Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

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Takoma1
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Sun Sep 08, 2019 2:14 am

A science-fiction film: Prospect

After a full day of working out and then working in the garden, this has unabashedly been a total movie night for me. And I seem to have saved the best for last.

Prospect follows a young woman, Cee, and her father as they land on a planet where they're going to try to make one last big score. Things go off the rails almost immediately when they get into a confrontation with two mercenary types, and Cee is separated from her father. Forced to reluctantly trust one of the mercenaries (and literally tethered to him by a shared air filtration system), Cee tries to stay alive and find a way off of the planet before she falls victim to the many sociopathic residents.

Image

This movie had a touch of that Firefly-type dynamic where outer space is presented as a sort of wild west. This extends to the way that the characters speak (in that overly-mannered way that evokes something like Deadwood), and to the general sense of lawlessness.

The film is anchored by strong performances from Sophia Thatcher (Cee) and Pedro Pascal, who plays Ezra, the man Cee must trust with her life. The tenuous, sometimes outright hostile relationship between the two is well-realized. Ezra fits that character mold of a man who is willing to rob/cheat/kill to survive, but he's not a sadist. He's not exactly an honorable thief, but he stands in contrast to other characters who are much more eager to exploit any angle they can. What mostly sets him apart from the other characters is the fact that he sees Cee as a child, while others see only the potential for sexual exploitation (the film gets bonus points for addressing this threat to Cee without indulging in it or showing any exploitative sequences with the character). The film oscillates between the two of them bargaining like equals and moments that are almost accidentally paternal on Ezra's part. The latter becomes both sweet and darkly comical in a scene where Ezra must encourage Cee as she performs a painful field operation on him to save his life.

Another element that I found appealing about this one was the way it was paced. It's sort of erratic, but I liked that. These are two characters just kind of poking around a planet with a plan, but also with several obvious obstacles. Sometimes something that seems like a major threat isn't. Sometimes something that seems like no big deal turns deadly. Details about the planet (like the deadly dust that floats in the air, or the nature of the gems being mined by Cee and her father) are revealed in bits and pieces, and there's never a big sit down exposition-fest. We know what we need to know to understand the story and the stakes. I appreciated that the film didn't need to go nuts explaining its world. There's an internal logic to what happens, and that's all that is necessary for the story.

I watched this one on Hulu and I'd highly recommend it. I'd never even heard of it before, but I think that this is interesting and legit character-based sci-fi.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Slentert » Sun Sep 08, 2019 12:05 pm

Aww, now I'm sad I skipped on it when it played at a festival near me. :(
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Sun Sep 08, 2019 4:45 pm

Slentert wrote:
Sun Sep 08, 2019 12:05 pm
Aww, now I'm sad I skipped on it when it played at a festival near me. :(
Just keep it on your radar and rent it when you get the chance.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Sun Sep 08, 2019 6:54 pm

A film from the 1980s: Masters of the Universe

This is the kind of convoluted garbage I might have liked when I was 8, but I think that even as a child I would have been disappointed with the gaps between the cartoon and this live version (yes, I'm aware that the film is not a direct adaptation of the cartoon).

But the effects and action scenes are really clunky. Between the costuming and/or Lundgren's muscles, there's very little agility or dexterity on display. The character of Julie is almost offensively bad (existing only to be put in danger, to bellow "KEVIN!", or to do something abysmally stupid like hand over the cosmic key to the bad guys). At the end, the police detective is "rewarded" with an anonymous woman who looks to be 30 years his junior. The less said about the moments of "comic relief" the better. Skeletor's existential angst is about the only interesting thing happening, and even that feels isolated from the flow of the rest of the film.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Mon Sep 09, 2019 3:11 pm

I remember seeing Masters of the Universe in theaters back in the day and, even as a fan of the cartoon/toys, the film felt awkward and weird. Never seen it since.

As for Prospect, looks interesting. I already saw a sci-fi film (Solo), but I'll keep that on my back-pocket.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Apex Predator » Mon Sep 09, 2019 8:52 pm

Believe it or not, I've not seen Masters of the Universe.

I may have seen the animated Transformers movie multiple times: you got the touch...
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Tue Sep 10, 2019 2:07 am

Thief wrote:
Mon Sep 09, 2019 3:11 pm
I remember seeing Masters of the Universe in theaters back in the day and, even as a fan of the cartoon/toys, the film felt awkward and weird. Never seen it since.
It is awkward. Very.

It doesn't seem to know exactly what kind of film it wants to be, and in aiming for "fun!" it lands more at "clunky". There are literally several scenes that just grind to a halt as all of the main characters go "GWIL-DOOOOOOOOR" in this "wamp-wamp" tone because he did something "funny" (like put on lady clothes. He's . . . he's not a lady!!!!).

And while I can appreciate the work that must have gone into Lundgren achieving the physique that he shows off, it's just a fact that you can't be that big and be agile at the same time. So he looks totally accurate as He-Man, but he can't move worth a darn, and every time he's asked to move at anything faster than a walk, it looks awkward as all get out. There's a scene where he has to run down a street and it looks like he's trying to move through molasses.

