Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

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Apex Predator
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Apex Predator » Thu Mar 05, 2020 9:24 pm

I'm doing this in two parts...part one will be what I'm leaning towards (a few categories are fair game to be changed). Part 2 will be for those who might need help:

Part 1:

A film with the number 3 (Three, Third, etc.) in its title: The Girl on the Third Floor (2019)
A film with a title that starts with the letters E or F: Face in the Crowd (1957)
A film from the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list whose ranking includes the #3 (i.e. 13, 230, 820): October: Ten Days That Shook the World (1927)
A film from the 1920s: October: Ten Days That Shook the World (1927)
A documentary film: Acorn and the Firestorm (2017)
The third part on a film franchise: Dabangg 3 (2019)
A film with a prominent deaf character (Deaf History Month): Ruby (1977)
A film from Bosnia and Herzegovina (Independence Day, March 1): Back to Bosnia (2005)
A film where the phone is crucial to the plot (Alexander Graham Bell Day, March 7): Dial M for Murder (1954)
A film directed by a woman (Int'l Women's Day, March 8): Back to Bosnia (2005)
A film with a woman's name in its title (Int'l Women's Day, March 8): Ruby (1977)
A film based on a Shakespeare play (Shakespeare Week, March 16): Macbeth (2015)
A film with the word "Spring" in its title (March 20): After Winter, Spring (2015)
A film about aliens or alien abductions (Alien Abduction Day, March 20): Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius (2001)
A film from or with Warren Beatty (born March 30): Shampoo (1975)

Part 2:

A documentary film: The 13th, Beyond the Mat (Netflix), ZZ Top: That Little Ol' Band from Texas (Netflix), The look of Silence (Prime), The iMposter (Prime), Cats: The Mewvie (Netflix), Shut Up Little Man (Prime), Nas: Time is Illmatic (Prime), Antarctica: A Year on Ice (Prime)
A film with a prominent deaf character (Deaf History Month): All on Prime (In a Silent World, Dance Together, The Quiet, Children of a Lesser God, Amy, Shield for Murder, Khamoshi: The Musical, Maxie, See What I'm Saying, Bridge to Silence, And Your Name is Jonah)
A film from Bosnia and Herzegovina (Independence Day, March 1): Back to Bosnia (2005), Twice Born, The Parade, Blue Heart (all on Prime)
A film where the phone is crucial to the plot (Alexander Graham Bell Day, March 7): Cellular (Rental), Dial M for Murder (Hoopla), Phone Booth (Rental),
A film directed by a woman (Int'l Women's Day, March 8): The 13th (Netflix, also works as documentary), A Wrinkle in Time (Netflix, but hurry if you choose this one), Lady Bird (Prime), Little Women (may still be in theaters), Emma (in theaters now), Kung Fu Panda 2 (Netflix), Kung Fu Panda 3 (Rental)
A film with a woman's name in its title (Int'l Women's Day, March 8): Amy, Maxie
A film based on a Shakespeare play (Shakespeare Week, March 16): Macbeth (Prime), Much Ado About Nothing (Prime/Hoopla/Vudu/Youtube), Richard III (Vudu), Coriolanus (Vudu/Tubi), Cymbeline (Hoopla/Vudu/Tubi), The Taming of the Shrew (Prime, also fits the 1920s category)
A film with the word "Spring" in its title (March 20): Spring Breakers (Netflix/Hoopla), Springsteen on Broadway (Netflix), Spring in a Small Town (Prime), Spring 1941 (Prime/Hoopla), Spring Awakening (Prime), Springtime in the Rockies (Prime)
A film about aliens or alien abductions (Alien Abduction Day, March 20): Aliens of the Deep (Hoopla), Aliens: Zone of Silence (Prime/Tubi), Out There (Prime/Hoopla), Aliens Ate My Homework (Netflix), Freaks of Nature (Hoopla/Crackle)
A film from or with Warren Beatty (born March 30): Reds (Prime), Shampoo (Crackle), Town and Country (Vudu)
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Apex Predator » Fri Mar 06, 2020 3:22 pm

I've already seen stuff...most of it pertains to previous entries, but hey since I'm trying to get to 120 this year, it all counts.

Black Panther (2018)
An Action/Adventure Film (January)
See a film with an African American cast (February)

Following the death of his father, the king of Wakanda, T'challa (Chadwick Boesman) takes the reins. But when Erik (Michael B. Jordan) shows up with some revelations involving his father, the reign is threatened and world peace could be at stake.

Director Ryan Coogler gives us a fully realized and intriguing world that keeps your attention. The plot was well done and the acting was strong, particularly by the two male leads. No real knowledge of the Marvel-verse is necessary to enjoy this one (thankfully, because I think I'm 10-15 behind at this point). The cast which also features Lupita N'yongo, Daniel Kaluuya, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker and Sterling K. Brown. I do kind of wish there was a bit of a different ending (maybe for selfish reasons), but the last couple of scenes did leave me with a smile on my face. Well done, film, well done. A-

Monster House (2005)
Animated Film (January)
Film with Cop or Cops (January)

A young boy named DJ has a memorable Halloween when he witnesses cranky neighbor Nebbercracker (Steve Buscemi) die on him. Along with his best friend Chowder and a girl selling candy, they decide to take down the house that eats children.

Although this film reminded me of parts of ET and the Goonies, I couldn't get into this one. The backstory behind Nebbercracker and the house was touching, there were some moments of humor involving two cops (Kevin James, Nick Cannon) who are a bit daft, and it seems to be more interested in being universal than in being specific. But, something felt just a bit off. I think it's always tricky trying to balance between doing something for the kids and being something for the grown-ups. Unlike Paranorman and Coraline, this just missed out on hitting that sweet spot. B-

Alone in the Wilderness (2004)

A 51 year old man from Iowa decides to take on nature untouched by man in Twin Lakes over in Alaska, first by building a homemade cabin and then living in it during the full year, including the winter season where temperatures hit below zero. Nice pictures of the Alaska wilderness and the clear, pristine water do make up for not diving much into the how did he know how to do this and why is he doing this questions. C+
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Fri Mar 06, 2020 10:21 pm

Apex Predator wrote:
Thu Mar 05, 2020 9:24 pm
A film with the number 3 (Three, Third, etc.) in its title: The Girl on the Third Floor (2019)

A film about aliens or alien abductions (Alien Abduction Day, March 20): Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius (2001)
I saw the poster for Girl on the Third Floor, but reading about it it sounded kind of weak.

Love Jimmy Neutron.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Captain Terror » Fri Mar 06, 2020 11:48 pm

Takoma1 wrote:
Fri Mar 06, 2020 10:21 pm
I saw the poster for Girl on the Third Floor, but reading about it it sounded kind of weak.
I can confirm this. I will however offer a mild recommendation for the director's previous film Better Off Zed. (Not that it matches any of this month's categories.) Horror/comedy about a couple biding time at home as they wait to be rescued amid a zombie crisis.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Sat Mar 07, 2020 1:18 am

I don't usually post a review in two places, but I'd absolutely love to discuss this one with anyone who has seen it, so . . .

A film with the number 3 (Three, Third, etc.) in its title: Three Outlaw Samurai

I am just head over heels for this film and, while I'm absolutely horrible with titles, I don't even think I'd heard of it before.

