worried tone. Lots of "uh-ohs" and "hmphs!" whenever our heroine confronts a new dilemma.
An important plot development happens around the 15 minute mark, and concurrent with that there is a loud thud followed by loud rattling coming from the back of the room. This was a late arrival, who had some difficulty avoiding the wall with her walker in the dark, evidently. She manages to find a seat and immediately pulls out a po-boy-sized sandwich (like a 12 inch sub) wrapped in cellophane. This theater does not sell cellophane-wrapped sandwiches, incidentally. So the cellophane is loud. Like LOUD. So loud that the elderly couple sitting in front of her leaves their seats and moves further down the row. But, again, they're elderly, so this was not accomplished without much effort and some noise of their own. (Bear in mind that the commentary throughout the room is constant. "Why is she taking that road?") Also there's some shushing going on as well. Also loud gasps when a character uses the F word.
Midway through the film, when the action is starting to pick up, the old guy in front of me loses his composure and starts to loudly predict what's about to happen. (Camera pans to a character's gun- "He's gonna shoot him, watch!") This prompts the old guy a few seats away to leave his seat and move to the back row with me. However, before long this guy begins adding his two cents to every scene. And so on. Fun times.
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Takoma1
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Sun Mar 31, 2019 1:29 am

Charles wrote:A film from Ireland (St. Patrick's Day, March 17): Calvary (A+)

I'm not sure what to say about this, but it's outstanding. I usually never care much about characters, but Gleeson's character and the way he interacts with everyone around him made this movie fly by the way few movies do these days for me. Nothing felt out of place and everything flowed perfectly.
Yeah, Calvary is amazing. One of the most powerful films I've seen in the last 10 years. And the cast is amazing. It was really interesting to see two actors I associate with comedy (Dylan Moran and Chris O'Dowd) pop up in such serious roles.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Mon Apr 01, 2019 1:23 pm

This was #March's tally...

A film with the number 3 (Three, Third, etc.) in its title (not a sequel): Triple Frontier
A film with a title that starts with the letters E or F: Experiment in Terror
A film from the current IMDb 250 whose ranking includes the #3 (i.e. 13, 23, 32): (see list here) The Grapes of Wrath (#223)
A film from the 1920s: Metropolis
A documentary: Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened
The third part on a film franchise: Final Destination 3
A film with the word "Spring" in its title: Spring
A film directed by a woman: You Were Never Really Here
A film with a woman's name in its title: Mandy
A film about salesperson or stores (Salesperson Day, March 1): Clerks II
A film set in New Orleans (Mardi Gras, March 5): Interview with the Vampire (rewatch)
A film about math or mathematicians (Pi Day, March 14): Hidden Figures
A film from Ireland (St. Patrick's Day, March 17): Bloody Sunday
A film about aliens or alien abductions (Alien Abduction Day, March 20): Fire in the Sky (rewatch)
A film from Spike Lee (born March 20): Chi-Raq

Another successful month, completed at the nick of time!

The best of the bunch? Couple of good ones. Metropolis, You Were Never Really Here, Bloody Sunday...

Worst? Between Clerks II and Triple Frontier
--- UNDER CONSTRUCTION ---
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Death Proof » Mon Apr 01, 2019 5:13 pm

Thief wrote: Worst? Between Clerks II and Triple Frontier

Oh, your momma.

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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