The treatment of the human characters is even weirder. For a short while, it seems like they're trying to go for romance with He-Man and Julie--but that's kind of creepy because she's like 17 and he's like 30. She's too old to be treated like a child, and yet too young to be treated like an adult (much less the obligatory love interest). So then they throw boyfriend Kevin into the mix. And despite Julie getting all the backstory (parents dead, trying to leave town, etc), it's Kevin who ends up getting the inspirational speech at the end about believing in himself while Julie literally lays in the background in a coma. If you didn't know better, you'd think that Courtney Cox got horribly sick during the ending of shooting and they hastily rewrote the ending so that she wouldn't have to say or do anything for a huge stretch of the film.

A film about pirates (Int'l Talk like a Pirate Day, September 19): The Black Pirate

This was a pretty enjoyable pirate romp, bogged down a bit by predictably dated sexist garbage.

Douglas Fairbanks plays a man whose ship is attacked by a brutal gang of pirates. In the first five minutes or so, a man swallows a ring to keep the pirates from taking it, and the pirates just nonchalantly slit his stomach open to retrieve it. Once they've ransacked the boat, the pirates blow it (and the crew) up with black powder. Fairbanks survives, as does his father, washing up on the shore of a nearby island. His father dies and Fairbanks swears vengeance. By coincidence, the pirates choose the island to bury some of their treasure. Fairbanks offers to join their company, and he kills the pirate captain in a duel. He quickly earns respect by capturing a ship single-handedly. When a woman on board is threatened by the pirates, Fairbanks must fold saving her into his larger plan for revenge.

This film had a lot going for it. There are some really engaging stunts (riding a knife down a sail, for example). There are some fun little character moments (like some knowing glances exchanged between pirates, or a moment when Fairbanks is like "Do you believe in love at first sight?" *sigh* and the grungy pirate he's talking to is like "Umm . . . "). Generally speaking the plot takes some good twists and turns.

What bogs the film down a bit is the character of the woman. Now, please understand, about 25 percent of this film centers on various plans to rape her. This comes in two forms: one is a slobbering pirate minion who repeatedly lunges at her and breaks into her room. But the bigger threat is the second-in-command who resents Fairbanks and who "wins" the right to rape the woman by drawing the lucky straw. When he's told that he can't rape her if her ransom is paid, he goes to great lengths to ensure that the ransom ship won't succeed in its mission. The sexual violence itself isn't really the problem here, though. In fact, the frightening single-mindedness with which the second-in-command pursues her is actually effectively creepy. Once he's told he can't have her, there's this great shot of him looking down at the straw he drew like "But!! The lucky rape straw!!!" His wounded pride and his sense of what is "his" means he's willing to scuttle an amazing payday just to get what he thinks he deserves. There's a darkly comical element to the way that he basically clock-watches the sun dial on the ship, because the ransom ship has until noon to return, and once the clock hits 12, he's allowed to go for the woman.

So the problem isn't really that element of the plot. The problem is more that the damsel in distress has about zero personality. She doesn't really get to do or say much. She cowers in fear all five times someone tries to attack her. She looks surprised at the Black Pirate's gentlemanly ways. Cower. "Oh, he's a gentleman!" Cower. "Oh, he's a gentleman!". Cower some more. That's all there is to her character. And so it's hard to feel much spark when the Black Pirate declares his love for her and becomes determined to save her. Honestly, I think that the film would have played a lot better without the romance (or at least without the whole "love at first sight" thing) and had just made it so that this innocent woman complicates his plan for revenge. Trying to keep her safe and make the pirates pay for their crimes is a neat conflict, but every time he goes on and on about loving her it feels false and unearned. Like, what does he love about her? Just that she's kind of hot? It's uninteresting. (She's also astoundingly useless. At one point she's escaped--with some help--and a pirate manages to catch her by swimming up to her and boarding her boat. It's very Mother May I Sleep with Danger?. Like, she can't even muster up the gumption to kick one guy in the face?!).

It's a quick little watch and generally speaking a fun, breezy film. The romantic stuff drags it down, but there's plenty of plot there to hold your attention. This one's free on Prime.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Tue Sep 10, 2019 1:44 pm

Takoma1 wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 2:07 am
And while I can appreciate the work that must have gone into Lundgren achieving the physique that he shows off, it's just a fact that you can't be that big and be agile at the same time. So he looks totally accurate as He-Man, but he can't move worth a darn, and every time he's asked to move at anything faster than a walk, it looks awkward as all get out. There's a scene where he has to run down a street and it looks like he's trying to move through molasses.
Well, in Lundgren's defense, He-Man always had a kinda awkward run to him :D

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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Apex Predator » Tue Sep 10, 2019 5:39 pm

Finished Woodstock: 3 Days That Changed the World (I don't think it fit any category, but I wanted to see this one).

It gets into the logistics that led to the three day music and arts festival at a dairy farm in the small New York town of Bethel. Starting with the fact they had maybe a month to put together the concert/festival after a previous location changed their mind thanks to town pressure. It deals with both the highs (great music, bonding) and lows (lack of food, weather) of the festival and even has some time to get into its legacy.