This is the kind of film that is hard to summarize, because so much happens to advance the plot that there's a different major element happening about every 15-20 minutes.

As it begins a lone samurai, Shiba, stumbles across a mill where three peasants are holding a young woman hostage. At first ready to rescue her from what looks like pretty uncouth behavior, he soon learns that she is the daughter of the local magistrate and that they are holding her hostage so that the magistrate will change his policies to help the starving peasants after a bad crop. Allying himself with the peasants, Shiba is drawn into a power struggle between the magistrate and the peasants. This struggle encompasses the magistrate, his daughter, the peasants, a whole slew of less-than-honorable mercenaries, and two other "rogue" samurai who find themselves on different sides of the conflict at time goes on. The film is a mix of action, romance, suspense, and drama.

Like I said earlier, this is one of those films where so much happens in so little time. It makes me reluctant to go into too much detail, but here are some non-spoilery things that I just loved.

1) The Blood.

This is a film where the action sequences are both wonderfully cinematic and full of details that make them seem more real than what I normally associate with samurai battles. There is blood. Not in neat spurts or artistic smears, but splashed on the characters' clothing, on their hands. The men sweat through the backs of their clothes as they fight. Movements are at times graceful and at other times clumsy. And whether the fight is between two men or twenty, it always feels consequential.

2) The Relationships

This is a film that operates a multitude of relationship dynamics: friendships, loyalties, romances, etc. Even those that are pretty stereotypical of such films have a degree of nuance to them. The film manages to demonstrate that it is possible to respect but not love, to love but not respect, to care but not to act, and so on. Many of these relationships are complicated and the film doesn't hide the fact that many of them are not sustainable. There are many sequences that depend on characters interacting with strangers, not knowing their motivations, and there can be conflict and at the same time sympathy for both characters.

3) The Women

For the first 30 minutes of the film, the women are pretty typical of this type of movie. They are objects to be bartered over, or their mistreatment is used to evoke anger and emotion in other characters and the viewer. (This is not to say that their treatment feels exploitative, but rather that they are very much passive characters whose fates are entirely in the hands of the men around them). But for the last hour, the women are given dimension. They are conflicted. They are brave. They are, *GASP* physically capable and willing to fight (and die) for the cause. They are near equal to the men in their emotion, conflict, and impact on the plot.

4) Character Evolution

This is a film that lets its character grow and change, but not in unbelievable ways. There are no miraculous changes of heart. The characters gain new perspectives and understandings, but certain elements of them remain intact. This is not a movie that is afraid to kill off characters, and it adds a welcome degree of unpredictability to everything. Characters might seem on the right path, only to be cut down.

I watched this one on the Criterion Channel, and I'm sorry to say that it doesn't seem to be streaming elsewhere. I really highly recommend it. Tetsuro Tanba in the role of Shiba is perfect in every way as the stoic, principled hero. If you get the chance, check it out.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Sat Mar 07, 2020 4:06 am

A film with a title that starts with the letters E or F: Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel

Well, it ain't easy being the movie that someone watches right after they watch something great.

This is one of those films that's heavily "self aware" and highly referential. I'm not sure if it was the film, or just that I wasn't in the mood for this brand of "clever", but I just didn't vibe with it.

Three friends are having a drink at the pub. A time travel "leak" in the bathroom means that they begin to jump around in time. Soon several versions of past (and future) selves are dodging one another as the original crew tries to figure out the sequence of events. A gorgeous time travel agent pops in from time to time to assist the trio.

I picked this one because I really like Chris O'Dowd. This is an earlier film for him (and he looks like he's about 19), and he has his strong sense of timing, but the writing doesn't always support him or the other actors. Plot wise there's nothing specifically wrong with the film, but as it went on I just had a hard time keeping track (and caring about) the various versions. I also had a mixed reaction to the two female characters. One is pretty and evil. One is pretty and nice. They both seem to be cool with tight leather outfits. This part of the film feels just too much like male juvenile fantasy, and the film doesn't seem to make this choice with the same self-aware nod as the rest of the movie.

I guess that my reaction to this one is that it's *fine*. But coming on the heels of Three Outlaw Samurai it felt like weak sauce.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Sat Mar 07, 2020 6:18 pm

Apex Predator wrote:
Fri Mar 06, 2020 3:22 pm
Monster House (2005)
Animated Film (January)
Film with Cop or Cops (January)

A young boy named DJ has a memorable Halloween when he witnesses cranky neighbor Nebbercracker (Steve Buscemi) die on him. Along with his best friend Chowder and a girl selling candy, they decide to take down the house that eats children.

Although this film reminded me of parts of ET and the Goonies, I couldn't get into this one. The backstory behind Nebbercracker and the house was touching, there were some moments of humor involving two cops (Kevin James, Nick Cannon) who are a bit daft, and it seems to be more interested in being universal than in being specific. But, something felt just a bit off. I think it's always tricky trying to balance between doing something for the kids and being something for the grown-ups. Unlike Paranorman and Coraline, this just missed out on hitting that sweet spot. B-
I'm a fan. I've seen it a couple of times and to me, the mixture of comedy and drama does work.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Apex Predator » Sun Mar 08, 2020 5:31 pm

Saw four more in the past few days, but only one is relevant to this month...

Two Night Stand (2014)
See a movie with number two (February); See a comedy (February)

Sitcommy film about a recently broke up girl (Annaleigh Tipton) who decides to go online in search for someone and agrees to a one night stand with a bank manager (Miles Teller). But an alarm system and the "snowstorm of the century" forces the two to really get to know each other over the course of a second day. Neither one is all that likeable, but it does start to find a groove before an unfortunate decision or two stops pretty much all momentum dead. D

Country Music (2019)

Confession time: part of the time I could have been spending on watching films I spent instead on this "mini-series". But since both PBS and Ken Burns consider this a "film", I'll roll with it. This film tackles the history of country music from its earliest days in the 1920s to the popular height of the 1990s (although they do get into several events from the 2000s). The combination of interviews (a decent amount of which are the people being profiled) and stories told about various songs do help you learn a lot about the musical genre that has gone through multiple transformations through the decades. The last episode or two suffer a bit with them trying to include various lists of names without a ton of context (which makes me think there was a rush to finish). But at least, it ends back on the right path. B+

Spider Thieves (2017)

It's basically The Bling Ring meets City of God, but set in Santiago. Three teen girls growing up in a Chilean slum desire the nice things they see on TV and magazines. So they decide to take the bus over to the rich side of town and eventually enter into apartment buildings where they climb to the outside to the top floors to spend life in the shoes of the rich and wealthy. It's less about the nice things and more about how the exploits change the lives of the three girls as they gain notoriety. There's a bit more depth than you think there would be. B

Back to Bosnia (2005)
See a film set in Bosnia or Herzegovina (March)

Documentary about a young woman who got sent away along with most of her family during the opening days of the Bosnia civil war which led to the ethnic cleansing of the Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) and Croats by the Serbs. In 2001, director Sabian Vajraca and her family head back to the town of Banja Luca to reclaim their apartment and tour what their hometown is like now. It shows the devastating consequences of the takeover including one touching scene were they show up at a morgue and see various corpses that wait to be identified. The drama hits its high point when they arrive at the apartment. It's respectful and personal, but it cries for someone with more experience who could better put the pieces together. C+
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Mon Mar 09, 2020 1:09 am

A film from the 1920s: High Voltage

Son, I am disappoint!

Among a group of travelers on a bus is a female convict who had escaped but was captured by a marshal-type guy. The bus breaks down in a snowstorm and they all seek refuge in an abandoned building where a man (who also seems to be an escaped prisoner) is already taking shelter. There's some drama and some romance and (because there's a piano) several songs.

This was kind of an interesting watch because it's early days for films with sound and . . . boy are they still figuring it out! There are a ton of parts where one character says a line and there's a strangely long pause before the other person replies, like they are being super careful not to overlap into each others' space.

All in all it's an okay movie, I guess. Carole Lombard is naturally a very funny and charismatic person. William Boyd, as the maybe-convict, is also charming in his own way. The way that the whole group pitches in to take care of a young woman from the bus who falls ill is very sweet. There are also some nice nuances that develop between the maybe-convict and the marshal bringing Lombard back to jail. I just wish that it had a little more pizzazz!
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Mon Mar 09, 2020 1:24 am

A documentary film: Minding the Gap

Aaaand I just got punched in the feels.

Minding the Gap is a documentary spanning 12 years. A man named Bing begins to film the lives of two of his skateboarding friends, Keire and Zack.

As the film begins, they are all very chummy. Charming and positive, gentle-bro Zack muses that he can't believe he's about to become a father. By contrast, the shy and soft-spoken Keire struggles with what to do with his life now that he has turned 18.

As the film goes on, though, things get really heavy. Through interviews it becomes clear that all three men (Bing included) have endured childhoods that have not set them up for successful futures and that they carry a lot of baggage. In one sequence, Bing and Keire sit on a porch and Bing bluntly tells Keire that he saw himself in Keire's stories of physical abuse (Keire himself waffles about how to classify his father's punishments) and that's why he wanted to make the film.

Obviously making a film about your own friend group brings a huge challenge of objectivity, but Bing's presence in the film is pretty fascinating. In one sequence, Zack's girlfriend, Nina, confides in Bing that Zack has been physically abusive with her. Later, when Zack steps out of the car to run a quick errand, Bing asks Nina when and how he should approach Zack about her allegations. A panicked Nina asks Bing not to bring it up. Waiting to see when and if Bing will confront his friend with these allegations adds some genuine suspense to the film. Bing's non-judgmental camera forces the viewer to question whether Nina is telling the truth or whether she's making up stories to vilify Zack.

Bing also includes a sequence about himself, and it is intense. He interviews his half-brother and their conversation (and later a conversation between Bing and his mother) is heartbreaking. In fact, there are a lot of heartbreaking moments, like Nina matter-of-factly explaining that she was never hugged growing up, and so when she moved in with her aunt she had to learn how to be hugged. As a 21 year old. And in the background of all of this is Zack's young son, Eliot, who may be at the beginning of just the kind of childhood that damaged the three central figures of the film.

I would so highly recommend this film to everyone. It's streaming on Hulu.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Mon Mar 09, 2020 10:45 pm

A film directed by a woman (Int'l Women's Day, March 8): Fast Color

This was very Midnight Special-esque in a lot of ways.

A young woman named Ruth is on the run from the police and the government in a near-future where water is scarce. We get glimpses of powers that she has, some of which are not entirely in her control. Ruth heads for her childhood home, where family and danger are both waiting for her.

This film was really fitting for this category and the emphasis on Women's Day. Not only is the writer/director female, but the central cast is as well. More than that, it's really lovely to see a sci-fi/fantasy film centered on a non-white female character and without her race being a focal point of the story. At the same time, the film isn't afraid to confront issues head-on. A sequence in which a woman being held at gunpoint by a group of white police officers
simply stares them down and disintegrates their weapons
is powerful.

The performances are pretty solid, with Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Lorraine Toussaint centering the film as Ruth and her mother, Bo.

The film is, for lack of a better word, pretty subdued in it's middle third. The main action takes place in the first and third acts, and the middle really delves into the interpersonal relationships and the fears of the characters. It was also neat to watch a film with almost no violence or sex or other "flashy" elements. There's a bravery in having scenes in which characters simply co-exist.

This one is streaming on Prime and I'd definitely recommend it.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Wed Mar 11, 2020 2:27 am

A film with a prominent deaf character (Deaf History Month): The Quiet

Deaf/mute orphan Dot moves in with her godparents, Paul and Olivia, and their teenage daughter, Nina. Nina (along with her awful friend Michelle) are incredibly mean to Dot, mocking her and excluding her. As Dot spends more and more time in the home, she begins to understand the unhealthy dynamics of the family and realize that things are headed for a deadly conclusion.

There's a major plot reveal about 30 minutes in, but I don't want to spoil it.

Generally speaking I was pleasantly surprised by this one.

To begin with, the film is blunt about the pressures on Nina (and to a lesser extent Dot and even boy-crush Connor) experience, especially in regards to their perceived desirability. Nina constantly describes herself as fat, her lunch consisting of carrots. Nina's mother is similarly tuned into this. Oliver (who likes Dot but is lusted after by Michelle) is anxious about his penis size and rumors that he had sex with an unattractive foreign exchange student.

Dot, the silent observer, takes in all of it. In fact, many characters revel in having someone to spill their secrets to with the promise of secrecy. It made me think of that urban legend/short story about the ship of men who are killed and the figurine of a boy survives and all the townspeople whisper their secrets to it.

Something that escalates the film (which could have easily been really, really stupid and exploitative) is its handling of secondary characters like Olivia, who lives in a haze of prescription drugs as she perpetually redesigns their home. Edie Falco adds depth to Olivia that is very welcome in a character who could have been very one-dimensional. Likewise Shawn Ashmore's Oliver is neither the saintly nice guy nor the predatory jock. The way that he talks to Dot oscillates between being sweet and being deeply creepy (such as how he repeatedly says that he likes her because of how "quiet" she is). There's just a lot more dimension to what could have been throwaway characters, and it helps to ground what evolves into a pretty outlandish plot.

Now, regarding a central plot point in the film (SPOILERS!)
I thought that the film did a good job of showing just how messed up Nina is from her father's sexual abuse. What's kind of horrifying, to me, is how many other websites refer to them as "lovers". They are not lovers. Nina is being sexually abused by her own father. The idea that she is choosing to participate in what happens to her, or that she leverages their "affair" for her own gain is just really messed up. Nina loves her father and at the same time he abuses her--she clearly does not enjoy it (as seen by her repeatedly trying to avoid sexual contact with him), and his gifts to her are clearly a part of his larger manipulation of her emotions.
This isn't great cinema, but it is a decent little thriller that manages to ground some outrageous plotting with strong performances and surprisingly nuanced takes on different characters.

EDIT: A-ha! Directed by Jamie Babbit who, among other things, directed But I'm a Cheerleader. So if you're looking for a film with a deaf character AND directed by a lady . . .
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Wed Mar 11, 2020 10:38 pm

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

I guess I wasn't expecting much more than mediocrity, so I can't exactly be too annoyed about this one.

Two science professors at an Arizona community college are the first on scene when an asteroid crashes down. Microscopic life forms on the asteroid begin to rapidly evolve, posing a danger to the community and, presumably, the world. Also along for the ride are a warmongering army general, a love-interest lady scientist, a doofy wannabe firefighter, and two truly stupid students.