The film which features multiple attendees, several musicians, and the people behind it is well done. But it's also begging for a what happened to them sort of reel at the end. Still my 2019 slate has a new co-leader. B
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Tue Sep 10, 2019 8:22 pm

Thief wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 1:44 pm
Well, in Lundgren's defense, He-Man always had a kinda awkward run to him :D

Image
Ha! It's not so much the awkwardness as it is the speed (or lack thereof).

It's like "I'm coming to save you, girl who is one city block away. . . . . I'll be there in half an hour."
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Wed Sep 11, 2019 1:33 am

A film with a title that starts with the letters Q or R: Red Sparrow

Definitely most mainstream/blockbuster film I've watched this month.

The film follows a young woman named Dominika (Jennifer Lawrence), a promising ballet dancer whose career is cut short by a tragic accident. Her uncle, a high-ranking member of the Russian spy agency, offers her a chance to earn some extra money by seducing a target of interest. When the spy mission suddenly turns into an assassination, Dominika is a witness and she must choose between death or going full-in with the spy stuff.

Taken to "school", Dominika is trained as a Sparrow, a spy whose main modus operendi is to seduce in order to glean information. She is ultimately sent on a mission to discover the identity of a mole who has been assisting the Americans. The story also follows a man named Nate (Joel Edgerton), a CIA operative who is trying to protect the mole. Things quickly become a matter of double and triple crosses as Nate tries to "turn" Dominika and we must wait and see just what Dominika's endgame is.

I had some mixed reaction to this one. Overall I would say that I liked it, and the second half is certainly stronger than the beginning. The extended sequence where Dominika is at "whore school" (her words) edges pretty close to camp territory. It's the kind of thing where a man is dragged into a classroom by officers and one of the trembling cadets is ordered to perform oral sex on him "like a boy", or where the whole class of Sparrows watches on a huge theater screen a video of Dominika doing a practice seduction on a Russian soldier. I appreciate that this part of the film avoids going as exploitative as it could have gone (and, in fact, it seems to strain at the seams to show equality in terms of the male and female nudity on display). The main thrust (hee!) of the sequence is to show Dominika's ability to work complex situations. She picks a young soldier because she knows she'll be able to get away with not actually having intercourse with him. When a classmate attempts to rape her in the shower she fights him off, and later when she gets in trouble for "damaging" him, she turns the tables when ordered to publicly allow him to have sex with her. This whole part of the film never finds the right balance between upsetting reality (young men and women being forced to have sex with various people as part of their training, often in humiliating or deliberately upsetting circumstances) and high-camp (their teacher, literally called "Matron" waxing poetic about their power of seduction while pacing the room and demonstrating the fine art of nipple tweaking). The film kind of just sidesteps the question of whether or not Dominika managed to make it through sexy-sex school without actually having intercourse, because we are exclusively shown scenes where she cleverly avoids that. It kind of feels like the film wants to have it both ways: having her be in this horrible situation, and yet also be "empowering" by showing her taking control.

Once Dominika gets into her mission, however, the film does pick up. There are a ton of characters and subplots at play, and the film does a good job of navigating through them. There is a nice contrast between Nate's American optimism and Dominika's Russian stoicism, and the film keeps you questioning all the way through whether or not Dominika is buying into Nate's more hopeful outlook. Dominika trusts no one and must think steps ahead of everyone else. Throughout the film we see evidence of her careful planning, and it is satisfying each time one of her schemes falls neatly into place or as we watch her improvise through unexpected difficulties.

This isn't a film that's huge on spycraft itself, but more interested in it's theory about the power of knowing what others want and finding a way to satisfy that need. (In case this isn't obvious enough, the allegory of people being a puzzle of need and making yourself the missing piece is repeated twice in the film by different characters).

I was a little surprised by what I felt was a scene of excessive violence/gore. Given the mostly mind-game nature of the rest of the film, it felt a little out of place and it was hard to watch. It also raised an unfortunate comparison between a scene where Dominika is tortured (stripped naked and bound, fetishistically, under running water) and Nate is tortured (the aforementioned gore). I get that you need to have sexy-lady moments in a film about a sexy-lady spy whose main weapon is sex, but there were times that it felt like the film couldn't help itself from some of the old gender dynamics. There's this push-pull tension throughout the whole film where it's like it doesn't WANT to be exploitative, but then the scenes where it avoids cliches (such as one of the scenes at the "school" where Dominika is nude but shot strategically so that the nudity is incidental as opposed to featured) only serve to highlight those that fall into it (like a totally unnecessary shot of Dominika's nearly-nude butt as she walks across a room toward someone who can't see her butt so what's the point of that shot?).

Again, overall I enjoyed it. But it did feel uneven at times in terms of the tone it was going for. I enjoyed it much more in its more subtle, character-based moments, and thankfully the film moved more and more in that direction as it went on.

Also, different accents to something strange to my brain, and so I didn't recognize like half of the very famous cast of actors in major supporting roles.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Captain Terror » Wed Sep 11, 2019 2:30 am

Takoma1 wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 1:33 am
A film with a title that starts with the letters Q or R: Red Sparrow
I looked it up to remind myself who else was in it, and found these tantalizing keywords----

Image

What kind of filth are you promoting here??
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Wed Sep 11, 2019 3:07 am

Captain Terror wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 2:30 am
I looked it up to remind myself who else was in it, and found these tantalizing keywords----

Image

What kind of filth are you promoting here??
See, this is where the "female empowerment" element goes a bit off the rails.

But just an FYI, the only "spread eagle" I can remember was tastefully blocked to obscure the nudity. Sorry, pervs!

Other great perv keywords: "touching a man's crotch"; "miniskirt with boots"; "woman in a shower"; and the ever-classic "tied up while barefoot" (I see you, Tarantino!).

I notice that only 5 out of 10 people voted "male full frontal nudity" as being "relevant". Huh. Because . . . that is a thing that exists in the film, and quite memorably. So . . . by not relevant do we just mean "Didn't give me a boner"?
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Jinnistan » Wed Sep 11, 2019 3:29 am

Hahaha.

Sad Schmuck: "If only there was some kind of easier way for me to look up movies on IMDb by cup-size!"
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Captain Terror » Wed Sep 11, 2019 3:41 am

Jinnistan wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 3:29 am
Hahaha.

Sad Schmuck: "If only there was some kind of easier way for me to look up movies on IMDb by cup-size!"
I was about to say the same thing. Live and let live is my motto, but I sometimes wonder about the people who tag these things. I'm picturing some guy watching Red Sparrow: "Hang on! Is she...did I just see...YES she's definitely spread eagle!" *logs on to IMDB*
Takoma1 wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 3:07 am
the ever-classic "tied up while barefoot"
Years ago I was on Youtube looking for a specific clip from one of the Universal Mummy films. I came across one video of the mummy carrying the leading lady. Kind of a nondescript clip, but as I scrolled through the comments something seemed off. Things like "oooh I love the way her arm dangles". Didn't take long for me to realize I'd stumbled upon a channel devoted to the "carrying an unconscious woman" fetish that I didn't know existed. Again, live and let live....
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Jinnistan » Wed Sep 11, 2019 3:58 am

Would anyone be terribly surprised to discover an IMDb equivalent to the kinds of coded pedo comments on Youtube children's videos?

I'm not sure I would be surprised if I found out that such coded pervs that we never noticed were actually responsible for the shutdown of the RT forums.

(RIP AsianSensation)
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Wed Sep 11, 2019 5:06 pm

A film with a title that starts with the letters Q or R
A film from the 1980s



Raising Arizona (1987)
"I don't know. Maybe it's a wife, kids, family life. I mean... are you... are you satisfied, Glen? Don't you ever feel suffocated? Like there's something... big pressing down?"
As most people here know, I've been a "parent" for almost two months now. Shortly after we received our two children, one of my older brothers reminded me of a quote from Lost in Translation: "Your life, as you know it... is gone. Never to return." And I can't stress out how true and real that quote feels now. Sure, parenting is a blessing and, despite all the challenges we've had so far, I'm grateful for the opportunity we've given ourselves to be a family. But regardless of that, most parents would also agree that parenting is an incredibly daunting, stressful, and consuming task, for lack of a better word. I know it, my brother knows it, and H.I. McDunnough surely knew it when he said the above quote.

Raising Arizona follows McDunnough (Nicolas Cage), an ex-con who decides to leave behind his criminal life and gets married to police officer Edwina (Holly Hunter). Unable to bear children, the couple decide to kidnap one of the children known as the Arizona Quints, born to a wealthy businessman called Nathan Arizona (Trey Wilson). But soon after taking the child into their home, both H.I. and Edwina find themselves overwhelmed by the suffocating pressures of parenting, perhaps combined with the guilt of knowing that the child they are raising is not their own. Finally, like most Coen Bros. films, this is all complicated by an array of odd characters that includes H.I.'s boss, Glen, and his wife Dot who are already parents to a horde of brats, a couple of H.I.'s friends that happen to be escaped convicts, and a mysterious bounty hunter hired by Arizona to find the child.

Like with most Coen Bros. films, I didn't find myself that enthralled by the overall main plot of the kidnapping or the bounty hunter, but rather with the little moments, or the underlying subtext about what it means to be a parent. It's the lines, gestures, quotes, visual gags, etc. that stick with you. Like H.I. unsuccessfully trying to take a family picture while Edwina is rambling ("We're set to pop here, honey"), or Edwina's uncontrollable bawling just seconds after meeting her "son" ("I love him so much!!"), or H.I.'s face of confusion, dread, and despair as he witnesses the mess caused by Glen and Dot's children. It is during this moment that H.I. delivers the above quote, a moment where he finds himself plagued with doubts, confusion, and dread about being a parent.