There are some elements here that could get tepid praise. The effects aren't bad.

Oh, wait. That's kind of it.

Everything about this movie felt like it was aimed squarely at an uncritical 13 year old boy. The female characters are just awful. There's the flirty (and dumb!) student. There's the shrill ex-girlfriend. There's Julianne Moore as the scientist love interest--a character who "charmingly" always falls over, giving the men around her a good look up her skirt. Despite overhearing the two male leads talking about her body and speculating about her sex life, and remarking that she "needs a good humping", she's still deeply attracted to one of them because . . . a male character having triumphant sex with a woman he likes is how we end action films, right?

Likewise the plot is stranded in a horrible middle ground. It's not over-the-top enough to feel intentionally bad. And at the same time there are about a dozen total coincidences that lead to major plot turns. A character discards a match by throwing it onto a counter near sensitive material (why?!). Characters always just happen to be on hand to witness major events with the creatures.

The acting . . . eh. I didn't mind the chemistry between David Duchoveny's laid back professor and Orlando Jones's more manic professor/volleyball coach. But both Jones and Seann William Scott are of the "eyes slightly crossed and a weird face" school of acting in this one. The men all go goggle-eyed anytime there are breasts (or the possibility of breasts). Like the plot, the acting isn't campy enough to be fun and it's not good enough to make you care about the characters.

The humor is scatological (which I knew going in), but very little of it was at all funny to me. Guys, someone gets an alien up his butt! And they have to go pull it out! Also, one of the aliens looks like a butt! Anyway, you'll never guess which alien body part plays a big role in the climactic finale.

When dumb fun works for me, it really works for me. But most often the result is much like this one--just a waste of time. Should have watched The Endless!
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Thu Mar 12, 2020 3:16 am

The third part on a film franchise: Female Prisoner Scorpion Beast Stable

This is the third part of a series that was being discussed by a few folks a while back (Rock and MKS maybe? I'm too lazy to search right now). At the time I was uninterested, given that the series leans heavily into sexual exploitation and sexualized violence towards women. The description of this entry intrigued me, as did realizing that it's the same actress who played Lady Snowblood.

I haven't seen the first two films (and they sound like they might be too much for me), but this film picks up with a woman, Scorpion, who has escaped from jail and is on the run. She takes up residence with a prostitute who is in an unhealthy sexual relationship with her mentally disabled brother, trying to make ends meet while avoiding the wrath of local gangsters who control the sex trade.'

Overall I really, really liked this film. I read some reviews on IMDb that were less favorable, but the things they seemed to be complaining about (ie the pace, the time taken for character development) were the things I really liked.

This is a weird film. There are sequences that are strange (such as in a nightclub where there are all these little edits that make the action jump around), moments that are dreamy, and moments that are just flat out pretty.

The interesting stylistic choices serve as a stark contrast to the content of the film, which is depressing and brutal. There is a lot of violence directed at female characters (and I almost fast-forwarded a sequence where a very pregnant woman is held down and has her fetus forcibly aborted), and the world of the film is unrelentingly cruel. For me, and of course this is subjective, this film landed just on the right side of not feeling exploitative. I am often not a fan of the way that rape or sexual abuse of women is shown in films like this because those sequences can be too evocative of the way that sex scenes are shot. Too often it feels like sexiness and violence are being intertwined. The violence in this film--even the sexual stuff--is just so gritty and uncomfortable to watch that none of it really felt like it doubled as "erotic" material. As the film goes on it shifts mainly into "revenge" mode, but still keeps the balance of style and bloodshed.

Scorpion is a very appealing lead, saying basically nothing the entire film. She is convincing as someone with a survivor mentality. She is capable of kindness and empathy, and maybe even forgiveness, but she's also someone that you do not want to cross. I appreciated the touch of her avenging another woman who was harmed, and the fact that at one point she is able to escape because of an earlier act of empathy.

I'm not a fan of "women in prison" films, because for me they too often cross that line of feeling like jerk-off material for people who get off on women being humiliated (and conveniently often with a lesbian subplot thrown in there as well). I'm not sure I'd want to watch the two initial entries. If there are more in the series with Scorpion as the central character and out in the world (as in this film), I'd certainly be interested.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Rock » Thu Mar 12, 2020 4:48 am

I've seen only the first two (I grabbed the box set after and plan on finishing the series at some point) but they're very good. They're definitely in their genre but I think the strength of the filmmaking and Meiko Kaji's acting overpower the potentially sleazy elements and turn them into studies in resilience. I use "overpower" because the sheer stylishness and forcefulness of the filmmaking had me floored at times (there's one I'm thinking of in the first one where Kaji is attacked by another inmate that spirals into a horror-tinged, Kabuki influenced nightmare). I liked the second one a touch less because I think Kaji's character works better in insolation (as in the first) than in the group she's with in the second, and you can see it hitting some of the same beats as the original. Still, well worth your time.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Thu Mar 12, 2020 4:22 pm

Started late this month, but I really hit it hard in order to watch these first 5 by Day 10. Here are my quickie reviews...

A documentary film directed by a woman: 13TH
Powerful documentary about the problem of mass incarceration and criminalization of black people in the US. Ava DuVernay tracks the current issues of prison overcrowding in the US to the passing of the 13th Amendment, and how it sparked a string of systemic mechanisms to keep black people "on check", so to speak. It is the kind of documentary that's bound to anger you from the get-go. The documentary makes a strong point of showing how the US has never properly dealt with the aftermath of the abolition of slavery, leading to everything from how black people are portrayed in the media to appalling racist politics and crimes. The choices of interviewees is pretty good with most of them presenting strong points in a compelling way. There were a couple of moments where I felt the anger bubbling, like the details of the Emmett Till murder or the correlation between racist injustices of the past and Donald Trump's current rhetoric. Definitely worth watching. Grade: A-

A film about aliens or alien abductions: MONSTERS VS ALIENS
Perhaps on the other end of the spectrum, this was chosen for the kids. The film follows Susan (Reese Witherspoon), a shy, insecure woman that ends up becoming a giant after being hit by a meteorite on the day of her wedding. As a result, she is imprisoned in a government secret facility, along with other "monsters" and failed experiments like a mad-scientist-turned-cockroach (Hugh Laurie), a genetically altered blob (Seth Rogen), and an ancient fish man (Will Arnett). When alien overlord Galaxhar (Rainn Wilson) threatens to invade Earth, the "monsters" are sent to stop them. Overall, it was a very fun film; I had several good laughs, I think more than my kids. The voice cast, which also includes Kiefer Sutherland and Stephen Colbert, was solid and there's a good message of empowerment (female or not) and accepting yourself the way you are. Grade: B+

A film from the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list whose ranking includes the #3: THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE (#376)
This was strongly recommended by a couple of friends on Twitter. The film follows Ranse Stoddard (James Stewart), a young, idealistic attorney that finds his convictions challenged by the brutality of the titular bandit (Lee Marvin) and the tough machismo of local rancher Tom Doniphon (John Wayne). Although the contrast between the civilized vs. uncivilized might feel a bit heavy-handed, it is well carried by Stewart and Wayne. The latter is a bit spotty in terms of acting, but still has a couple of great moments. Plus, Lee Marvin is deliciously vicious as Liberty Valance. Unfortunately, I think the overall effect of the film is hampered by an unnecessary epilogue that tries to explain too much. Still, a damn fine western. Grade: A-