An interesting note is that it took me three nights. THREE. to watch this film whole. Not the film's fault, but rather the way things have been for me for the last two months (i.e. starting to watch a film after the kids are asleep only to fall asleep on the sofa after just 20 minutes). And although that's the way it has been with a lot of the things I've seen during this time, I did find it decidedly surreal that the struggles and pressures of parenting made it so hard for me to watch a film about the struggles and pressures of parenting. My face every day goes from the face of H.I. as he tries to figure out how to deal with this suffocating pressure, to the face of Edwina as she bawls uncontrollably about how much she loves her new son.

Now, maybe all this serious contemplations about the struggles of parenthood aren't what the Coens had in mind, or maybe it was, but you take what you get from a film. Going back to that quote that my brother reminded me of: our old lives are gone, never to return. But even though we might be feeling the suffocating pressure of what it means and what it takes to raise a child, I'd like to take a dose of H.I.'s optimism and feel reassured that what we're doing is good, that we're really broadening our children's horizons, and that we can be good, strong, wise, and capable, and our children can feel happy and beloved; whether they're in Arizona, Utah, or Puerto Rico.

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

Post by Takoma1 » Wed Sep 11, 2019 8:46 pm

Jinnistan wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 3:29 am
Hahaha.

Sad Schmuck: "If only there was some kind of easier way for me to look up movies on IMDb by cup-size!"
Seriously, though, there seems to be a significant IMDb subgroup that works really hard to use the keywords and the parents guide as ways to steer each other toward this stuff. Like, sometimes you'll see a movie with only 10 keywords, and one of them is "shaved vagina". Or you go to the parents guide (which I frequently do so that I can avoid sexual assault or animal cruelty if I'm not up for that kind of content) and it's like "At 12:46 you see her nipple. At 34:05 Maria steps out of the shower and you can see her breasts and for a moment her whole body."

Like Captain Terror says, I can't imagine watching films with that filter of having to obsessively document everything sexual about it. And what I mostly find gross about it (aside from the boy's club nature of it) is that a lot of the time the "tied up" type stuff comes in the context of rape or some other violent act. I can't remember what movie it was, but someone put the "tied up barefoot" tag on it for like a young teenage girl (think 12 or 13). Barf.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Jinnistan » Thu Sep 12, 2019 12:35 am

Takoma1 wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 8:46 pm
Seriously, though, there seems to be a significant IMDb subgroup that works really hard to use the keywords and the parents guide as ways to steer each other toward this stuff. Like, sometimes you'll see a movie with only 10 keywords, and one of them is "shaved vagina". Or you go to the parents guide (which I frequently do so that I can avoid sexual assault or animal cruelty if I'm not up for that kind of content) and it's like "At 12:46 you see her nipple. At 34:05 Maria steps out of the shower and you can see her breasts and for a moment her whole body."
I don't doubt it, but I'm always a bit surprised, and morbidly amused, when I hear of the latest pervy scheme because it doesn't naturally occur to me to consider these potentials. Like, I don't think I've ever used a keyword search on IMDb once, and only occasionaly, and usually inadvertently, noticed the keywords listed for the films that I do look up (which I do all the time). Similarly, it never occurs to me to read Youtube comments, or at least not since around 2007 when it was already fairly clear that no profit could come from such a venture.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Thu Sep 12, 2019 12:46 am

A film from the current IMDb 250 whose ranking includes the #9 (i.e. 19, 29, 109): Andhadhun (#159)

A blind man named Akash works hard to perfect his musical compositions. Lucking into a piano gig at a bar after being run down by the restaurant owner's daughter, he is hired by a washed-up Bollywood star to come and perform a private concert for the star and his wife for their anniversary. Showing up for the gig, Akash plays for the wife who claims that her husband is out of town. But here's the thing: the husband's body is actually laying in a pool of blood on the kitchen floor. And here's the other thing: Akash is not actually blind.

So Akash must now find a way to expose the wife (and her lover who actually committed the murder) without exposing himself. At every turn Akash is foiled, and soon the attempt to seek justice for the dead man involves another murder, poisoning, and a black market in organ selling.

I started out quite liking this movie. The sequence where Akash is in the apartment with the dead man is really well done. It's tense and darkly funny at times. There are several little twists and turns just in that sequence alone.

But that's just about the first hour, and this film runs two and a half hours. As the time ticked on, I just got tired of watching it. Things get more and more outlandish and unbelievable. Very similar sequences repeat themselves. There's some really rocky acting from secondary characters in the last half. By the final half hour, I was just ready for it to be over.

It's a real shame, because in the film's relatively more nuanced first forty minutes, this is shaping up to be a fun, twisty thriller. I'm not even sure I'd necessarily recommend it because the good stuff only makes up about a third of the running time.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Captain Terror » Thu Sep 12, 2019 1:06 am

It's funny, Raising Arizona was the film that got me into the Coen Bros, and it's for precisely that reason that I haven't watched it in forever.
It's like it's "too obvious" a choice at this point. I need to rectify that, it's been too long since my last viewing.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Captain Terror » Thu Sep 12, 2019 1:34 am

Takoma1 wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 8:46 pm
Seriously, though, there seems to be a significant IMDb subgroup that works really hard to use the keywords and the parents guide as ways to steer each other toward this stuff. Like, sometimes you'll see a movie with only 10 keywords, and one of them is "shaved vagina". Or you go to the parents guide (which I frequently do so that I can avoid sexual assault or animal cruelty if I'm not up for that kind of content) and it's like "At 12:46 you see her nipple. At 34:05 Maria steps out of the shower and you can see her breasts and for a moment her whole body."

Like Captain Terror says, I can't imagine watching films with that filter of having to obsessively document everything sexual about it. And what I mostly find gross about it (aside from the boy's club nature of it) is that a lot of the time the "tied up" type stuff comes in the context of rape or some other violent act. I can't remember what movie it was, but someone put the "tied up barefoot" tag on it for like a young teenage girl (think 12 or 13). Barf.
I'm not in the habit of browsing the keywords* so I hadn't come across that. I mean, if I'm feeling generous I can give some of them the benefit of the doubt. "Miniskirt with boots" might be of interest to someone working in costume design, for example. I'm having a harder time imagining a scenario where "C Cup" would be helpful. (And is a C cup meant to be an attraction, or a deterrent? "Yeah there's some boobs, but they're just C's. Not worth it!")

*unless it's October and I'm desperately seeking an advantage in Rumpled's quiz
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Thu Sep 12, 2019 2:10 am

Captain Terror wrote:
Thu Sep 12, 2019 1:34 am
I'm not in the habit of browsing the keywords* so I hadn't come across that. I mean, if I'm feeling generous I can give some of them the benefit of the doubt. "Miniskirt with boots" might be of interest to someone working in costume design, for example. I'm having a harder time imagining a scenario where "C Cup" would be helpful. (And is a C cup meant to be an attraction, or a deterrent? "Yeah there's some boobs, but they're just C's. Not worth it!")
You can certainly give many tags the benefit of the doubt. And, honestly, sometimes I use them to avoid content I don't want to see. To me there's a huge difference between attempted rape in a film and a completed rape, and I appreciate that keywords sometimes help me navigate that (even if the people tagging those things may have dubious intentions). It's the same with animal deaths or figuring out how severe scenes of violence or torture might be.

But there are really clear gaps between the way that female bodies are documented in those keywords and male bodies are documented. Things will be obsessively tagged to the point where you look and it's like "female frontal nudity"; "female upper body nudity"; "full frontal female nudity"; "naked woman" and it's all talking about the one same scene! It irritates me because I feel like keywords can be an incredibly useful tool on multiple levels for people searching for or researching films, and (especially with horror) it's gross constantly coming across what feels like the equivalent of dudes passing around a dirty magazine. Like: porn is a thing! If you're so desperate for breasts of a specific size, seek them out where that's the point! Why are C cups an important factor in deciding whether or not to watch a two hour plus spy thriller?
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Jinnistan » Thu Sep 12, 2019 4:31 am

Captain Terror wrote:
Thu Sep 12, 2019 1:34 am
I'm not in the habit of browsing the keywords*

*unless it's October and I'm desperately seeking an advantage in Rumpled's quiz
Probably why I suck at these games :(

I looked up a couple of random films and clicked on the plot keywords. Very odd stuff. I'm still not convinced in the slightest that they're of any help whatsoever.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Thief » Thu Sep 12, 2019 1:54 pm

Quickies on the other first four films of the month...

Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) Overall, a competently made film that somehow ends up feeling mostly empty and lifeless. The performances are fine, but everything feels by-the-numbers, kinda like a checklist of things that you would expect an unnecessary prequel about Han Solo to have. Then in the last act, they throw all the double-crosses and "a-ha!" moments all at once, which ends up feeling kinda like they were trying too hard. I didn't hate it, but I don't think it brought a lot to the table. Grade: C+

Carlito's Way (1993) Funny story about this one: I either rented or borrowed this film back in the 90's, but for some reason, couldn't finish it and I never went back to it. What makes it funnier/weirder is that the film is about a Puerto Rican called Carlito Brigante, and I'm a Puerto Rican called Carlo. Heck, some of my best friends still call me "Brigante"! But anyway, the film has some inevitable echoes to The Godfather and Scarface, but still manages to stand on its own. It moves at a nice pace, Pacino is great and so is most of the cast. But what about De Palma's direction? My God, that long tracking shot in the last act... Wow. Grade: A-

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) Such a fun and entertaining film in every aspect. From the colorful animation, to the great voice performances... and those few wink-winks to the Raimi films. The plot did start to feel a bit awkward when they introduced those *other* characters toward the middle, but the writers and directors still managed to pull through and make it all feel integrated and organic. Had a blast with it. Grade: A-

Q: The Winged Serpent (1982) Cheap-ish monster thriller about a dragon-like creature terrorizing New York. This was way better than it had any right to be, mostly because of good performances and a competent direction. The editing was a bit choppy and amateurish, and some of the way the plot moves is clunky, but I still enjoyed it for the most part. Grade: B- or B
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Captain Terror » Thu Sep 12, 2019 5:05 pm