A film with a woman's name in its title: LEGENDS OF OZ: DOROTHY'S RETURN
This was another choice for the kids. The film is set directly after The Wizard of Oz and follows the attempts of Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion to bring back Dorothy in order to stop the Jester (Martin Short), who happens to be the brother of the Wicked Witch of the West, and wants to take control of Oz in revenge. The film does feel very manufactured and forced as Dorothy, once again, meets an array of characters on her way to the Jester. However, the characters are colorful enough to keep the kids interested. The film does seem to try too hard to feel dramatic with some forced relationships and sappy songs, but the voice cast is strong (especially Short, who really sells the character). Not very good, but still somewhat enjoyable. Grade: C+

A documentary film from Bosnia and Herzegovina directed by a woman: BACK TO BOSNIA
Directed by Bosnian Sabina Vajraca, the documentary follows her as she returns to her hometown with her family, after fleeing the Bosnian War of the 1990s. The film shows the family as they reconnect with relatives and visit mass graves and other places that were affected by the war, while sharing stories of their childhood, and how they were kicked out of their home. The documentary closes with the family trying to reclaim their home from the people that kicked them out, which are still living there surrounded by the family's personal belongings. Overall, the documentary is solid, but I felt it lacked a certain oomph. However, that final act with the family returning to their apartment did just that. There's a very tragic subtext of how war strips us of some things that can't be reclaimed, no matter how hard you try. If anyone's interested, it's short (little over an hour) and it's free on Prime. Grade: A-

A film with a woman's name in its title: CAROL
The film follows Therese (Rooney Mara), a young and naive clerk at a department store that finds herself captivated by the titular character (Cate Blanchett), an older, wealthy woman going through a divorce. Excellently written and acted by everybody, the film does a great job of contrasting both characters and showing how both grow, change, evolve as a result of their relationship. Mara is excellent as she portrays the insecurities of Therese, but Blanchett - as usual - is a standout. There's such a mesmerizing quality to her performances that you just can't take her eyes off her, and this one is no different. Strongly recommended. Grade: A
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Apex Predator » Thu Mar 12, 2020 8:25 pm

The Girl on the third Floor (2019)

All I knew about this movie was that CM Punk (aka Phil Brooks) was in it and multiple people online considered it disturbing.

Don (Brooks/Punk) is a former lawyer and failure as a husband and family man who decides to renovate the former town brothel to turn it into a suitable house for himself, his wife and their upcoming kid. But the process of renovation offers various challenges and a few temptations.

Although director Travis Stevens looks legit as a director and Brooks gives an un-wrestler performance as Don (it's more subtle than broad as a barn door), it can't quite overcome the fact that it's yet another haunted house movie where people make stupid decisions on sticking around when things start to go bump in the night. You can throw in all the bodily fluids you can think of, you can try to throw in some warmed over themes about masculinity, but at the end, there's only so far one can go even with apparently all the marbles left over from One Missed Call.

Ellie (Karen Wooditsch) does stand out as a local pastor who isn't afraid to call it like she sees it. And I did like how they used each character to fill in a bit more personality and backstory of Don in the early going. But I had less issues with the third act than I did the second. C+
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Wooley » Thu Mar 12, 2020 8:51 pm

Thief wrote:
Thu Mar 12, 2020 4:22 pm
A film from the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list whose ranking includes the #3: THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE (#376)
This was strongly recommended by a couple of friends on Twitter. The film follows Ranse Stoddard (James Stewart), a young, idealistic attorney that finds his convictions challenged by the brutality of the titular bandit (Lee Marvin) and the tough machismo of local rancher Tom Doniphon (John Wayne). Although the contrast between the civilized vs. uncivilized might feel a bit heavy-handed, it is well carried by Stewart and Wayne. The latter is a bit spotty in terms of acting, but still has a couple of great moments. Plus, Lee Marvin is deliciously vicious as Liberty Valance. Unfortunately, I think the overall effect of the film is hampered by an unnecessary epilogue that tries to explain too much. Still, a damn fine western. Grade: A-
Yeah, that's a helluva good movie. I saw it on a plane and was just really surprised how good it was.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Apex Predator » Thu Mar 12, 2020 9:02 pm

Quick thoughts:

Glad you appreciated 13th...it was one of those films that opened my eyes to the way the world worked and how it felt like African Americans have been treated as second class citizens since they've arrived.

I think you were too generous with Dorothy's Return. I thought outside one decent song, the film felt too second tier animation at times. And that might be generous.

I might have been a bit too harsh with Back to Bosnia honestly.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Thu Mar 12, 2020 9:12 pm

Apex Predator wrote:
Thu Mar 12, 2020 9:02 pm
Quick thoughts:

Glad you appreciated 13th...it was one of those films that opened my eyes to the way the world worked and how it felt like African Americans have been treated as second class citizens since they've arrived.

I think you were too generous with Dorothy's Return. I thought outside one decent song, the film felt too second tier animation at times. And that might be generous.

I might have been a bit too harsh with Back to Bosnia honestly.
To be fair, part of my grade for Dorothy's Return comes from the fact that my kids were, more or less into it. But regardless, I think that a C+ is fine for how mediocre yet unoffensive it was.

I'd love to read your thoughts on Back to Bosnia. What issues you had with it?
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Apex Predator » Fri Mar 13, 2020 4:39 pm

Back to Bosnia had its moments. The scene at the morgue. The scene at the home where the director's family meets the family who had taken their home while they had to flee years before.

This was obviously a personal film for the director...but maybe I was looking for more of an overview. What was happening in Bosnia at the time they left was an ethnic cleansing. Although the film does sort of refer to it at times (various family members complain about how the town isn't as diverse as it once was), it kind of leaves an incomplete feeling about the film.

And the ending kind of feels anti-climactic. The family had every right to fight for what it did. But doing so only to essentially say, "It's just not the same", leaves one shrugging their shoulders in agreement.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Fri Mar 13, 2020 6:07 pm

Apex Predator wrote:
Fri Mar 13, 2020 4:39 pm
Back to Bosnia had its moments. The scene at the morgue. The scene at the home where the director's family meets the family who had taken their home while they had to flee years before.

This was obviously a personal film for the director...but maybe I was looking for more of an overview. What was happening in Bosnia at the time they left was an ethnic cleansing. Although the film does sort of refer to it at times (various family members complain about how the town isn't as diverse as it once was), it kind of leaves an incomplete feeling about the film.

And the ending kind of feels anti-climactic. The family had every right to fight for what it did. But doing so only to essentially say, "It's just not the same", leaves one shrugging their shoulders in agreement.
I understand, and for most of its duration, I agreed with you about wanting more of an overview. But in the end, I accepted what you said; that this was a personal film, just a slice of what happened, and not a historical documentary.