Jinnistan wrote:
Thu Sep 12, 2019 4:31 am
Probably why I suck at these games :(
Hey, sometimes the difference between winning and losing means filtering Gerald McRaney's filmography using the keyword "strangle". I'm leavin' it all on the field, baby.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Thu Sep 12, 2019 7:59 pm

Thief wrote:
Thu Sep 12, 2019 1:54 pm
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) Such a fun and entertaining film in every aspect. From the colorful animation, to the great voice performances... and those few wink-winks to the Raimi films. The plot did start to feel a bit awkward when they introduced those *other* characters toward the middle, but the writers and directors still managed to pull through and make it all feel integrated and organic. Had a blast with it. Grade: A-
This is definitely the film that brought me the most joy in 2018. Such an engaging, well-told story.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Wooley » Thu Sep 12, 2019 8:50 pm

Thief wrote:
Thu Sep 12, 2019 1:54 pm

Carlito's Way (1993) Funny story about this one: I either rented or borrowed this film back in the 90's, but for some reason, couldn't finish it and I never went back to it. What makes it funnier/weirder is that the film is about a Puerto Rican called Carlito Brigante, and I'm a Puerto Rican called Carlo. Heck, some of my best friends still call me "Brigante"! But anyway, the film has some inevitable echoes to The Godfather and Scarface, but still manages to stand on its own. It moves at a nice pace, Pacino is great and so is most of the cast. But what about De Palma's direction? My God, that long tracking shot in the last act... Wow. Grade: A-

Q: The Winged Serpent (1982) Cheap-ish monster thriller about a dragon-like creature terrorizing New York. This was way better than it had any right to be, mostly because of good performances and a competent direction. The editing was a bit choppy and amateurish, and some of the way the plot moves is clunky, but I still enjoyed it for the most part. Grade: B- or B
Carlito's Way has been one of my favorite "gangster films" since I saw it on its theatrical run. I strongly prefer it actually to Goodfellas, partly because of Goodfellas dull climax and denouement (because true stories don't always end with great drama) and partly because it just feels like it has more humanity to it (because there really is no one to actually like in Goodfellas). I think it's really kind of a touching film. I also think it has Sean Penn's best performance.

Q: The Winged Serpent was a favorite when I was a teenager because, as you say, it is so much better than it has any right to be.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Slentert » Fri Sep 13, 2019 7:00 pm

I have seen Carlito's Way only once or twice, but I for some reason, every time I come home late from a party, and I put on the tv, Carlito's Way is playing and I end up catching that entire chase sequence in the subway. God I love that scene.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Torgo » Fri Sep 13, 2019 7:02 pm

Hopefully, someone will remake Q: The Winged Serpent with Nicolas Cage in the Michael Moriarity role. I mean, who else could play it?
Case in point: imagine him playing that improvised piano piece in the bar.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Slentert » Fri Sep 13, 2019 7:07 pm

I believe Gaspar Noé, of all people, wanted to remake God Told Me To, another cult film by Larry Cohen.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Fri Sep 13, 2019 8:26 pm

Torgo wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 7:02 pm
Hopefully, someone will remake Q: The Winged Serpent with Nicolas Cage in the Michael Moriarity role. I mean, who else could play it?
Case in point: imagine him playing that improvised piano piece in the bar.
GASP

This is an excellent idea!
Slentert wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 7:07 pm
I believe Gaspar Noé, of all people, wanted to remake God Told Me To, another cult film by Larry Cohen.
This one I reject. Do not mess with God Told Me To. It is perfect as is.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Wooley » Fri Sep 13, 2019 9:34 pm

Takoma1 wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 8:26 pm


This one I reject. Do not mess with God Told Me To. It is perfect as is.
Tak is that a September movie or an October movie for me? Sounds like September.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Fri Sep 13, 2019 9:45 pm

Wooley wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 9:34 pm
Tak is that a September movie or an October movie for me? Sounds like September.
No, I'd watch it in October. I feel very comfortable calling it horror (albeit weird horror). And it hits on like . . . multiple subgenres of horror, in my opinion.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Sat Sep 14, 2019 12:25 am

A film with a primarily Hispanic/Latino cast (Hispanic Heritage Month): Love, Concord

This was a movie that had a rocky beginning, a solid second act, a strange third act, and a pretty good final fifteen minutes. It was a little all over the place, but ultimately I liked it. Largely because it does manage to stick the ending.

Gerry is a high school senior and total goofball. He dreams of being a player, but so far he's never made it past the first date. One day he meets Melinda, a super smart classmate. He asks her on a date and the two hit it off. But Gerry's refusal to take anything seriously adds strain to their relationship. Melinda has a best friend, Alex, who harbors a secret crush on her and takes great joy in sowing discord between the two of them.

The most challenging aspect of the film is how unlikable Gerry often is. He's the kind of "funny guy" who is more abrasive than amusing. Gerry and Melinda have decent chemistry, but she's clearly way, WAY too good for him. As the film goes on, I began to wonder what Melinda was getting out of their relationship. She goes to Gerry's basketball games (where he never leaves the bench). She leaves him encouraging notes. But Gerry does nothing for her aside from keep her company. Seeing such an imbalance made me worried because cool women dating mediocre men is a tiresome dynamic, and it starts to wear a little thin in the final act.

Thankfully, though, the film does ultimately show that it understands the imbalance, and the lack of sustainability with the relationship the way that it is. The final act of the film is a surprisingly mature look at their relationship, and it's nice to see both characters treated with respect.

This is certainly a low-budget feeling film. The acting is shaky in places, and there are some painfully stilted line readings at times, even from the two leads. I'd still recommend it, though, because I do think that it's a different kind of romantic comedy.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Apex Predator » Sat Sep 14, 2019 12:54 am

Slentert wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 7:07 pm
I believe Gaspar Noé, of all people, wanted to remake God Told Me To, another cult film by Larry Cohen.
Oh, no no.

Don't remake good films. Remake bad ones or interesting failures.

A good example is the recent announcement by Margot Robbie to remake Tank Girl. I support this decision.

Remaking God Told Me To sounds as bad an idea as remaking Don't Look Now.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Sat Sep 14, 2019 2:49 am

A film about neighbors (Nat'l Good Neighbor Day, September 28): Small Apartments

Okay, there are still about 20 minutes left in this film. But I'm already declaring it DOA. My only interest in the film is a sort of morbid fascination with the highly over-qualified cast, and wondering what the filmmakers had on them to convince them to appear in it.

Franklin Franklin (there's a little sense of what the film thinks is funny) is a bizarro loser who spends his days in his apartment dressed in nothing but tighty-whities, eating hot dogs and pickles, and playing an alphorn. Franklin's landlord lays dead on the floor, and the film alternates between the present and flashbacks to show what happened. In the present-day scenes, an investigator (Billy Crystal) tries to get to the bottom of things.

This movie is just . . . not good. It's idea of humor is to show Franklin being coerced into performing oral sex on a man while telling us through the voice over that he's imagining that he's "blowing on his alphorn". Or to have a character who is a young woman who aspires to be a stripper.

I would say that I found about three lines in this film funny. The cast is not untalented (Crystal, James Marsden, Peter Stormare, James Caan, Juno Temple, Saffron Burrows, Rebel Wilson, Amanda Plummer, Rosie Perez). Heck, Dolph Lundgren swings by for a cameo. But the writing is so rough. It tries to be funny, edgy, poignant, weird, and glib all at once and succeeds at none of it. It's the writer's only film credit, and based on a book he wrote, apparently.

Anyway, I got about 30 minutes into this one and just kept going despite knowing it was a sunk-cost fallacy situation. Obviously not recommended.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2019

Post by Takoma1 » Sat Sep 14, 2019 8:02 pm

A film based on, or featuring video games prominently (Nat'l Video Games Day, September 12): Resident Evil: Vendetta

Resident Evil wasn't a video game I played in my youth (I think I once watched a friend play it for like 20 minutes while he and I were hanging out), so I'm not overly familiar with anything but the most basic elements of the world/story.

Anyway, this film is actually animated (that very realistic/uncanny valley 3D animation), and it takes place after the Mila Jovavich run of films (I think).

The main character is a man named Chris, a special forces type who is following a man named Arias who has taken the virus/biological weapons from the Umbrella Corporation and is now selling them on the black market. Chris eventually meets up with Rebecca, a scientist studying the virus and on the brink of finding a cure. Arias lost his wife in a botched assassination attempt (on their wedding day, no less!), and he may have a far darker endgame than just making money on the down low.

This movie was okay. Certainly I will say that it was better than I thought it might be. The characters are a bit more sketched out than I expected, and the action is pretty decent--especially the final setpiece. There are some unintentionally(?) funny over-the-top moments (like Arias waking up from a bombing and realizing he's holding his dead wife's hand . . . attached only to her severed arm. Then he goes, "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" in what is only one of three different "NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" moments in the film.) There are some nice smaller moments, like some of the soldiers nerding out about Breaking Bad while en route to a mission.

The main downfall of the film is its video game trappings. There's a lot of repeated exposition. There are also several times where character repeatedly restate what they are doing and why. In one scene, a character literally says, "Okay. We have to do three things: destroy the tanks, rescue Rebecca, and capture Arias." It feels, not in a good way, like the direction you'd get before playing a level of a video game.

The film also can't escape some regressive gender nonsense. Rebecca is a cool character---smart and engaging (although there's a part at the beginning where she sort of simpers and flirts with her male colleague to get him to do her a favor that feels off-key). But her role in the film quickly becomes "damsel in distress". She's captured and undergoes that old chestnut where her captor takes off her clothing and dresses her up how he wants to. This means that she spends the last third of the movie in a short, cleavage-bearing dress and doing very little in the final showdown aside from waiting for Chris to save her.

Overall this was not a bad way to pass 90 minutes. It was certainly better than whichever live action film it was that I saw.
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