Re: the ending, I have to say that the last act is what mostly got to me...
I mean, this is a family that had to flee and was literally stripped from their home and their belongings. So seeing them confront this other family, as they are living in their home surrounded by their stuff was certainly powerful. As for what happened in the end, what you considered "anti-climatic" is perhaps what drove it home for me. I mean, there is something tragically ironic about seeing them walking around the apartment as they confront that family, reminiscing about the past with every little thing, glasses, tiles, cabinets, couches... only to see them recover the apartment, but find it stripped of all of that as they apparently received the house mostly empty and bare. So to see them being unable to stay there is a testament to what I said in my quickie review, and how war strips us of many things, material and not, a lot of which we try to recover by different means (going back to their country? reconnecting with relatives? trying to get their apartment?) and yet, there are things that can never be recovered. They are lost forever. So I see the action of reclaiming the apartment only to leave again as an acknowledgement of that, perhaps cathartic in terms of giving them closure, as they continue with their lives. I thought it was quite powerful.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Sun Mar 15, 2020 12:28 am

A film with a woman's name in its title (Int'l Women's Day, March 8): Elena

This was billed as a drama/thriller, but I thought it was more of a character study.

Elena is a woman in late middle age (maybe her late 50s or early 60s). She's been married to the moderately well-to-do Vladimir for two years. Elena survives off of her pension, but it's not enough for her to support her own family. Elena's son has two children, a teenager and a young infant. Elena's grandson wants to go to university to avoid having to join the military. Elena asks Vladimir to loan her some money for her family, but he refuses. When Vladimir reconciles with his estranged daughter and decides to write a will naming her as his sole heir, Elena begins to ponder how she might intervene before the will is written.

This was, for the most part, a very subdued film. All of the characters have nuances to them and you could understand most of their points of view. Elena worries about her children and grandchildren, but at the same time she's aware that Vladimir is right when he says that Elena's son should get a job to support his family. From the several scenes we see of Elena's family, it's clear that neither her son nor her grandson are disabled--if you're fit enough to hop up and down from the floor to play video games, surely you could seek out work, yes? (Sidenote: obviously there are disabilities that are not physical in nature, but it seems pretty clear from the film that the men just can't really be bothered and are more than content to mooch off of Elena's pension).

Vladimir himself is not a horrible monster. He does say that if the family needed money for medical reasons he'd offer it up in a heartbeat. At the same time, however, Vladimir treats Elena more like a housekeeper than a partner. He orders her around, demanding food or drinks or sex. He comes down hard on Elena's son and grandson, and yet he says that the situation with his daughter is "different".

Something that's pretty striking throughout the film is the way that relationships feel more transactional than familial. Elena being like a servant is how she "pays" for living in the home with Vladimir. Elena giving up all of her pension money to her family is how she "pays" for their time and access to her younger grandson. The desire for money or love--and the feeling of being "owed" those things--casts a shadow over all of the relationships in the film.

This one is on Amazon Prime. I'd recommend it.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Mon Mar 16, 2020 4:03 pm

A film where the phone is crucial to the plot (Alexander Graham Bell Day, March 7): When the Old Phone Rings

This one was *almost* one of those unseen gems that you find in the bowels of Amazon Prime.

A group of frat bros loses their house to a fire and ends up moving into a cheap (spoiler: because it's haunted!) old creepy house. One night the guys make a series of prank phone calls (accompanied by a pizza delivery guy). Things get out of hand, and soon the frat guys are up against one or more ghostly presences in the house.

So the premise here is not awful. There's a whole backstory to the ghost which is, you know, fine. The film does have two genuinely scary/intense moments in it. One is when they are making the phone calls, and the bro-est of bros calls a girl who they know is babysitting, pretending to threaten the children. While she doesn't take it seriously at first, he's able to say some specifics and over the phone you hear her just totally freaking out while the group of guys becomes more and more uncomfortable with what they just did. (Though not uncomfortable enough to stop making prank calls!). The other is one of the ghosts, a crying young woman (yes, cliche), whose face is covered and who has bloody, scraped legs. I did actually find this ghost figure to be pretty haunting, mostly because instead of hissing and lunging at them or whatever, she's always afraid of them and cowering in random corners.

The problem in this movie, and what really keeps if from being something I'd recommend, is that the acting is so bad. Most of the actors read their lines as if they only got the script an hour or so before. "But CHAD, what are WE going to DO?". The intonation is the same across all of the actors, and it has the effect of mushing the characters together. And I don't think it's "intentionally bad" acting. I think it's just bad.

It's a shame because the script itself does have some funny moments to it. When the bros accidentally kill someone, Chad begins doing push-ups and talking about fleeing the country to open a leather workshop ("We'll make the finest belts and gloves!")--it's really random and funny. Unfortunately, many of the clever lines are lost to flat readings from the actors.

I do think that there's potential here, and if you like checking out low-budget efforts, this is not a bad place to start. I will give the film credit that it stays away from many of the usual cheap tricks (dumb jump scares, superfluous nudity) that is the hallmark of many such films. At times it feels like a group of guys decided to make a horror film together. Hopefully the writer/director's next film can have a bit more going in the acting department.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Apex Predator » Mon Mar 16, 2020 4:19 pm

Haven't seen anything in a bit, but I suspect I can change that in fast fashion.

Alexa: Play Too Much Time on My Hands.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Takoma1 » Mon Mar 16, 2020 6:06 pm

Apex Predator wrote:
Mon Mar 16, 2020 4:19 pm
Haven't seen anything in a bit, but I suspect I can change that in fast fashion.

Alexa: Play Too Much Time on My Hands.
Our schools are closed for the time being. And my main massage clients are in their 60s/70s, so I'm basically suspending my practice for the near future.

At least the cats and chickens are pleased as punch that I'm around on a Monday.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Apex Predator » Mon Mar 16, 2020 6:21 pm

Takoma1 wrote:
Mon Mar 16, 2020 6:06 pm
Our schools are closed for the time being. And my main massage clients are in their 60s/70s, so I'm basically suspending my practice for the near future.

At least the cats and chickens are pleased as punch that I'm around on a Monday.
Where I'm at, schools are closed for two weeks. Dealing with a reduced work schedule due to business drop-off, while waiting on the other shoe to drop.

Online is probably going to be touch and go for the next couple of weeks, but thanks to downloads, I suspect I'll be able to carve into a large amount of media (physical and streaming) during that time.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Tue Mar 17, 2020 2:47 am

We're locked down for the rest of the month down here, so I suppose it'll be easier for me to complete this month. We'll see if the kids let me, though.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Tue Mar 17, 2020 4:31 pm

Thief wrote:
Wed Mar 04, 2020 8:56 pm
Fourth episode is out!

Thief's Monthly Movie Loot - Episode 4 (February 29, 2020)
Fifth episode! We're rolling...

Thief's Monthly Movie Loot - Episode 5 (March 15, 2020)
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Apex Predator » Sat Mar 21, 2020 8:29 pm

To get this thread back on the right path:

See a film that's the second in a franchise (Feb)
See a film directed by a woman (March)

Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011)

Solid voice acting and good animation that knows when to do action scenes (often of martial arts variety) and when to do quiet moments as Po (Jack Black) realizes that he was adopted and recognizes a symbol as perhaps being a part of his early years. I think they overdone the Po bounces off of things/things bounce off of Po shtick, but there's a nice emotional current running underneath the surface and a good message about stepfathers that resonates. B

See a Documentary (March)

I Am Another You (2017)

Chinese immigrant travels to Florida where she befriends a hostel worker who seems to be interesting. She decides to join him in living the homeless life for a bit and later on decides to check up on his family and get their take. Some powerful moments such as when the director questions Dylan and his apparent disregard on the kindness of strangers and one scene late that showcases the effects of schizophrenia. It does tend to wander the place like Dylan, but it has its moments. B-
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by kgaard. » Mon Mar 23, 2020 3:05 pm

A documentary film: Free Solo

So I watched this one about a million years ago before the world completely descended into chaos (i.e., two weeks ago). But it feels normal to talk about movies and having normal things to do seems important. Anyway, I have pretty intense acrophobia, so it's just as well that I watched this on my relatively smaller screen at home--though I imagine watching on a big screen would be an impressive experience. Ultimately it feels like the film is about understanding what we value in life. There's a pretty good argument that Alex Honnold's dream of conquering El Capitan by free climbing it (that is, without ropes or protective equipment) is objectively insane. He could die! Free climbing a giant rock has no obvious societal value! But of course it has great personal value to Honnold, and it becomes clear over the course of the film just how much this means to him. I have a lot of respect for that, even if the specific thing he values is something I could never imagine valuing myself. What's less clear is if Honnold understands this about others, but watching his relationship play out gives the sense that at least it's a question he's trying to ask himself. From a purely sensory point of view the movie delivers--the climactic scenes are about as sweaty palmed and white knuckled as I can remember a film experience being. But it's the personal journey that gives it heft.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Wed Mar 25, 2020 12:38 am

Ok, I've had a hard time finding and choosing specific films for each category, and also finding the time to watch them, but I'm finally done with the middle 5. Here are some snippets...

A film with a title that starts with the letters E or F: FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VII - THE NEW BLOOD (rewatch)
In what is a slightly direct follow-up to Part VI, Tina (Lar Park Lincoln), a girl with telekinetic powers accidentally resurrects Jason. As he goes on his typical "horny teenage" rampage, Tina has to use her powers to stop him. I know, I know, but considering there was a "Friday the 13th" this month, and since I've been doing a slow rewatch of this franchise, it was too hard for me to resist the temptation. This one has all the ingredients to be a dud, a stupid premise, dumb dialogue, weak performances. But despite that, the film does embrace the absurdity of its plot with some aplomb and confidence. This doesn't make the end result much better, but it does bring it up a notch; at least when compared to other more mediocre entries on this mediocre franchise (that I happen to enjoy :D ). In addition, this is probably the film with the best "zombie Jason" makeup and there are a couple of creative kills to spice things up. Grade: C

A film with a prominent deaf character: CHILDREN OF A LESSER GOD
William Hurt plays James Leeds, a new professor at a school for the deaf that falls in love for Sarah (Marlee Matlin), a troubled custodian with a hidden past. Several people came up with this recommendation on Twitter. I really wasn't sure what to expect and was afraid it would be too sappy, but I'm glad it ended up being more interesting and, to a certain extent, serious than I expected. There are some typical clichés of the era and the "rogue professor" sub-genre, but they are mostly inoffensive. The film does skim on some serious subjects, like Sarah's background as well as her talk-or-not-talk tension with Leeds, but refuses to go deeper into any of them. Still, it's a solid romantic drama anchored by Matlin's great performance. Grade: B

A film with the number 3 (Three, Third, etc.) in its title: THIRD CONTACT
This mega low-budget indie follows Dr. David Wright (Tim Scott-Walker), a disillusioned psychologist that starts looking behind the apparent suicide of two of his patients. Found this while browsing on Amazon Prime and sounded interesting. The film is written, produced, directed, and edited by Simon Horrocks. Shot on a camcorder for 4,000 pounds, the film does wear its low-budget pedigree on its sleeve. In that, I got vibes of Nolan's Following, but especially Aronofsky's Pi, what with its lead being obsessed with something to the point of not being able to function at work and being ultimately consumed by it (there's also a drill involved at some point). It doesn't get to be as good as those other two, but there's a charm to its somewhat "elevated" themes and amateurish cover. The performances are decent, all things considered, and the ending might leave you thinking. Not great, but worth a watch. Grade: B-

A film directed by a woman: THE BIGAMIST
Directed by Ida Lupino, the film follows traveling salesman Harry Graham (Edmond O'Brien) who happens to lead a double life, married to Eve (Joan Fontaine) and Phyllis (Lupino) at the same time. This is revealed early on (and obviously, by the title) as we see Harry starting an adoption process with Eve. This sparks an investigation from the adoption agent (Edmund Gwenn) who uncovers the truth, forcing Harry to share his story in flashbacks. This is my second Lupino film and, although the film doesn't have the flair of The Hitch-Hiker, she does a great job of handling the tension, the reveals, and the present-and-past back-and-forth. Personally, I feel a bit torn about the plot. Part of me appreciates how the film tries to create empathy with the character of Harry, without fully exonerating him, while other part of me feels like a more balanced focus between the three characters would've made for a more interesting film. Still, I think everything was handled in a very serious and mature way, while keeping the film entertaining and intriguing. Grade: A-

A film based on a Shakespeare play: MACBETH (2015)
Now, this is perhaps where I had the hardest time this weeks. Knowing that I'm not that much into Shakespeare (more for lack of exposition than anything else), I was looking for an adaptation that felt compelling to me. I ended up settling for Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing, which I think some people here recommended last year. However, I must have not been up to it because 30 minutes in, I jumped ship. I have to admit I knew I wasn't in the mood for this kind of film (drama, romance, comedy) when I chose it, but still went in anyway, but the fast dialogue, the amount of characters, the heavy dialogue, all of that had my head spinning. After sharing that on Twitter, someone recommended this adaptation instead, which definitely seemed more my cup of tea. Apparently very faithful to its source, the film follows the titular character (Michael Fassbender) as he seizes power in Scotland, led by his ambitious wife (Marion Cotillard). This ultimately leads him to betrayal and madness. The film is directed by Justin Kurzel, and I was impressed by his skills. Good use of camera, lights, shadows; the battle scenes are well executed, and there's some good framing on his shots. But the praise here belongs to Fassbender, who manages to portray the mixture of ambition and insecurity, and then eventual madness, in Macbeth to perfection. My main complaints are 1) that the faithful dialogue still makes everything feel too distant and theatrical, and 2) I wish they would've gave more depth to the character of McDuff, which would've amplified the tension of the last act. Still, a pretty good film. Grade: B+


Freebies for the kids

MISSING LINK
The film follows Lionel Frost (Hugh Jackman), a struggling explorer that sets out to find the titular creature in order to gain acceptance of an exclusive club of explorers. Upon finding the creature (Zach Galifianakis), he convinces Frost to take him to the Himalayas where he wants to join the Yeti creatures he considers his "family". This one ended up being quite fun and charming. The voice talent is great, and the animation is crisp and colorful. As far as the kids were concerned, there was a stretch between the middle and last act where things slow down a bit and they almost lost interest, but then came back in for the ending. Maybe the film might work better for slightly older kids? (mine are 6 and 7) They had fun with it anyway, but I think dad had more fun. Grade: B+

THE ROAD TO EL DORADO
Yet another choice for the kids. This one follows Tulio and Miguel (Kevin Kline and Kenneth Brannagh), two con artists that happen to find the map to El Dorado, where they end up being mistaken by gods. This is another one that I also think might work better for slightly older kids, but mostly because it is a bit more rough, "violent", and "scary" (I think it is rated PG). But regardless of that, the film ended up being quite fun and thrilling. Kudos to Armand Assante, who voiced the main antagonist, a high priest with a penchant for human sacrifices that tries to uncover Tulio and Miguel's ruse. Both the animation and voice of the character were excellent. Grade: B+
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Ergill » Wed Mar 25, 2020 1:24 am

Thief wrote:
Wed Mar 25, 2020 12:38 am
A film based on a Shakespeare play: MACBETH (2015)
Too whispery, this one. I believe they cut back the "blood will have blood" speech too, which I have a dark soft spot for. Very pretty tho.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Wed Mar 25, 2020 3:48 am

Ergill wrote:
Wed Mar 25, 2020 1:24 am
Too whispery, this one. I believe they cut back the "blood will have blood" speech too, which I have a dark soft spot for. Very pretty tho.
No, that line is there. Just confirmed it. About an hour in, followed by Lady Macbeth's response about morning and night.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Ergill » Wed Mar 25, 2020 1:27 pm

Thief wrote:
Wed Mar 25, 2020 3:48 am
No, that line is there. Just confirmed it. About an hour in, followed by Lady Macbeth's response about morning and night.
I mean the whole speech. It's already short, but they cut out the middle, that I recall, and flushed all its spooky ooky away.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Thu Mar 26, 2020 3:05 pm

Thief wrote:
Tue Mar 17, 2020 4:31 pm
Fifth episode! We're rolling...

Thief's Monthly Movie Loot - Episode 5 (March 15, 2020)
Episode 6 was delayed, but it's finally here.

Thief's Monthly Movie Loot - Episode 6 (March 25, 2020)
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Apex Predator » Fri Mar 27, 2020 10:31 pm

Two more done...Only one counts.

Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius (2001)
See a film dealing with aliens or invading aliens

Somewhat cute film about a boy genius whose inventions have some bugs in them who is able to send a satellite toaster to an alien race who decides that humans must be delicious and kidnaps all the parents. So the kids decide to go into space to rescue them. It has its moments (some of the space vehicles come from an amusement park), but this feels more kid oriented where the burps and belches outrank the moments adults can appreciate. Some kid-centric versions of 1980s classics such as Kids in America and She Blinded Me with Science are worth a look, but this is no Kung Fu Panda 2. C

Met Opera Presents Turandot (2019)

Yeah, I watched an opera...I don't expect this to be a habit, though. Despite the calls of its host saying this was a form of escapism, I was wanting to escape this with about an hour left and only a few plot points remaining. The set design is superb, the singing is fine and I did get some hints that the lead character was more than just an ice queen with a chip on her shoulder. But it's basically The Thief of Bagdad with Elsa being the object of affection and three characters named Ping, Pang, and Pong. Yep. If this was a Disney film, it would go in the "We don't talk about it" vault alongside Song of the South. C
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Xuben » Fri Mar 27, 2020 11:25 pm

What are your rules at this forum? Can I shit with my tits out, or is that considered bad form?
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by crumbsroom » Sat Mar 28, 2020 2:11 am

Xuben wrote:
Fri Mar 27, 2020 11:25 pm
What are your rules at this forum? Can I shit with my tits out, or is that considered bad form?
I'm pretty sure nothing matters anymore. But if you're worried, you can always shit on your tits in a thread of your very own creation. I suppose.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Rock » Sat Mar 28, 2020 3:02 am

Xuben wrote:
Fri Mar 27, 2020 11:25 pm
What are your rules at this forum? Can I shit with my tits out, or is that considered bad form?
As long as you're still wearing pants (beshitted or otherwise), it's all good.
"We're outgunned and undermanned. But you know somethin'? We're gonna win. You know why? Superior attitude. Superior state of mind." - Mason Storm
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Stu » Sat Mar 28, 2020 10:47 am

Xuben wrote:
Fri Mar 27, 2020 11:25 pm
What are your rules at this forum? Can I shit with my tits out, or is that considered bad form?
Zubes!!! What up, man?
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Sat Mar 28, 2020 6:27 pm

Xuben wrote:
Fri Mar 27, 2020 11:25 pm
What are your rules at this forum? Can I shit with my tits out, or is that considered bad form?
Image
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Apex Predator » Sat Mar 28, 2020 8:27 pm

Goals by Tuesday night:

Finish up Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde (1920).
Complete 12 Angry Men and Face in the Crowd.
Continue working on my Amazon Prime entries.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Sun Mar 29, 2020 7:36 pm

As usual, it's gonna be a race to the finish for me. Three days to watch three films while dealing with two kids, which leaves only nights for "adult" films, and the categories have been tough to narrow down :down:

The only one I seem to be partially decided on is the "third part of a film franchise" category, which will probably be Before Midnight. This is the first that came to mind and although it's not available for streaming, I will treat myself to a rental probably tomorrow.

I'm having a hard time finding something with "Spring" in the title. I've already seen Spring, Spring Breakers, and Spring in a Small Town. It seems I will settle for some monster film I saw on Prime called Red Spring. There's also a short film I found on Google that I can keep in my backpocket.

The other category I'm having trouble with is the "Warren Beatty" one. I really wanted to see Bonnie and Clyde, but it's not available for free. The second one that came to mind was Dick Tracy, which I thought could be campy fun, but no luck there either. The only Beatty films that seem to be available are Reds, which seems intriguing but it's quite long, Shampoo which I'm really not that drawn to, and Town and Country, which I've heard is crap. I'll probably settle on Reds, though, and try to make time for it.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Wooley » Sun Mar 29, 2020 7:48 pm

Apex Predator wrote:
Sat Mar 28, 2020 8:27 pm
Goals by Tuesday night:

Finish up Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde (1920).
Really like this. My favorite version of the property, actually.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Sun Mar 29, 2020 7:55 pm

Wooley wrote:
Sun Mar 29, 2020 7:48 pm
Really like this. My favorite version of the property, actually.
I will have to check that one out. The only one I've seen is the 1931 version, which I thought was pretty good too.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Stu » Sun Mar 29, 2020 8:59 pm

Thief wrote:
Sun Mar 29, 2020 7:36 pm
I'm having a hard time finding something with "Spring" in the title. I've already seen Spring, Spring Breakers, and Spring in a Small Town. It seems I will settle for some monster film I saw on Prime called Red Spring. There's also a short film I found on Google that I can keep in my backpocket.
What about Late Spring?
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Sun Mar 29, 2020 9:04 pm

Stu wrote:
Sun Mar 29, 2020 8:59 pm
What about Late Spring?
I checked that one, but it's not streaming. At least free.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Wooley » Mon Mar 30, 2020 5:06 am

Thief wrote:
Sun Mar 29, 2020 7:55 pm
I will have to check that one out. The only one I've seen is the 1931 version, which I thought was pretty good too.
It is.
The '41 version is a bit rough, honestly, in its portrayal of abuse. And by that I mean it's too on the money, to the degree that it's really uncomfortable. Which from a filmmaking perspective is probably a success.
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Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2020

Post by Thief » Mon Mar 30, 2020 3:47 pm

Thief wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 3:05 pm
Episode 6 was delayed, but it's finally here.

Thief's Monthly Movie Loot - Episode 6 (March 25, 2020)
For whoever's listening, my podcast is now listed on Spotify, which might make it easier for some of you to listen. Look for it by Thief's Monthly Movie Loot.
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